I watched the 2013 Juno Awards for the first time in many years this year. Maybe I’m getting old, but I just don’t ‘get it’ like I used to. Then it occurred to me that the Juno Awards (like every other awards show) is really just an industry tool to promote their wares. In awarding the statuettes in the major categories, there really is no ‘winner’ because music is such a subjective instrument. They often are stacked with the players from the previous year who sold the most or who made the most social impact. Are these people the ‘best’ the industry has to offer. No.
There are hundreds of other more talented, vocally gifted musicians out there who are hiding in the shadows and grinding out a living as a musician in a way less glamorous way. The artists given Junos in the main categories are those artists who have struck a chord in some manner with a wide audience. It would be something to see if ALL the categories were to judged by professionals in the music industry. I wonder if the Junos would be at all relevant anymore. There would no more cute little pop tunes as Single of the Year. No multi-platinum winner of Album of the Year. No headline grabbing Artist of the Year.
Juno Award bashing is an annual event because as hard as the organizers try, they cannot please everyone. Many people seem to think that the Juno Awards owes them something. The fans have bought an artists’ music so the artist should be honoured with an award. Rabid Canadian music fans froth at the mouth when a non-Canadian performs on the show. I’ve gotten over all of that. Everyone else will too when they realize that the awards are a self-promotion tool and not the artistic achievement pinnacle that they think they are. Music subjectivity has no place at a music award show.
Maybe I am getting old. I just don’t hear anything anymore that is played on commercial radio or promoted on awards shows that is of any redeeming musical value. I used to love watching the Juno Awards – but that was back in the days of my youth when a good pop hook meant something. Today, it just sounds irritating and repetitive. If you want to hear something good, you have to go off the beaten path into indie land or non-commercial radio. There’s some great music being made in Canada, but it’s just shunted to the sidelines in the judged, non-televised awards section.
There have been many good hosts of the show over the years and there have been some real stinkers. I think I stopped watching the Juno Awards for good when Pamela Anderson hosted. That was a great choice. I understand the Junos’ predicament in trying to please everybody – the teens who just want to hear their pop music and see their favourite artists; the industry types who are involved in the day to day operation of the industry; the indie artists and alternative non-conformist crowd; and the general music enthusiast.
But let’s be honest again. The Juno Awards are a vehicle to promote and showcase the Canadian music industry. The actual awards are a mere window dressing and can’t be taken too seriously. You may not like the Justin Beibers or Nicklebacks and the music they made or represented, but in their time, they were the backbone of the industry because they sold a tonne of records. There will always be such an artist come along and those people who poo poo them getting a Juno Award shouldn’t take it too seriously. Perhaps the only real prestigious Juno Awards is the Hall of Fame, for it honours a career and not one single recording.
After the up and down ratings years at CBC, the show seems to have stabilized at CTV because of the ‘bigness’ of the show in an arena setting, opening up the event to fans instead of stuffy industry types. It’s more of an event now and a showcase. In the early days the Juno Awards tried to take itself too seriously. Now, it isn’t taking itself seriously but people refuse to accept it. Oh well.
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