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Simu returns, Nickelback rocks: What to watch for at this weekend’s Juno Awards

Jessie Reyez, Tenille Townes and a 50th anniversary tribute to Canadian hip-hop among the highlights
Simu Liu appears on stage at the JUNO Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. Some of Canada’s top music talents are headed to the Juno Awards in Edmonton this weekend. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arthur Mola-Invision-AP

Some of Canada’s top music talents are headed to the Juno Awards in Edmonton this weekend.

The annual celebration of homegrown music takes place over two nights in Alberta’s capital, with pop singer the Weeknd leading the nominees with six, though he’s not expected to attend.

Most of the trophies will be handed out Saturday at a gala dinner for the music industry. The main show airs Monday on CBC-TV and CBC Gem — a shift from the Junos’ usual Sunday night slot in order to avoid overlapping with the Oscars.

“Kim’s Convenience” star Simu Liu returns as host of the Junos broadcast, where a handful of marquee awards will be handed out, alongside performances from Jessie Reyez, Tenille Townes and a 50th anniversary tribute to Canadian hip-hop.

Here are five other things to watch for on Junos weekend:

THE LEADERS: Among his six nominations, Toronto hitmaker the Weeknd is up for album of the year for “Dawn FM,” single of the year for “Sacrifice” and artist of the year. But he’s only one of many familiar artists in top contention. Calgary newcomer Tate McRae and Napanee, Ont., pop princess Avril Lavigne are tied with five nods each. They will compete against each other in four of those categories — single, album, pop album and fan choice.

THE TRIFECTA: Threes, threes, threes across the board! Rarely do the connections align in the way they have for three Juno contenders this year. Rising Montreal producers Banx and Ranx hold three nominations, one of which they share with collaborator Preston Pablo on “Flowers Need Rain,” up for single of the year. Pablo is a three-time nominee himself, as is Montreal pop newcomer Rêve who earned the accolades in part for her work with Banx and Ranx in the studio. All three of them will connect when they perform a medley together on the broadcast.

THE PERFORMERS: An eclectic selection of other artists is booked to play Monday’s big show, including Oji-Cree singer-songwriter Aysanabee, hard rockers Alexisonfire, Punjabi-Canadian viral rapper AP Dhillon and Nashville-based country singer Tenille Townes. But even with a stacked lineup, one question lingers: will host Simu Liu sing again? Last year, the Marvel star slipped on a guitar for a parody rendition of Lavigne’s hit “Complicated.” Juno organizers won’t say if viewers can expect an encore.

THE HALL OF FAME: Nickelback will remind us of their legendary status when the rockers are inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by Ryan Reynolds. The actor will appear on Monday’s broadcast in a pre-recorded video message to the band while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid offers an assist in person. The Hanna, Alta., natives will then launch into an explosive medley of their greatest hits. On Saturday, Chad Kroeger and his buddies could walk away winners too as they hold their 38th career nomination for “Get Rollin’” in the rock album of the year category.

JOEL WOOD VS. NORTHERN CREE: Saturday night is also where one of the friendliest of possible Juno showdowns will take place. Cree musician Joel Wood competes against his own Alberta Indigenous singing group Northern Cree in the traditional Indigenous artist or group of the year category. Wood is nominated for his album “Mikwanak Kamôsakinat,” while Northern Cree is in the running for “Ôskimacîtahowin: A New Beginning.” Joel’s father Steve Wood, another member in Northern Cree, told The Canadian Press it’s “absolutely wonderful” to see both albums vie for a win in the same category.

—David Friend, The Canadian Press

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