Celebrating the Polaris Prize finalists


Maybe it’s just my circle of music geek fans, but there seemed to be more discussion and debate about this year’s Polaris Music Prize process more than in years past. This, obviously, is a good thing – I know that the organizers have put a lot of time, effort and heart into making Polaris a legitimate celebration of Canadian music and it’s great to see them working to continuously improve not only the process but the promotion of the award.

Today, the longlist of 40 records got reduced to 10. I predicted six out of the ten correctly (I really wish I hadn’t pulled Elliott Brood off my list at the last minute). Here’s the finalists:

  • Elliott Brood – Mountain Meadows
  • Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life
  • Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels
  • Hey Rosetta! – Into Your Lungs
  • K’NAAN – Troubadour
  • Malajube – Labyrinthes
  • Metric – Fantasies
  • Joel Plaskett – Three
  • Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane
  • Patrick Watson – Wooden Arms

A few personal favourites of mine in there (Hey Rosetta!, Metric), a few records that I’ve been meaning to explore but haven’t gotten around to yet (Fucked Up, Elliott Brood) and, yes, a couple that I think aren’t the artist’s best work but are just the kind of bands that do well in this sort of thing (Plaskett, Great Lake Swimmers). And I should have learned this from two years ago, but never bet against Patrick Watson, clearly.

The gala to present the award will take place on September 21, 2009 at the concert hall in the Masonic Temple in Toronto. As a sign of the increased attention this year, the show will not only air on Sirius radio and CBC Radio 3 online, but will be video webcast on MuchMusic.com and will air on MuchMusic thereafter. Great to see Canada’s “music television station” jumping on board.

You can learn more about the finalists and the entire Polaris process at the award’s website.

Early prediction for the winner? I said when the longlist was announced that Newfoundland’s Hey Rosetta! had a damn good chance of walking away with this thing if they made the shortlist. They fit the victory model set by Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson and Caribou in years past – notable but not super-popular, a quality record but not off-putting or abrasive, unique but not TOO unique. For now, I’m sticking with them.

Watch: Hey Rosetta! – “Red Heart”


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