I'm predicting a gamechanging Polaris Music Prize
Another year of debate, discussion, discourse and disagreement comes to an end tonight, as the fifth annual Polaris Music Prize is handed out at Toronto’s Masonic Temple.
The Besnard Lakes, Broken Social Scene, Caribou, Karkwa, Dan Mangan, Owen Pallett, Radio Radio, The Sadies, Shad or Tegan and Sara will walk away from the night’s festivities with some extra cash in their pockets and the right to brag that their record was deemed the greatest artistic achievement in Canadian music this year.
And then tomorrow we start thinking about Polaris 2011. But, let’s not rush things yet. There’s still a matter of tonight’s Gala to contend with. All 10 acts will be performing at the ceremony tonight, making it the second year in a row that all the nominees have been able to attend. That to me is a sign that all these musicians, and the music community in Canada, has respect for Polaris and its mandate.
There’s been plenty of speculation and odds laying as what what the night’s outcome will be. Fellow jurist Aaron Brophy did a great job of laying odds on the Polaris race, and so too did the Globe and Mail’s Brad Wheeler who is also a Polaris jurist. Wheeler also had an interview with Polaris founder Steve Jordan in Saturday’s Globe, wherein discussions ranged from why Bublé didn’t get nominated (Jordan: “not enough of the jury liked it enough”) to who he thinks will walk away with this year’s prize (Jordan: “I can say with 100-per-cent certainty that one of the 10 nominees will take it this year. My money’s on them.”). I can say with about 100-percent certainty that some of my fellow bloggers are out there working on their own prediction list at the same time I’m writing mine, so I’m sure that by the time you read this, a quick Google search will result in a glut of predictions to pick your way through on Monday morning.
So, you want to know what I think is going to happen tonight, right? Well, I’m a bit leery to say. In the last two years, when I started venturing a guess as to what the Polaris outcome would be, I’ve I’ve predicted right only once. Of course, we’ll never know exactly what happens in the jury room that leads to the announcement of the winner, but in the scenario playing out in my head, it goes a little something like this:
Dan Mangan, the proverbial nice guy of Polaris 2010 has a lot going for him, including a stellar record in Nice, Nice, Very Nice but the greatest artistic achievement of the year it is not.
Tegan and Sara might face a similar fate as Mangan, but I think there’s enough support for them that they’ll manage to stay in the game as as Broken Social Scene and The Sadies duke it out. Again both of their records are easily the best of their respective careers, but Polaris is not about rewarding life-time achievement, it’s about capturing the moment. In the battle royal in my mind, both BSS and The Sadies will face elimination by way of canceling one another out.
Tegan and Sara’s stiffest competition is going to come from Radio Radio, their polar opposites in this Polaris race, and arguments will likely be made in both their favours… until someone on the jury realizes that no one has mentioned Caribou and Owen Pallett yet and the debate on whether they can, should and will award the prize to a previous winner will ignite faster than a tumble weed in Satan’s inferno. Caribou and Pallett will leave T&S and Radio Radio in the dust and out of the running as the merits of their two records get battered about: both are a greater achievement than their previous winning records, and both have pushed these two artists into new realms. That leaves the rest of the field to try and match these two Polaris powerhouses.
And they do. Shad has managed to cross genres and make old-school hip hop sound fresh and new to an audience that was never really interested in it the first time around; Karkwa have risen about the stigma of being called the Quebecois Radiohead and proven that they can do sentimental and sensitive as well as quirky and experimental; The Besnard Lakes turned in an album of epic grandeur that was neither pompous or predictable, just compelling. It’s at this point where the race to Polaris 2010 kicks into high gear and rounds the final corner. The non-committing chicken in me would say that Polaris it will be awarded to one of these three, but I have to push on and make a final choice. The two Quebec-based bands will likely cause a divide among the jury, but my feeling is that Karkwa will arise victorious from that pairing, leaving them to face down London’s Old Prince. It’ll get ugly. It will get very ugly. Either one is a worthy winner. but as the dust settles, and the bell rings to mark the end of the match…
It’ll be Karkwa who’ll take home Polaris 201 for Les Chemins De Verre.
From Quick before it melts Monday 20 September 2010