The Weeknd topped the list of nominations for the 50th annual Juno Awards announced Tuesday, months after the Grammys snubbed the artist.
The Weeknd’s six nominations come a little over a month after the singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, became the first solo Canadian artist to headline the Super Bowl halftime show and only days after his single Blinding Lights spent the 52nd week in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
That’s the longest any song has been in the Top 10. The previous holder of the record, Circles by Post Malone, spent 39 weeks there.
Blinding Lights is up for single of the year at the Junos, which are scheduled to take place May 16. His five other nominations — album of the year for After Hours, songwriter of the year, artist of the year, contemporary R&B recording of the year and fan choice — stand in stark contrast to his fate at the Grammys, which failed to put him up for a single award.
At the time, The Weeknd tweeted that the Grammys are “corrupt” and said in an interview with Billboard that the three Grammys he has won in the past “mean nothing to me now.”
The last time The Weeknd won at the Junos was in 2017, when he took home the award for R&B/Soul recording of the year for Starboy.
Bieber grabs nominations for latest album
Justin Bieber also marked a return to the awards with five nominations. Excluding 2019, the singer has been nominated in the fan choice category consistently for the past five years, but the last time he was nominated in another category was in 2016 when he won pop album of the year.
This year’s nominations are largely for his album Changes, Bieber’s first major release since 2015’s Purpose. He is up for single of the year, artist of the year, album of the year, pop album of the year and fan choice. Two other artists scored five nominations apiece: Toronto’s Jessie Reyez and newcomer JP Saxe
Reyez is quickly becoming a mainstay of the Junos, having taken home an award at every show since her first nomination in 2018.
Though her nomination for breakthrough artist of the year came that year, Reyez only released her debut album last year — Before Love Came to Kill Us. It contains some of her most popular earlier work, such as 2016’s Figures, but also a slew of newer songs.
Like The Weeknd, Reyez is up for artist, songwriter and contemporary R&B recording of the year. She’s also up for music video of the year with two separate entries: No One’s in the Room and Intruders. Saxe emerged as the breakout nominee of the 2021 Junos. He released If the World Was Ending — co-written with Julia Michaels, who also sings on the track — at the end of 2019, just within the eligibility period for the awards and before the coronavirus pandemic largely shut down the entertainment industry. The song captured the general mood of listeners early on in the pandemic and hit Billboard’s Top 40 soon after.
It is also up for song of the year at the Grammys, Saxe’s first nomination in those awards. At the Junos, the song is up for single of the year and contributed to Saxe’s nomination for songwriter of the year. Saxe is also up for breakthrough artist of the year and fan choice, as well as pop album of the year for Hold it Together.
Familiar stars among nominees but Drake still absent
Nominees in key categories:
- Juno fan choice: Ali Gatie, Curtis Waters, JP Saxe, Justin Bieber, Lennon Stella, Les Cowboys Fringants, NAV, Shawn Mendes, Tate McRae, The Weeknd.
- Artist of the year: Ali Gatie, Céline Dion, Jessie Reyez, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd.
- Album of the year: You, Ali Gatie; Courage, Céline Dion; Changes, Justin Bieber; Thanks for the Dance, Leonard Cohen; After Hours, The Weeknd.
- Single: Drink About Me, Brett Kissel; If The World Was Ending (feat. Julia Michaels), JP Saxe; Intentions (feat. Quavo), Justin Bieber; Kissing Other People, Lennon Stella; Blinding Lights, The Weeknd.
- Group: Arkells, Half Moon Run, Loud Luxury, the Glorious Sons, the Reklaws.
- Breakthrough artist: Curtis Waters, JP Saxe, Powfu, Ryland James, Tate McRae.
- Breakthrough group: 2Frères, Crown Lands, Manila Grey, Peach Pit, Young Bombs.
- Songwriter: Alanis Morissette, Alessia Cara, Jessie Reyez, JP Saxe, The Weeknd.
A number of other mainstay Canadian artists earned nominations. Shawn Mendes received a nomination for fan choice for the sixth year in a row, and Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album Thanks For the Dance is up for album of the year. Thanks for the Dance, which was released in November 2019, was also nominated for the 2020 Junos for adult alternative album of the year.
Céline Dion nabbed three nominations — for artist, album and adult contemporary album of the year — increasing her total number of Juno nominations to date to 75, the most of any nominee. Alanis Morissette also saw her first nominations since 2009: she’s up for songwriter of the year and adult contemporary album of the year for Such Pretty Forks in the Road.
Noticeably absent was Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes and the wildly successful single from the mixtape, Toosie Slide. The Canadian singer stopped submitting his releases for consideration in 2018 and currently sits at seven wins and 33 total nominations.
TikTok propels artists onto Junos stage
As the award organizers try to include more younger artists, musicians who got their start on the popular video-sharing app TikTok are making up a larger proportion of the nominations. The breakout TikTok stars were mostly limited to Vancouver rapper bbno$ and Ali Gatie last year, but many more have joined this year.
Nominees Tate McRae, Curtis Waters and Powfu, whose real name is Isaiah Faber, all saw their songs become popular on the app while Gatie is back for the second year in a row largely off his initial TikTok success.
McRae, a 17-year-old from Calgary, in particular, has leveraged the platform for her success. Her track You Broke Me First was released in April 2020 and exploded in popularity soon after because of a social media-marketing campaign. The song has over 500 million streams on Spotify, and McRae is up for both breakthrough artist and fan choice.
According to organizers, this will be the first year the Junos use TikTok as a fan choice voting platform. The Juno Awards ceremony will air on CBC TV, CBC Gem and CBCMusic.ca/junos.