Live blogging the 2013 Juno Awards

by W. Andrew Powell
Host Michael Buble and wife Louisana Lopilato

It’s Canada’s night for music, and I’m live from Toronto as the 2013 Juno Awards are about to take over CTV from the Brandt Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, with singer Michael Bublé hosting the big night of awards and performances.

That’s right, I’m not actually at the Juno Awards this year, but I do have a direct link from the press room at the telecast, and I’ll be blogging about both the live show, and notes from the press room as well.

8:05 PM: “Potash is not what you think it is,” Bublé jokes, and that might actually be the first funny line from the opening of the show. Bublé can likely be a great host, but this was a dud of an opening, even with star power from Gerard Butler, Kelly Ripa, and Doctor Phil. The show needed to start with a big, big song.

Serena Ryder
Serena Ryder

8:08 PM: The ever-lovely Serena Ryder takes the stage to sing her single “Stompa”. She’s brilliant, but it feels like too slow an opening to me still.

8:13 PM: Songwriter of the Year goes to Leonard Cohen, with his son, Adam, accepting the honour for his dad, who is currently on tour. In Adam’s words, Leonard calls Canada “the unique and beating heart of his career.”

8:19 PM: The Sheepdogs are on stage performing “Feeling Good”, which has a fun music video, if you haven’t checked it out.

8:24 PM: Breakthrough Group of the Year goes to Monster Truck!

8:30 PM: As Adam Cohen chats backstage with media, Bublé is “taking a call” with One Direction. The girls go wild, but if you’re over 20, you’re likely as bored as I am.

8:31 PM: Carly Rae Jepsen finally gets a faster beat going on stage, but it’s “Call Me Maybe”, a song that is so tired, I want to yawn. She thankfully jumps into “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” before too long in characteristic Juno Awards fashion. If there’s one thing the Juno telecast loves, it’s mashup performances.

8:36 PM: Group of the Year goes to Marianas Trench, who may be one of the few long-standing Canadian rock bands that I still actually enjoy.

8:40 PM: Curiosity will be the debut album for Monster Truck, who won the Juno but otherwise have only released an EP so far. For some reason, the conversation back stage then turns to shaving, possibly because all the guys have major beards.

8:45 PM: For the easy-listening crowd, The Tenors take the stage to perform a quick hit cover of “Forever Young” before they talk about the MusicCounts charity, with a clip of Shania Twain, who chats about the importance of the funding.

Marianas Trench
Marianas Trench

8:50 PM: The Tenors introduce Marianas Trench, who perform “What About Love” with a full choir to open the song, and then moving into “Stutter” with the band and choir together throughout it. Call me crazy, but this would have been the number that I think should have opened the show. So far nobody has come close to topping this performance.

8:57 PM: Maestro Fresh Wes and Jim Cuddy are up next presenting the award for Single of the Year. Now that is an interesting combination. To the surprise of no one, Carly Rae Jepsen wins for “Call Me Maybe”.

9:00 PM: Host Michael Bublé performs next, doing his new single, “It’s A Beautiful Day”, walking all the way from backstage, as he sings, to the main stage. I’m a sucker for Bublé’s kitschy style, so I will admit right now that I’m a fan. It’s also a good performance, even if it just adds to the whole pop atmosphere of the night so far.

9:07 PM: Canadian legend Anne Murray steps up to help introduce Canadian Music Hall of Fame Inductee, and legend herself, k.d. lang.

9:11 PM: As the k.d. lang tribute continues on stage, not much continues to happen back stage in the media room. It has been quiet since Monster Truck left the room almost 30 minutes ago. There will probably be a lot going on backstage after the show ends though.

k.d. lang
k.d. lang

9:13 PM: The crowd goes wild for k.d. lang, who is introduced by her full name, Kathryn Dawn Lang. Her performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” plays while she takes the stage, one of my favorite memories of the Junos, since I saw her doing it at the Juno sound check in Winnipeg back in 2005. As she says on stage, “Embrace the quirkmeister that is inside of us… everyone has the right to be themselves.”

9:17 PM: Billy Talent performs “Stand Up and Run”, which is solid, but they’re not exactly owning the stage. They almost seem subdued, actually, and then out comes Serena Ryder, which is pretty much everything the song needed. My vote is they bring her out for more of her songs. Or more of anyone’s songs tonight, for that matter.

That also makes me wonder why Ryder, or others, weren’t out there performing some k.d. lang covers? Seems like a missed opportunity for a show that has so much great music at its disposal.

9:21 PM: While we’re on an ad break, I wanted to talk about Stompin’ Tom Connors. Some of you may be surprised to find out that there won’t be a tribute to the former Juno winner, and all around Canadian legend, because his family is honouring his stance against the Juno Awards.

Back in 1978, Connors returned his Juno awards, and withdrew his award nominations, because he felt that too many artists who were living in the United States were nominated for awards, and too many singers in the country categories were probably better defined as pop singers. You can read more about it at The Star, if you’re curious.

9:25 PM: In the press room, a representative lets the media know that 7976 tickets were sold for the Juno Awards tonight, which is the most ever at the Brandt Centre.

9:26 PM: Classified and David Myles are on the stage next performing their Juno Award-winning single, “Inner Ninja”. I have to hand it to Classified, he knows how to make a hit, and I appreciate that Myles is from the East Coast, and grew up in Fredericton, which isn’t far from my own home town in New Brunswick.

9:29 PM: Justin Bieber took the fan choice award, but thankfully, he’s not around to make an ass of himself.

9:30 PM: The stunning Hannah Georgas takes the stage next to perform “Robotic”. If you don’t know who she is, you need to look her up. Hannah Georgas is bound to be one of Canada’s next big artists.

9:38 PM: Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Drew present the award for Adult Alternative Album, which goes to Serena Ryder for Harmony. Big congratulations to her. A very richly deserved win.


9:42 PM: Metric, maybe the biggest band on stage at the Junos tonight, perform “Synthetica”. Maybe not the best song off their new album of the same name, but they’re a kick ass band all the same. If you’ve never seen them live, you need to. Emily Haines is what it’s all about.

9:48 PM: We’re on ads again, and the press room is still dead. Nothing since the announcement on tickets sold. Anyone else also wondering where the “In Memoriam” is for Rita MacNeil? Seems odd to hold it until the end, but that would make it a big finale, if they pull out all the stops.

9:50 PM: Serena Ryder is backstage in the press room as Album of the Year is trotted out on stage. Carly Rae Jepsen wins with Kiss.

Serena says backstage that she had a good time recording her album. “Sometimes you can really get stuck in your head. I just wanted to have a really good time, which is performing.” She also mentions that the idea to have her sing with Billy Talent was very last minute.

Hannah Alper, a young journalist covering the Juno Awards this year, asks what Serena wanted to do when she was growing up, and she talked a bit about her career and summed up simply by saying, “This.”

9:52 PM: k.d. lang is on stage, finally, performing “Sing It Loud”. No question why she is a legend in music. There is simply no one like her, and as others have said, she can sing anything. If I had had my way, she certainly would have sang a little more.

9:57 PM: Michael Bublé simply says (and I may be paraphrasing here), “The lights on the east coast are shining a little more dimly tonight” in honour of Rita MacNeil.

Call me crazy, but maybe instead of then performing his own song, maybe Bublé should have honoured MacNeil by singing one of her songs? That may not have been his call, but I think some kind of tribute was due.

Overall, it was a good, average Juno Awards show, but I can’t say it was spectacular, including host Michael Bublé. He felt kind of boring, actually, and I usually find him pretty funny. The awards, despite how ugly they are now, were dead-on though, and I don’t think I would change any of them, even if I was tired of Carly Rae Jepsen, despite the fact that I’m proud to see her finally doing so well.

Stay tuned for a little more from the press room, plus more photos. I’ll be posting photo galleries from the Juno Awards throughout the night too.

10:08 PM: Metric are backstage to speak with the press, after coming back from Coachella last night. They found out they won all three awards last night at the gala event as they were coming into Canada. As they said though, they’re used to travelling around the world, and that means being everywhere, including in Canada where there is still snow in places.

10:16 PM: Mariana’s Trench head back to the media room where they kid, as they enter, “The statue will answer all questions on my behalf.” They also comment that they’re thrilled by their fans, who seem to be everywhere, as one journalist mentions.

Apparently lead singer Josh Ramsay says he was punched in the face during a show last week at a show in Moose Jaw. He then answered a question about helping to write “Call Me Maybe”, which sounded very different when they started, but Josh called it “anthemic” from the beginning.

“Every drummer is a fan of Rush,” Ian Casselman chimes in, when they were asked about beating the band for Group of the Year.

10:23 PM: Carly Rae Jepsen appears backstage next, and talks about how she lost her voice during one performance, and the crowd sang on for her. That was one of her favorite memories from the last year.

Ten-year-old Hannah Alper asks Carly to read her business card, since her blog is called “Call Me Hannah” in honour of Jepsen. Jepsen in turn calls Hannah, “the cuttest thing ever.” Jepsen also answered her question about why she kept on trying to prove herself, despite the fact that she didn’t win Canadian Idol when she competed. As Jepsen sums it up, “There’s something hungry about being the underdog.”

When asked, what question she never gets asked, she says “any of the meaty ones” but she also says she’s never been asked what name she would have chosen for herself. Apparently, the answer is Georgia. The more you know.

If you’ve ever wondered, Carly Rae used to work at Trees Organic Coffee, when she was fighting to make a name for herself back in the day.

Carly Rae will also be headlining a tour of Canada and the United States coming up this summer, but the dates are not confirmed yet, so apparently, she says, she can’t say anything yet.

10:33 PM: k.d. lang appears backstage, and she attributes her fame, and the fame of Stompin’ Tom and Rita MacNeil too, to Canada itself.

In terms of her acceptance speech, she said, “I didn’t want to personalize it… It’s not about me. It’s about the people who put me there.”

10:38 PM: Last of all, Michael Bublé is backstage for the press talking about his favorite moments from the night. “I worked my ass off. I don’t spend a lot of time doing leisurely things,” but he loves the Sheepdogs, and really enjoyed seeing them rehearse.

Near the end, Hannah also asked him, if he could win any award, other than for music, what would it be? “Best body,” he quipped.

Bublé also said that Dr. Phil may not have “been hip” to what he was doing, but he was happy to do it. Everything that Bublé did on stage was also his own idea, and CARAS fully supported him in coming up with the script for it, and the list of stars.

All photos courtesy of CARAS/iPhoto.

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