The 2018 Juno Awards CBC-telecast, hosted by Michael Bublé and broadcast live from Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Sunday night, was arguably the best show in the annual spectacle’s 47 years and much enhanced with its multi-platform delivery on a variety of streaming platforms.
Bublé performed flawlessly from the witty opening sequence to his mix of genuine sentiment and just the right touch of nationalism. "We are so much better than anyone else," he declared late in the show.
As was to be expected, tears flowed with the moving tribute to Gord Downie, a definite highlight of the show. After eloquent remarks from Kevin Drew and Pearl Wenjack, Sarah Harmer, Kevin Hearn and City and Colour collaborated on renditions of Downie's "Introduce Yerself" and Tragically Hip classic "Bobcaygeon."
Downie's legacy again took centre stage when he was announced as the winner of the prestigious Artist of the Year Juno. Brothers Patrick and Mike Downie accepted on Gord's behalf, with Patrick noting "we are all better artists and people because of him," and Mike stressing that "Gord wanted a country that was equitable and inclusive... Let's create a new Canada."
The 30-year long career of Barenaked Ladies was recognised with their induction into the Hall of Fame, with Geddy Lee making the introduction. Co-founder Steven Page rejoined his former comrades onstage for the first time in 10 years, and the group displayed their signature cleverness by singing their list of thanks.
The Junos in the past have oft been criticised for overlooking Canadian urban music artists on the broadcast, but this was not the case last night. Rising R&B stars’ Daniel Caesar and Jessie Reyez both put on sizzling performances, with Caesar guesting on Reyez' turn.
The groundbreaking "Northern Touch" Canadian hip-hop anthem was celebrated 20 years on, with the collective's key members delivering an onstage rendition after they announced Tory Lanez' win in the Rap Recording of the Year category (for "Shooters").
Another theme of the evening was the #MeToo movement. Weaves’ singer Jasmyn Burke and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly repeated its message, with Joly pledging that "we will make gender parity happen."
Also reinforcing these sentiments were Buffy Sainte-Marie and Grimes, both Juno winners this year. "It is time for change," Sainte-Marie declared, adding that "it is time for women to be recognised. We need more awareness of what we are capable of doing, as engineers, producers, artists and writers.”
The stellar performance lineup last night also included Arkells (who tore the house up), Arcade Fire (Album of the Year winners), Lights (Pop Album of the Year winner), The Jerry Cans, Shawn Hook, Diana Krall (a double winner this year), and Barenaked Ladies.
BNL closed out the show in rip-roaring fashion, first on "One Week," then, as expected, with "If I Had A Million Dollars," luring a galaxy of Canadian stars to join them onstage, with the arena crowd singing along. A priceless end to a great night.
Here are last night's Juno Award nominees and winners:
Juno Fan Choice (Presented by TD)
Shawn Mendes -winner
Walk Off The Earth
Album of the Year -Sponsored by Music Canada
Everything Now - Arcade Fire- winner
Revival - Johnny Reid
Noboby But Me - Michael Buble
Safe Haven - Ruth B
Now- Shania Twain
Artist of the Year (Presented by Apple Music)
Gord Downie - winner
Breakthrough Artist of the Year (Sponsored by FACTOR, The Government of Canada, and Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters)
Jessie Reyez - winner
Virginia To Vegas
Rap Recording of the Year (Sponsored by Stingray Music)
Mumble Rap - Belly
Lil Mont From The Ave - Clairmont The Second
001: Experiments - Lou Phelps
Coach Fresh - Maestro Fresh Wes
Shooters - Tory Lanez - winner
R&B/Soul Recording of the Year
Freudian - Daniel Caesar- winner
Foreign Water - Jahkoy
Kiddo - Jesse Reyez
Human - Jhyve
Unbound 01- Keshia Chante
See a full list of Saturday night winners here