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Short List 2011: By the numbers!

· by Tab S.

And the word is out! The list of ten albums vying for the sixth annual Polaris Prize was announced today in Toronto by gala hosts Grant Lawrence (CBC Radio 3) and Damian Abraham (lead bellower of 2009 Polaris winners Fucked Up). While we’ll leave the inevitable gloating, hand-wringing, and potential wagering to all the jurors, bloggers, and music fans out there, here are some fun facts about this year’s shortlist to mull over in the lead-up to the big show on September 19:

3: Debut records on this year's list: Austra’s Feel It Break, Braids’ Native Speaker and The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons.

8: Artists new to the Short List (Arcade Fire was nominated in 2007 for Neon Bible and Hey Rosetta! in 2009 for Into Your Lungs).

12: Full-length albums by Ron Sexsmith, making him the Short List nominee with the most releases to date.

4: Francophone artists who've made the Short List (this year’s Quebec entry, Galaxie, is the fourth Francophone band to land in the top ten to date).

5: Short List acts based in Montreal: Arcade Fire, Braids, Colin Stetson, Galaxie, Timber Timbre (though some other cities can lay original claim to three of those acts).

3: Toronto-based Short List acts: Austra, Ron Sexsmith, The Weeknd (let the age-old Toronto-Montreal rivalry simmer anew!).

2: Other cities boasting Short Listers: Interestingly, the remaining nominees – Destroyer and Hey Rosetta! – hail from either ends of the country (Vancouver and St. John’s, respectively).

3: Number of Short List records featuring the saxophone mastery of nominee Colin Stetson (aside from his own, Stetson also played on Arcade Fire and Timber Timbre’s albums).

3: Number of Short List acts with high-profile hip-hop fans – earlier this year, Jay-Z’s website tipped Austra as a band to watch; The Weeknd blew up online largely thanks to fellow T-dot rapper Drake’s Midas touch; and none other than Kanye West himself signalled his approval of Arcade Fire’s big Grammy win – via tweet, of course.

1: Number of free records to ever make the Short List. (The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons, a digital-only ‘mixtape’ released by the artist himself.)

0: Public appearances by The Weeknd (21-year-old Toronto vocalist/producer Abel Tesfaye) since House of Balloons became the buzz of the interweb. He's due to shed his air of mystery when he hits the stage later this month as part of Drake's OVO Fest tour – will we see this newcomer at the Polaris gala? Stay tuned…

213: Number of hardworking music journalists, broadcasters, and bloggers who debated, discussed, and deliberated to narrow down their picks for both the Short and Long Lists as part of this year's jury.

11: Grand Jury members who will be selected from across the country to convene at the Gala in September to crown the Polaris winner! (More on that soon.)

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