The Weeknd performing at the Junos, where he cleaned up with five awards. Photo: Courtesy of JUNO Awards Media.
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Canadian music awards represented genres across the board

In terms of Awards count, the 2016 Juno Awards in Calgary were clearly the Weeknd’s weekend. However, the broadcast was ruled by rock-and-roll.

The Weeknd had already nabbed four awards—Artist, Songwriter, and R&B/Soul Recording of the Year, handed out at Saturday’s Gala Dinner, as well as Single of the Year for “Can’t Feel My Face”—by the time he took the stage Sunday night, and would go on to take home the coveted Album of the Year trophy for Beauty Behind the Madness.

However, in a show dominated by soulful pop hits, the most memorable moments came from the classic rockers. Singing “If I’m gonna go down, I’ll go down rockin” (which is as good a mantra as any), Bryan Adams brought some much-needed bare-bones, no-nonsense rock-and-roll to the night.

The emotional centrepiece of the ceremony was of course the induction of rock legend Burton Cummings into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Introduced by Nickelback, Cummings had to wait out a lengthy standing ovation before giving his own speech. Visibly touched by the honour, the former Guess Who frontman gave thanks to his late mother, his wife, and his current band, pledging to “always try and honour the music.”

Cummings would later close the show with a rendition of “My Own Way to Rock” that was loud enough to rattle the media room, widely regarded as the highlight of the night.

That’s not to say the younger artists didn’t impress. Nineteen-year-old Alessia Cara gave an absolutely killer performance to kick off the broadcast. The Brampton singer-songwriter, who hit it big with her debut single “Here”, would later take home a much-deserved Breakout Artist of the Year award, opening her acceptance speech with the lyric-worthy couplet—“I’m just a regular girl who’s lived a normal life, and ever since I released a song I’ve never lived the same day twice.”

While The Weeknd’s awards sweep shocked no one, there were a few surprises among the winners. Death From Above 1979’s Rock Album of the Year victory over Canadian staples Nickelback, Bryan Adams, and The Sheepdogs for their album The Physical World, as well as Walk Off The Earth’s Group of the Year win were both unforeseen wins.

The above-mentioned winners also had some of the weekend’s best fashion moments. Death From Above 1979’s Sebastien Grainger turned heads at the Gala, with his flamingo-patterned pants, while Walk off The Earth frontwoman Sarah Blackwood’s blue lipstick got people talking. Quibble about the actual awards all you like—it was clearly the flamboyant rockers who won the fashion war. Although Reggae Recording of the Year winner Kafinal gets points for his dapper Gala attire.


Death From Above 1979’s Sebastien Grainger. Photo: Madison McSweeney.

Overall the 2016 Juno Awards was heartfelt and irreverent, quirky yet classy, polished but passionate. With a diverse slate of nominees and genre-spanning performances, the New York Times doesn’t need to tell us just how cool Canada’s music scene really is.


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