TORONTO — Whether it’s the Weeknd or Justin Bieber, some of Canada’s best-known musicians are having a fraught relationship with the Grammy Awards ahead of Sunday’s broadcast.
The Toronto R&B singer, born Abel Tesfaye, resurrected his beef with the Recording Academy this week, telling the New York Times that after being snubbed he’s vowed to “no longer allow” his label to submit his work for consideration.
Both his album “After Hours” and the single “Blinding Lights” were considered major contenders before he was left high and dry when the nominations were announced last November.
Bieber hasn’t quite spurned the Grammys, but he’s expressed his own displeasure with the process around his latest songs, which earned recognition in pop categories when he felt it was R&B music. Despite being the most-nominated Canadian this year, with four nods, Bieber isn’t booked to perform on the show and questions linger over whether he’ll even attend the smaller ceremony.
Controversies aside, no less than 23 of the 83 categories have at least one Canadian contender this year, and that doesn’t even count a spoken word nomination for “Jeopardy!” contestant Ken Jennings reading the late Alex Trebek’s memoir.
The 63rd Grammy Awards air Sunday on CBS and Citytv.
Here are some highlights to watch for:
THE POWER COUPLE: Toronto-raised singer-songwriter JP Saxe will roll into the Grammys ceremony with co-writer and girlfriend Julia Michaels to see if their Top 40 duet “If the World Was Ending” could pull a surprise win for song of the year. They’re up against some tough competition that includes Beyonce’s “Black Parade,” Taylor Swift’s “Cardigan,” and Dua Lipa’’s “Don’t Start Now.”
THE BREAKOUT: For the better part of a decade, Kaytranada built a reputation as Montreal’s secret weapon, but this year he finally landed on the Grammys’ radar. The Polaris Music Prize winner, born Louis Celestin, will vie for best new artist, while his dancefloor-ready 2019 album “Bubba” earned a nod for dance or electronic album, and the song “10%” competes for best dance recording.
THE TRIPLE PLAY: Music engineer Shawn Everett competes against himself three times in the same category, a rare claim in Grammys history. Three albums overseen by the Bragg Creek, Alta. native scored him nominations for best non-classical engineered album. They include “Jaime,” a solo project by Alabama Shakes’ singer Brittany Howard, “Hyperspace” from Beck and “Black Hole Rainbow” by Devon Gilfillian.
THE SCIENTIST: Jayda G started her career as an environmental toxicologist before flipping and reversing her dreams to become a house music producer. It’s a gamble that continues to pay off after she landed a Grammy dance recording nomination for her chill party vibe “Both of Us,” putting her alongside nominees Diplo, Disclosure and Kaytranada.
THE SHOWMAN: Rufus Wainwright rarely shies away from making a statement, and this year he says he would really like to win a Grammy for “Follow the Rules.” It’s nominated for traditional pop vocal album, up against works by Burt Bacharach, Harry Connick Jr., James Taylor and a Judy Garland soundtrack sung by Renee Zellweger. Surprisingly, it’s only Wainwright’s second Grammy nod after he picked one up in 2009 for his own Garland tribute album.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2021.
David Friend, The Canadian Press