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And the 2018 Polaris Music Prize Short List is…

After a year of arguing, lobbying, cajoling, kvetching, and passioned imploring by the 200+ members of the extended Polaris Music Prize jury, it’s come down to these ten finalists for the 2018 prize. A final round of voting has cut the Long List down to this Short List.

Is it just me or are there way more wildcards this year? Yes. Yes, there are.

1. Alvvays, Antisocialites

The Toronto band is having a very good year with plenty of international acclaim. I had this one on all my ballots.

2. Jean-Michel Blais, Dans ma main

He’s a composer and pianist from Quebec who has spent time living and working in Berlin and Buenos Aires.

3. Daniel Caesar, Freudian

R&B/soul singer who broke out through the Internet and streaming. He was Artist of the Year at the 2018 Junos.

4. Jeremy Dutcher, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa

Never in a million years would have I bet on Dutcher making the short list. He’s a classically trained operatic First Nations tenor. Time for some research on this guy!

5. Pierre Kwenders, MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time

Originally from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he has one Juno nomination for World Music Album of the Year and made it onto the Polaris Music Prize Long list in 2015. A good blend of hip hip, electronic and African influences.

6. Hubert Lenoir, Darlène

Francophone artist with a highly-regarded debut album. Unknown to most Canadians outside of Quebec, that’s obviously going to change now.

7. Partner, In Search of Lost Time

Atlantic Canada duo described as the region’s “best lesbian garage band.” I had them on at least one of my ballots.

8. Snotty Nose Rez Kids, The Average Savage

An indigenous hip-hop duo from the Haisla nation in British Columbia. Never saw this one coming, either.

9. U.S Girls, In a Poem Unlimited

Interesting experimental pop from Meghan Remy, born in the US but now a Canadian citizen.

10. Weaves, Wide Open

Toronto indie pop band who, like Alvvays, is having a good year.

Next step? The big Gala at the Carlu in Toronto on Monday, September 17. That’s when an eleven-member jury culled from the wider pool will be locked in a room to slug it out in secret until a winner is declared. The goal is to name the best album in Canada, regardless of genre or commercial success. As a former member of such a jury, I can tell you that this is a formidable task.

The winner will get $50K with the remaining nine walking away with cheques for $3,000 each.

If you want to be at the event, tickets go on sale through during the first week of August.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37893 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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