Nickelback, Drake, Feist, Hedley among Juno nomination leaders
TORONTO -- City and Colour, Dan Mangan, Drake, Feist, Hedley and Nickelback led the Juno Award nominations Tuesday with four nods apiece, setting up a wide-open race at this year's gala in Ottawa.
No one artist managed to rise above the pack as nominations were announced at a glitzy, crammed gathering in Toronto. After the first group of nominees, Avril Lavigne, Michael Buble and Deadmau5 followed with three nods each.
Teen sensation Justin Bieber also earned a pair of nominations -- including one for album of the year -- while other multiple nominees included Blue Rodeo co-frontman Jim Cuddy, Hamilton rockers Arkells and Montreal-based indie-rockers Braids.
"Star Trek" icon William Shatner, meanwhile, has been named host of the April 1 gala, to be broadcast on CTV.
With so many multiple nominees, many artists will be duking it out with one another over and over again in several categories.
"I could kick Bieber's ass but not Drake -- he's a bit hardcore," laughed Niagara Falls, Ont., electronic producer Deadmau5 (nee Joel Zimmerman), who's up for the Juno fan choice award and artist of the year -- a nomination he called a "shocker."
He's probably less surprised about being up for best dance recording, a category he's won four years in a row.
"It's not really weird when you're only one of like five Canadians making dance music these days," he said of the unique scenario. "(But) I'm sure a lot more are, and that just kind of paves the way for a lot more to be recognized."
Cuddy, meanwhile, has two nominations for his third solo record, "Skyscraper Soul," on the same night that Blue Rodeo will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
"It's huge," Cuddy said. "Obviously we love the status we have as a band that's been around for a long time, but you do want your newest work to be acknowledged. So I'm very, very pleased."
When asked who he was excited about seeing at this year's show, Cuddy was definitive.
"William Shatner!" he said, his eyes widening. "I'm thrilled."
Indeed, the hosting choice was drawing plenty of attention from nominated artists at Tuesday's bash. Shatner marks a sharp generational shift from last year, when Toronto rapper Drake received plaudits for showcasing his comedic side during an engaging turn as MC.
Still, there was certainly a buzz surrounding the 79-year-old Montrealer.
"Hopefully he wears the Trekkie suit at least for a little bit," said Diamond Rings' John O'Regan, nominated for new artist of the year.
"They don't often have non-music people hosting," said Sloan's Patrick Pentland, before joking: "The Canadian entertainment business -- there's tons of people. And most of them probably turned it down. But they got William Shatner."
Of the marquee names nominated, Mangan might have come as a surprise to some fans. Among his four nods, the 28-year-old Vancouver native is up for new artist of the year and songwriter of the year, a category in which he'll compete with Cuddy, Ron Sexsmith, Feist and Dallas Green.
Album of the year will pit Christmas albums by Bieber and Buble up against the latest from Drake, Avril Lavigne and Nickelback, while the field for artist of the year includes City and Colour, Deadmau5, Feist, Buble and, yes, Drake again.
The 25-year-old from Toronto was up for a leading six awards at last year's show before coming up empty-handed -- and he still has fans who feel that was unjust.
"Drake's killing it right now," O'Regan said. "And he deserves to win the awards twice over for what happened last time.
"So hopefully he wins them all."
More performers were also added to the lineup on Tuesday -- including group of the year nominees Nickelback and Hedley -- joining Feist, City and Colour, Deadmau5 and Blue Rodeo.
For now, most nominees seemed focused on celebrating. Eighteen-year-old new artist of the year nominee Alyssa Reid was already mulling a shopping spree.
"I know this is very, very girly of me, but as soon as we leave here I'm going to look for a dress," she said with a laugh.
"I just saw this place as we were driving here and I said: 'Oh my gosh, if we are nominated, I am stopping there, and I am getting that dress in the window."'
Meanwhile, Wayne Petti of Cuff the Duke -- up for adult alternative album of the year -- already had evening plans with family.
"I'm actually going out for dinner with my dad tonight," he said. "Maybe he'll buy."