Entertainment

Magic! ready for magical night at Juno Awards

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

Magic!

Magic!

Toronto reggae-pop outfit Magic! is the band to beat heading into Sunday night’s Juno Awards with a leading five nods after the success of is breakout single, Rude, from its 2014 debut album, Don’t Kill the Magic.

But the group’s one-named frontman Nasri says being in a so-called race when it comes to art is a mixed bag.

“It depends on the day that you ask me,” he said down the line from Los Angeles, where all of Magic! is now based.

“Some days I’m like, ‘I want to win.’ And some days I’m like, ‘I don’t want to win. I just want to be happy.’ So I think we’re all human and we all have our competitive sides, but we also have a lot more humble days than competitive days. So whether we win or lose, it doesn’t matter. We’re a band that likes the music that we make and it seems like people like it, so we’re already winning.”

Still, the band’s “reggae-lite” music has its detractors, especially with a song as omnipresent as Rude.

Nasri, 34, says he doesn’t read what the naysayers are spewing online and elsewhere.

“I didn’t know so many people didn’t like it but if they don’t like it then they should listen to whatever they like. It’s not a big deal. We’ve only paid attention to the positive. We’ve decided as a band, we’re only going to step into the light. We’re not interested in anything negative. It doesn’t help us.”

The band will certainly get the chance to appeal to a bigger audience when they open for Maroon 5 on their current tour, including immediately after the Junos on March 16 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

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“I think (we got the spot) with the success of the song and we did a show with them in Montreal and they already kind of put us out there that they wanted us to kind of open for them,” said Nasri. “We were like, ‘Yup, we don’t need convincing, we’re good.’”

Magic! is also looking at its own headlining theatre tour in Canada in the fall.

Meanwhile, the band’s other Juno nominations were for best pop album for Don’t Kill The Magic, the JUNO Fan Choice Award, best breakthrough group and songwriter, while the band - rounded out by guitarist Mark Pellizzer, bassist Ben Spivak and drummer Alex Tanas - are also performing on Sunday night’s broadcast from the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton.

Nasri, who is also part of the songwriting-producing duo The Messengers (Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, NKOTB), said the songwriting nod meant the most and they’ve “already written a lot of what the next album will be.”

HEDLEY'S HOGGARD READY FOR HOSTING DUTIES

Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard says viewers of Sunday night’s Juno Awards should expect the singer of the Vancouver pop-rock group to just be himself as he hosts the show at FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum) in Hamilton.

And that is?

“I’m the guy that says something awkward at a funeral,” summed up Hoggard, 30, down the line from his Vancouver home.

“Because I’m like, ‘Man this is really heavy and I just want to lighten the mood!’ ...Sometimes it’s a burden like, ‘I don’t want to be the guy to have to make a funny joke right now but everyone’s waiting for me to.’”

Kind of sounds like a description of what being the Junos host is?

“They say your reputation precedes you and I think mine’s like checking into a few countries ahead of me,” said Hoggard. “It’s a great opportunity to say what everyone else’s thinking... I love doing that. It’s live television and that’s what makes a couple of our producers nervous but I think that’s also what makes it really exciting.”

Hoggard, who is looking forward to meeting both newcomer Kiesza and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Alanis Morissette during Juno weekend, said he got the hosting gig due to his long-standing relationship with the show’s executive producer John Brunton.

“It felt like good timing,” said Hoggard. “And something, as an individual, that I felt that I wanted to achieve and accomplish, a goal that I haven’t reached.”

To that end he’s helping to write his ‘bits’ for the show.

“I am absolutely writing it,” he said. “So I feel like part of what I am going to be able to bring to the Junos is just who I am. And not over-think that ... So I think I can confidently say we’ve got a pretty action-packed and exciting show. “

Hedley is also up for three Junos this year — best album for Wild Life, best single for Crazy For You and the public-decided JUNO fan choice award — plus they’ll be performing on the show.

Not that Hoggard is holding his breath to take home any trophies.

“We are expert losers at this point,” joked Hoggard, whose group has actually won two Junos over the years. “But I’ve also come to realize that our amount of Junos really has no indication at all of how well our business is going. At any rate, it’s really, really fun and every time I say the same thing and it’s because it’s f---ing true, it’s (enough) just to be nominated alongside some of the artists and other incredible talent that exists in this country. It’s like, ‘Wow, man, I’m lucky to be here.’ I don’t take it too seriously.”

OUR FEARLESS PREDICTIONS:

My fearless predictions in the remaining Juno Awards handed out during the CTV broadcast on Sunday night from FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton. (the majority are given Saturday night during a non-televised gala dinner):

JUNO Fan Choice

Arcade Fire

Bobby Bazini

Drake

Hedley

Leonard Cohen

Magic!

Michael Bublé

Nickelback

Serge Fiori

You Me

SHOULD WIN: The inspired vocal pairing of Dallas Green and Pink on You Me deserves kudos.

WILL WIN: Drake. An unannounced mixtape that went straight to no. 1. The Toronto Raptors global ambassador. Hello voters!

Single of the Year

Drake, Hold On, We’re Going Home ft. Majid Jordan

Hedley, Crazy for You

Kiesza, Hideaway

Magic!, Rude

Sam Roberts Band, We’re All in This Together

SHOULD WIN: I loved Calgary dance-electropop artist Keisza’s updated take on a late‘80s-early ’90s dance floor anthem complete with choreographed dance moves in a one-take street video.

WILL WIN: Keisza - unless Drake steals it from her - and she's performing on the show.

Album of the Year

Bobby Bazini, Where I Belong

Hedley, Wild Life

Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems

Nickelback, No Fixed Address

Serge Fiori, Serge Fiori

SHOULD WIN: The 80-year-old poetic force of nature that is Montreal’s Cohen.

WILL WIN: The pickings are slim but Hedley could get it with frontman Jacob Hoggard as this year’s host and performing with his Vancouver band on the broadcast.

Artist of the Year

Bryan Adams

Deadmau5

Leonard Cohen

Sarah McLachlan

The Weeknd

SHOULD WIN: Deadmau5, one of the biggest EDM stars in the world, or Cohen.

WILL WIN: Deadmau5, also performing on the broadcast.

Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Glenn Morrison

Jess Moskaluke

Kiesza Island

Mac DeMarco

Shawn Mendes

SHOULD WIN: Kiesza

WILL WIN: Mendes, the Pickering, Ont.-raised teen pop successor to Justin Bieber’s tarnished throne, who’s also performing on the show.

Rock Album of the Year

Arkells, High Noon

Big Wreck, Ghosts

Sam Roberts Band, Lo-Fantasy

The Glorious Sons, The Union

Your Favorite Enemies, Between Illness and Migration

SHOULD WIN: Arkells, hometown boys make good at the Junos staged in Hamilton, with a performing slot on the show.

WILL WIN: I give the slight edge to Montreal’s Sam Roberts Band, also worthy, and performing on the show.

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson

jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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