5 Highlights and Takeaways from the 2023 JUNO Awards

The Weeknd, Nickelback and topless streaker made it a night to remember

Photo: Dana Zuk

BY Dana ZukPublished Mar 14, 2023

Simu Liu returned to host the JUNO Awards for their 2023 edition, guiding the crowd at Edmonton, AB's Rogers Place through a more-or-less business as usual evening (save for one unexpected guest) that saw relative newcomers and industry heavy-hitters take the stage and hit the carpet in celebration of another year of eclectic, electrifying Canadian music.

Here are some of the highlights and takeaways from last night (March 13) at the JUNOS.

The Weeknd becomes one of the most decorated artists ever

The big winner of this year's JUNOS was the Weeknd, who took home hardware for Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Pop Album of the Year for Dawn FM, and Single of the Year for "Sacrifice" — and that was all before last night's ceremony, which saw the world-dominating pop star take home the coveted Album of the Year for Dawn FM. His run of wins officially saw him beat out Celine Dion and Bryan Adams to become the second-most awarded artist in JUNO history, bested only by Anne Murray. 

Oops...Tate McRae did it again

The Weeknd — a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye — didn't actually attend last night's ceremony, but a whole lot of other people did: the night kicked off with Tate McRae, who brought a fiery, high production value performance of "she's all i wanna be," complete with hair salon set pieces and a red latex bodysuit à la "Oops…I Did It Again."

"Get the fuck off, bitch"

McRae was followed by a performance from AP Dhillion, who ran through a slick rendition of "Summer High" — but that was only after being introduced by Avril Lavigne, whose brief stint as MC was interrupted by a streaking protestor.

The protestor appeared in fuchsia sweatpants and pasties with "STOP OLD LOGGING GROWTH NOW" and "SAVE THE GREEN BELT" written on their back in black marker (a response to socio-environmental issues in British Columbia and Ontario respectively, with the Ontario government lobbying to lift protections from the Southern Ontarian green space for residential and industrial development). They interrupted Lavigne's introduction, who responded by telling the unknown person to "Get the fuck off, bitch." It was a tear in the happy-go-lucky energy that the ceremony rode for the rest of the evening, and Lavigne appeared blindsided by this split second of activism before the protester was escorted from the stage.

Returning to the stage later in the evening to accept this year's Fan Choice Award, Lavigne put out a tongue-in-cheek warning to the crowd: "Nobody try anything this time, okay? My Canadian will come out. I'll fuck a bitch up." To this, the crowd erupted. 

A big flex from Canadian hip-hop

Otherwise, things rolled along as planned, with one of the highlights being the joyful, stage-storming energy of Kardinal Offishall, Haviah Mighty, Michie Mee, TOBi, Dream Warriors and Mel Boogie, who took the stage to perform a medley of tunes celebrating 50 years of hip-hop. The display was nothing short of electrifying, a massive flex from Canada's finest hip-hop artists that honoured a milestone for a genre that continues to change and inspire. 

Nicklelback are...good? 

Liu had been paying cheeky tribute to dude-rock icons Nickelback throughout the night, but eventually it was time to truly give the Hanna hometown heroes their due as Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees. Liu invited Vancouver heartthrob Ryan Reynolds (via big screen) to give a comedic history lesson on the next Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees before Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid called the band to the stage, where frontman Chad Kroeger had the audience applauding, cheering and some even blotting tears from their eyes. 

Following a medley performance that saw the band incorporate hits like "Rockstar," "How You Remind Me" and "Animals," Liu brought the evening to a close, apologizing for the boobs and thanking Canada for tuning in to another night that showcased the incredible highs (and sometimes unpredictable nature) of Canadian music and Canadian music history.


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