The 2016 JUNO Awards air this Sunday, April 3 at 7E/4P, live from Calgary’s Saddledome and broadcast on CTV and CTV GO. It will present one of its most coveted awards, Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Unlike other award shows that give out their “Best New Artist” prize to, well, artists or bands that aren’t new—the JUNOs are keeping it fresh this year with a crop of impressive newcomers. Their average age may be just around 23 years old, but what this group lacks in experience, they make up for in raw talent. Here’s a look at the 2016 JUNOs Breakthrough Artist of the Year. And the nominees are…
Highlights: For someone who sings about sitting in the corner at the party, Cara sure didn’t have any trouble becoming the cool kid at the Canadian music table this past year. Her hit single Here came in at number 21 on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Songs of 2015, and she finished runner up on BBC Music’s Sound of 2016 list. She joins artists such as James Bay, Frank Ocean, Duffy, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand to finish second for the award.
Sounds like: Norah Jones, but with more punch and some upbeat instrumentals.
Song that got her here: The song that got her here was…Here. But you might want to check out her latest single, Wild Things.
Highlights: Coleman Hell was the man behind the song that had you singing, “before we turn into a monster with two heads,” in your car. 2 Heads peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went double platinum in Canada. His debut album is expected to be released this year.
Sounds like: There’s a bit of a Rod Stewart meets Goo Goo Dolls vibe, mixed with an electronic influence.
Song that got him here: The gloriously catchy and banjo infused 2 Heads.
Highlights: So let’s just start with the obvious one—Pharrell co-produced his self-titled EP. Yates used that EP to springboard himself into the spotlight, performing at the official 2015 Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, various We Day events across the country and sang on Robin Schulz’s song Sugar. He’s set to open for Hedley on their 2016 world tour with Carly Rae Jepsen.
Sounds like: This one is easy. Yates is basically Canada’s answer to Justin Timberlake.
Song that got him here: Better To Be Loved, and boy, this kid can definitely expect to get all kinds of love from the music industry in 2016.
Highlights: Helman’s debut single Bungalow was nominated for Best Pop Video at last year’s MMVAs, and although he lost out to The Weeknd, he won the fans over with his live performance of the song. The 20-year-old singer has opened for Tegan & Sara, Matthew Good and spent the spring of 2015 touring the United States with Walk Off The Earth.
Sounds like: A happier version of Damien Rice.
Song that got him here: Bungalow got him in the conversation, but you should check out his more recent single Machine.
Highlights: The oldest and perhaps most interesting of all the nominees, Jesso Jr. has has an incredible ride over the past year and a bit. He co-wrote When We Were Young and Lay Me Down with freakin’ Adele for her album 25. Oh, and Adele and Alana Haim just happened to tweet about his single How Could You Babe. And he just so happened to have collaborated with Sia and, you guessed it, Adele on the song Alive, which appeared on Sia’s album This Is Acting. Yeah, that all happened. So it’s safe to say, regardless of who wins this award, Jesso is doing alright for himself.
Sounds like: Randy Newman meets John Lennon meets Paul Simon.
Song that got him here: You could argue the song that got him here was actually Adele’s When We Were Young, but How Could You Babe and Without You are both brilliant examples of what you can expect from Jesso.