There have been some luke warm reactions to Caribou winning the 2008 Polaris Prize (see: here, here, and here). And, really, I find its pretty tough to disagree with that pick particularly when the word 'artistic' as in "the albums of highest artistic integrity" is the criteria used to pick the prize. To me, what this 'artistic integrity' means is that the winning album should push some kind of boundaries... so with that in mind, albums by Basia Bulat, Two Hours Traffic, Stars, etc. should be struck from the group. Great albums? Yes (except for Stars). But, challenging, genre-stretching albums? Not exactly.
In my mind, given the criteria, there were three artists that are serious contenders: Plants and Animals, Holy F--k, and, well, Caribou. Plants and Animals gets bumped because Secret City Records can't win 3 prizes in a row, Holy F--k probably was a pick that was a little too political, and so Caribou wins by default, which, I think is kind of a shame. A shame if only because Caribou counts as artistic because he makes electronic music - which is outside the norm of mainstream radio - and not because he's made a real genre bending album.
I've said it before, and I realize I'm a huge homer, but it really would've been great to see Shad win. His album doesn't exactly blow everyone else away in the 'artistic' category... I mean, he's not the first guy to rap about social problems, but the more I listen to that album, the more I like it. And, the more I think I'm going to include it on my 2008 year end list despite the fact that it was released last year.
And one more reason to love Shad. The Fresh Prince themed video for:
Shad - The Old Prince Still Lives At Home