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Five ideas to improve the Juno Awards

From charming Drake, to playing CanCon tinder, to cutting the “International Album of the Year” category


 
Toronto rapper Drake brought his 5th annual OVO Fest to the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, Ont. on Monday. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

Toronto rapper Drake brought his 5th annual OVO Fest to the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, Ont. on Monday. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

TORONTO – As the Junos roar into Hamilton this weekend, it’s clear the venerable awards show has grown a bit rusty. Below, The Canadian Press considers five ways the Junos might be improved:

1. CHARM DRAKE

Drake’s gold throne sits atop an enviable nexus of critical adoration, sales supremacy and superstardom.

Rightfully, he should have many Junos alongside his other gilded baubles.

But he hasn’t appeared at the show since 2011, when he was shut out – and, his rap peers argue, embarrassed – in six different categories, despite hosting the show in his hometown.

Lord knows, his absence is deeply felt.

That said, organizers can only do so much when the 1,400-member CARAS voting body continues to unfairly ignore the 28-year-old in the show’s marquee categories, instead rewarding him only when he’s up against other rappers.

2. AN M.I.A. MC

No disrespect intended to Jacob Hoggard, a prolific songwriter who climbs the peaks of the Canadian pop charts like a seasoned sherpa.

But his band Hedley had already been announced as a Junos performer when CTV issued the news that he would also host, and the decision generated little discernible buzz for the show – as did last year’s shrugging compromise of having Classified, Johnny Reid and Serena Ryder collectively steer the broadcast.

The three shows prior to that were helmed by Michael Buble, William Shatner and Drake, who infused the Junos with a greater degree of star power.

If the host is unlikely to bring in new viewers, why not go without one – as the Junos did successfully in 2010?

3. TAKE MORE RISKS

With this Sunday’s performance, Hedley will have played four of the past eight Juno galas, and several other artists have become biannual fixtures.

Organizers seemed to make a concerted effort to reel in some popular newcomers this year, including Shawn Mendes, Magic! and Kiesza, along with Deadmau5, a veteran who hasn’t been granted much Junos helmet-time.

The Weeknd will also make his long-awaited Junos debut, but it’s worth asking: what took so long?

The Junos should endeavour for early adopter status more often, and broadening their idea of relevance would help. For instance: wouldn’t a few of Grimes’ roughly 270,000 Twitter followers tune in to see the eccentric electronic composer’s Junos debut, regardless of her album sales?

4. PLAY CANCON TINDER

Every year the Grammys haphazardly play musical matchmaker by slapping together disparate artists _ leathered legends, pubescent pop stars, bemused rappers, whomever – and hoping for the best.

Sometimes it works out and, maybe more often, it doesn’t.

But the Junos have actually had better luck recently in the rare instances they’ve coerced collaboration – Deadmau5 and Lights come to mind, as does the increasingly historic pairing of Drake and Justin Bieber.

Continuing to link Canucks (with similar restraint) might generate more excitement than seeing the same familiar faces play their last or (eye-roll) next single.

5. CONQUER INTERNATIONAL INSECURITY

Can we just cut the international album of the year category altogether?

The only rational justification for its existence is to persuade non-Canadian stars to attend the show – and if that’s the plan, it’s been failing for years. (Unless CTV is keeping secret a planned appearance by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift or Harry Styles.)

Although this category has allowed us the juicy opportunity to accurately refer to Eminem as a two-time Juno winner, its time has come.


 

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