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Who would have won the Polaris Music Prize in the '90s?

Editorial Staff

By Dave Shumka

The 2013 Polaris Music Prize gala goes down tonight in Toronto. Since 2006, the prize is awarded to the best album in Canada with no regard to genre or sales, as decided by a jury of the music press.

We decided to look back and imagine what the Polaris Music Prize would look like in the 1990s. Think of it as Canadian music fan fiction. We reimagined the design, picked some '90s-era sponsors and chose winners and shortlisted albums based on what we’ve learned from the past eight years of the prize.

And what have we learned? Sometimes the underdog wins. Sometimes the favourite wins. Sometimes genres are completely ignored. Sometimes the awards are accused of tokenism. Sometimes losing albums become classics while the winner is forgotten. Sometimes huge albums don’t make the short list. Sometimes tastes vary from year to year. Sometimes they don’t.

Check out our picks below.

This, along with rampant speculation about tonight's Polaris Music Prize gala, is the topic of conversation on CBC Radio 3 today. Who do you think would have won the Polaris in the '90s? Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below.

Tune in here tonight to see full coverage of the Polaris gala. We'll have a live online stream of the show, plus Radio 3 hosts will be reporting from the scene.

Year: 1990

Winner: Nothingface by Voivod

Short list:

Acadie by Daniel Lanois
Big Harvest by Indio
Jane Child by Jane Child
Nothingface by Voivod
Now and Again by the Grapes of Wrath
Freedom by Neil Young
Red Earth by Crash Vegas
Save This House by Spirit of the West
Snow in June by the Northern Pikes
Symphony in Effect by Maestro Fresh Wes

Year: 1991

Winner: Melville by Rheostatics

Short list:

And Now the Legacy Begins by Dream Warriors
© by ©
Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
Melville by Rheostatics
Road Apples by the Tragically Hip
Shakespeare My Butt… by the Lowest of the Low
Sue Medley by Sue Medley
The Brown Album by Bootsauce
The Ghosts that Haunt Me by Crash Test Dummies
Too Dark Park by Skinny Puppy

Year: 1992

Winner: Solace by Sarah McLachlan

Short list:

Angel Food For Thought by Meryn Cadell
Black Eyed Man by Cowboy Junkies
Gump by Sons of Freedom
Huh!? Stiffenin Against The Wall by Organized Rhyme
Ingénue by k.d. lang
Skydiggers by Skydiggers
Smile by Change of Heart
Solace by Sarah McLachlan
The Tea Party by the Tea Party
To Each a Zone by the Smalls

Year: 1993

Winner: The Future by Leonard Cohen

Short list:

Bedbugs by Odds
Dear Dear by 54-40
Fully Completely by the Tragically Hip
Gordon by Barenaked Ladies
Harvest Moon by Neil Young
King Cobb Steelie by King Cobb Steelie
The Downward Road by the Pursuit of Happiness
The Future by Leonard Cohen
Smeared by Sloan
Whale Music by Rheostatics

Year: 1994

Winner: Love Tara by Eric’s Trip

Short list:

Bargainville by Moxy Früvous
Betti-Cola by Cub
Crush by Doughboys
Dig by I Mother Earth
Five Days in July by Blue Rodeo
Lavinia’s Tongue by Sook-Yin Lee
Love Tara by Eric’s Trip
Naveed by Our Lady Peace
Starry by Killjoys
When I Was a Boy by Jane Siberry

Year: 1995

Winner: Twice Removed by Sloan

Short list:

A Soap Bubble and Inertia by the Gandharvas
Bionic by Sandbox
Dig In by Huevos Rancheros
Generation 6-Pack by Pure
Kombinator by the Inbreds
NC17 by Treble Charger
Ron Sexsmith by Ron Sexsmith
Shame-Based Man by Bruce McCulloch
Silver by Moist
Twice Removed by Sloan

Year: 1996

Winner: Everything I Long For by Hayden

Short list:

Accidentally Acquired Beliefs by Bob Wiseman
Bonavista by Kim Stockwood
Everything I Long For by Hayden
Fluke by Rusty
Heroine by Wild Strawberries
Hi, How Are You Today? by Ashley MacIsaac
In the Hall of Fame by the Smugglers
Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette
Limblifter by Limblifter
Somnium by Sianspheric

Year: 1997

Winner: Big Shiny Tunes by various artists

Short list:

Big Shiny Tunes by various artists
Famous, Rich and Beautiful by the Philosopher Kings
Gimme Five by the Killjoys
Glee by Bran Van 3000
Karma by Delerium
Last of the Big Game Hunters by Barstool Prophets
One Chord to Another by Sloan
Pluto by Pluto
Scratchcratchratchatch by Kid Koala
The Unforgiving Sounds of Maow by Maow

Year: 1998

Winner: Big Shiny Tunes 2 by various artists

Short list:

Big Shiny Tunes 2 by various artists
Breath from Another by Esthero
Eye & I by Kardinal Offishall
F♯ A♯ ∞ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Love Inc. by Love Inc.
Predicts the Future by Plumtree
Rufus Wainwright by Rufus Wainwright
Underdogs by Matthew Good Band
Vertex by Buck 65
Zuckerbaby by Zuckerbaby

Year: 1999

Winner: Do Make Say Think by Do Make Say Think

Short list:

Balance by Swollen Members
Beach Music by Starkicker
Big Shiny Tunes 3 by various artists
Bless This Mess by By Divine Right
Clayton Park by Thrush Hermit
Do Make Say Think by Do Make Say Think
Face Down by Serial Joe
Silent Radar by the Watchmen
Where the Change Is by the Flashing Lights
Whereabouts by Ron Sexsmith