The Weeknd swept the 2021 Juno Awards, which honor the year’s best music by Canadian artists. This year’s Junos were presented over two nights, Friday June 4 and Sunday June 6. Both shows were virtual affairs, with Sunday’s show including eight performances and six award presentations.
The Weeknd won five awards — artist of the year, album of the year and contemporary R&B recording of the year (After Hours), single of the year (“Blinding Lights”) and songwriter of the year. The pop and R&B superstar swept these same five categories five years ago with his album Beauty Behind the Madness and single “Can’t Feel My Face.” Yet The Weeknd didn’t appear on the show, either to perform or accept an award.
The Weeknd is the first artist to sweep the awards for artist, album, single and songwriter of the year twice. The Weeknd is the also first three-time winner for artist of the year, an award that originated in 2003. He previously won it in 2015 and 2016.
The Weeknd was famously shut out in the nominations for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards. He fared much better at the awards in his home country. The Weeknd was this year’s only multiple Juno winner out of 43 categories presented over the two nights. These five wins bring his career total of Juno Awards to 15, which puts him in sixth place on the all-time winners list behind Anne Murray (25), Bryan Adams (21), Céline Dion (20), Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (18), and The Tragically Hip (17).
Mendes took the fan-voted fan choice award for the third time in the past five years. He previously won in 2017 and 2018. Only Bieber has won more times in that category (five). Michael Bublé and Avril Lavigne have also won it three times.
Bieber won pop album of the year for Changes. It’s his record-setting third win in that category, following My World 2.0 (2011) and Purpose (2016). Barenaked Ladies, Lavigne, Bublé, Lights and Alessia Cara have each won twice in that category. Changes was nominated for a Grammy this past year for best pop vocal album, but lost to Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia.
This brings Bieber’s collection of Junos to eight. Other 2021 winners who moved up the all-time winners list include Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (18), Alanis Morissette (13), Arkells (seven), Toronto Symphony Orchestra (six) and Bahamas (five). Bieber performed “Somebody” from a studio in Los Angeles. It was his first Junos appearance in 11 years.
Saxe won breakthrough artist of the year. He’s the first male artist to win in that category since Brett Kissel seven years ago, after which the award went to a succession of six female artists – Kiesza, Alessia Cara, Ruth B, Jessie Reyez, bülow and Lennon Stella. Saxe received a Grammy nomination for song of the year in November for “If the World Was Ending,” which he co-wrote with Julia Michaels. Saxe and Michaels performed that song, and another, “Like That,” on the Junos, also from Los Angeles.
Savannah Ré’s Solid won traditional R&B/soul recording of the year. The award was presented by Liberty Silver and Jully Black. In 1985, Silver became the first winner in an R&B category at the Junos. This marks the first year that R&B has been split into traditional and contemporary categories. As noted, The Weeknd won the contemporary R&B award.
According to the Junos, 52% of this year’s 48 unique winners were first-time winners, 46% had female representation and 40% had BIPOC representation.
The show also featured performances by Ali Gatie & Tate McRae (“Lie to Me” and “What If I Told You That I Loved You”); William Prince featuring Serena Ryder (“The Spark”) and Jessie Reyez (Do You Love Her” and “Before Love Came to Kill Us”). It also included a salute to 30 years of rap at the Junos featuring Michie Mee, Maestro Fresh Wes, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, NAV and Haviah Mighty.
Jann Arden, who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, performed “Good Mother” from the National Music Centre in her hometown of Calgary. The Tragically Hip, winners of the Humanitarian Award, performed “It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken” with special guest Feist from Massey Hall in Toronto.
The Junos are counting this at their 50th telecast. The awards debuted in 1970, but they skipped a year in 1988 and had only a perfunctory streamed awards presentation in June 2020, at the nadir of the pandemic.
The show included a series of illuminating spots dubbed “My Junos Moment” in which such stars as Morissette, k.d. lang and Shania Twain revisited clips from past shows and commented on what those moments meant to them.
Here is a complete list of winners presented on Sunday’s show. See this story for a complete list of winners presented on Friday’s show.
Juno fan choice: Shawn Mendes
Album of the year: After Hours, The Weeknd, The Weeknd XO/Republic/Universal
Artist of the year: The Weeknd, The Weeknd XO/Republic/Universal
Breakthrough artist of the year: JP Saxe, Arista/Sony
Pop album of the year: Changes, Justin Bieber Def Jam/Universal
Traditional R&B/soul recording of the year: Solid, Savannah Ré, 1Music/Universal