Well the Junos were a joke, once again. Shameful. Positively shameful. My worst fears were confirmed when Pam Anderson – who thought having her as host was a good idea, really? – decided to use her, um, assets as distractions for the shocking banality of the whole affair.
This being said, I’m not going to diss CTV for their presentation. It was actually a decent-looking and produced show. But again, CARAS, you guys are out to lunch. When Kardinal Offishall says he’s not returning to the Junos again due to the show’s amazingly short-sighted (with overtones of racism) approach to hip-hop, or when Broken Social Scene makes the very valid point of the Canadian music industry chucking Canadian Idols – all of whom went home empty-handed – to the wolves when their albums don’t do so hot (Paging Ryan Malcolm), something’s wrong.
While many people I know are generally unified on their largely negative opinion of CARAS and the methodology of selection of awards, one person defended them. Here’s the only defense:
“Album sales dictate awards. Albums are bought by people. The final arbiters of musical success in Canada should be the people first and foremost, not critics.”
Uh, no. First off, there’s a thing called the “Fan Choice Award” which is voted on by the people. Secondly, that logic is simplistic and unreasonable.
Look at the five Album of the Year nominees. In all five instances, the records have gotten insane publicity rackets, mostly through Canadian Idol (one long TV commercial with bits of genuine, heartfelt singing between a million ads for Coke and L’Oreal), non-stop TV commercials for Buble and Nickelback and Krall resting on her international superstardom.
None of this is new per se. But what’s new is how records are being promoted so aggressively on air and as “impulse buys” at stores like Indigo or Starbucks, i.e. non-traditional avenues of promotion such as music magazines like Chart (a mag that wouldn’t touch Buble with a ten-foot pole) or MuchMusic (since Much only does music videos now on the Countdown or MOD or on the graveyard shift show The Wedge).
In other words, the avenues in which consumers buy music have become far more niche-driven and much less about cross-demographic appeal. It’s easy to see who’s buying these records: wealthy folks who regularly go to Starbucks, Indigo and other upscale stores (and therefore rarely hear music that’s even remotely challenging or dangerous), Baby Boomers with disposable income (the only demographic that buys physical CDs en masse still) or folks with little to no musical taste.
And this comment – the Baby Boomer comment – is particularly apt. In the vast majority of cases on Juno night, the award winners (and nominees, cue Bryan Adams!) were largely Boomer-friendly. Buble is about as threatening as a Labrador Retriever puppy, Krall’s “smooth jazz” is offensive listening even on JAZZ-FM sometimes, and the Idol kids are like younger versions of Buble, only with creepy fan clubs full of middle-aged women. Nickelback is about as edgy as it gets here and their music is the kind of music Boomer dads can “get down” to with their sullen teenagers.
Put two and two together and there you have it: a largely-Boomer friendly music show that indulges in some small tokenism of edginess with awards to Bedouin Soundclash, BSS and K’Naan either not on the televised portion of the broadcast or put in marginal categories.
In this context, it’s easy to see why indie artists and hip-hop artists are pissed at the Junos. That music is “scary” and “difficult” and not easily digestible to the masses. It also speaks to a trend in Canadian music that’s becoming more unsettling as the years go on. Remember Live 8? The Barrie concert was, aside from a few decent moments, largely an exercise in delusional Boomer hoser-rock nostalgia. Deep Purple? Labatt 50-drinkin’-era Bryan Adams? Huh?
Let’s be clear: this isn’t an international phenomenon. The U.S., U.K. and Europe routinely have award shows that celebrate the edgy qualities of music, namely the Brit Awards, still the best music award show on TV. While we go Boomer-All-The-Way, the Brits give awards to Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys and other youthful acts. Why is Canada acting as if the only music that matters is the one sold on a CD? Or worse, why is there such a profound generational disconnect here? I’m not saying Boomers have no right to enjoy music, but award shows aren’t there to commend artists who eclipse gold status in Canada. They’re there to celebrate the best in Canadian music. If they’re there just to publicly celebrate Buble’s “stunning” collection of hardware Sunday night, you might as well stop broadcasting the show and put it on CCTV at an industry function while record executives pat each other on the back.
For shame Junos. For shame CARAS. Next year, show some balls and change the award selection methodology. Otherwise, all the pontification John Brunton made, quite rightly, about us being internationally-minded isn’t worth a damn.
SALON: Want to read something creepy? Check this out at Salon (free pass required, watch an ad and get access). A conference in the U.S. called the War on Christians – a conference full of true believers that actually believe Christians are being vilified in American society – has members in it called Christian Reconstructionists. These folks believe in civil law being replaced by biblical law (read: theocracy) and executing homosexuals and women who copulate before marriage. The worst part? These folks, as the article says, used to be politically radioactive in America. Not anymore. Why do many American Christians play this victim card still? They practically control the Republican Party now.
COURSE STARTS: My certificate program starts tonight – quite excited. Wish me luck!