Tag Archives: Suzie McNeil
For those of you born in the 90s and beyond, MacGyver was a popular 80s American television series centered around the adventures of a secret agent armed with an inexhaustible scientific resourcefulness, creating devices, explosives, and tools by using and combining ordinary materials around him. Trivia question: what connection does this TV series have with Canadian recording artist Suzie McNeil? No, she didn’t write the theme song.
Here’s a hint: it has something to do with Suzie’s song “Help Me Out” off her album Rock-n-Roller.
Still confused? Here’s another hint. MacGyver’s arch nemesis was Murdoc who was played by British actor Michael Des Barres.
Third and final hint: Animotion.
Okay, let’s tie all these loose ends together. Suzie McNeil’s song “Help Me Out” was co-written by American songwriter Holly Knight who also played studio keyboards for the track. Holly has written / co-written scores of songs for scores of artists including Pat Benatar’s hit “Love is a Battlefield”.
British actor Michael Des Barres is also a rock singer and songwriter.
In 1983, Holly and Michael wrote and performed a song together called “Obsession”. It was featured in the motion picture A Night in Heaven and was also used in the theatrical trailer for the film 9-1/2 Weeks. The song for one reason or another failed to make much headway as a hit single. Feeling that it needed a slicker, poppier treatment it was covered by American new wave band Animotion in 1984, becoming a Top 10 hit in Canada and around the world. Most of us are familiar with the Animotion version. Below is the original version as performed by Holly and Michael. You can listen to Suzie’s song “Help Me Out” HERE.
Considering that some 8,000 songs from Canadian artists came out in 2012, coming up with the top 200 would have be difficult enough, but the top 20 was extremely difficult! To make things easier (and a fairer and tidier list), we allowed only one entry per artist.
Equally difficult was trying to decide whether a song could be considered a 2012 song. The biggest song of the year, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was released in 2011. But we think of it as a 2012 song because that’s when it enjoyed its biggest chart success. Below are a list of rules about which songs were eligible for our list.
1. For songs on albums not released as singles, the album had to have been released in 2012.
2. For non Hot 100 charting singles, the release date had to be in 2012.
3. For charting singles, the song had to reach its Hot 100 peak position during 2012.
4. If a song was included on our Faves list for the previous year but ended up being released as a single or charting this year, we will not re-include it on this year’s Faves list.
5. All songs eligible had to be in whole or in part credited to and performed by a Canadian artist whether or not it was composed by a Canadian.
As with our albums list, we listened to all 2012 songs shortlisting the ones we loved, then ranking them at the end of the year. We were not at all swayed by how popular (or unpopular) a song was or what the genre was.
We have included the cover art for singles. For album non-single songs, we framed the album cover with the song’s name on the frame.
#20. “You and I” by Anjulie
JUNO-nominated, platinum-selling Oakville recording artist Anjulie is one of the most stylish and exquisite songwriters in the country, not to mention a talented musician and very good singer to boot. This year she released 3 gourmet singles and it was a tough call picking our favourite. We’re settling on Top 30 (currently) “You and I” which pays homage to 1970s dance music while still remaining distinctively fresh and modern. It begins in a simple vein on acoustic guitar strums and builds into a star-soaring, beat thumping chorus, complete with revving keyboard riffs. This was one of 2012′s precious treasures, simply beautiful.
#19. “Love” by Raghav
Gold single “Fire” was one of the most delightful songs of 2011. Calgary’s JUNO-nominated Raghav was the only artist from anywhere in the world to score three Top 10 singles in the UK in 2004 having launched his career from Britain. He released his long awaited album The Phoenix in home country of Canada this year. Raghav’s gorgeous ballad “Love” was originally written for Michael Jackson and was released as a single late in the year. With catchy lyrics “Is this what they call love? Is this what all the fuss is about? If so, let me out!”, unpredictable and detailed hooks, and some sweet singing, this was definitely one of the best songs of the year.
#18. “Tough Love” by Suzie McNeil
This Mississauga native, currently signed to Vancouver label 604 Records, is a fabulous singer best known perhaps for her song “Supergirl” which made the year-end top 100 of 2009. Suzie is blessed with a versatile voice, handling both softer and harder rock with ease. She released her 3rd studio album this year, Dear Love, three tracks of which have been released as singles. She co-wrote “Tough Love”, the album’s 3rd single, with Marianas Trench frontman Josh Ramsay. This magnificent song which should have been a huge hit is Katy Perry rolled up with Joan Jett, i.e. lovely but tough. This song is like a battle between mischievous Cupid and Supergirl Suzie.
#17. “The Love You Gave” by Elisapie
Her album Travelling Love was one of our favourites of the year and this track stood out the most for us. Elisapie, previously in JUNO award winning duo Taima, is zooming ahead in her solo career’s skidoo as her second album shifted gears from her folky roots to a more pop/rock sound. The song is a savoury blend of spicy keyboards, sweet vocals, bitter beat, salty guitars, with backing choir, handclaps, and even a 70s style guitar solo. In short, “The Love You Gave” is perfect from every standpoint including composition, arrangement, delivery, and production. It’s no wonder that iTunes selected this song as one of their “songs of the week”.
#16. “Castle in the Cloud” by Stef Lang
A cool groove that has the beauty to stop you in your tracks is this little jewel written, delivered, recorded, and produced by British Columbian independent artist Stef Lang. After releasing radio friendly EP Fighting Mirrors earlier in the year that spawned airwave played “Paper Doll” and moreover after laying the vocals on two tracks off Delerium’s latest album Music Box Opera, she created LP Self, our 9th favourite of 2012. This track was our pick of the bunch, though just about any selection from the album could easily be placed here. While many of the more popular tunes this year got away with bearing too much resemblance to a hit of the past, this is a very original composition.
#15. “The Veldt” by deadmau5
Canada’s best-known EDM musician who composes but does not normally sing recruited Chris James to deliver the vocals on what sounds like a track inspired by Carol Anne Freeling in Poltergeist. One thing we know for sure is that the title came from a short sci-fi story by Ray Bradbury. Deadmau5 first created the tune on a live streaming session and then discovered Chris’ vocal rendition of it via Twitter. He invited Chris to perform on the official recording. The single came out just one month prior to Bradbury’s passing. “The Veldt” peaked on the Hot 100 at #24 and was the 75th most popular song of the year. To date, deadmau5 has won 4 JUNO awards.
#14. “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber
Believe was the most internationally successful Canadian album of the year and was certified double platinum at home. Of several singles released from the LP, we favoured this one best which is just a blast with its playful style and funky bass. The song was composed by internationally acclaimed songwriters Max Martin (Sweden), Anton Zaslavski (Russian-German), and Savan Kotecha (American) and it features a short and sweet spoken word segment with Nicki Minaj. “Beauty and a Beat” debuted on the Hot 100 at #47, disappeared the following week, and then re-entered 16 weeks later, peaking at #4. It has gone gold. Justin Bieber has won three JUNO awards.
#13. “So Happy I Could Die” by Bif Naked
JUNO-nominated and platinum-selling (not to mention humourist, motivational speaker, and comic cartoonist) Bif Naked in recent years underwent a successful battle against cancer. This year she released an album of mostly acoustic versions of her biggest hits plus a couple of new songs, Bif Naked Forever: (Acoustic Hits & Other Delights). In teaming up with Ryan Stewart, “So Happy I Could Die” is her welcome tribute to dance pop with a fantastic beat punctuated by her classic and lovable nasally vocals. “So here goes. I decided that’s enough. And it shows. I’m a fighter; I am tough” pretty much sums up the lessons she has learned from her experience.
#12. “Satellite” by Andrew Allen
Vernon, British Columbia, situated in the beautiful Okanagan valley, is the hometown of emerging recording artist Andrew Allen. Having enjoyed some radio hits, most notably the 3-million-plus YouTube viewed “Loving You Tonight”, Andrew launched his delicious dance-pop tune “Satellite” after scoring a charting single “I Want You” earlier in the year. Pulsating, percolating, and bubbling ’round the maple tree, the song is quite the embodiment of the touring lifestyle to which Allen has no doubt grown accustomed. 2012 was the year that Canadians became dance pop specialists and Allen is yet another example of such greatness.
#11. “Kiss You Inside Out” (Bilingual Version) by Hedley ft. Andrée-Anne Leclerc
The addition of Star Academie finalist Andrée-Anne Leclerc to perform a bilingual duet with Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard converted a good song into a great song and transformed something that could pass for a tune from any country into one that was distinctively Canadian. “Kiss You Inside Out”, released outside of JUNO-winning album Storms as a separate single, reached #2 on the weekly Hot 100 and was the second biggest Canadian hit of the year (after “Call Me Maybe”) in 19th spot on the year-end Billboard Hot 100. Given the beauty of musical composition, with a sweet and catchy melody, we are not surprised that this has become a triple-platinum single.
Christmas by Michael Buble (Deluxe Special 2012 Edition)
Last year, in late October, Michael Buble released his 7x Platinum Christmas LP which became the best-selling Canadian album of 2011 both at home and abroad. This year, on December 4, Mr. Bubbles is re-releasing the work with three or four new tracks. Recently, he appeared on the top televised chat program in the United Kingdom, The Graham Norton Show, for one of the funniest interviews in recent memory, prior to performing “Jingle Bells”. You can watch it HERE (warning: adult humour).
Noel by Star Academie
Earlier this year, contestants of Montreal’s hit TV reality series Star Academie (somewhat of a French language version of Canadian Idol) released an album of covers of classic Francophone tunes that has been certified double-platinum. In November, the gifted singers released Christmas album Noel. In just 17 days, it went Platinum. Most of the tracks are in fabulous French with a couple of English. iTunes
This is Christmas by Suzie McNeil
After releasing her Dear Love album earlier this year, Mississauga-born charmer Suzie McNeil has just released her first Christmas album, This is Christmas. She has written an original Christmas song annually for the past four years. To these, she added four classic Christmas tunes for a sweet eight-track disc. She says, “This album is light and fun, and I truly hope that it adds a festive feeling to your holiday experience.” iTunes
Bundled Up by the Artists of 604 Records
Vancouver’s 604 Records has become a powerful little label, the one that launched Carly Rae Jepsen to international superstardom. What is becoming a tradition for them is releasing an annual Christmas album with both traditional and original tunes sung by its various artists. This year, they have released Bundled Up which includes Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Mittens”, Jessica Lee’s “Wouldn’t Be Christmas”, and a delicious rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Ian Casselman. iTunes
A Cup of Kindness Yet (EP) by Hey Rosetta!
Finally, for those of you dreaming of a … grey? Christmas? JUNO-nominated, Newfoundland, indie folk-rock band Hey Rosetta! has released a four-track Christmas-themed EP in time for the holidays called A Cup of Kindness Yet. In the cup, you will find a couple of originals with traditionals reworked. iTunes
Grab yourself some hot chocolate and enjoy one or all of these five fine releases made for you by Canadian recording artists.
For perfect love is like a fair green plant,
That fades not with its blossoms, but lives on,
And gentle lovers shall not come to want,
Though fancy with its first mad dream be gone;
Sweet is the flower, whose radiant glory flies,
But sweeter still the green that never dies.
Suzie McNeil is a very clever detective who has, over the past four years, extensively investigated the mysterious mechanisms of Cupid, that enigmatic figure who entrances us and wounds us with his invisible arrows. She has pieced together a number of findings from her research as to how love operates and how it affects us. These carefully documented details, collected in a thick manila folder, have been transferred into lyric and incorporated into a collection of songs that will grace a brand new concept album called Dear Love. We have already heard a few fabulous selections: “Drama Queen”, “Merry Go Round”, and “Tough Love”. Cupid often dares to engage in mischief. But now the heartbroken can rest assured that Supergirl is going to put him in his place. Dear Love is out on August 7.
Suzie McNeil Official Website
Suzie is from an area of Canada known as the Golden Horseshoe which surrounds the western shores of Lake Ontario. It contains half of the population of Ontario and one-fifth the population of Canada, making it the most populous region of the country.
McNeil is known for being a contestant on music reality show Rock Star: INXS. She went on to work as a backup singer for Pink on her tour and recorded a duet with Clay Aiken on his cover of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is”. Suzie released her first solo album in 2007 and two more thereafter. Her song “Supergirl” was a Top 30 hit and made the year-end Top 100 of the year 2009 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.
If the word spreads about “Tough Love” and it gains momentum, it could very well become the runaway hit of the summer. We certainly hope it does.
Listen to “Tough Love” HERE.
If you like it, the iTunes link is HERE.
Don’t forget to call or message your favourite local radio station and request it.
Check out Suzie McNeil’s Official Website.
Suzie McNeil will be one of the presenters at a symposium put on by The Songwriters Association of Canada. The 2012 Songposium will take place tomorrow in the Toronto area and will cover the following themes:
1. Anatomy of a Hit -Breaking down the art of creating a hit song.
2. Creative Digital Marketing -How to market yourself on the web.
3. Pitching to Radio - What it takes to get on the radio
4. Demo Evaluations - Get your song critiqued by Pros!
More info can be found HERE.
Suzie posted the very interesting question on Twitter this afternoon, “What do you think makes a song a hit?”
Here are some responses:
Nicole: A song that the artist’s fans can relate to and the support of the artist’s fans.
Cynthia: singable tune, singable lyrics + touch the heart, great bridge, singer connects w/audience.
Andrea: A great vocal line and lyrics that connect with the listener. And artists should sing like they mean/believe every word !!
Martin: a good hook!
Brent: melody and great vocal so u shouldn’t have any problem there
Mary: catchy lyrics that people can relate to and a singer who really believes in the lyrics and the song
Sarah: i think a song that isnt really that shallow & that they believe in. a song that people can realte to.
Craig: A lot of money and good perks for programmers
We contributed, suggesting: songwriting #1, promotion #2, and arrangement / production #3.
What do you think? What makes a song a hit?
The most significant event that occurred in the latter years of the first decade of the new millennium was that, for the first time in music history, a Canadian of east-Asian descent scored a radio hit. Canadians of Asian descent make up over 12% of the population but have seen little representation in the music industry. Maple Ridge B.C.’s Elise Estrada, born in the Philippines, recorded the R&B hit “Unlove You” which peaked at #11 on the singles chart.
This period also witnessed the 3rd best-selling Canadian single of all-time internationally, after Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” sold 7.3 million copies worldwide.
Edmonton, which had been left off the map in terms of churning out significant recording artists, contributed two during this time: Kreesha Turner and the Stereos.
Canadian music embraced further diversity. For the first time in a while, Canada gave the world a new male teen international superstar. A couple new electronic artists achieved success. Rock trio Metric released the single “Help, I’m Alive” which peaked at #21 on the singles chart in early 2009. LIGHTS, a female singer-songwriter, won the best new artist JUNO after her electronic pop song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit. Much of this diversity, however, involved taking on American styles of music, like R&B and rap. This coincided with Billboard magazine’s taking over the Canadian singles and albums charts in 2007.
In the late 2000s, a large portion of Canadian music began to emulate styles popular south of the border. A number of new Canadian artists began performing rap and R&B music. Relatively-speaking, such music did not sell well domestically. Most of these American-style artists arose from Toronto and were heavily promoted by Toronto-based MuchMusic. Although many of them were of Jamaican ancestry, they did not perform reggae music.
While it is true that Canadian artists like Avril Lavigne, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida were busy writing and producing songs for American idol winners like Kelly Clarkson, and, in so doing, somewhat Canadianizing American pop, the American influence on Canadian music was much more apparent.
Artists who continued to perform Canadian styles of music began shedding their Canadian pronunciation, adopting American accents. And bad grammar became trendy. By the end of the decade these tendencies had become quite standard.
We can only speculate as to the motivations behind such a trend. Perhaps with the advent of digital music and the looming threat of rampant online piracy, record labels were pushing Canadian recording artists to tailor their music and accents to American styles in order to maximize chances of being successful in the world’s largest market for music. Ironically, many of the artists who did this did not end up making names for themselves in the republic. The most successful Canadian artists during the latter years of the decade were those who made music that was very Canadian: Michael Buble, Avril Lavigne, and Nickelback. The only new artists to sell many records during this period were Feist and Justin Bieber.
Although the year was heavily dominated by pop-punk superstar Avril Lavigne, the Juno gala held the following year gave all three major awards (song, album, and artist of the year) to a folk-pop singer from Amherst, N.S. called Feist. She had received some attention in 2005 for her cover of the Bee Gees’ song “Inside and Out”. Juno-winning The Reminder was certified double-platinum. Feist’s song “1234″ was a Top 10 hit in Britain and the U.S. and made it to #3 at home. In the late 2000s, Feist was the most successful new artist at the Junos, winning eight of 11 nominations.
Five-piece, Vancouver-based, punky grunge band State of Shock scored a Top 10 hit called “Money Honey”. They managed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts by the end of the decade. They were one of the few male-female combo bands.
Toronto’s Jully Black also made the Top 10 with her cover of the 1960s song “Seven Day Fool”. In Québec, female rocker Anik Jean enjoyed the hit “Oh mon chéri” and Jonathan Painchaud scored with “Pousse, Pousse”. But it was rocker Marie-Mai, Star Académie finalist who shone the brightest. She won four Félix awards, released gold and platinum albums, and recorded songs with David Usher (Moist) and Simple Plan. Although she did not see any hit singles, Peterborough, Ontario’s indie folk singer Serena Ryder scored a pair of gold albums and was honoured with the JUNO for best new artist.
With the handover of the official Canadian charts going to Billboard magazine, there was no year-end chart for the year, and we do not have access to the weekly singles charts for the first half of the year. Nevertheless, we have attempted to piece together data on some of the hits this year which you can find HERE. In brief, besides the new artists mentioned above, Avril Lavigne, Nickelback / Chad Kroeger, Nelly Furtado, Finger Eleven, Michael Bublé, Bedouin Soundclash, and Céline Dion enjoyed big hits.
Like R&B singer Jully Black, Toronto’s Kardinal Offishall (born Jason Harrow) is of Jamaican ancestry. His singles have done much better than his albums. This year, he scored the international hit “Dangerous” (11th biggest of 2008) with American Akon which won the Juno for song of the year. The two collaborated again in “Beautiful” and “Body Bounce” in subsequent years. In 2011, he recorded the song “Ghetto Love” with Montreal’s Karl Wolf, a rap-reggae version of Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love”. Kardinal Offishall has won 3 JUNO awards.
Edmonton-born Kreesha Turner, whose mother is Jamaican, started her career by performing 70s-style R&B and scored the Top 10 hit “Don’t Call Me Baby”. South of her, in Calgary, Andrew F became a one-hit wonder (so far) with his punky song “The End”. Marie-Pierre Arthur scored the Quebec hit “Pourquoi” as did Yann Perreau with “Beau comme on s’aime”. Gypsy jazz band The Lost Fingers, from Quebec City, scored a platinum album called Lost in the 80s.
Montreal’s pop pianist Béatrice Martin, under the stage name Coeur de Pirate, released her debut album this year. It was certified platinum and was nominated for Francophone album of the year at the JUNOs.
LIGHTS is not a band but a female singer-songwriter based in Toronto. She became one of the most successful electronic pop musicians in the late 2000s, winning the Juno award for Best New Artist. Her “Drive My Soul” was the 70th biggest song of 2008.
Vancouver’s Phillipine-born beauty contest winner Elise Estrada scored the hit “Unlove You” which finished in the Top 100 year-end chart of 2008. As far as we know, she is the first Canadian of east-Asian descent to score a hit on the radio in Canada, a remarkable achievement.
Mission, B.C.’s Faber Drive were signed onto Chad Kroeger’s label 604 Records and performed mainstream pop. “When I’m with You” made the year-end Top 100 and the following year their “Get Up and Dance” was the 48th biggest song of the year.
Many new artists emerged this last year of the decade.
Lebanese-born Montrealer Karl Wolf began performing R&B and his cover of Toto’s “Africa” was the biggest song of the year by a Canadian artist, finishing the year in 9th spot.
A Canadian rapper had a huge hit south of the border. “Best I Ever Had” was the 22nd biggest song in the U.S. (79th in Canada) thanks to Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham, known simply as Drake. He started out as an actor playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation”. Drake’s father is an African American from Memphis, Tennessee, and his mother is Jewish Canadian. He started out by collaborating with American rap artists like Kanye West, Eminem, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne, signing onto the latter’s record label. Drake’s album Thank Me Later managed to go platinum in Canada.
Outselling Drake was a youngster from Stratford, ON named Justin Bieber who managed one platinum and two double-platinum albums. “One Time” and “One Less Lonely Girl” were big hits this year. He became successful by uploading videos of his songs onto Youtube. This led to a recording contract. Although primarily a pop artist, some of his songs feature rap segments from American artists.
Besides Nelly Furtado and Shawn Desman, another Portuguese-Canadian popped out of obscurity; in fact, he is Desman’s younger brother, Danny Fernandes. His “Fantasy” was a big hit this year.
Born in Scotland, naturalized Canadian soul singer Johnny Reid, despite no hit singles, put out an album that went double-platinum this year: Dance with Me. Divine Brown was yet another Toronto R&B singer to arise, though she did not score any significant hits until she teamed up with Nelly Furtado and performed “Sunglasses” (#22).
Toronto’s Suzie McNeil had entered a CBS reality show called Rock Star: INXS to find a new lead singer for the band. She was the last female singer to be eliminated from the competition, having gained by then considerable respect. She relocated to Los Angeles to develop her career. Her “Supergirl” made the year-end Top 100 this year.
Also from Toronto was Melanie Fiona, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Guyana. Her “Give It to Me Right” also made the Top 100 of 2009.
Besides Kreesha Turner, Edmonton produced the band the Stereos who scored two big hits this year: “Summer Girl” (#2) and “Throw Your Hands Up” (#3). The Stereos made a kind of music that blended all the current popular styles: grunge, dance, and rap.
Originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec, The New Cities set up base in Montréal and released their debut LP this year. Gold single “Dead End Countdown” was a big new wave hit, 69th of the year.
Links to Related Posts
Lists of Canadian Songs in the Top 100 of 2008 and 2009 in Canada are HERE.
Mini profiles on semi-major artists Feist, Marie-Mai, State of Shock, Faber Drive, Drake, The Stereos, and LIGHTS are HERE.
Major profile on Elise Estrada is HERE.
Major profile on Justin Bieber is HERE.
A list of Juno and Félix song of the year nominees and winners for the decade 2000-2009 is HERE.
A list of best-selling Canadian albums 2000-2009 is HERE.
A list of best-selling Canadian singles 2000-2009 is HERE.