TORONTO — Nothing was complicated when it came to showing appreciation for Avril Lavigne at this year’s Juno Awards.
After Canada’s biggest music night turned into a virtual ceremony for the past two years, the celebration welcomed its audience with open arms and love for Canada’s pop princess from Napanee, Ontario.
Lavigne performed a medley of her greatest hits, including “Complicated,” “Girlfriend,” “Sk8er Boi” and “I’m With You,” before presenting Shawn Mendes with the TikTok Fans’ Choice Award.
Even Junos host Simu Liu paid tribute to Lavigne by singing a very offbeat acoustic rendition of “Complicated” to a very favorable reception from the audience.
“I should have started on a lower note,” Liu lamented as the performance intentionally derailed.
It was one of many showmanship moments for the ‘Shang-Chi’ star who opened the Junos with a nod to her Marvel persona before launching into her own version of the famous ‘I am Canadian” by Molson.
“I grew up on ketchup chips, roti and Jamaican beef patties,” he told the crowd on the Budweiser stage in Toronto.
“By the way, it’s pronounced ‘bubble tea’, not ‘boba’,” he joked.
Liu also took the opportunity to get a bit more political, reciting, “Canada is a place where the government is also our drug dealer; and we are into snowboarding and not waterboarding; and where a woman always has the right to choose.
Moments later, he joined TikTok star Tesher to perform the viral “Jalebi Baby” dance.
Other Canadian stars also had their share, including Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin, who emerged as the year’s biggest winner with a total of four trophies.
She picked album of the year for “Phoenix” on the show after the project won pop album of the year at an industry event on Saturday. She was also named Artist of the Year and won Single of the Year for “Meaningless” at the pre-telecast event.
“A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you for a second if you told me I had won four Juno Awards,” Cardin said after the show.
Mendes also bagged a special international award for his global impact on music, which he accepted with a reflection on his stratospheric rise to success.
“When I was younger, I thought if I could write just one hit song, people would like me and I would be enough,” he said.
“We are taught to believe that what we achieve is the same as what we are worth. But something I know to be true now is that I was enough before anyone knew my name.
Other winners included Hamilton rock band Arkells for Group of the Year, and Haviah Mighty, who became the first woman to receive Rap Album or EP of the Year for ” Stock Exchange”.
“This one’s for women in hip hop,” she said.
Vancouver pop singer Jessia won the Breakthrough Artist award in part thanks to the resounding success of her hit single “I’m Not Pretty” on TikTok.
“Thank you so much,” she said, waving the teary Juno in the air. “It’s such a dream come true.”
Deborah Cox was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by former Toronto Raptors player Chris Bosh, who told the crowd how her hit ‘Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here’ left a lasting impression on her.
Next, he featured a congratulatory video from Cox’s contemporaries, including John Legend, Melanie Fiona and record executive Clive Davis who first signed her.
Cox took the stage in an elegant gold dress with a thigh-high slit to reflect three decades in the music industry.
“Growing up as a black girl in Toronto, Canada, that vision seemed intangible,” she said as she accepted the honor.
“It was not easy to leave my house, but it was necessary. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d be here tonight. These rejections became my redirect and only added fuel to my fire.
Even before the Junos started, many of this year’s nominees were already talking about Avril Lavigne.
Toronto rock band The Beaches, who have repeatedly professed their obsession with Lavigne, finally had the chance to meet their idol when they crossed paths on the red carpet.
“We were all six and eight (when) her first album came out. It was hugely important to us to see a cool woman playing amazing rock music,” said vocalist and bassist Jordan Miller, whose band has won rock album of the year on Saturday.
“For her to be a local Canadian girl, that (meant) we can do what she does, and she’s one of the reasons we’re here tonight.”
— with files from Sadaf Ahsan
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 15, 2022.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous release said Jessia was still in the running for an award ahead of Sunday’s show. In fact, she was up for two awards on the show.