Living

Out of tune

There's lots of great new Canadian music out there. But you wouldn’t know it watching the Juno Awards

The crowd at the Junos in Halifax was quick to boo Pamela Anderson for her anti-seal hunt digs. The morning papers skewered her dippy delivery and skimpy outfits. But Pam was actually the perfect host. Sure the boob jokes, hair-twirling and constant bouncing around were a little trashy, but sex sells and the Junos are all about celebrating what sells.

It’s been a watershed year for Canadian music. Artists are bending genres, experimenting with music collectives and writing some of the most interesting songs we’ve heard in years. But with the exception of indie acts Feist, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and the New Pornographers, these artists were nowhere to be seen Sunday night. Nominees for most Juno categories are determined by sales figures, rather than critical acclaim (or talent for that matter). So while the awards are supposed to showcase the best of Canadian music, the picture you get is about as realistic as Pammy’s rack.

Canadian Idol kids had eight nominations between them and jazzbot Michael Bublé – who mostly sings cover tunes – took home the most awards, including best artist. The major categories were crowded with the same-old same-old – after all, what would the Junos be without a nomination for Diana Krall?

The good news is that the true picture of Canadian music is a lot more interesting than you’d think. Wolf Parade, Hawksley Workman and Stars leave generic college rockers Nickleback in the dust. Julie Doiron and Sarah Slean prove that mellow music doesn’t have to be boring with their beautiful writing and one-of-a-kind arrangements. And you’ll find no better examples of the growing alt-country scene than Neko Case and the Sadies.

Visit the artist sites to get a taste of their music – and next time you’re shopping for tunes, why not contribute to the sales figures of someone new. Then next year maybe we’ll have more to talk about post-Junos than Pam’s cleavage.