So who’s got your vote to win this year’s Reggae Recording of the Year at the 46th Annual JUNO Awards? Yes, its that time again – are you ready for the dance? Often referred to as the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys, Canada’s most prestigious music award is presented annually to Canadian musical artists and bands to acknowledge their artistic and technical achievements in all aspects of music. Winners are chosen by either members of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences or a panel of experts depending on the award. This year, Ottawa hosts JUNO Week and the JUNO Awards March 27 – April 2, and will be broadcast live from The Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday, April 2 on CTV.
The Juno category Reggae Recording of the Year has been awarded since 1985. Before we take a look at the 2017 nominees, let’s first big up Kafinal! – last year’s Reggae JUNO Award winner, and while we’re on the congratulatory tip, we have to mention Exco Levi, who received the award four time consecutively between 2012 and 2015. And now, the nominees for Reggae Recording of the Year…“Sorry” (Ammoye), “Cry Every Day” (Blessed), “Roll ‘Dem” (Dubmatix ft. Gappy Ranks), “Siren” (Exco Levi), and “Who Feels It Knows” (Jay Kartier).
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to submitting an original track for JUNO consideration. One has to be a Canadian resident or landed immigrant, legally living in Canada. The song original song registered with SOCAN, and be able to meet the deadline for applications in accordance with the JUNO rules and regulations. Interestingly enough, songs submitted featuring collaborations with non-Canadian artists are considered 50% Canadian, leaving room for other highly-decorated superstar foreign artists to pop up in our JUNO nominations.
Once the deadline has passed, the process begins. A series of qualified judges go through all the applicants with a mission to bring that number down to five. In isolation, judges score each entry with a number from 1 to 25 using various factors such as ‘production quality’, ‘song lyrics’, ‘how the track is built’, etc. after carefully reviewing each song. Decisions are not based on sales or by whether there is an accompanying music video. In the end, it really comes down to the judge’s personal taste, so it doesn’t matter if an artist is branded or unbranded, signed or unsigned, veteran or brand new.
After the judges finish this process, their paperwork is sent off to an accounting firm to tabulate the top five nominees in each category. Once this is done, these same judges go through another round of scoring whey they determine the JUNO Award winner in each category.
When all is said and done, the question still remains, what does winning a JUNO mean for our artists? Case in point, where has it taken Kafinal since his JUNO win? Is this artist’s name even on your radar? Arguably, wouldn’t four time winner Exco Levi still be Exco Levi with or without his JUNO Awards? Maybe winning a JUNO is just another stripe one can can put on his artist-resume, another rung on the ladder when it comes to reaching higher heights as a Canadian artist; and when you’re a Canadian artist, everything counts in large amounts.
I am not overly impressed with this year’s song selections, just being honest. Let me be clear – I love some of these artists and their works, but when it comes to these specific songs, I can personally assure you, that all of these artists have released better songs – some of them might have not been registered and/or submitted, or, not qualified for some reason or another. In sports, some years offer better drafts than in others, just like some years farmers have better crops.
Having said all that, and without trying to be ‘mean’ – here’s my ‘vote’ for which song I personally think should win this year’s JUNO, and my criteria is that if I had to pick one song that is the best from a folder or songs I didn’t necessarily love, which song would I pick. I pick Jay Kartier “Who Feels It Knows” for having the best song of the bunch, although some of his earlier stuff I used to play on 88.1 is better. I hope my vote totally biases the judges – because they know who they are and it is the code of the JUNO Awards presenters to always keep their identities a secret. Good luck to all the nominees. Scroll down to hear the nominated songs, then visit www.reggaemania.com to cast your vote!
Here Are Five 2017 Best Reggae Recording JUNO Finalists (in alphabetical order):
01. Ammoye “Sorry”
02. Blessed “Cry Everyday”
03. Dubmatix ft. Gappy Ranks “Roll ‘Dem”
04. “Siren” (Exco Levi)
05. Jay Kartier “Who Feels It Knows”
Kafinal (featuring U-Roy) “Nah Complain” — Last Year’s JUNO Award winner for Best Reggae Recording
See The List of Past Reggae JUNO Award Winners (courtesy of www.junoawards.ca)