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Charlotte Cardin leads with six Juno nominations

"Shang-Chi" and "Kim's Convenience" star Simu Liu will be hosting the event
Montreal pop singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin has six nominations.

TORONTO — Charlotte Cardin said she would be popping the champagne in France to celebrate her surprise leading six nominations at this year's Juno Awards.

The Montreal pop singer raced ahead of some of Canada's biggest superstars, including five-time nominees Justin Bieber and the Weeknd, to become the breakout contender at this year's upcoming celebration of homegrown music set for May.

Cardin is up for several key categories including artist of the year and album of the year for her full-length debut "Phoenix." Her track "Meaningless" is nominated for single of the year.

"I'm getting messages from my whole family — everyone is freaking out," the 27-year-old said Tuesday over a video call from Paris where she lives part-time.

"I waited all day to hear what the nominations were. I bought champagne. And I will drink it after this."

Rounding out Cardin's other nods are ones for pop album of year, music video of the year and TikTok Juno Fan Choice, an award voted on by viewers through the social media platform.

The singer has been on a steady rise since landing in the Top 4 of "La Voix," the Québécois version of singing competition "The Voice" in 2013. But it was her vulnerable effort "Phoenix" that grabbed attention for her powerhouse vocals on "Anyone Who Loves Me" and the seductive growl of "Daddy."

"It's like extra, extra gravy and happiness on top of us releasing an album we were very proud of in the first place," she added.

Nominees for single of the year also include Brett Kissel for "Make a Life, Not a Living," JESSIA for "I'm Not Pretty," Bieber and Daniel Caesar for "Peaches" (feat. Giveon), and the Weeknd for "Take My Breath."

Joining Cardin in the album of the year category are JP Saxe's "Dangerous Levels of Introspection," Bieber's "Justice," Shawn Mendes' "Wonder" and Tate McRae's "Too Young to Be Sad."

Other big contenders this year include Mendes with four nominations. He's in line with the total held by Pressa, one of the rising stars of the Toronto rap scene, and Vancouver pop newcomer JESSIA, born Jessika Harling, known for her body-positive hit "I'm Not Pretty," which started as a TikTok video before being produced as a full-fledged pop song.

"I'm so unbelievably proud that I'm able to be an advocate for loving yourself, loving your body and just like being the real human being and talking about the weird stuff," she explained of the TikTok hit, which also scored a fan choice nomination.

"I am so thankful to everyone and all of the fans, and I'm so excited that the world's opening so I'm able to give them all big hugs."

The Juno bash is set to be held in person for the first time in three years at Toronto's open-air Budweiser Stage on May 15. The outdoor event will be hosted by "Shang-Chi" and "Kim's Convenience" star Simu Liu and broadcast on CBC.

Performers will include Cardin, Arkells, Avril Lavigne and Mustafa Ahmed, who goes by Mustafa, organizers said Tuesday.

Among the other highlights, pop songwriter Saxe grabbed two nods after last year taking home the breakthrough artist win propelled by his duet "If the World Was Ending" with girlfriend Julia Michaels. 

This year Saxe competes for artist of the year and album of the year with "Dangerous Levels of Introspection," an accomplishment that brought out his dry humour.

"It's nice to get these nominations again because it means I'm not totally drenched in the decline," he said with a smirk.

Vancouver rock band Mother Mother scored their fifth career Juno nomination, helped by their surprising explosion of popularity on TikTok. This year they picked up a group of the year nomination.

"In light of this new wave of energy born from TikTok, it's that reaction times 1,000," said guitarist and vocalist Ryan Guldemond of the latest recognition.

"We can't believe we're here still and it going as well as it is." 

Women were strongly represented in the technical categories with singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson and last year's winner Ebony Oshunrinde, known as WondaGurl, among the producer of the year nominees.

Hill Kourkoutis became the first woman in Junos history to be nominated for recording engineer, a category that was created in 1976.

She called the recognition part of "an incredible period of transition" that's seen more women, non-binary and transgender people stepping to the forefront in behind-the-scenes production over the past five years.

"I could count the amount of female producers or engineers in the scene on one hand, and now there's dozens of us, and we're all finding each other," Kourkoutis added.

"It's definitely shifting. I think it's an incredibly exciting time and I'm nothing but optimistic that this nomination today is going to be the first of many to come."

Several other changes are being introduced this year in an effort to recognize a wider array of musicians. 

The rap category has been split into two new categories — rap album/EP of the year and rap single of the year — while Indigenous artist or group of the year is now two awards, with one honouring contemporary Indigenous artists and another for traditional artists.

A new award for underground dance single celebrates less mainstream sounds often heard on club dance floors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2022

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