We’ve seen plenty of awards shows in our day. And many of them — especially since January — have had political moments and made strong statements. Leave it to the Junos to not only bring politics into the awards, but to embrace them, too.
From the moment co-hosts Bryan Adams and Russell Peters popped up backstage it was clear that our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, would be a big part of the show. Little did we know that he would actually go on to become a focal point of Peters’ opening bit though, or that he and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau would later take the stage themselves in order to introduce Feist and help honour the late Leonard Cohen.
It’s kind of hard not to love Canada’s biggest power couple, especially in moments like that. Between giving a bilingual presentation, recalling their own memories of Cohen (Trudeau once hugged the man, despite Cohen’s dislike of hugs) and just taking time out of their schedules to be there, they proved that they care. And that’s pretty cool, no matter what you think about their politics.
Meanwhile, there was an even bigger political play happening throughout the entire show. From the opening number when A Tribe Called Red took the stage to give a moving performance, all the way to Gord Downie‘s pre-taped Songwriter of the Year speech about how not all Canadians are equal just yet, the ongoing plight of the First Nations were front and centre. It reminded us that there’s still a lot of work to do, while also embracing a huge part of the Canadian culture that often goes unidentified.
Of course those were just some of the standout moments from a pretty fast-paced show. Most of the actual awards had been given out the night before at a separate ceremony, which meant the bulk of the two-and-a-half hours was dedicated to performances, bits, and a lot of Sarah McLachlan as she was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. And while we loved the Letterkenny cameos (who knew Jared Keeso could play such a mean drum?) and we were entranced by Ruth B.‘s rendition of “Lost Boy,” it was Russell Peters and Bryan Adams who stole the show.
For two guys who stepped in semi last-minute for Michael Buble (who was supposed to host the show but had to step down when his son was diagnosed with cancer), they did a commendable job. Naturally they gave shout outs to Buble and acknowledged what a terrible thing he was going through. But they also seemed to forge what seems like an incredibly unlikely friendship despite only appearing onstage together a couple of times. It made us love them even more for the effort.
The riffed on each other, to be sure. In the opening bit alone when Peters barged into Adams’ dressing room, the duo proved they weren’t afraid to swear at each other or make little jabs. Like Peters wondering why the hell Adams would come onstage and perform a new song when all anyone really wants to hear is “Summer of ’69.” Or Adams telling Peters he needed new material before breaking out his own impression of “somebody’s gonna get-a hurt real bad.”
Considering they weren’t actually on stage together a whole lot, we were left wanting more. A lot more, actually. These two may be our new favourite bromance.
Naturally there were tons of other great moments. Such as…
Russell Peters’ many, many references to his hometown of Brampton, Ontario
…especially whenever Alessia Cara was in front of the cameras.
The Tragically Hip guitarist Paul Langlois going on for so long during the band’s acceptance speech
The show actually had to cut to commercial.
The crowd going insane for Shawn Mendes, who Peters reminded us all is only 18 years old
And of course that means he would probably head over to Quebec to have a drink after the show.
Bill Clinton taping a message to congratulate Sarah McLachlan on her induction
Sure we were a little confused as to why he taped the message, but it was pretty darned cool to see a former U.S. President take such an interest in our Canadian songstress.
Leonard Cohen’s son and adorable grandson twinning with their scarves and jackets while taking the stage to accept his Juno.
Peters joking about all the reasons Drake, The Weeknd and Justin Bieber couldn’t be at the show.
BUT, we got fan choice winner Shawn Mendes, people
And McLachlan’s speech about how much she appreciates living in a country where women are equal to men
Followed up by our other female crush, Chantal Kreviazuk, echoing those sentiments.
But of course one of the best parts of the entire night came at the end, when Adams’ fulfilled every fan’s wish and made good on all of the “Summer of 69” jokes by taking the stage alongside McLachlan, Arkells, Alessia Cara, Billy Talent and more for an epic singalong. It was like we were closing down the bar at a fantastic party rather than watching a live awards show.
And like a bar, it shut down pretty close to the actual closing time, with the entire broadcast going only a few minutes over. Take note, Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all of those other shows in between. That’s how you put together a fun and mostly seamless broadcast.
We can’t wait to see what they do next year in Vancouver
Miss the big show, or just want to relive it over and over again? Catch the whole thing on ctv.ca.