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Nickelback, Krall Top Juno Awards

Chart-topping modern rock act Nickelback and jazz pianist/vocalist Diana Krall snared three trophies each at Canada’s Juno Awards last night (April 14) in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Nickelback grabbed Junos for best group, best single for “How You Remind Me” and best rock album for “Silver Side Up” (Roadrunner). Krall picked up Junos for best album and best vocal jazz album for “The Look of Love” (Verve), and the best artist honor. The event was broadcast on the nationwide CTV network.

In winning the best artist trophy, Krall beat out Leonard Cohen, Nelly Furtado, Amanda Marshall, and Garou, a one-time busker and now a Quebec music sensation. Surprises included David Usher picking up the best pop album award for “Morning Orbit,” and Swollen Members taking home the best rap recording Juno for “Bad Dreams.”

The Barenaked Ladies, who acted as presenters, performers, and hosts for the proceedings, started the evening with a parody of the Laverne and Shirley television theme before local hometown favorites Great Big Sea kickstarted the ceremony with a medley of songs sung a cappella. Unfortunately, pop sensation Nelly Furtado didn’t transmit the same energy for her performance on “On the Radio (Remember the Day)”. Accompanied by Swollen Members, Furtado seemed a bit lethargic in her enthusiasm and displayed overall lackluster showmanship.

As fans shuffled in and out of their seats during lulls in the television commercial breaks, Krall provided one of the few highlights of the show, with a great rendition of the jazz standard “Cry Me a River.” Brushing her gold locks from her closed eyes as an office tower backdrop set the tone, Krall only heightened her image and appeal. Another highpoint came when Shaggy performed “Keep It Real” to the delight of the audience. Walking into the crowd during the song, dancing, and creating a sing-a-long, the artist created a party atmosphere despite his vocals being lost in the mix.

The night also featured some surprises, albeit from remote videos for new inductees into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Concert promoter Michael Cohl was praised by members of the Rolling Stones as well as U2, who sung “Michael Cohl the boat ashore.” The Irish rock legends also saluted producer and longtime collaborator Daniel Lanois with a humorous “Oh Danny Boy.” Lanois performed alone with his acoustic guitar, winning the audience over with his simplicity and candor.

Sum 41 introduced “Fat Lip”/”Pain for Pleasure” in almost Spinal Tap-style manner, with a backdrop featuring tombstones of the four members. Concluding the song by demolishing the equipment and thrashing the drum kit, the band appeared to have enjoyed itself more than other acts, particularly Alanis Morissette. Singing “Hands Clean” from her new “Under Rug Swept” album, the diminutive performer was stationary and expressionless, but was nevertheless greeted with a standing ovation.

Although Barenaked Ladies performed “Brian Wilson,” the group was more engaging during its improvisational songs prior to commercials. The band also parodied Shaggy, Sloan, and Furtado by going into the crowd to serenade each performer. Nickelback closed the show with “How You Remind Me,” which was hampered by a poor sound mix and featured a pyrotechnic display.

For a full list of winners, visit the official Juno Awards Web site (http://www.juno-awards.ca/).

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