Polaris Music Prize Short List: Drake, New Pornographers, Caribou Make the Cut

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Drake onstage during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 8, 2015.

The short list for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize, honoring Canada's album of the year, was announced Thursday morning at The Carlu in Toronto. The list was revealed by veteran children's music entertainer Fred Penner, who will also host the event on Sept. 21.

Potential honorees are Drake for If You're Reading This It's Too Late; Tobias Jesso Jr. for Goon; The New Pornographers for Brill Bruisers; Buffy Sainte-Marie for Power In The Blood; Viet Cong and Alvvays for their respective self-titled albums; BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah for Sour Soul; Braids for Deep In The Iris; Caribou for Our Love; and Jennifer Castle for Pink City.

"These records were selected by 196 music critics and music media people from across the country, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation or popularity," said founder and executive director Steve Jordan. "They initially voted for 197 in total; they pared that down to 40 titles that we announced one month ago. We'll then pick 11 of our jury members to decide the winner on Sept. 21 at the Carlu."

Drake's 'If You're Reading This' Makes Polaris Music Prize Long List

Aux.tv will stream it live. Ticketfly will also sell tickets to the public.

This year the grand prize money has been upped from $30,000 to $50,000 (CAD), courtesy of Slaight Music, which is also giving each of the nine runner-ups $3000, an increase of $1000.  The Polaris Music Prize started in 2006 with a $20,000 grand prize.

The eligibility period for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize is June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015. 

Penner said he was "incredibly delighted and proud to be part of this event… Steve apparently has been following my career over the last while, particularly at the Junos in Regina and Winnipeg and Hamilton recently, and there seemed to be a bit of a buzz and energy that comes from the generation that many of you [media/industry] are a part of -- Fredheads, I call them. And it seemed like a logical connection to bring me forward."

He added Paquin Artists Agency told him that Jordan wanted him to host and he had no hesitation.  "I truly believe in what Polaris stands for," he said, telling Jordan at a lunch that "it seemed to be a head and shoulders above any organization that was working with music in Canada." He then used some phrases "that maybe caught Steve a little bit by surprise," such as "integrity," "celebrating diversity" (range of music) and "responsible."

On Sept. 21, while the short listed artists perform and are honored at the gala, the grand jury will have it out behind closed doors to determine the winner, which is announced at the end of the evening.

How the Grand Jury Process Works: Behind the Scenes at Polaris

Artists who have won the Polaris Music Prize in the past are Tanya Tagaq (2014), Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2013), Feist (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), Karkwa (2010), Fucked Up (2009), Caribou (2008), Patrick Watson (2007), and Final Fantasy / Owen Pallett (2006).

Polaris has also partnered with Slaight Music for a brand new prize, honoring Canadian heritage albums, "pre Polaris," as Jordan puts it, called The Slaight Family Heritage Polaris Prize. "This is basically our version of a Hall of Fame and details will be announced in the next couple of weeks."

Earlier this year at a Slaight Music event, Jordan took the stage to first explain how the prize will work. "Starting this summer, we will have juries determine a Short List from the decade's pre-dating Polaris' launch in 2006; there will be five Heritage Prize winners a year, one each from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. They will use the same criteria that we use for current records which is to pick the without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales. The public will pick the winner. We will repeat this process ever year."