Shatner to host this year's Juno Awards
Published Tuesday, February 7, 2012 5:53PM EST
TORONTO - City and Colour, Dan Mangan, Drake, Feist, Hedley and Nickelback picked up four Juno Award nominations apiece on Tuesday, setting up a wide-open race at this year's gala in Ottawa.
No one artist managed to rise above the pack as nominations were announced at a glitzy, crammed gathering in Toronto. Avril Lavigne, Michael Buble and Deadmau5 followed with three nods each.
Teen sensation Justin Bieber also earned a pair of nominations -- including one for album of the year -- while other multiple nominees included Blue Rodeo co-frontman Jim Cuddy, Hamilton rockers Arkells and Montreal-based indie-rockers Braids.
"Star Trek" icon William Shatner, meanwhile, has been named host of the April 1 gala, to be broadcast on CTV.
With so many multiple nominees, many artists will be duking it out against one another over and over again in several categories.
"I could kick Bieber's ass but not Drake -- he's a bit hardcore," laughed Niagara Falls, Ont., electronic producer Deadmau5 (nee Joel Zimmerman), who's up for the Juno fan choice award, artist of the year -- a nomination he called a "shocker" -- and best dance recording, a category he's won four years in a row.
"It's not really weird when you're only one of like five Canadians making dance music these days," he said of his dance-category supremacy.
"(But) I'm sure a lot more are, and that just kind of paves the way for a lot more to be recognized."
Cuddy, meanwhile, has two nominations for his third solo record, "Skyscraper Soul." Blue Rodeo will also be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame on Juno Award night.
"It's huge," Cuddy said. "Obviously we love the status we have as a band that's been around for a long time, but you do want your newest work to be acknowledged. So I'm very, very pleased."
When asked who he was excited about seeing at this year's show, Cuddy was definitive.
"William Shatner!" he said, his eyes widening. "I'm thrilled."
Indeed, the hosting choice was drawing plenty of attention from nominated artists at Tuesday's bash. Shatner marks a sharp generational shift from last year, when Toronto rapper Drake received plaudits for showcasing his comedic side during an engaging turn as MC.
Still, there was certainly a buzz surrounding the 79-year-old Montrealer.
"Hopefully he wears the Trekkie suit at least for a little bit," said Diamond Rings' John O'Regan, nominated for new artist of the year.
"They don't often have non-music people hosting," said Sloan's Patrick Pentland, before joking: "The Canadian entertainment business -- there's tons of people. And most of them probably turned it down. But they got William Shatner."
Of the marquee names with multiple nominations, Mangan might have come as a surprise to some fans. Among his four nods, the 28-year-old Vancouver native is up for new artist of the year and songwriter of the year, a category in which he'll compete with Cuddy, Ron Sexsmith, Feist and Dallas Green.
"It's bizarre," Mangan said down the line from Vancouver, noting that his parents are already excitedly making arrangements to travel to Ottawa for the show.
"I've never been nominated (at the Junos) before at all, so there were some hopes that maybe we'd have a pretty good chance of maybe having one nomination.
"I've since seen the press release that the Junos sent out and my name is mentioned in the big subject line, alongside those big, huge superstar bands. It's a weird thing."
Album of the year is a category featuring many of those "superstar" names, pitting Christmas albums by Bieber and Buble up against the latest from Drake, Avril Lavigne and Nickelback. The field for artist of the year includes City and Colour, Deadmau5, Feist, Buble and, yes, Drake again.
The 25-year-old rapper from Toronto was up for a leading six awards at last year's show before coming up empty-handed -- and he still has fans who feel that was unjust.
"Drake's killing it right now," O'Regan said. "And he deserves to win the awards twice over for what happened last time.
"So hopefully he wins them all."
More performers were also added to the lineup on Tuesday -- including group of the year nominees Nickelback and Hedley -- joining Feist, City and Colour, Deadmau5 and Blue Rodeo.
For now, most nominees seemed focused on celebrating. Eighteen-year-old new artist of the year nominee Alyssa Reid was already mulling a shopping spree.
"I know this is very, very girly of me, but as soon as we leave here I'm going to look for a dress," she said with a laugh.
"I just saw this place as we were driving here and I said: 'Oh my gosh, if we are nominated, I am stopping there, and I am getting that dress in the window."'
Meanwhile, Wayne Petti of Cuff the Duke -- up for adult alternative album of the year -- already had evening plans with family.
"I'm actually going out for dinner with my dad tonight," he said. "Maybe he'll buy."