The Polaris Music Prize is my favourite Canadian entertainment industry award. I cannot relate at all to the Junos at all. Any award show that grants Nickelback 33 total nominations simply cannot be respected in my book. The Canadian Screen Awards, while respectable in the content they celebrate, often fall short in the general lack of prestige Canadian television and film receives from audiences. (That is not to say that Canada does not create some top-notch films and television). Polaris, on the other hand, speaks to me. I may not listen to every artist nominated, but for the most part it celebrates the new and the modern rather than the popular, and it does it with very little pomp.
The prize grants $50,000 to artist declared to have made the best full-length Canadian album, regardless of genre, sales, or label. In essence, it is an award for great music in its purest form. Each jurist submits five albums released over the course of the previous year. The jurists then give a point allotment (5 for the best, 4 for the second best, etc.) until a long list is created. The jururs must then select a top five from that long list and the process begins anew until a short list is created. The bands must then each perform in front of the “grand jury” at which point a winner is declared. It is a process based heavily on the Mercury Prize based out of the UK, another top-notch award for music lovers.
This year’s shortlist has an eclectic mix of artists from the worlds of hip hop, edm, folk, rock, and more. The 2015 group are:
BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah, Sour Soul
Braids, Deep in the Iris
Caribou, Our Love
Jennifer Castle, Pink City
Drake, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Tobias Jesso Jr., Goon
The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Power in the Blood
Viet Cong, Viet Cong?
What do you think of this year’s group? I love that Viet Cong and Alvvays are on there, and truth be told, If You’re Reading This is Drake’s greatest in my humble opinion. Also, how cool is it that Buffy Sainte-Marie is still going strong after decades of kicking ass?
Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar