The week leading up to the JUNO Awards’ main gala on Sunday April 21, 2013, saw a few events make the news. In the United Kingdom, fierce debates ensued over the question of Scottish separation. Never underestimate the power of the kilt? In the United States, they were occupied with their Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath, the avaricious press making a fortune off of the story (though nowhere near as much as they have made off stories about Canadian pop stars). In Ottawa, future rehab attendees were busy attempting to remodel Parliament Hill after Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But while all these shenanigans were going on, in Regina, they were throwing the finest party of the year, a two-hour celebration of the past year of Canadian music, hosted by multi-platinum, Burnaby-raised crooner Michael Bublé.
Most of the awards had been presented the night before with seven given out at the main gala, a night filled with skits, humour, and live performances.
The show opened with a pre-recorded sketch of Bublé wheeling his luggage down a London hotel corridor and running into comedian Russell Peters who offered his suggestion that the JUNOs be hosted by a real man’s man with a chiselled jaw like Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy. Next, Bublé appeared in New York with American chat show hostess Kelly Ripa who said she loved Canadian music and expressed her desire to sing Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” hand-in-hand with Michael. He then appeared in a Hollywood piano bar where Scottish actor Gerard Butler, surrounded by a bevy of beauties, patronizingly tossed some coins into a glass bowl atop the piano and commanded Bublé to play but “whatever you do, don’t sing”, to which the girls giggled. Bublé finally appeared laying on a chesterfield getting his woes off his chest to therapist Dr. Phil who told him to man up, get out there and host. When Michael departed, Phil commented, “They should have got Jim Cuddy.”
To a cheering crowd, a Miami Vice bearded Michael Bublé entered the stage in black trousers, white collared shirt, black bowtie, and burgundy jacket with peaked lapel. The camera zoomed in on a grinning Jim Cuddy seated among the packed arena’s audience. “Ah, Regina, the city that rhymes with fun,” our host exclaimed. Capping off his opening remarks, Bublé linked his hat-tip to the Riders with the first performer, Serena Ryder, who performed her Top 10 hit, “Stompa”.
Singer-songwriter Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen’s son), rapper JD Era, and country artist Dean Brody took the stage to present the first award of the night—Songwriter of the Year. The JUNO went to Leonard Cohen(his 6th JUNO win). Leonard was absent from the JUNOs this year. His son delivered a speech and accepted the award on his behalf, joking, “I feel so used.”
What followed was a performance by Saskatoon’s retro boogie rockers, The Sheepdogs and then Bahamas and Kathleen Edwards (the latter singing the Jeopardy theme song) presented the award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. The JUNO went to Monster Truck. This was their 1st JUNO win. They poked fun at the madness of being a little over the hill for the category, “Breakthrough group of the year when you’re 30 years old is nothing to scoff at.”
Michael Bublé returned appearing very nervous and lost for words, mimicking the laugh and lingo of a teenage girl obsessed with British boy band One Direction. The band appeared from Manchester via satellite, “How are you Canada?” A jittery Bublé asked, “So, do you guys like … stuff?” “We love stuff,” they answered. Bublé bashfully replied, “Me too. Stuff’s awesome. So cool.” One Direction introduced the next act, “People of Canada, this is Carly Rae Jepsen.” Carly, surrounded by a squadron of female dancers, performed “Call Me Maybe” and “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” in medley format.
West coast rapper Madchild and electropoppers Dragonette presented the award for Group of the Year. The award went to Marianas Trench, the best-selling of the nominated bunch last year. Believe it or not, this was the popular band’s first JUNO win.
Bublé who had changed into a white jacket with shawl lapel commented on the beauty of Canadian female singers like Serena Ryder, Metric’s Emily Haines, and Carly Rae Jepsen. “I don’t know if you just saw Carly Rae,” he quipped, “But she was so hot. Like, did you see those little shorts? They looked good on her, but they’d look better crumpled up on my bedroom floor, if you know what I mean.” He gazed out toward the crowd, “Oh, and it’s my pregnant wife.” The camera panned over to Michael’s wife sitting in the stands giving him a stern look. She pointed at him and then ran her finger across her neck in a throat slitting gesture.
The Tenors performed “Forever Young” and talked about the musical education work of MusicCounts, which was elaborated on by Shania Twain from Las Vegas. Marianas Trench performed next. Canada’s godfather of rap Maestro Fresh Wes and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy presented the award for Single of the Year. The JUNO was awarded to Carly Rae Jepsenfor“Call Me Maybe”, the all-time best-selling single in Canada by a Canadian artist. Incidentally, it was the best-selling song on iTunes worldwide in 2012. The host Michael Bublé performed his latest single “It’s a Beautiful Day”.
Canadian icon, winner of 24 JUNO awards, Anne Murray, introduced the latest inductee into the Music Hall of Fame, k.d. lang. “She went on to prove that a great voice can sing just about anything it wants,” Anne said of k.d. A brief biographical video was shown including tributes to the Albertan from Tony Bennett, Jian Ghomeshi, Leonard Cohen, and Shania Twain. Before the backdrop of a standing-o, a tearful and grateful k.d. lang mounted the stage to accept her award and delivered a powerhouse speech.
“I think the fact that I’m standing here receiving this award actually says more about Canada than it says about me, because only in Canada could there be such a freak as k.d. lang receiving this award. Only in Canada could there be people like Stompin’ Tom Connors and Rita MacNeil. So I am here to tell you my friends and my countrymen, it is okay to be you. It is okay to let your freak flags fly and embrace the quirkmeister that’s inside of all of us.”
Billy Talent rocked the stage with Serna Ryder before Bublé on skates and hockey gear at the rink got boarded by two Vancouver Canucks. He then appeared backstage in a Riders’ shirt where The Sheepdogs were engaged in a discussion about tuna sandwiches. They questioned the Riders’ shirt given that he is from BC. He brushed them off and congratulated their making the cover of the United States’ Rolling Stone magazine saying that he had been on the cover too. They questioned him again, “I don’t remember you being on the cover.” Bublé pulled out a magazine with a photo cut out of his face pasted on the cover.
Atlantic Canadians Classified and David Myles performed their Top 5 hit “Inner Ninja” before presenting the JUNO Fan Choiceaward which went to Justin Bieber, his third consecutive win in the category and 4th JUNO award. He was not able to attend. Both Bieber and Leonard Cohen were fulfilling their busy touring schedules set out for them by their respective employers. The next performance was by Hannah Georgas.
Victoria Duffield, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, and Regina-born actress Tatiana Maslany presented the award for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. The Canadian Music Blog is not sure what the term “adult alternative” music means, but it does not sound G-rated. The award went to Serena Ryderfor her album Harmony. Metric followed, performing “Synthetica”.
Tom Cochrane and Regina’s Colin James presented the final and biggest award of the night, Album of the Year. They commented that they remembered when vinyl was used to make albums … and pants. The JUNO was awarded to Kissby Carly Rae Jepsen. She was congratulated by Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard on her way to the platform. Obviously surprised at the win, she was speechless and nearly in tears. Carly had scored a hat trick at the JUNOs: Pop Album of the Year and the two biggest awards, Single of the Year and Album of the Year.
The newest inductee into the Music Hall of Fame, k.d. lang, performed next. Michael Bublé closed the show by singing his song “Home” with a little help from the crowd. Aside from the lack of a much-needed Francophone performance, this was a fabulous show and serves as a true standard for how the Grammy and BRIT Awards ought to conduct themselves. Canadian music is the best in the world and will continue to get even better, so, as k.d. lang so Canadianly put it, “Go, team, go!”
To view a list of all JUNO nominees and winners this year, clickHERE. To view the entire broadcast of the main gala, clickHERE. To view pictures from the gala, clickHERE.