Controversial Juno Awards may sound like an oxymoron, but the celebration of Canadian music has definitely had its fair share of, “Ooooh snap!” moments. The Grammy Awards isn’t the only show that elicits water-cooler talk the next day (OK, the Junos may not always bring that about, but we’re betting it could at least start a funny hashtag). Read on and gasp at some of the most controversial moments in the event’s history.
The most controversial Junos moments of all time
Robin Thicke Unwelcomed in This TownIn 2014 Canadians launched an online petition to ban the “Blurred Lines” singer from performing at the Junos just as he was coming under global criticism for his hit song "Blurred Lines." Many felt it was sexist, degrading to women and promoted rape culture. In the end, Thicke cancelled his scheduled performance citing vocal issues.Getty
Serena Ryder Defends Justin BieberHe was once a cute kid who won over the hearts of tween girls everywhere, but by 2014 Justin Bieber had developed a strong contingency of haters. It spilled all the way to Canada’s big night. Host and fellow artist, Serena Ryder, had to make an impassioned speech defending the star after the audience booed his Fan Choice Award win.Getty
Alanis Goes (Nearly) NudeWhat does Nipplegate have to do with the Junos? When Janet Jackson’s costume came off during the 2004 Superbowl, the morality police had a field day. This didn’t sit well with Alanis Morissette, who showcased a creative wardrobe malfunction of her own while hosting the Junos that year. “I am proud to be able to stand here and do this,” she said.Getty
Rough Trade Gets RaunchyIn 1982, Juno organizers asked Carole Pope’s rock group, Rough Trade, to change the lyrics to their racy song, “High School Confidential.” The group ignored the request and performed the original lyrics, “She makes me cream my jeans when she’s coming my way.” It was such an inspired performance it motivated K.D. Lang to come out of the closet.Getty
The Rascalz Refuse Award Over RacismHip-hop is ubiquitous in popular music today, but during the '90s the Junos left it (as well as the dance and reggae categories) out of the televised show. When West Coast rhymers the Rascalz, won Best Rap recording in 1998 they refused to accept the award. The next year rap was added to the telecast and the Rascalz performed.Sony Music Canada
The International Achievement AwardThis cringe-inducing honour was sporadically bestowed upon artists throughout the '90s and included Bryan Adams in 1992; Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Alanis Morissette (a three-way tie!) in 1997; Celine Dion (again!) in 1999; and Sarah McLachlan in 2000. The award has not been handed out since. Getty
Pamela Anderson Gets PoliticalIn 2006, former Baywatch star and all-around sexpot Pamela Anderson was tapped to host the Junos. As an animal lover and PETA spokeswoman, Anderson wasted no time using the show as a platform to draw attention to the East Coast seal hunt. “One of my favourite artists couldn’t be here tonight—Seal,” she told the audience. “He was afraid of being clubbed to death.”Getty
K-os is LostThe Toronto-based rapper chose the wrong time to get introspective. While performing “Sunday Morning” during the 2007 Junos telecast he suddenly stopped and told the crowd, “This is not me. This show is propaganda.” He then smashed his guitar on stage. He later claimed he was in the middle of an existential crisis.Getty
Anne Murray’s Decade of No-ShowsCanada’s songbird boycotted the Junos from 1975-85 because she felt show was conducted in a “bush-league manner” as she noted in her book (All of Me. After the show’s format revamp in 1986 she returned to introduce Bob Dylan, who inducted Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.Getty
Stompin’ Tom Connors’ Posthumous ProtestThe legendary artist returned all six of his Junos in 1978 in protest to the awards going to Canadians who had left the country. Before he died in 2013, he left instructions that the Junos were not to honour or celebrate him after he passed away, essentially carrying on his protest posthumously.Getty
The Juno Awards air Sunday, March 15 on CTV.