Various Artists – [Album]

Friday, 26 March 2010

No venture in the music industry has the ability to pull the “big four” record conglomerates together quite like an awards show can, if only because such pageants bring out everyone's competitive spirit. Everyone wants to hold the biggest bag of marbles and everyone looks good when awards are given out; the artist gets acknowledgement for their talent, and labels get acknowledged for having the vision to support them out of the hordes of others. It's reasonable to assume that is the reason awards shows are a big deal – award shows are a decent litmus test for the labels' presence in the market and how successful their marketing strategies have been by extension, and fans get to root for their picks.

There are other interesting bits of information that a list of awards show nominees may yield too, like it may be possible to get a sense of whether or not a shift in popular taste is beginning to manifest in the music business – which is exactly the case with this year's list of Juno nominees. The Juno Awards (a.k.a. the Canadian equivalent to the Grammys) always showcase the best of what's going on in Canadian Music Culture each year but, browsing through the nominees represented on this year's compilation release (put out primarily by Sony, as a joint venture with Warner Music Canada, EMI and Universal Music Canada), it's pretty apparent that a shift in popular taste may indeed be in the air; the usual suspects including Nickelback, Jann Arden, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip and Three Days Grace weigh in of course, but a newer, younger and noticeable more self-reflective and caustic breed are starting to encroach on the old guard. The new wave of bands are mostly playing new rock (of course), but the exact slant that each has taken is what makes a significant difference. This year, a more progressively-mind contingent including Hedley and Shiloh (more on the pop side of rock), Down With Webster (hip hop infused punk akin to License To Ill Beastie Boys), Arkells (“black and blue-eyed soul by their own admission), Metric (electro-touched new rock) and Billy Talent (the bridge band between new school and old guard) all draw slots on this comp and really add a different, far more diverse flavor to the proceedings when stacked next to acts like Diana Krall, Michael Buble and Nickelback. That diversity actually makes the move through the comp an interesting trip; the variations between sound, mood and style can hold a listeners attention because it doesn't get stale or samey.

It sounds silly to say that something like a conglomeration of wares by award nominees can have such a dramatic disposition, but that's exactly what happens here. On one hand, the effect is exciting because, as a country, the Juno Awards 2010 illustrates that Canada had a broad musical palette with which to work and the implied shift in values to a consistently less bombastic, less conventionally mainstream and more impressionistic interpretation of pop will incite interest to see what happens next on the other. The rules may have changed completely by the time a comp like this comes out for 2011, and that possibility is what this one foreshadows.


Complete list of Juno Awards 2010 nominees.


Juno Awards 2010
comes out on March 30, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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