Why Dan Mangan should win the Polaris Prize


by Michael

In this first part of our Polarize Essays segment, I’m going to tell you why Vancouver’s Dan Mangan should win the $20,000 and profile boost that comes along with the title of Polaris Prize winner.

As if this hasn’t already been said a million times both on this blog and around the net- this year has been absolutely stellar for Mangan, whose tireless work ethic is only part of the reason why he has become one of Canada’s biggest rising stars in just under a year.

Mangan last year released his insanely critically acclaimed album Nice, Nice Very Nice. Part of the reason why it scored so high was its ability to turn folk music into something totally accessible to everyone and not just a small demographic.

Whether it’s the catchy ditty “Robots” (which subsequently won him two Buckys for Best Song and Best Vocals) about robots needing love too, the ironic and lovely “The Indie Queens are Waiting” or the mournful “Set the Sails” (which was also recognized by, of all people, Stephenie Meyer), the album is full of music for whatever mood you’re in.

Another strength on the album is Mangan’s superb vocals. His booming voice matches the style of his music and shows a lot of emotion. An example of this is when Mangan sings “It’s a shame/It’s a crying shame/Them’s the brakes” on the album opener, “Road Regrets.” The animated video for “Road Regrets” also won a LEO award and will be shown in animation festivals around the world.

Mangan’s lyrics are also definitely something to keep in mind when deciding whether he is Polaris-worthy. Though he won two Buckys last year, he was also nominated for Best Lyric for “Sold.” The lyrics were “So I gave up all my wretched thoughts/And left them out for the less fortunate.” And who could forget the endlessly charming lyrics of “Robots”: “Robots need love too/They want to be loved by you.”

I know the Polaris Prize is solely awarded based on artistic merit, but part of the reason for his rise to fame is that he works really hard (much like fellow nominees the Sadies) and is also an extremely nice and likable guy.

But going for Polaris qualifications, Dan Mangan has it all- catchy, accessible melodies; witty, thought-provoking lyrics and powerful vocals. These alone are definitely enough to crown Mangan the best Canadian artist for 2010.

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