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Polaris Music Prize: an essential playlist
By
Melody Lau

Published

September 16, 2016

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The Polaris Music Prize will announce it 11th winner tonight at the live gala event in Toronto. This year's short list of nominees for best Canadian album of the year include Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen, Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, Andy Shauf, White Lung, Pup, U.S. Girls, Kaytranada and Jessy Lanza.

With a decade under its belt now, the Polaris Music Prize has introduced music fans to hundreds of amazing Canadian albums over the years, from its top 40 long-list selections to its whittled-down top 10 short list. While diversity — in every way — can always be improved upon, the past decade of the prize has featured some great talent from the realms of pop, rock, folk, punk, hip-hop, R&B and electronic.

So in preparation for the big event, we've curated a Polaris Music Prize-themed playlist for you below. This doesn't include all 110 shortlisted albums over the past 11 years — although, that's an ambitious challenge we highly encourage — but it is a fairly wide-ranging selection of music that represents the many talented musicians we've seen vie for the coveted award. Along with each song, we've included the albums and years in which every artist has been nominated.

Tune in to the Polaris Music Prize gala live on cbcmusic.ca/polaris at 8 p.m. ET.


Artist: Owen Pallett
Playlist pick: "Lewis Takes off his Shirt" (Heartland, 2010)

Polaris-winning album: He Poos Clouds (as Final Fantasy), 2006
Short-list nominee: Heartland, 2010
Short-list nominee: In Conflict, 2014


Artist: Patrick Watson
Playist pick: "Beijing"

Polaris-winning album: Close to Paradise, 2007
Short-list nominee: Wooden Arms, 2009


Artist: Tanya Tagaq
Playlist pick: 
"Uja"

Polaris-winning album: Animism, 2014


Artist: Shad feat. Saukrates
Playlist pick: 
"Stylin’"

Short-list nominee: The Old Prince, 2008
Short-list nominee: TSOL, 2010
Gala co-host: 2013
Short-list nominee: Flying Colours, 2014


Artist: Caribou
Playlist pick: 
"Odessa"

Polaris-winning album: Andorra, 2008
Short-list nominee: Swim, 2010
Short-list nominee: Our Love, 2015


Artist: Basia Bulat
Playlist pick: 
"Tall Tall Shadow"

Short-list nominee: Oh, My Darling, 2008
Short-list nominee: Tall Tall Shadow, 2014
Short-list nominee: Good Advice, 2016


Artist: Joel Plaskett
Playlist pick: 
"Through & Through & Through"

Short-list nominee: Ashtray Rock (as Joel Plaskett Emergency), 2007
Short-list nominee: Three, 2009


Artist: Black Mountain
Playlist pick: 
"Wucan"

Short-list nominee: In the Future, 2008
Short-list nominee: IV, 2016


Artist: Kathleen Edwards
Playlist pick: 
"Empty Threat"

Short-list nominee: Asking For Flowers, 2008
Short-list nominee: Voyageur, 2012
Gala co-host: 2013


Artist: Chad VanGaalen
Playlist pick: 
"Flower Gardens"

Short-list nominee: Skelliconnection, 2007
Short-list nominee: Soft Airplane, 2009


Artist: Feist
Playlist pick: 
"The Water"

Short-list nominee: The Reminder, 2007
Winner: Metals, 2012


Artist: Cadence Weapon
Playlist pick: 
"Conditioning"

Short-list nominee: Breaking Kayfabe, 2006
Short-list nominee: Hope in Dirt City, 2012


Artist: Broken Social Scene
Playlist pick: 
"Superconnected"

Short-list nominee: Broken Social Scene, 2006
Short-list nominee: Forgiveness Rock Record, 2010


Artist: Hey Rosetta!
Playlist pick: 
"Red Heart"

Short-list nominee: Into Your Lungs, 2009
Short-list nominee: Seeds, 2011

Artist: The New Pornographers
Playlist pick: 
"Dancehall Domine"

Short-list nominee: Twin Cinema, 2006
Short-list nominee: Brill Bruisers, 2015


Artist: Braids
Playlist pick: 
"Miniskirt"

Short-list nominee: Native Speaker, 2011
Short-list nominee: Deep in the Iris, 2015


Artist: Colin Stetson
Playlist pick: 
"To See More Light"

Short-list nominee: New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, 2011
Short-list nominee: New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, 2013


Artist: Karkwa
Playlist pick: 
"Le pyromane"

Polaris-winning album: Les Chemins de verre, 2010


Artist: Drake
Playlist pick: 
"Underground Kings"

Short-list nominee: Take Care, 2012
Short-list nominee: Nothing was the Same, 2014
Short-list nominee: If You're Reading This it's too Late, 2015

Editor's note: strong language warning.


Artist: Grimes
Playlist pick: 
"REALiTi"

Short-list nominee: Visions, 2012
Short-list nominee: Art Angels, 2016


Artist: F--ked Up
Playlist pick: 
"The Other Shoe"

Polaris-winning album: The Chemistry of Common Life, 2009
Short-list nominee: David Comes to Life, 2012


Artist: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan
Playlist pick: 
"One"

Short-list nominee: YT//ST, 2012
Short-list nominee: UZU, 2014


Artist: A Tribe Called Red feat. Northern Voice
Playlist pick: 
"Sisters"

Short-list nominee: Nation II Nation, 2013


Artist: Buffy Sainte-Marie
Playlist pick: 
"Power in the Blood"
Polaris-winning album: Power in the Blood, 2015


Artist: Zaki Ibrahim
Playlist pick: 
"Go Widdit"

Short-list nominee: Every Opposite, 2013


Artist: White Lung
Playlist pick: 
"Drown the Monster"

Short-list nominee: Paradise, 2016

More to explore

Meet the 10 artists shortlisted for the 2016 Polaris Music Prize

Polaris 2016 session: Black Mountain, IV

Polaris 2016 session: White Lung, Paradise

Polaris Music Prize reveals the 200-plus albums on this year's 'longer list'