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The Beaches perform at the Juno awards, in Halifax, Sunday, March 24, 2024.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

At the Juno Awards held Sunday at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, host Nelly Furtado opened the broadcast on stage, not in the air. It was a promising beginning.

Pop star Furtado hosted the Juno Awards once before, in 2007, when she descended onto the stage in Saskatoon befeathered, afloat and strapped in a harness. It was a reference to her signature song from many years earlier, I’m Like a Bird. It was a pure cornball moment that spoke to the annual award show’s continuing existential crisis: If the Junos weren’t going to take themselves seriously, why should anyone else?

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Charlotte Cardin performs.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

This year, thankfully, it was a grounded Furtado who kicked off the broadcast with a medley of her hits performed while wearing a revealing silver space-age outfit.

Because the bulk of the awards were handed out during a pre-telecast ceremony on Saturday, the high drama of opening envelopes was absent aside from the four statuettes presented: For group (the Beaches), album (Charlotte Cardin, for 99 Nights), breakout artist (WALK) and Fan Choice (Karan Aujla).

Picking up the slack, The Globe and Mail presents the best, worst and most quotable moments from the 2024 Junos. And the winners are…

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Nelly Furtado performs onstage during the 2024 JUNO Awards at Scotiabank Centre on March 24, 2024 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The Good

Surprise guest (but not really) Anne Murray, the pride of Springhill, Nova Scotia, presented the night’s first award, to the four women of the Toronto rock band the Beaches for Group of the Year. “Some of you may be too young to know very much about me,” the 78-year-old Snowbird singer said. Indeed, most of the Juno performers were not born when Murray won her first Juno Awards in 1971, when the awards were known as the RPM Awards.

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Anne Murray prepares to present the award for group of the year at the Juno awards, in Halifax, Sunday, March 24, 2024.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Punjabi rap redux At last year’s Junos in Edmonton, a topless climate-change protestor interrupted the introduction of AP Dhillon, the Victoria-based rapper who made history as the first Punjabi music act to perform on the broadcast. The choice of B.C. singer/rapper Karan Aujla to appear this year was both a deserved do-over and an indication of Punjabi music’s soaring popularity. He performed Admiring You and Softly and later won the publicly voted Fans Choice award.

Stunning Indigeneity A segment featuring Morgan Toney (a Mi’kmaq folk singer and fiddler from Nova Scotia) and Jeremy Dutcher (a composer, musicologist and classically trained tenor from Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick) closed with a gorgeous rendition of Blondie’s Heart of Glass sang in the Inuktitut language by Québécoise singer-songwriter Elisapie.

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Elisapie (left) Morgan Toney (centre) and Jeremy Dutcher pose for a photo while touring the media rooms at the Juno Awards in Halifax.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Thanks for the memories A poignant tribute by Alexandra Stréliski for the lead singer and co-founder of Les Cowboys Fringants, Karl Tremblay, began an in memoriam segment that included a haunting rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind and an Indigenous artists’ sing-along of The Weight for Robbie Robertson, of Mohawk/Cayuga heritage.

Dressed to impress Even though Maestro Fresh Wes was flanked by two people in RCMP uniforms when he accepted his ground-breaking induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, no police could stop the rap pioneer from stealing the show with his outrageously cool black leather tuxedo.

The Bad

Short shrift The passing of Juno co-founder Stan Klees, who died last year at age 91, deserved more recognition than was granted.

Marketing meets music A joyous Furtado was capable as host, but why did she get the gig? She has released one album (2017′s commercial flop, The Ride) in 12 years. The answer lies in the release calendar, as it so often does. There is a new album coming this year from Furtado, which makes her Juno Awards hosting duties just one part of a bigger marketing campaign for her new music.

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Nelly Furtado performs during the Juno awards, in Halifax, Sunday, March 24, 2024.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

A bad rap Including the alt-country icon Jim Cuddy in a rap montage saluting the induction of Maestro Fresh Wes into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame was a choice.

Paging Tate McRae One would think marquee awards for Single of the Year and Artist of the Year would be given a prime-time spotlight. Yet, those trophies were handed out during the precursor industry event on Saturday. Calgarian pop phenom Tate McRae won both, but did not attend the ceremony. (She did, however, perform earlier this month in London at the Brit Awards, where her smash hit Greedy was up for top international song.)

The Quotes

Actor Elliot Page, presenting the Humanitarian Award to indie-pop sister duo Tegan and Sara: “We are at a time in history where the rights of LGBTQ2+ people are being revoked, restricted and eliminated throughout the world, and the effects are devastating.”

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(L-R) Tegan Quin and Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara speak onstage during the 2024 JUNO Awards at Scotiabank Centre on March 24, 2024.Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Aba Amuquandoh, on the so many Canadian stars that had descended on Halifax: “I keep thinking any group of 12 or more white people might be Broken Social Scene.”

TALK, accepting the Breakout Artist of the Year Award after performing earlier in the broadcast: “I put my hair up – I thought I was done for the night.”

Karan Aujla, upon his Fans Choice win: “Sometimes I can’t believe I’m the same kid that lost his parents in India, you know, made my way out to Canada, this beautiful country…”

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Karan Aujla accepts the fan’s choice award at the Juno awards, in Halifax, Sunday, March 24, 2024.Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

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