Predicting the Polaris Prize

So last week I told you I couldn’t comment on the Polaris Prize Short List as I hadn’t heard the nominated albums. CBC Music is helping to remedy that gap in my knowledge by each week profiling and hosting a stream of each full album. I’ve now heard 2 (Cadence Weapon and Japandroids) so I still can’t personally comment on the list as a whole but I thought of someone/thing that can.

As I described in last week’s essay, the Polaris Prize accounts for all kinds of opinions and compiles them to select the best Canadian release of the previous year. There is a site that provides a similar service you may have heard of. It’s called Metacritic.

For those don’t know, Metacritic compiles reviews from the most respected publications and calculates a weighted average out of 100. I say weighted because they’ve taken each source’s history into account. If a source is miserly in delivering 5-star reviews (or whatever the full score of their system is) that is taken into account so those values are weighed heavier in the average than a source that spreads 5-stars around like butter on toast.

A prize that accommodates varied critics and reviewers and a review-site that compiles various critiques and averages them sounds like a perfect match, doesn’t it? So I did a little leg-work. I compiled each Short Listing record for the history of the Polaris Prize, all 60 of them, and searched out their respective ‘Metascores’.

Here are my results:

Winners highlighted in dark blue. ‘N/A’ indicates no Metascore value listed.

As you can see, the eventual Polaris Prize winning albums was the highest-reviewed on Metacritic or didn’t have sufficient data for Metacritic to calculate a value (they require a minimum of 4 reviews from their listed sources). This is obviously a correlation, of course. What Metacritic says about an album has no effect on the individual opinions of the Polaris Grand Jury. Also, as you can see in ’06 and ’07, there were some truly astonishing scores upset by unranked albums. Regardless, there seems to be a pretty darned good predictor here.

So who does Metacritic think will win in 2012? Here are the results:

Congratulations, Fucked Up! You will (possibly) become the first repeat Short Lister to win the Polaris Prize!

Disclaimer: All data used is up-to-date as of 30/07/2012. Metascore values can and do fluctuate over time as new reviews are published.

Second Disclaimer: The majority of publications Metacritic uses in their calculations are based in the U.S. and, as such, lesser-known Canadian acts will likely be less represented. This can potentially explain the numerous ‘N/A’ entries above. How they don’t have entries for Hey Rosetta! and Joel Plaskett is beyond me. Other ‘N/A’ artists are represented but not the specific albums on the Short List.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. zoot aloors says:

    Outstanding, Zammachus! lots to investigate and compare! Simply amazing blog, dude.

    Best of luck to Fucked Up at this year’s Polaris Music Prize!!!

    1. Thank you!! Fucked Up doesn’t need your luck, though. It’s apparently a pre-ordained win.

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