The short list for the Polaris Music Prize was announced a couple of weeks ago. The list is as follows.
Black Mountain – In the Future
Basia Bulat – Oh, My Darling
Caribou – Andorra
Holy Fuck – LP
Kathleen Edwards – Asking For Flowers
Plants & Animals – Parc Avenue
Shad – The Old Prince
Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War
Two Hours Traffic – Little Jabs
The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
Three things are wrong with this list; The Weakerthans, Stars and Two Hours Traffic. Everybody has their criticisms with the above list. When talking about inclusion/exclusion of a specific artist people seem to forget who and what this prize stands for.
POLARIS MUSIC PRIZE MISSION STATEMENT
The operation of a not-for-profit organization that annually honours, celebrates and rewards creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing, then marketing the albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected critics and experts.
Let me tell you, i’m not the worlds largest Holy Fuck fan. Do I think they should be on the short list, absolutely, because they fulfill what the Polaris Music Prize stands for. These albums are supposed to be judged solely on artistic merit.
The Weakerthans, Stars and Two Hours Traffic all fall into the same category. Are these albums really creative, diverse and have artistic integrity? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, I love all three albums, and you would be hard pressed to find a bigger Weakerthans fan, but as far as a creativity and diversity, these albums don’t hit the mark for me compared to the other Canadian artists out there who are really pushing the musical boundaries.
Two Hours Traffic. This is a road trip album, made for the radio. If you listen to this album and the words creative, diverse and artistic merit come to mind, you need to go see a doctor. Makes a great soundtrack for a beach volleyball tournament though.
The Weakerthans have a specific sound. Sure, maybe if this was 1997 and Fallow was just released, they should be up for this award, but over the past 11 years, Left and Leaving, Reconstruction Site and Reunion Tour have been released, and all three albums have a very similar feel and sound. When listening to any Weakerthans song, I have a hard time telling the difference between these three albums. I don’t see Reunion Tour being any more creative or diverse than their previous albums. I can’t believe that I am dissin’ these guys, but in the context of the Polaris Music Prize, I didn’t expect to see them there. Sorry Mr. Samson.
Stars. Yah, much the same reasoning as already presented.
Looking at the past winners of this award (Final Fantasy and Patrick Watson) I don’t think these three bands stand a chance. This brings me to the most obvious omission to the Polaris short list; Sandro Perri. It is a shame he didn’t make the final 10 because his album, Tiny Mirrors registers high in the artistic integrity department and listens like no other Canadian album I heard last year, exactly what the Polaris Music Prize is supposed to celebrate.