Women Lead 2016 Polaris Prize Shortlist


Female voices lead the nominations for this year’s Polaris Music Prize, including fan favourites Carly Rae Jepsen and Grimes.

Released yesterday, the shortlist had Jepsen and Grimes among a total of six female acts of the 10 nominated albums: Basia Bulat, Jessy Lanzaand female-fronted groups U.S. Girls and White Lung were also nominated.

Seemingly obvious contenders (and longlisters) Drake, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd were no where to be found in yesterday’s announcement.

After the 2016 JUNOs were criticized for a lack of female nominees, it’s refreshing to see female-led acts at the forefront of the Polaris nominations. Fans rejoiced when Jepsen, who was snubbed at the JUNOs for her underrated album, EMOTION, snagged a spot on the shortlist. Grimes, who spoke out about the lack of females nominated in the JUNOs technical categories, also got a nod for her acclaimed album, Art Angels.

Judged by a panel of music journalists and broadcasters, the Polaris Music Prize is awarded to one outstanding Canadian album. Last year, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood took home the prize.

The Polaris Prize will be awarded on September 19 in Toronto. Check out all the nominees below.

Carly Rae Jepsen, EMOTION

Shaking the title of One-Hit Wonder, Jepsen made listeners everywhere forget about “Call Me Maybe.” EMOTION delivered ’80s-themed pop anthems like “Run Away With Me,” “Boy Problems” and the infectious “Your Type.” Commercially,  it wasn’t as successful as 2012’s Kiss, but by the end of 2015, EMOTION was regarded as one of the best pop albums of the year by many critics.

Grimes, Art Angels

Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) released the masterful Art Angels late last year. Labelled as her most poppy and least personal album, Grimes proved herself as a creative force to be reckoned with with in-your-face tracks like “Kill v. Maim” and “Flesh Without Blood,” which she wrote, produced, engineered and directed the videos for by herself.

Jessy Lanza, Oh No

Hamilton native Jessy Lanza turned heads in 2013 with her debut album, Pull My Hair Back, which was also shortlisted for the Polaris. Oh No elevates the minimalist pop and R&B sound she became known for to a new level with groovy, rhythmic tracks like “VV Violence” and “It Means I Love You.”

Basia Bulat, Good Advice

Navigating away from her tried-and-true folk roots, pop looks good on Basia Bulat. Good Advice sounds nothing like anything the 32-year-old has released before, but she still stays true to the grief-stricken heartbroken lyrics that made her previous albums so invigorating.

U.S. Girls, Half Free

Meg Remy of U.S. Girls creates new and inventive sounds to chill out to on Half Free. Bringing forward ever-popular themes of the female experience, Half Free is dreamy, thoughtful and rebellious all at the same time.

White Lung, Paradise

Despite taking things in a more “pop-oriented” direction, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way still kicks ass on the band’s fourth studio try. Paradise revealed new sides of the Vancouver trio that fans had never seen before.

Kaytranada, 99.9%

Though 99.9% acts as his first full-length debut, in no way is Kaytranada a newbie to the music game. He’s released over 15 mixtapes since 2010 and enlists a star roster of features on the record including Anderson .Paak, BADBADNOTGOOD and Vic Mensa. After making his name on Soundcloud, Kaytranada has upped the ante with funky dance tracks like “Lite Spots” and “You’re The One.”

Black Mountain – IV

With a six-year break between IV and Black Mountain’s previous album, Wilderness Heart, the stakes were higher than ever, especially since the Vancouver outfit has longlisted for Polaris three times previously.  Incorporating the sounds of the ’70s rock, IV  is most reminiscent of the their self-titled debut, which is regarded as the band’s best work.

PUP, The Dream is Over

The Dream is Over marks PUP’s second Polaris nomination. The Toronto punk four-piece hold nothing back on their sophomore album. Exploring themes of misery and self-loathing, tracks “DVP” and “Can’t Win” are cathartic anthems to blast with the windows down.

Andy Shauf, The Party

Described (but not by Shauf) as a concept album,  The Party largely takes place, fittingly, at a house party. Most songs exist in the same universe and have recurring characters, including quarreling couples and wallflowers. Alongside the infectious electronic sounds of fellow nominees Grimes and Kaytranada, Regina’s Andy Shauf slows things down with warm and fuzzy tracks like “The Magician.”