The famous "Juno effect," whereby people who perform well on the prize broadcast get a bounce in record sales, suggests that we already know the likeliest winners at this year's ceremonies: on-air performers such as Drake, Arcade Fire, Chromeo, Down With Webster and Sarah McLachlan. But there still are all those actual awards to win, and here are a few of them, with comments on who should take them and who probably will.
Album of the Year: Arcade Fire's The Suburbs won this one at the Grammy Awards, surprising just about everyone. They deserve it here too, though contrarian sentiment, and much bigger sales numbers, will probably send the trophy to Drake's Thank Me Later or Justin Bieber's My World 2.0.
Artist of the Year: This nebulous category includes Neil Young (a worthy contender almost any year), Sarah McLachlan, Drake and Justin Bieber. Either of the last two will probably cop it. The dark horse is Scottish-born cowboy singer Johnny Reid.
Group of the Year: Arcade Fire in a walk, though Down With Webster have had a big made-in-Canada rush this year, and that could just tell in their favour.
New Artist of the Year: Caribou has been making great records way too long to be in this slot, but since he is, he should win. His main competitors are indie darling Hannah Georgas and industry fave Meaghan Smith.
Songwriter: Arcade Fire for the win, against Drake, Hannah Georgas, Sarah McLachan (all of whom had less-famous co-writers) and Royal Wood.
Adult Alternative Album: Young ( Le Noise) goes up against Daniel Lanois's Black Dub ( Black Dub), though Lanois wins either way, since he produced Le Noise. Sarah Harmer ( Oh Little Fire) could stage an upset, which I can't see coming from discs by Justin Nozuka or Luke Doucet.
Alternative Album: Arcade Fire has a lock on this, but it would be cool if it went to Owen Pallett for Heartland, possibly the most "alternative" album of the year, and certainly one of the most distinctive. The other main contender is Broken Social Scene, for Forgiveness Rock Record; a victory by francophone Polaris Prize-winner Karkwa's Les chemins de verre would cheer dark horses everywhere.
Rap Recording: It's hard to see how anyone can halt the momentum favouring Drake's Thank Me Later, though I'd be happier if Shad took it for TSOL.
Electronic Album: Competition is stiff in this brand new (and overdue) division, which includes discs by Caribou, Chilly Gonzales, Crystal Castles, Holy Fuck and Poirier. I'm going with Caribou's Swim, though would cheer also if Holy Fuck's Latin took the prize.
Dance Recording: There are so many good parties represented in this category, it's really hard to call, other than to say it's a toss-up between Chromeo ( Business Casual), Dragonette ( Fixin' to Thrill) and Deadmau5 ( Sofi Needs a Ladder).
Classical Album, Large Ensemble: Pianist Janina Fialkowska and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra should take this one for their Chopin Piano Concertos, in spite of silky competition from violinist James Ehnes, playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with a foreign orchestra (why are they even eligible?).