Canadian pop star Justin Bieber‘s fans may have helped him win the Juno Fan Choice Award at his home country’s Juno Awards Sunday night, but only a few were in attendance at Winnipeg’s MTS Center. When the 20-year-old singer’s name was called, cheers and audible boos filled the stadium, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Bieber, however, was not in attendance to hear them. Instead, the country’s Olympic women’s curling team took the brunt of boos, accepting the trophy on his behalf.
Indie rock artist Serena Ryder, who won the award for Songwriter of the Year, attempted to defend the singer during her acceptance speech. “I really think that Justin Bieber is an amazing musician, and he deserved every bit of that award because he’s been working his ass off his entire life and we need to support how awesome he is,” she said.
Bieber’s life lately has become a pop soap opera, which was chronicled in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. Following last fall’s international tour, where he was given a graffiti charge in Brazil and booed in Argentina, he started 2014 with allegations that he had egged a neighbor’s house, which led to a search of his Calabasas, California house and the discovery of drugs. Then he was arrested in Miami on a suspected DUI, where he filled a police report with expletives. Since then, he turned himself in to Toronto police over charges of allegedly assaulting a limo driver and gave a strange, angry deposition to a Miami lawyer over a disparate alleged assault charge.
But a public display of disaffection for Bieber wasn’t the only controversy at the Juno Awards. Robin Thicke, who had been nominated for three awards, canceled his performance, claiming he had to take “mandatory vocal rest,” according to THR. It was a win for the organizers of a Change.org petition to keep the “Blurred Lines” singer off the show due to “blatant sexism, degradation of women and promotion of rape culture” in the video for that song. The petition failed to get the 2,500 signatures it was seeking by more than 20 percent.
The real big winners at the Juno Awards were Arcade Fire, whose Reflektor won Alternative Album of the Year, Tegan and Sara, who won Best Song for the Heartthrob track “Closer,” and Bruno Mars, who won Best International Artist. A Tribe Called Red took home the Juno for Breakthrough Group, Brett Kissell won Breakthrough Artist and the members of Bachman-Turner Overdrive took the stage for an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.