William Shatner, who hosted this year's Juno awards, performed a spoken word medley and strapped on a Les Paul that he never actually strumed. (CARAS/iPhoto)
A Christmas album by Michael Bublé took home Album of the Year; Hedley broke its Susan Lucci losing streak; Martin Solveig & Dragonette's "Hello" beat Deadmau5 for Dance Recording; Feist was named Artist of the Year; Canadian's beloved Blue Rodeo were inducted into the Hall of Fame; and The Sheepdogs, which this time last year were an unknown indie band, equaled Feist with most wins. These were the standouts of 41st annual Juno Awards.
The majority of the 41 categories were handed out at a private gala dinner Saturday night; the remaining seven at this evening's live television broadcast, from Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, ON, before a paid audience of more than 12,000.
Hosting the TV show was Canadian icon William Shatner who came out with quips about show openers Nickelback's pyro ("If the drummer survived, what's the point?"); how tight he is with "Deadmow" and attending Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair ("I went for the music. I stayed for the wheatgrass smoothies").
The Star Trek legend - who won a Grammy back in 1978 for his spoken word version of Elton John's "Rocket Man" - wasn't nominated for a Juno for his fourth studio album, Seeking Major Tom, but he did talk through a Canadian song medley as part of his opening. With a guitar strapped on but remained unstrummed, the 81-year-old talked his way through snippets of Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild," Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69," BTO's "Takin' Care of Business," Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and Trooper's "Raise A Little Hell."
The night also included pre-taped comedic sketches featuring Shatner and Nickelback and one with Hedley.
The first award collected of the night was for Songwriter, which went to City and Colour's Dallas Green, a star in Canada slowly getting discovered in the rest of the world, who later performed "The Grand Optimist" solo on acoustic guitar.
Of the seven award winners announced on TV, Justin Bieber wasn't there to collect Fan Choice, nor Bublé to pick up Album of the Year for Christmas (beating non-themed albums by Nickelback, Drake, Avril Lavigne and Bieber).
Also absent because they are touring with John Fogerty in Australia were the Juno Awards weekend's hat trick winners, The Sheepdogs. The Saskatoon band - which won the Rolling Stone cover contest last summer and a deal with Atlantic Records - received Single of the Year for "I Don't Know," which along with Saturday's handouts, New Group and Rock Album.
The other coveted live spots were taken up by Nickelback; Hey Rosetta!; a medley of singles by Carly Rae Jepsen (recently signed to Scooter Braun's Schoolboy Records), Alyssa Reid, JRDN and Mia Martina; Simple Plan with special guest K'naan, who flew in to join this year's Allan Waters Humanitarian Award on their song together, "Summer Paradise."
Hedley, one of the country's biggest headlining acts, also played "One Life." The band has played the awards before, but never owned a Juno Award until last night, when they won their first two - Video for "Perfect" and Pop Album for Storms - after 18 kicks at the can since 2006
Indefinable indie musician Feist, who also performed "The Bad In Each Other" on the show, said she was "shocked" to have won Artist of the Year; in the category was Deadmau5, Drake, Bublé and City and Colour. The day prior, she also took home Adult Alternative Album for Metals and Music DVD.
Singer Sam Roberts gave mention of Gary Slaight's Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award - bestowed at the gala dinner to the former radio magnate and current champion of Canadian music through his charities - and the camera flashed to him in the audience. Johnny Reid gave credit to another Canadian music supporter Pierre Juneau, who recently passed away, explaining how the awards are named after him.
Towards the end of the evening, Sarah McLachlan helped induct Canadian roots rockers Blue Rodeo into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, even joining them on their song "Lost Together." The band, which has sold millions of albums over its 28-year career, received a standing ovation.
Canada's biggest night in music was capped by a Deadmau5 performance with LIGHTS of "Raise Your Weapon" and "Hi Friend" with MC Flipside.