By Brock Thiessen & Jessica LewisFucked Up have been awarded the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for their album The Chemistry of Common Life at a gala event held at Toronto's Masonic Temple Monday (September 21) night. Following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson and Caribou, the Torontonian hardcore heroes will receive the coveted award, along with $20,000 and, of course, some serious bragging rights.
"Until the very moment they made the announcement, I thought there was no way in hell that we would win," said Fucked Up front-man Damian Abraham. "This is incredible. I'm more shocked than everyone at CTV. Thanks to everyone that played on the record and Jon Drew that produced the album, everyone at Beggars/Matador, [Polaris founder] Steve Jordan and everyone at Polaris!"
Ten albums were shortlisted for the prize, narrowed down from a long list of 40. The Polaris Music Prize - given out each year to a full-length Canadian album, based solely on artistic merit - is chosen by 182 Canadian music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers who make up the Polaris Music Prize jury, with the final winner being selected by an 11-member grand jury.
In alphabetical order, the artists nominated for the Polaris Music Prize short list were:
Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels Hey Rosetta - Into Your Lungs K'NAAN - Troubadour Malajube - Labyrinthes Metric - Fantasies Joel Plaskett - Three Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms
This was the first year that all ten shortlisted nominees played sets of one or two songs from their nominated albums, with each band receiving much applause from the audience of family members, friends, music journalists and music lovers.
Metric played an acoustic set first, then Great Lake Swimmers and Malajube, respectively, charmed the audience, before 2007 winner Patrick Watson led his band onto the floor with backpacks of lanterns, accompanied by CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi on drums.
Next up was K'naan's inspiring set, which led into the friendliness of Joel Plaskett and family. Chad VanGaalen certainly will have the audience remembering his performance after declaring he wished Leonard Cohen was there and made some other presumably drunk remarks about micro-organisms and sloppy Suzannes.
Elliott Brood had cookie sheets and wooden spoons passed around to participate in their popular "Write It All Down for You," and afterwards Hey Rosetta! crammed 13 people onto the stage.
Finally, the now-winners Fucked Up raised as much hell as they were allowed, which included Abraham letting his pants fall down and proceeding to morph his blue boxers into a makeshift thong.
Just minutes later, CBC Radio 3's Grant Lawrence, Sarah Taylor and last year's winner Dan Snaith of Caribou read out that the winner was Fucked Up. Patrick Watson and crew almost immediately dumped a bucket of ice water on Abraham after the Fucked Up singer declared "this is better than a free iPod!"
In an interview with Exclaim! after the show, Abraham said: "I never thought this would happen, and this isn't crocodile tears, I was really like there was no way we were going to win and I was packing up my baby as they announced it and I was like... I just couldn't believe it! I am in shock and I feel so good, I feel so good that we made a record that people feel was on par with Final Fantasy... We made a record that is kind of looked upon in that light, and that is the most flattering thing to have happened."
Abraham also mentioned in the press conference with Lawrence that they plan to use the award's $20,000 prize money to make a Christmas charity album, which will go towards helping find missing aboriginal women in Canada.
If Fucked Up isn't on your radar or you need a refresher, take a look at Exclaim!'s October 2008 cover story on the band and The Chemistry of Common Life.