Randy Bachman holds the Juno as Robbie Bachman videotapes a closeup of the trophy after being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the Juno Awards in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 30. John Woods/Canadian Press
Serena Ryder and the duo Tegan and Sara were both double winners midway through the 43rd Juno Awards, claiming several of the annual gala's biggest categories.
The co-hosting Ryder, who kicked off the show with a medley alongside rapper Classified, won songwriter of the year and artist of the year after her breakthrough album Harmony climbed to platinum status this past year.
That gives the Millbrook, Ont., native six career Junos – but if it was old hat, it didn't show in her cheerfully rambling speech, which began with an explanation of her apparently sagging pants.
"I lost a bit of weight because I stopped drinking for the Junos to be on point and my pants are falling down," she said as she first charged onstage. "Holy cow, I really didn't expect to win this but I'm so honoured. Thank you guys so much.
"I did want to say I come from a really small town: Millbrook, Ontario. When I was growing up there it was under a thousand people. And this has been a dream of mine my entire life... This is the hugest honour ever. This is the award that means so much to me."
'It's about you'
Calgary-reared twins Tegan and Sara, meanwhile, won single of the year for their propulsive hit Closer, beating out a field that included Arcade Fire's shimmering disco exercise Reflektor, Classified's jaunty Inner Ninja and Michael Bublé's swinging It's a Beautiful Day to claim the prize, their second career Juno after they won pop album of the year at a non-televised gala on the eve of the broadcast.
The Quin sisters – who performed the catchy tune with help from Toronto's Choir! Choir! Choir! – are experiencing Juno success for the first time, having lost out on their five nominations prior to this year.
"This award isn't about the very important people we're sitting with – our parents, our manger, our best friends – it's about you," Sara said. "Canada has been supporting us since the '90s! Thank you so much. We love you as well, Winnipeg."
Also, sunshine-pop crew Walk Off the Earth performed a theatrical medley of Gang of Rhythm and Red Hands with serious visual panache and help from the Red Robe Women's Drum Society, Matt Mays thundered through his Take It On Faith while decorated chanteuse Sarah McLachlan put in an airy performance of her new song Beautiful Girl.
Bieber’s award booed
Justin Bieber won his fourth straight Juno Fan Choice award but with the troubled 20-year-old superstar absent from the proceedings, the crowd booed his victory with vindictive gusto.
In her speech accepting songwriter of the year, Ryder actually devoted time to defend the controversial singer.
"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.
Later, performances were expected from country stars Dean Brody, Brett Kissel and Gord Bamford while a tribute to Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Bachman-Turner Overdrive was expected to close the show.
The morning of the show, the Junos announced that thrice-nominated crooner Robin Thicke would not make it to Winnipeg's MTS Centre.
He had been scheduled to perform but has recently been cancelling concerts due to a vocal issue while suffering through a high-profile split from wife Paula Patton.
Also, Winnipeg rock legends Bachman-Turner Overdrive are scheduled to be ushered into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, prior to a show-closing tribute performance featuring Matt Mays and the Sheepdogs.