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Canadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards is photographed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto January 19, 2012. JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL (JENNIFER ROBERTS For The Globe and Mail)
Canadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards is photographed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto January 19, 2012. JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL (JENNIFER ROBERTS For The Globe and Mail)

Music

The Polaris shortlist: What we got wrong Add to ...

I put my money where my mouth is, and am now 40-per-cent poorer for my gall. In Tuesday’s paper, my prediction as to the make up of the 2012 Polaris Music Prize shortlist was published. The actual shortlist was subsequently announced, showing my prognostication skills as only so-so, hitting on six of my 10 choices. And I’m okay with that.

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Okay because the nominated albums I failed to predict were not only highly deserving, but because the list as a whole represents broad taste among the 200 or so Polaris voters, with no snobby bias against better-paid artists such as Drake or Feist. I had thought I Predict A Graceful Expulsion from Cold Specks would be slightly sneered upon because of all the “next-Adele” hoopla surrounding bluesy Al Spx, the Etobicoke, Ont.-raised singer who spends much of her time in England. Hers is powerful music, regardless of hype or in which country she laid down the tracks.

I didn’t guess correctly on Celebration Rock from Vancouver’s Japandroids, thinking a straight-on rock disc wouldn’t appeal to Polaris and I’m glad I was wrong.

David Comes to Life, the rock opera from Toronto’s smart loud-music mavens Fucked Up was one of my favourite albums of the year. But the post-release buzz around the record did not seem strong, and the band had previously won the annual prize, in 2009, for its excellent adventure in vocal barking and layered guitars, The Chemistry of Common Life.

The other one I failed to see coming was YT//ST, the arresting piece of work from Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. Worthy? You bet. But I really thought Polaris was tired of the whole “Asian Diasporic psychedelic noh-wave opera group fusing noise, metal, pop and folk music into a multidiscplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool of Eastern culture” thing.

The six shortlisted recordings I called accurately were Hope in Dirt City, from the adroitly rapping Edmonton wordsmith Rollie Pemberton (a.k.a. Cadence Weapon); Feist’s artfully emotional Metals; Grimes’s visionary Visions; Handsome Furs’ special synth-pop/ guitar-rock combo Sound Kapital; Drake’s sonically terrific Take Care; and Kathleen Edwards’s finest album yet, Voyageur.

As for final prognostication concerning the Canadian music award and the $30,000 cheque that comes with it, I shall spread my bets. This year’s shortlist is composed of more female artists than ever before; come Sept. 24, when the winner of the seventh edition of the prize is announced, stepping up to accept the trophy will be one of Edwards, Feist or Grimes.

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