The Polaris Music Prize shortlist is here

July 18, 2016

A little while ago, we told you about the Polaris Music Prize long list nominees for 2016, and last week they whittled it down to what jurors decided are the most deserving Canadian records of the year. Like any year, it’s a strong short list, which is to be expected when culling a relatively small amount from the goliath long list. But it’s also not without its issues.

As NOW Magazine’s Carla Gillis (a Polaris juror) points out, while 2016 has the most albums by women or bands fronted by women to ever be included in the long list. From pitch-perfect mega-pop (Carly Rae Jepsen) to genre-defying pop (Grimes), and sparkling singer/songwriter pop (Basia Bulat) to punk with a pop edge, not to mention Jessy Lanza’s spirited electro-pop, it was also the most pop year. But the long list is also unfortunately quite white-washed, especially for a year with so many great hip-hop and R&B albums.

As Gillis mentions, though, the Polaris Prize is absolutely a perfect conversation starter for bigger questions about the Canadian music scene’s diversity issues, and a good way to get acquainted with the bevy of different sounds the country has to offer is to go back and listen to all the records on the long list. Personally, I think Daniel Romano, Coeur de pirate, Daniel Caesar, and Jean-Michel Blais were top contenders, too. But so were all the others. And if we get into that conversation, it’ll never end. As fun as music is to argue about, it’s still mainly to be enjoyed. So enjoy checking out the short list, and then move on to the long list when you get the chance.

Polaris Music Prize 2016 short list:
Black Mountain – IV
Basia Bulat – Good Advice
Grimes – Art Angels
Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION
Kaytranada – 99.9%
Jessy Lanza – Oh No
PUP – The Dream Is Over
Andy Shauf – The Party
U.S. Girls – Half Free
White Lung – Paradise


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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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