Monday June 15th, marked the beginning of the best time of the year for Canadian music fans. The long awaited Polaris Music Prize long list was released to the public. In past years the organization would host a live event to announce the nominees, but this year due to COVID-19 and people being mostly quarantined they decided to do something different. New Executive Director Claire Dagenais, who took over from Steve Jordan who stepped down after last year’s gala, introduced the new format on YouTube before a series of forty Canadian artists, who have previously been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, including PUP, Partner, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Milk & Bone and last year’s winner Haviah Mighty, announced one album each.
Today begins a process that will take until September 21st to unveil the ultimate winner. Almost two hundred jurors consisting of members of the media and music industry made their picks to receive a long list nomination. Of these forty albums, the jurors will then whittle them down to a short list consisting of ten albums to be revealed in one month, on July 15th. From there a panel of eleven judges will be tasked with picking the winner live during the September 21st gala (assuming a gala occurs) in a locked room while the nominees perform, before the winner is announced after deliberations.
Past winners include Toronto rapper Haviah Mighty for 13th Floor, folk singer Feist for Metals, indie superstars Arcade Fire for The Suburbs and punk group Fucked Up for The Chemistry of Common Life. The winner gets $50,000 and each of the other nine nominees get $3,000 all courtesy of Slaight Music.
This year’s long listed group has some familiar names, plenty of newcomers and a lot more diversity than years past. Previous winners Lido Pimienta for Miss Colombia, Kaytranda for BUBBA, Louis-Jean Cormier (lead singer of past winner Karkwa) for Quand la nuit tombe, Caribou for Suddenly and Owen Pallett (who won under the name Final Fantasy) for Island all made the list.
Other artists who have found themselves on previous short lists include Daniel Caesar for CASE STUDY 01, Sarah Harmer for Are You Gone, Joel Plaskett for 44, Jessie Reyez for Before Love Came to Kill Us, Andy Shauf for The Neon Skyline, U.S. Girls for Heavy Light, Leif Vollebekk for New Ways and The Weeknd for After Hours.
Other high profile names that made the cut include Allie X for Cape God, Badge Époque Ensemble for Badge Époque Ensemble, Begonia for Fear, dvsn for A Muse in Her Feelings and Riit for ataataga. There are plenty of artists that are new to me and I’m plenty excited to dive deeper into these releases.
The Soundtrack will have lots of Polaris Music Prize coverage including thoughts on the final ten nominees and a full review from this year’s gala announcement in the fall. We will also be putting together a mock jury to award to pick our own winner of the final shortlisted nominees.
Here are all of the long listed artists and albums:
Allie X - Cape God
Anachnid - Dreamweaver
Aquakultre - Legacy
Marie-Pierre Arthur - Des feux pour voir
Backxwash - God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out Of It
Badge Époque Ensemble - Badge Époque Ensemble
Begonia - Fear
P'tit Belliveau - Greatest Hits Vol. 1
Caribou - Suddenly
Daniel Caesar - CASE STUDY 01
Chocolat - Jazz engagé
Louis-Jean Cormier - Quand la nuit tombe
Corridor - Junior
dvsn - A Muse in Her Feelings
Jacques Greene - Dawn Chorus
Sarah Harmer - Are You Gone
Ice Cream - FED UP
Junia-T - Studio Monk
Kaytranada - BUBBA
Flore Laurentienne - Volume 1
Cindy Lee - What's Tonight to Eternity?
Men I Trust - Oncle Jazz
nêhiyawak - nipiy
OBUXUM - Re-Birth
Owen Pallett - Island
Pantayo - Pantayo
Lido Pimienta - Miss Colombia
Joel Plaskett - 44
William Prince - Reliever
Jessie Reyez - Before Love Came to Kill Us
Riit - ataataga
Andy Shauf - The Neon Skyline
Super Duty Tough Work - Studies in Grey
U.S. Girls - Heavy Light
Leif Vollebekk - New Ways
Wares - Survival
The Weeknd - After Hours
WHOOP-Szo - Warrior Down
Witch Prophet - DNA Activation
Zen Bamboo - GLU