Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Owen Poos Polaris

Polaris Music PrizeIs it any wonder that Final Fantasy's "He Poos Clouds" won the Polaris Music Prize? I dont' mean to cast doubt on his worthiness at all. On the contrary, based on his past collobarations(with The Arcade Fire, The Hidden Cameras, etc...) as well as his work as a solo artist, I know he's a very talented artist and I'm sure his album was a more than worthy choice to receive the Polaris award[although personally-speaking I haven't actually listened to his CD "He Poos Clouds" yet]. However, I think regionalism does factor into the equation. There's a heavy emphasis on the Toronto area just looking at the breakdown of the final panel : Rupert Bottenberg (Montreal Mirror); Aaron Brophy (Chart); Matt Galloway (CBC Radio); James Keast (Exclaim!); Grant Lawrence (CBC Radio 3); Sarah Liss (NOW); John Sakamoto (Toronto Star); Helen Spitzer (CFRU); Nicolas Tittley (MusiquePlus); Carl Wilson (The Globe & Mail); Jill Wilson (Winnipeg Free Press).[thanks to Brooklynvegan for the hot links] I don't mean to imply that regionalism results in favouritism. Well, not on a conscious level at least.

I don't think any of the judges voted the way they did out of any sense of obligation for an artist that lived in the same city they did. I do think that it's only natural for indie music fans to be drawn to the scene around them and in that same sense, I can only assume that the individual panelists, on some subconscious level, are rooting for the artist that's from or near their place of residence/work. I think this regionalism factor is quite valid especially when you start ruling out the artists that probably wouldn't win. As Zoilus(one of the final panelists) expressed, the award was to be given to the album based on merit
"as recorded artifacts, not "overratedness" or "underratedness", the career positions or prospects of the artists, who "needs" the prize or doesn't, nor presumably any societal "extra-musical" concerns such as genre or race/class/gender etc."

The purity of such aspirations is noble, but I find it hard that one or some of these didn't factor into any of the panelists decisions. It's not so hard to believe that Broken Social Scene didn't win because they've won Junos before or possibly their loss is only a reflection of the inevitable backlash. Nor do I find it out of the realm of possibility that Metric and Sarah Harmer didn't win because of their respective levels of popularity and thus aren't really indie. How about Knaan and Cadence Weapon? Hip hop never has a prayer in such competitions, well unless your K-OS.

Given the high concentration of Toronto-centric panelists combined with the reasons why I thought certain bands wouldn't win, Final Fantasy's win was a forgone conclusion. My commentary is in no way a criticism of the final panel. Of what I know about the various individuals, they are indeed a fine group. I'm just not too sure if Final Fantasy would have come out on top if the panel was more reflective of Canada's regionalism. But sincerely, congratulations to Owen. I've had his most recent CD "He Poos Clouds" for months now, and I think I should go listen to it. Hmmm, I wonder if The Deadly Snakes came in a close second in the running?

No comments:

Post a Comment