Well, that was awkward. The 78-year-old grey ghost of gloom Leonard Cohen snags three major Juno nominations, including a rather hip one (fan's choice), while his son Adam Cohen, 40, only manages a tip of the hat in the staid adult contemporary category, for his album Like a Man. And so, while the elder Cohen competes with Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kathleen Edwards and superstar DJ Deadmau5, his son squares off against the squares, Celine Dion and the Tenors.
At a press conference announcing the nominees Tuesday morning at the Design Exchange in Toronto, there were few surprises, as usual. The Juno nods are largely based on sales figures, which lessens the suspense of the event's flood of announcements. Still, the nomination roll call was not without its assorted dramas.
Justin Bieber, for example, humbled this year by the lack of attention from Grammy and Selena Gomez, scored modest redemption with nominations for fan's choice, best album, best artist and best pop album (for Believe). Mind you, the lack of an entry in the single of the year category is a black spot for a singles-oriented pop creation like the swaggy kid from Stratford, Ont.
Bieber's biggest victory, perhaps, was besting Patrick Carney, the Black Keys' drummer who has been soundly trouncing the Baby singer in an increasingly heated war of tweets. The Keys failed to score appreciation in the international album category, losing out to, among others, Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas Baby.
The preliminary big winner is Jepsen, the 27-year-old British Columbian who spent Grammy night waiting for a call that never came. Her odds of taking a trophy home will be far better this April in Regina, where she'll vie for five awards. Still, one wonders if Jepsen fatigue has set in. Her monster hit Call Me Maybe was originally released in September of 2011, and a tune like SerenaRyder's anthemic Stompa might be fresher in the minds of the voters.
The most whackadoo race happens in the top-artist contest. The 2012 contenders – Drake, Michael Bublé (hosting this year), Deadmau5, City and Colour and winner Feist – were a quintet of acts who might share space on the same iPods and visit the same after-parties. This year's nominees represent a canyon-sized disparity in audiences, except for the fans of Jepsen and Bieber. Throw in Leonard Cohen, the fiery Scottish-Canadian crooner Johnny Reid and Deadmau5 (again), and what we have is an odd lot indeed.
But, then, Cohen creates incongruity all on his own – an enigma in a fedora, driven by an unlikely late-career resurgence. Rush is up for best rock album (for Clockwork Angels), and when those three guys arrive at the Brandt Centre on April 21, they will do so as fully fledged members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having been inducted three days earlier. Only one other Juno nominee this year belongs to that institution. His name is Cohen, and it isn't Adam.
Single of the Year
Billy Talent, Viking Death March
Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe
Hedley, Kiss You Inside Out
Serena Ryder, Stompa
The Sheepdogs, The Way It Is
Album of the Year
Carly Rae Jepsen, Kiss
Celine Dion, Sans Attendre
Justin Bieber, Believe
Marianas Trench, Ever After
Artist of the Year
Carly Rae Jepsen
Group of the Year
Breakthrough Artist of the Year
Breakthrough Group of the Year
The Pack a.d.
Walk Off the Earth