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Toronto pop star the Weeknd tops Juno Awards nominations with six nods

Newcomer Tate McRae and rebounding ’00s pop-punk favourite Avril Lavigne also front-and-centre
The Weeknd performs during The After Hours Til Dawn Global Stadium Tour at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Aug. 11, 2022, in Atlanta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul R. Giunta-Invision-AP

The Weeknd is back atop the nominees at this year’s Juno Awards while newcomer Tate McRae and pop-punk favourite Avril Lavigne trail close behind.

The Toronto-raised “Blinding Lights” and “Starboy” hitmaker earned six nods across some of the main categories heading into the annual celebration of Canadian music.

They include album of the year for “Dawn FM,” single of the year for “Sacrifice,” and artist of the year.

“Dawn FM” also earned a nomination for pop album of the year while the Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, will vie for songwriter of the year and the TikTok Juno Fan Choice prize, which is voted on by viewers.

It’s a repeat performance for Tesfaye, who was the leading Juno nominee most recently in 2021. He emerged that year as the top winner, scoring five Junos, but didn’t show up for what was a hybrid COVID-19 pandemic ceremony of taped and live appearances.

Whether the superstar plans to attend the Junos at Edmonton’s Rogers Place still hasn’t been announced. The event will be broadcast March 13 on CBC and CBC Gem.

This marks the first time the Junos have toured since the start of the pandemic. The show has been held in Toronto for the past two years.

Junos president Allan Reid said the show in Edmonton has been a long time coming.

“We’ve been working with the host committee for six years to bring the Junos back,” he said after the nominations were announced.

“It’s been 19 years since we were last there, so we’re really, really excited.”

Other big contenders include Lavigne, the Napanee, Ont. pop-punk princess who competes for the throne with Calgary pop royalty McRae. The two singers go up against each other in four categories — single, album, pop album and fan choice.

Lavigne’s fifth nomination is for artist of the year, while McRae’s is for songwriter.

Heading to the Junos with three nominations each are pop newcomers Preston Pablo and Rêve. Country siblings the Reklaws and rapper Nav also have three nominations apiece.

Nominees for single of the year include Lavigne’s “Bite Me,” Pablo’s “Flowers Need Rain” with production duo Banx & Ranx, McRae’s “She’s All I Wanna Be,” Shawn Mendes’ “When You’re Gone,” and the Weeknd’s “Sacrifice.”

Joining the Weeknd in the album of the year category are Ali Gatie’s “Who Hurt You?,” Lavigne’s “Love Sux,” Nav’s “Demons Protected By Angels,” and McRae’s “I Used to Think I Could Fly.”

Other notable names include Arcade Fire, who landed among the group of the year contenders.

Their nomination appears to be a vote of support from the Canadian music industry at a troubled time for the Montreal act. Lead singer Win Butler last year faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct that he has denied, saying all encounters took place between consenting adults.

And Taylor Swift reasserted her star power by appearing twice in the international album of the year category, which determines its nominees based on top sales and streaming numbers.

Her records “Midnights” and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” are up against Ed Sheeran’s “=,” Harry Styles’ “Harry’s House” and Lil Nas X’s “Montero.” The winner is determined by a vote of the Junos organization’s board of directors.

Jessie Reyez, Alexisonfire and Aysanabee will perform on the awards show, joining previously announced acts that include Tenille Townes, Nickelback and AP Dhillon.

—David Friend, The Canadian Press

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