EDMONTON – A wildly unpredictable Juno Awards unfolded on Monday as a topless protester charged the stage, resulting in some feisty words from Avril Lavigne, while an absent the Weeknd emerged as the highest winner this 12 months.
With a couple of twists and turns, Canada’s biggest celebration of music did away with its typically tame proceedings shortly after the printed got underway. Lavigne was interrupted by a topless woman who leapt on the stage wearing pasties with paint on her that read “land back” and “save the green belt,” a reference to Ontario’s decision last fall to open a protected area of land for housing.
The pop-punk princess appeared blindsided by the crasher and proceeded to swear at her, demanding she get off the stage. The person was quickly escorted away by security.
Unfazed, Lavigne moved on to introduce a performance by Punjabi-Canadian singer and rapper AP Dhillon.
She returned later to just accept this 12 months’s fan selection award with a couple of selection words and one other expletive: “No one try anything this time or the Canadian goes to return out of me and I’ll (mess) a bitch up.”
The unexpected moment set the tone for an brisk Junos that saw the Weeknd’s smash hit “Dawn FM” earn him album of the 12 months, adding to 4 wins he scored at a Saturday industry event, including artist and single of the 12 months for “Sacrifice.”
When pop singer Tyler Shaw announced the Toronto native, born Abel Tesfaye, was absent from the Junos to just accept his prize, the gang expressed their disappointment and started to boo.
Tesfaye did send a written statement provided to The Canadian Press by Junos organizers:
“I’m so honoured to be recognized like this from my home country that I like a lot. I’m so humbled by all this and will never thank fans enough,” he wrote.
Other winners included Jessie Reyez who picked up contemporary R&B recording of the 12 months for “Yessie“ as her tearful father looked on and Tobi who won rap album/EP of the 12 months for ”Shall I Proceed?“
Newcomer Preston Pablo, who sings “Flowers Need Rain,” won breakthrough artist of the 12 months.
Special honourees Nickelback were present throughout the night, even before they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in a pre-recorded message by actor Ryan Reynolds.
Guitarist Ryan Peake offered a hand — and a guitar — in a gap bit where Liu showed off his vocal chops with a canopy of Nickelback’s “Photograph.”
The entire band took the stage as Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid ushered them into the Hall of Fame, saying Nickelback is amongst those that “have modified the sport ceaselessly.”
In his speech, a smitten Chad Kroeger reflected on his band’s humble beginnings in Hanna, Alta., saying they “had no idea what we were doing and more often than not still don’t.”
“But all the things we did led us to this moment right here,” he added.
A bit later, the band returned to shut out the printed with a medley of their biggest hits that included greater than its share of fiery pyro effects.
After the Junos, the organizers issued a press release saying they take “every step to avoid interruptions” to this system, but that live broadcasts at all times include risks.
“We hope tonight’s transient disruption doesn’t take away from the accomplishments of this 12 months’s performers, winners and nominees,” they added.
Yet, artists continued to buzz in regards to the topless fan backstage, with Lavigne telling the press room she was confident it was “happening as considered one of the highlights.”
Liu, who signed off the show saying “sorry in regards to the boobs,” also joked about it backstage: “In the event you had told me before I hosted there could be someone who would take their shirt off on the Junos, and it wouldn’t be me, I could be shocked.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2023.