vernon_1997 I may have officially outlived my tenure as Captain Canada. I pride myself in keeping on top of the latest and greatest Canadian music. It’s my duty as the chronicler of all things CanCon. But last week I became an anachronism.

Smith Boy George

With the exception of the more conservatively attired Boy George, er, Sam Smith out of England, and our own Michael Bublé, Leonard Cohen and Jane Bunnett the list of 2015 JUNO Award winners is completely alien to me. I fear I may have to turn in my CanCon membership card, beaver pelt hat and maple syrup dispenser. Here’s who won what:

Juno Fan Choice Award: Michael Bublé
Single of the Year: “Rude,” Magic!
Album of the Year: “Popular Problems,” Leonard Cohen
Artist of the Year: The Weeknd
Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Kiesza
ArkellsRock Album of the Year: “High Noon,” Arkells
International Album of the Year: “In the Lonely Hour,” Sam Smith
Group of the Year: Arkells
Breakthrough Group of the Year: Magic!
Songwriter of the Year: Bahamas
Country Album of the Year: “Lifted,” Dallas Smith
Adult alternative Album of the Year: “Bahamas is Afie,” Bahamas
Alternative Album of the Year: “July Talk,” July Talk
Pop Album of the Year: “Little Machines,” Lights
Vocal Jazz Album of the Year: “Red,” Diana Panton
Jazz Album of the Year (solo): “Vista Obscura,” Kirk MacDonald
Jazz Album of the Year (group): “Jane Bunnett and Maqueque,” Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
Rap Recording of the Year: “The Legends League Presents: Naturally Born Strangers,” Naturally Born Strangers
Dance Recording of the Year: “Sound of a Woman,” Kiesza
R&B/Soul Recording of the Year: “Often,” The Weeknd

I was told that the JUNOs have always been aimed at the 25 and under demographic. For the first time it shows. The JUNOs are not for me. They’re not cohenfor the old guard that created the infrastructure that became the JUNOs either. But I’ve never seen a year where the industry kiss asses were so out of touch with the actual pulse of Canadian music. It’s a huge divide now between the pre-digital generation and the post-digital one and between the corporate music 1% and the 99% of artists that represents what the rest of Canada is actually listening to. When an 80 year-old POET wins Album of the Year, again, there’s clearly a representational disconnect. Even the voices of the new Millennials, Avril Lavigne and Nickelback were cock blocked. Thank God Alanis Morissette showed up to school the diaper brigade by showing them how ironic it is to tout 180g vinyl re-issues and Civil War facial hair as the new cool. And she oughta know. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Back when the Canadian music business was still empire building the JUNOs had healthy competition – the CFNY’s U-KNOW Awards (later renamed the CASBYs) and Keith Sharp’s Music Express magazine’s readers poll. Everyone felt it was imperative to keep everyone else on their toes. The majority of the Canadian scene was getting coverage by one of the three. Today the CASBY’s remain overshadowed by the JUNOs which continues its reign as unchallenged taste maker. There’s no rear garde keeping the whole scene honest. It’s any wonder anyone still cares. The majority of the country no longer does especially when the JUNOs add and remove categories at whim. There was a brief moment when Urban Music had come of age and the JUNOs recognized not only the genre’s growth but the Canadian demographic supporting it. That population has grown, the scene has tripled and exploded and who are we awarding now? One artist: The Weeknd. Otherwise it’s Alt-Pop Hipsters and Diet Pop Divas. The tail is now wagging the dog.
KanyeHow sad is it that the Grammy’s have a better handle on genre diversity even if you remove the human clown car that is Kanye West from the equation. For such a proud multi-cultural country as Canada is we seem to have reverted to our 1960s politically incorrect WASPish selves in honouring those who make music in this country. Not nearly as many Somali émigrés on the docket these days. I don’t need to point out the obvious.

Your_favorite_enemiesMeanwhile, you know who was up for Rock Album of the Year against the Arkells? A band called Your Favourite Enemies from Montreal. The first time I’d heard of them was three weeks ago in an interview on a TALK radio station. They sold out an 80,000 seat arena in China recently. They’ve never played English Canada until the night before the JUNO Awards where they performed at the 350 seat Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto. But the Trews, who sold 50,000 copies of their recent self-titled album based on three hit radio singles, have toured all of North America, England and Australia were left off the ballot altogether.

Dallas SmithAnd Default vocalist Dallas Smith winning Country Album of the Year? Seriously? I’m sure the boy is talented but I’m betting the Canadian Country Music Awards will be voting differently for their album of the year. Probably an actual country act will win it. Not someone jumping genres because the race track’s less competitive.

It’s time to put the JUNOs on notice. It’s time for a new, all-inclusive award by the people for the artists most deserving of recognition. Bob Segarini and I half joked about creating the JAIMO awards. In a more serious discussion Bob suggested the Canadian Music Awards. So the CMA’s it is. We need a mandate and sponsors but until then, in the spirit of our quest, we’ll be putting some names on our list to watch for this year. Meanwhile, send us yours!

Leave your category suggestions and nominations for the CMAs below in the Reply section. All will be read and taken into consideration. 


Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA


Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.comhttp://gwntertainment.wix.com/jaimievernon


  1. I like it…The Canadian Music Award….yep, the JUNOs need fixing in a really big way. They should represent everyone.

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