Shawn Mendes and Carly Rae Jepsen were among the 40 long-list contenders knocked out of the running for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize when the final votes were tallied for the short list announced Tuesday (July 16). The 10 titles up for best Canadian album span genres and styles, including francophone, Indigenous, hip-hop, electronic and punk artists, with combinations thereof. Singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez, rockers PUP and rapper Shad are probably the most well-known nominees in the U.S.
In many ways, this is the raison d’être for Polaris: exposing largely undiscovered or overlooked artists and their albums to a wider audience, even those in the music industry. Last year’s winner, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa by Jeremy Dutcher — a Toronto-based First Nations tenor and pianist who created an accessible album in his native Wolastoq, or Maliseet (a language spoken today by an estimated 600 people) — went on to win a Juno Award, Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys.
Duking it out for the 2019 Polaris crown are Marie Davidson’s Working Class Woman; Elisapie’s The Ballad of the Runaway Girl; FET.NAT’s Le Mal; Dominique Fils-Aimé’s Stay Tuned!; Les Louanges’s La nuit est une panthère; Haviah Mighty’s 13th Floor; PUP’s Morbid Stuff; Jessie Reyez’ Being Human In Public; Shad’s A Short Story About A War; and Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ Trapline (whose The Average Savage made last year’s short-list).
The prestigious Canada music award is determined by a jury, this year consisting of 199 members of the music media, instructed to vote for titles based solely on artistic merit, without consideration to genre, record sales or professional affiliation. The jury is comprised of music journalists, broadcasters and music bloggers from across the country, representing all genres. Throughout the year, jurors suggest titles in a private group, where they comment and debate. To compile the long-list, they submit their top five picks in order on a password-accessed page, then vote again for their top five out of the 40 titles that make the cut.
The 2019 Polaris winner will be decided behind closed doors Sept. 16 at Toronto’s Carlu by an 11-member “grand jury,” who will debate each album’s merits and cast a series of private votes. The results are set to be revealed that same evening at the Polaris gala, which will be live streamed at cbcmusic.ca/polaris.
The official eligibility period for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize titles is from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019. (Note: albums released between May 1 and May 31, 2018 that did not make the 2018 long-list were also considered.) The winner receives $50,000 (CAD), while Slaight Music awards $3,000 to each of the other nine short-listed nominees.
Past winners of the Polaris Music Prize include Jeremy Dutcher (2018), Lido Pimienta (2017), Kaytranada (2016), Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015), 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).