Polaris Prize 2014 Predictions

The Polaris Prize is Canada’s answer to the UK’s Mercury prize in which a jury of industry insiders votes on Canada’s best album of the year. The rules are simple; vote for whatever album is the best regardless of sales or genre. As long as it came out in the past year and was made by Canadians, it is eligible. Jurors first submit their ballots of who they think is the best and after the initial votes are tabulated; the list is pared down to about 40 albums. From that 40 album long list, the jury votes again and a top 10 short list is announced. The winner is announced at a gala celebration where the winner receives $30,000. Previous winners include Feist, Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Caribou and Fucked Up. As you can see the range of artists is pretty big with folk-pop, dance, punk, indie rock, post-rock and many other styles winning and being nominated. This year is no exception as the ten nominees are wholly original and creative, all showcasing the best that Canada has to offer.

To make things fun, we at Live in Limbo, decided to ask some of our esteemed music writers and critics to listen to all ten albums and pretend they were a jury member. They ranked all the albums and a point system was devised to see who would come out on top. I have listed each nominees odds on winning, that I created, based on previous nominations, perceived politics, buzz around the artist, it is entirely subjective. Without further ado, I present the results to our Polaris Prize poll; make sure you check back here tomorrow to see how we stacked up on picking the winner!

10. Timber Timbre- Hot Dreams

Top Track- Hot Dreams

Odds of Winning- Underdog

Previous Wins/Nominations- Long Listed in 2009, Short Listed in 2011

“The band creates the weirdest Bob Dylan album in over 30 years with delicious slow burning results.” –DA

9. Yamantaka//Sonic Titan- UZU

Top Track- One

Odds of Winning- Contender

Previous Wins/Nominations- Short Listed in 2012

“Punishing, intense, unapologetic, and possibly weird enough to win.” –SR

8. Tanya Tagaq- Animism

Top Track- Rabbit

Odds of Winning- Not Their Year

Previous Wins/Nominations- First time nominee

“I love this album. I had not heard of Tanya Tagaq before this list. This album just captured my interest and imagination right from the opening Pixies cover and didn’t let go. Quite refreshing at least to my ears.” –RV

7. Shad- Flying Colours 

Top Track- Love Means

Odds of Winning- Underdog

Previous Wins/Nominations- Short listed in 2008 and 2010

“Lyrically proficient, Shad’s album may not have bangers, but it oozes with class and style.” –AB

6. Drake- Nothing Was The Same

Top Track- *No consensus on the top track

Odds of Winning- Contender

Previous Wins/Nominations- Short Listed in 2012

“Of all the albums on this year’s list, I think this is going to be the one that holds up the most. It’s an album from a rapper who’s dealing with all the things that come with making it big. It’s unabashedly egotistical, but for a reason.” –SR

We have a two-way tie for 4th place, with the edge given to Mac Demarco due to having higher individual votes.

5. Jessy Lanza- Pull My Hair Back

Top Track- Keep Moving

Odds of Winning- Not Their Year

Previous Wins/Nominations- First time nominee

“Lanza lets her audience know there’s more to pop music than the overbearing vocals and catchy lyrics.” –TB

4. Mac Demarco- Salad Days

Top Track- Let Her Go

Odds of Winning- Theirs To Lose

Previous Wins/Nominations- Long Listed in 2013

“Don’t let his slacker persona fool you – Mac DeMarco knows what he’s doing with his music and he had a big summer because of this album.” –SR

3. Owen Pallet- In Conflict

Top Track- Song for Five and Six

Odds of Winning- Contender

Previous Wins/Nominations- Won in 2006 (under the name Final Fantasy), Short Listed in 2010 

“Poppy with not compromising integrity, Owen Pallet’s album has nothing conflicting about it.” –AB

2. Basia Bulat- Tall Tall Shadow

Top Track- Paris Or Amsterdam

Odds of Winning- Underdog

Previous Wins/Nominations- Short Listed in 2008

“A soulful album with the heart and lungs to match.” –LW

1. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

Top Track- Reflektor

Odds of Winning- Theirs To Lose

Previous Wins/Nominations- Short Listed 2007, Won 2011

“If an album has the ability to provoke your emotions, then it’s a winner.” –TB

So there you have it! Arcade Fire was the runaway winner in our pool of seven jurors, taking three first place votes (the only album which received more than one first place vote to boot!) Other first place vote getters include Tanya Tagaq, Owen Pallet, Drake and Shad. 

I would like to thank Sean Chin, Sarah Rix, Andreas Babiolakis, Randall Vasquez, Tashana Billey and Leon Weinstein for taking the time to listen to the albums and provide feedback on each of them. The quotes about to each album are attributed to the above jurors signified by their initials. Please see THIS document for how everyone voted.


About author

Music Editor at Live in Limbo and Host of Contra Zoom podcast. Dakota is a graduate of Humber College's Acting for Film and Television. He now specializes in knowing all random trivia. He writes about music, sports and film. Dakota's life goal is visit all baseball stadiums, he's at 7.