Montreal-born Charlotte Cardin was the big winner at 2022 Juno Awards Sunday, as the electro-pop singer took home “Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” honors for her critically-acclaimed debut album, Phoenix. Cardin also performed her single, “Meaningless,” at the Junos — which are often dubbed the “Canadian Grammys,” as the show honors the top recording artists in Canada.
Cardin led all nominees with six nods for this year’s ceremony, and the 27-year-old snagged four trophies in total over the two-night ceremony (only Sunday night’s festivities were televised).
The Weeknd was the other big winner of the weekend, earning Junos for “Songwriter of the Year” and “Best Contemporary R&B Recording” for “Take My Breath,” off his latest album, Dawn FM. And while Shawn Mendes didn’t have an eligible album release in 2021, he nevertheless picked up two trophies on the night, snagging the Juno “Fan Choice” award — fittingly voted on by fans viz TikTok — and a special “International Achievement Award,” which recognized the Pickering, Ontario-native’s contribution to the global music scene.
Mendes was on hand at Toronto’s Budweiser Stage to pick up the trophy — and while he was visibly moved by the honor, he ended his acceptance speech by telling fans that accolades and achievements aren’t as important as the journey. “We’re taught to believe that what we achieve is the same thing as what we are worth,” he said. “But something that I know to be true now is that I was enough before anybody knew my name.”
This year’s Junos returned to an in-person ceremony for the first time in three years, after much of Canada was shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic. Host Simu Liu addressed the capacity crowd right off the top, saying “Some crazy energy Toronto,” before jokingly adding that, “it’s almost as if you guys have been cooped up at home for two years.”
Later in his opening, the Shang-Chi star quipped that the Junos “celebrate artists… who like me, have all fulfilled the ultimate Canadian dream of making it in America,” before doing a 180 and launching into an impassioned version of the viral 2000s “I Am Canadian” speech, referencing everything from “Timbiebs” to ketchup chips.
Liu’s speech ended with a decidedly Canadian take on hot button issues, with the actor stating that Canada is “a place where the government is also our drug dealer” and “we’re into into snowboarding, not waterboarding.” Finally, Liu declared, Canada is “where a woman always has the right to choose.”
Liu wasn’t the only big star represented at this year’s Junos. Olivia Rodrigo accepted her “International Album of the Year” award for Sour, virtually, calling it “such an honor,” while Adele’s “Easy on Me” took home the “Music Video of the Year” prize (it was directed by Canadian director Xavier Dolan).
The Breakthrough Artist of the Year” award (the Junos’ version of “Best New Artist) was picked up by “I’m Not Pretty” singer JESSIA. Avril Lavigne also hit the Junos stage to perform a medley of her biggest hits, opening with “Complicated,” “Bite Me” and “Girlfriend,” before ending with crowd favorites “Sk8ter Boi” and “I’m With You.”
Toronto-born R&B diva Deborah Cox was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, with a special tribute that featured congratulatory messages from everyone from Angela Bassett to Clive Davis, the music executive who first signed Cox to a record deal in 1994.
Cox, who began her career in Canada as a background singer for Celine Dion, took the stage to talk about her improbable journey to success, saying that “as a young Black girl in Toronto, Canada, this vision seemed intangible.” And while the now-international superstar says she spent years being rejected by record labels, Cox added that “Those rejections became my redirection, and only added fuel to my fire.”
The singer also performed a medley of hits at the Junos, including “Where Do We Go From Here,” “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” and the empowerment anthem, “Beautiful U R.”
The Juno Awards were first presented in Canada in 1970, then-known as the “Gold Leaf Awards.” The ceremony was renamed a year later after a public vote and dubbed the “Junos,” to honor Pierre Juneau, the first chairperson of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).