The Polaris Prize, named for the North Star, is an award given annually (since 2006) for the best full-length Canadian album, based "solely on artistic merit, without regard to genre, sales history or label affiliation". For an album to be eligible, it must have been released (digitally or otherwise) between June 1 of the previous year and May 31 of the award year.
The grand prize this year is $30,000 cash. That's a bump from the previous grand prize of $20,000. In addition, the "short list" finalists will each get $2,000 cash.
This year's jury consists of 227 music fans who regularly review Canadian music. They're mostly bloggers and independent music journalists, with a few mainstream music journalists in there for good measure. They each nominate five records. From that, there's a compiled "long list" of 40 finalists. That list will be released on Thursday June 16. The same jury will cull that list down to 10, and that "short list" will be released on Wednesday July 6. There's a big gala on Monday September 19, at which all of the shortlisted bands will perform. At the end of it all, the winner gets a giant check for $30k.
I'll get to what my ballot would look like in a bit, but first, a little more about the jury. Here's the list of jurors this year. You can see that there's a wide range of accreditation, ranging from bloggers to MTV-types, commercial radio stations of varying format, and jurors from every province. By rule, these jurors cannot have any direct relation with a band or label on their ballot, but I've learned that at least one juror has nominated his own band.
I like that the list of jurors isn't kept secret. I also like that they're not prohibited from publishing their ballots to the public. Some of them have done just that.
Reading some of these official ballots and some "unofficial" ballots from other bloggers has been fun. I've been exposed to some stuff that I otherwise wouldn't have known. At least one went from "I've never heard of them" to "that's on my Polaris ballot if I'm a juror" with the blink of an eye.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, my five picks:
- seventh favourite Canadian record of the calendar year 2010, and in retrospect, I was selling it short. Unlike some of the records on that 2010 retrospective, it took a while for me to get into that record. I said then, and I'll say the same thing now, that I like it more and more each time I listen to it. These songs are really well-crafted, honest songs by a woman who's too young to have already had such a prolific career. These days, I'm partial to the song "If You Only Knew", which could easily pass for one of The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs.
I think this has a very good chance of making the long list, a slim chance of making the short list, and virtually no chance of winning the grand prize.
It might be the case that this is just a flavor o' the week, but right now I'm really digging it, so it's making the cut.
It should make the long list with a great chance of making the short list. I don't see it as a serious contender for the grand prize.
I think some voters will have trepidation about voting for them, but I still think it's a lock for the short list and I think it has a very good chance of winning the grand prize.
This video for the song "Stamp" is a really good example of Banwatt's skill, but I'll also recommend the official video for the same song
I'll be surprised if this album doesn't end up on the short list, and I'll only give it a small chance of winning the grand prize.
I think this should easily make the short list, and has a realistic chance of winning the grand prize.
If you've got an unofficial (or even an official) Polaris ballot of your own, I'd like to see it. Leave it in the comments or leave a link to your blog.