Anyone who still thinks this show is a celebration for Canadian music should lay off the booze! It is about selling, and selling out, no matter what!

Canadian acts angry at Junos’ international lineup
TORONTO (CP) – With Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas among the scheduled performers, this year’s Juno Awards are fast becoming must-see TV for music fans.
Some musicians and industry folk, however, are uncomfortable with the international lineup, arguing that homegrown artists should be the focus – particularly at a time when Canada’s music scene is being lauded around the world.
“A lot of people are talking about it. A lot of people are very upset,” said Fred Litwin, who runs Ottawa-based indie label NorthernBlues Music.
Trevor Larocque of Toronto’s Paperbag Records didn’t attempt to hide his sarcasm: “Coldplay’s playing I hear. They’re an amazing Canadian band.”
Some in the indie music sector feel the TV component of the Junos has lost its focus, letting ratings and broadcaster CTV dictate the content rather than the country’s pool of talent.
Entire genres, such as roots, country and jazz, continue to be excluded from the televised show, they say.
“We would never be asked (to perform on the broadcast). Blues is too much of a small genre. They have no commercial interest in it,” said Litwin.
There’s also the thorny issue of how many CTV personalities, including Ben Mulroney and Canadian Idol faces, will be included on the April 2 program.
As it stands, about nine acts get to perform and only a handful of the 39 Juno categories are awarded during the TV broadcast. The rest are handed out during a dinner the night before.
“Our award isn’t going to be presented (on TV) because Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas have to play,” lamented Marco Raposo of Pocket Dwellers, which is nominated for best new group.
Bringing in international superstar acts isn’t new for the Junos. In the 1980s, Tina Turner and Crowded House performed. Last year, country hotshot Keith Urban was invited as a presenter.
And producers haven’t ignored homegrown talent.
Indie performers like Broken Social Scene, Bedouin Soundclash and Massari are all set to play. As well, Halifax’s cutting-edge rapper Buck 65 will compose and perform the show’s theme music.
Other high-profile Canadian acts include Michael Buble and Bryan Adams.
Industry watcher Larry LeBlanc said the content wasn’t really an issue until bombshell actress Pamela Anderson was announced as host.
“The lightning rod is Pamela Anderson,” said LeBlanc, the Canadian bureau chief for Billboard magazine who’s been covering the Juno Awards for more than 30 years.
“This is the year they didn’t need international acts. Pam’s two breasts will do more for ratings than Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas.”
But the show’s executive producer, John Brunton, said naysayers should look at the flip side.
“It used to be we had to beg Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot,” he said. “We couldn’t get Canadians to the show. Now the show has grown up . . . we can compete with everyone in the world.”
He said Canadians should be proud to have a “world-class awards show” that attracts international acts and press, and can compete against other programs like the Grammys.
“Can we not start behaving like a world-class country and not be shy about sharing our stage with the biggest bands in the world?” he said. “The small town thinking makes me insane.”
Labels lobby hard to have their acts play at the Junos, given the show’s enormous profile.
A talent committee made up of representatives from the industry decides who ultimately gets one of the coveted performance spots, said Brunton, adding that organizers consider all the genres, looking at what the “big story” of the past year was.
He said the country’s blooming independent music scene won out.
“Next year it might be an urban scene. (The Junos) really just tries to reflect what the stories are in the Canadian music scene each year,” he said.
While Raposo said he can understand the draw of international acts, he insisted his seven-piece hip-hop funk outfit is just as entertaining as the Black Eyed Peas.
“We have enough talent in Canada that we could have put on a great show,” he said.
Another option, says blues man Litwin, would be to pair less commercially viable acts with mainstream ones.
At this year’s Grammy Awards, for example, gospel artist Hezekiah Walker performed with superstar Mariah Carey. At a past Juno show, Nelly Furtado was brilliantly paired with aboriginal group White Fish Juniors.
Said Litwin: “They could be worked into the show if (the Junos) really cared about different genres of music.”