Nominations for the 2019 JUNO Awards, the main gala to take place in London on Saint Patrick’s Day, will be announced January 29 at 8 am PT. Already booked to perform is successful duo Loud Luxury. CARAS has made a few announcements surrounding the JUNOs in recent times as below.
Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award Recipient – Duff Roman
Originally from Swift Current, SK, Duff Roman began as a radio DJ for stations in the Prairies before landing a position at Toronto’s top adult rock station CHUM. He worked his way up to program director and station manager. With his brother, he founded Roman Records in the early 60s, and as an artist manager, he produced Little Caesar and The Consuls and the first recordings of Levon and the Hawks, who went on to become The Band. He was also involved in launching the careers of The Paupers and David Clayton-Thomas. In 1982, Roman led the creation of FACTOR, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings.
Humanitarian Award Recipient – David Foster
Canadian super producer David Foster will be receiving the 2019 Humanitarian Award (formerly named after Allan Waters). The organization writes, “The award honours Foster’s lifelong dedication to philanthropy through his support of hundreds of charities, including his own non-profit organization, The David Foster Foundation, which raises organ donation awareness and provides financial support to Canadian families in need of life-saving transplants.” Over the years, Foster has made hit songs for the likes of Diana Krall, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder; launched the careers of Céline Dion, Josh Groban, and Michael Bublé; and created blockbuster soundtracks like The Bodyguard, Urban Cowboy, and St. Elmo’s Fire. David Foster has won six JUNO Awards, 16 Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe and has received three Oscar nominations for “Best Original Song.” He has been inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, Walk of Fame, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and both the Canadian and American Songwriters Halls of Fame.
Music Hall of Fame Inductee – Corey Hart
From his career launch in 1983, Montrealer Corey Hart has scored 18 Top 40 hits including his buzz single “Sunglasses at Night” and his 1985 year-end chart topper “Never Surrender”. The album on which the latter song appeared, Boy in the Box, became a diamond seller with a million copies snatched up in Canada alone. Incredibly, Hart only won two JUNO awards despite being nominated for 21. He often lost out to Bryan Adams. The two trophies went to Best Video (“Sunglasses at Night”) and Single of the Year (“Never Surrender”). In the American Republic, Hart landed nine songs in the Top 40; “Never Surrender” peaked at #3. Corey married fellow Canadian recording artist Julie Masse, and in 1999 he decided to take a hiatus from his music career to focus on raising their children. His induction into the Hall of Fame coincides with the release of a new EP and an upcoming cross-Canada tour. Corey Hart has sold an estimated 16 million records worldwide.
New discs are beginning to trickle in. Country music JUNO nominees Kira Isabella and Aaron Pritchett have released new EPs. JUNO winning Folk rock group Whitehorse contributes The Northern South Vol. 1. Find these and more in the list below.
Tallies by Tallies, Jan 11, Alternative
The Northern South Vol. 1 by Whitehorse (JW), Jan 18, Folk Rock
Insert Disk 02 by Game Genie Sokolov Jan 18, Electronic
12 jours by Jordane, Jan 18, S-S/Folk
Barokan by Djely Tapa, Jan 18, World
Comme June aime Johnny by Alicia Deschenes, Jan 18, S-S/Folk
Out on the Town (EP) by Aaron Pritchett (JN), Jan 11, Country
Side B (EP) by Kira Isabella (JN), Jan 11, Country
Extravaganza (EP) by Alexandre Desilets, Jan 18, Pop
If there was any doubt about 2019 being a great year in music, in addition to Kira Isabella‘s excellent new EP Side B, we have another winner care of a debut album from Toronto band Tallies. The self-titled work presents a blend of Alvvays shoegaze and Mode Moderne new wave. It is however more guitar oriented – Dylan Frankland‘s playing is highly engaging – and at times we can hear some surf rock bubbling up. Unlike many other players of the extended genre, Tallies chooses to keep things upbeat and positive rather than wallow in melancholia. Sarah Cogan‘s vocals are distinctive and rich, reminding us a little of Jonna Lee’s (iamamiwhoami). These prove strong on tracks like “Midnight” and “Not So Proud”. With this solid album, Tallies becomes a welcome addition to Team Canada. iTunes
Canadian Country Music Association award winner and two-time JUNO nominee Kira Isabella has placed four songs on the Billboard Hot 100. The Ottawa native is one of the hottest names in country music and of all the big names is the one to kick off 2019 in music with the release of a brand new EP. Side B is the accompanier of 2018’s Side A and is a winner.
As is common practice with EPs, variety rather than cohesion is the name of the game. An EP allows the artist to try her hands at various styles, something designed to impress, and Kira Isabella impresses here.
Side B opens with hit single territory in the absolutely delicious “We Should be Together”, an instantly likeable number that deserves to top the charts at country radio. Yes, it’s that good! Stronger country flavourings are added to Track 2, “Holiday”, a funky teasing tune that bounces along with an irresistible chorus. Feel your heart melt with the beautiful piano ballad “XGF”; every disc needs one in our opinion. Isabella cranks up the retro vibes in “Soon”, a hazy, lazy afternoon feel good tune. The interesting title “Sleep When We’re Dead” caps off the disc, a slow-burning, sing-along song with the most lucid lyrics of beautiful poetry on the EP.
With Side A, we had already heard some of the tracks which had previously been released as singles. The exciting aspect of Side B is that all songs are new. If 2019 begins with an EP this good, we hope it means a year of the best music we’ve heard in a while. iTunes
Multiplatinum group Walk Off the Earth has announced that beloved member Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor (keyboards, vocals), has died, apparently of natural causes during sleep.
“Mike had a love for life that was unmatched and a willingness to give that went beyond ordinary means,” the Burlington, Ontario band said in a statement posted on its social media sites. “Our deepest sympathies are with his two children, whom he adored more than anything else in the world.”
Fans and friends admit to being shocked by the news including Billy Talent bassist Jonathan Gallant who says, “Mike Taylor was a great guy and a hockey brother. In the dressing room he talked most about his kids and always added a thoughtful kind approach to any conversation. RIP buddy.”
Walk Off the Earth was expected to play a show on New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls. The band’s performance has been cancelled.
Walk Off the Earth won the 2016 JUNO Award for Group of the Year and placed 8 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 from 2012 to 2017 including #9 double platinum smash “Red Hands”. The group’s music video for a cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” in which five members play a single guitar at 185 million views has far surpassed Vevo certification levels.
2018, from every standpoint, was a loud year. Exclamatory events of all kinds, be they tragic or jubilant, filled the headlines. There were disasters everywhere, both natural and human caused. Some were accidental and others intentional. Large spectacles attracted unfathomable numbers in viewership. Below are some highlights.
A roaring fire destroyed several buildings in downtown Brandon, Manitoba on May 18 before a July heat wave ended the lives of 33 in Quebec. On April 6 a semi-truck collided with a bus carrying Saskatchewan junior hockey team The Humboldt Broncos. The crash killed 16 and injured 13. A little over two weeks later, a vehicle-ramming attack killed 10 people and injured 16 in Toronto. In Metro Vancouver, a short walk away from the park where Marissa Shen was murdered, demovictions forced families out of apartment buildings to be demolished so that condo towers could take their places.
Searing accusations in the music world, involving fornication with minors, burned multiplatinum pop group Hedley at the stake during a cross-Canada concert tour. The scandal razed the band’s meteoric success leaving it as a mere smudge of ash on the landscape. When Alessia Cara became the first Canadian to ever win a Best New Artist Grammy and the only female to accept an award through the evening, naysayers rained on her parade calling into question her status of being new. Undercover investigators found fraud and scalping activities by Ticketmaster, the world’s biggest ticket supplier.
Canadian athletes took care of business in Pyeongchang, South Korea, finishing third in the world at the Winter Olympic Games with 29 medals including 11 gold. Most Canadians did not seem dismayed by being beat by victor Norway which has seven times less inhabitants just so long as we beat The United States, which we did quite easily. March 19 hosted the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, England, attracting an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion.
Tegan and Sara were honoured at the Governor General Awards. Charlotte Day Wilson‘s music video for “Work” won the Prism Prize and Jeremy Dutcher received the Polaris Music Prize (best album). Yama Laurent won The Voice. Klô Pelgag, Lights, and Ruth B were among the performers at Canada Day celebrations. Justin Bieber received an exhibit in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario. CTV debuted popular reality mini series The Launch. Victoria Duffield returned as an independent artist. The royal wedding inspired at least a few Canadian recording artists to tie the knot in 2018. Among them were Justin Bieber, Jess Moskaluke, and Tyler Shaw.
In a precarious economy overall, the music industry continued appeals to legislators to rework copyright laws in the midst of an erosion of income due to online music streaming. Canadian recording artists were further excluded from the charts, blamed on the latter, a reality perhaps best summed up by arguably the most annoying catch phrase to become trendy in 2018: “I know, right?” Sunrise Records remained afloat, a remaining retail chain, providing Canadians with physical music: CDs, vinyl records, and even a few cassettes.
The Singles That Sizzled
As far as 2018 music went, the number of Canadian artists appearing on the charts through the year continued its downward spiral which has been in motion since streaming data was factored into things in September 2014. In short, the numbers have been cut by one-third of what they were before the streaming era. This is summarized in the graph below.
Musically, January 30 set the tone for the year 2018 with the debut of three key singles on the Hot 100 chart: Drake‘s number one smash “God’s Plan” (currently 8x platinum), Loud Luxury‘s #3 hit “Body” (currently 7x platinum), and “Ain’t Easy” from Ottawa’s Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, the biggest success story from CTV reality talent search television program The Launch. All three songs made it to the year-end chart, #3, #5, and #84 respectively.
Five Canadian artist songs reached #1, four of them from Drake (the aforementioned “God’s Plan”, plus “Nice for What”, “Nonstop”, and “In My Feelings. The fifth was The Weeknd‘s “Call Out My Name”.
There was much talk surrounding the lack of inclusion of women especially regarding the US Grammy Awards which saw only one accept an award through the multi-hour broadcast. Only two Canadian female soloists had a hit peaking in the Top 40 this year: Alessia Cara (“Growing Pains”) and Avril Lavigne (“Head Above Water”).
Two Franco tunes made the Hot 100, both by rappers: Loud‘s “Toutes les femmes savent danser” and Yes Mccan‘s “Désirée”. The former was the year-end chart topper at CKOI.
Canadian artists did well abroad, as always. However, the Canadian media usually only counts foreign success if it takes place in one specific country only—The United States. At Canadian Music Blog, we choose to do things differently. Vancouver’s Kelly Yu released single “Ti Mian”, or Decent, as theme song for a Chinese feature film, and it became one of the biggest Mandopop hits of 2018. Mandarin Chinese is the language with the highest (by far) number of native speakers in the world, so scoring an ace in Mandopop from that perspective is the greatest of all accomplishments.
The Albums That Chiselled
Five Canadian artist albums topped the album chart through 2018 the most successful of which, with certification by year end of double platinum, was Drake‘s Scorpion. It was #1 on the Billboard year-end album chart. The other number ones are Memories Don’t Die by Tory Lanez, EP My Dear Melancholy by The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes by Shawn Mendes (currently platinum), and Love by Michael Bublé (currently gold). Other certified 2018 albums by year-end (all gold) are Après by Fred Pellerin, À jamais by Ginette Reno, Reckless by NAV, and Délivrance by Éric Lapointe.
Twenty-two 2018 Canadian artist albums made the Top 10. This is down from 26 last year and way down from 36 in 2016.
First-Time Charting Artists
Ten Canadians hit the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in 2018. This is down slightly from 11 last year. Anders did this via his co-credit with Loud Luxury on “Love No More”. Daniel Caesar asked his way onto the chart with “Who Hurt You?” Dzeko teamed up with Tiesto in EDM Top 10 hit “Jackie Chan”. Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine from Ottawa scored two hits, their Top 40 entry being “Ain’t Easy” a spin off from CTV talent search program The Launch. Country newcomer Jade Eagleson made it with “Got Your Name on It”, Rapper Killy killed it with “No Sad No Bad”. Loud rapped his way onto the chart with “Toutes les femmes savent danser”. The aforementioned Loud Luxury landed a pair, their most successful being “Body”. Group New City‘s contribution was “Getting Closer” and Yes Mccan‘s was “Désirée”.
The Year in Pop and Dance: A Body of Water
Shawn Mendes was the dominant force in the realm of pop with a #1 platinum album (his third straight) and hits “In My Blood”, “Youth”, and “Lost in Japan”. Coeur de pirate ensured another pop album made the Top 5. Veteran Avril Lavigne‘s comeback hit “Head Above Water” stood side by side with novice Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine‘s “Ain’t Easy”. “Body” by Loud Luxury was however the most successful pop hit of 2018.
The Year in Urban: Mostly About Drake
Urban music did much better in the singles than the albums department. Only five of the twenty-two 2018 Canadian artist albums that made the Top 10 were of the genre. The majority of weekly Canadian artist Top 40 hits were urban tracks, and most of these were from Drake. It is important to note that, while Canada dedicates radio stations to the genres of country and rock, it does not do so for pop; Canadian contemporary hit radio lumps in urban music with pop. This certainly inflates the numbers and popularity of rap and R&B singles.
The Year in Rock: A T-Shirt on the Beach
The most successful Canadian artist songs in 2018 at modern rock radio were “T-Shirt” by The Beaches, “Lost Cause” by Black Pistol Fire, “Creature Comfort” by Arcade Fire, and “Live Through the Night” by Dear Rouge. The Sheepdogs, Three Days Grace, and Metric all scored Top 10 albums this year.
The Year in Country: Women Regain Clout
After much concern expressed from many quarters over the past couple of years about a lack of inclusion of women in country music in terms of radio airplay, award nominations/wins, etc, the tides began to turn in 2018. The first wave that crashed across the field was that Calgary’s Lindsay Ell became the first Canadian female soloist to score a number one hit at country radio in 10 years thanks to her song “Criminal”. The song also made splashes in the United States, where Canadian country content has been dry for many years, becoming a Top 20 country radio hit. In mid-December, Meghan Patrick‘s “Walls Come Down” topped the Canadian country radio charts. This is the first instance in the 21st century when two female soloists scored #1 country hits, the last time being in 1999 thanks to Shania Twain (“Honey I’m Home”) and Terri Clark (“Easy on the Eyes”).
In September, Jess Moskaluke won the Album of the Year award from the Canadian Country Music Association for Past the Past. It marked the first time in 14 years that a female was handed that particular trophy, the last recipient being Carolyn Dawn Johsnon in 2004 for album Dress Rehearsal. The equivalent awards program in the United States offered, in November, the Album of the Year award to American female soloist Kacey Musgraves for Golden Hour, which is significant too for a Canadian contribution – JUNO award winning recording engineer Shawn Everett mixed the album. He is from Bragg Creek, Alberta.
Canadian gentlemen made some milestones of their own. Dallas Smith scored his 5th (“Sleepin’ Around”) and 6th (“Make ‘Em Like You”) country chart toppers in 2018. The year in fact saw a total of five Canadian artist songs reach the summit, the other two being Dean Brody‘s “8th Day” and Gord Bamford‘s “Dive Bar”.
2018 in Style: Snap … Snap … Snap
DJ Holly Roberts called last year, 2017, the year of the finger snap. She wrote, “I have no idea why pop music has embraced the crack of finger snaps.” Although finger snaps have been part of the occasional song since the beginning, it seemed every song on the radio had them with variations of synthetic snaps to simplistic wooden clicks. Some found them underwhelming and others annoying. Lorde’s “Royals” has been blamed as sparking a wave of interest in using them. Roberts wondered if those snappy, clicky things were the result of record company budget cuts, and if so asked, “why hasn’t pop music embraced the magic of musical cans?” Unfortunately, finger snaps replaced (and in some cases accompanied) solid beats through 2018 as well. It was hard to find pop music that was free of them.
Music and the Media: Bad Habits Continue
Certain quarters of the US mainstream media continued xenophobic campaigns of attempts to discredit Canadian A-Listers, offering selected strokes of defamation from the same palette of tactics that have taken scathing shots at the likes of Justin Bieber, Nickelback, Céline Dion, Avril Lavigne, Carly Rae Jepsen, MAGIC!, Drake, Robin Thicke, and more. In the midst of celebrating her victory of being the first Canadian artist ever to win the Best New Artist Grammy award in the States and also of being the only female to mount the stage to accept an award through a lengthy evening criticized for its exorbitant slant towards men, the media was quick to call into question her qualification as a new artist, as she had been releasing music for a couple of years. Shawn Mendes was also targeted care of a lengthy feature by a popular US magazine which exhibited him as a neurotic, homophobic, drug-smoking juvenile.
Regarding the Canadian media, unexplained emphasis, particularly by the CBC, was placed through the year on urban music, a genre that is not as popular in Canada and the United Kingdom as it is in The United States. Underground artists of the rap and R&B kind were heavily promoted. 2018 saw some of the finest EDM by Canadians to date, but masterpieces like Diversion‘s Connection were ignored and success stories like Loud Luxury‘s were skimmed over.
Canadian media continued its cringeworthy habit of calling artists from Quebec, “Quebec artists” and from any of the other nine provinces “Canadian artists”, treating Quebec like an independent country and perpetuating unseemly attitudes in non-Quebeckers that Quebec music is irrelevant to them.
2018 JUNO Awards Goes Down in Vancouver
Next year’s JUNO awards will honour 2018 music. The gala takes place March 17, 2019 in London. The 2018 JUNO awards, honouring the best in 2017 music, took place March 25 in Vancouver and was hosted by Michael Bublé. Rush frontman Geddy Lee presented Steven Page and Barenaked Ladies’ induction into the Music Hall of Fame. Breakthrough Artist of the Year was Jessie Reyez and Artist of the Year Gord Downie (frontman of the Tragically Hip) who passed away from brain cancer. Arcade Fire‘s Everything Now was named Album of the Year. Shawn Mendes won the JUNO Fan Choice award. A highlight of the performances was Lights‘ which featured a backdrop of giant cartoon renderings she herself drew of her favourite Canadian female recording artists, like Shania Twain, Alessia Cara, and Molly Rankin.
Most of the JUNO trophies were handed out at the JUNO dinner gala and awards the previous evening. Among them were Diana Krall Producer of the Year, Grimes‘ “Venus Fly” Music Video of the Year, Nick Fiorucci featuring Laurell‘s “Closer” Dance Recording of the Year, The Beaches Breakthrough Group of the Year, A Tribe Called Red Group of the Year, Rezz‘s Mass Manipulation Electronic Album of the Year, Alvvays‘ Antisocialites Alternative Album of the Year, Daniel Bélanger‘s Paloma Francophone Album of the Year, Shawn Mendes‘ “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” Single of the Year, and Lights‘ Skin & Earth Pop Album of the Year.
2018 Gala ADISQ: All Things Male
Following in the footsteps of the US Grammy Awards, this year’s Félix awards presented at the Gala ADISQ (honouring the best music to come out of the province of Quebec), saw only one of the 27 trophies given to a female: Klô Pelgag for Female Artist of the Year. The biggest winner this year was Philippe Brach who won five awards. It was, however, newcomer Hubert Lenoir who stirred up the most buzz. He won four trophies: New Artist of the Year, Pop Album of the Year (Darlène), Song of the Year (“Fille de personne II”), and Album of the Year – Critical Acclaim.
2018 Selected Music Headlines
♦ As mentioned above Alessia Cara became the first Canadian ever to win a Best New Artist Grammy, the flagship music awards gala of The United States which was inaugurated in 1959. She was the only female who was presented with a trophy through the evening and had to defend herself against naysayers who wondered why she was a contender in the category as she had been releasing music since 2015. Later in the year, Cara headlined the 2018 Grey Cup Halftime show. The Calgary Stampeders defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 27-16 at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
♦ Calgarian identical twin-sister pop duo Tegan and Sara capped off a 20-year music career as recipients of the prestigious Governor General’s Performing Arts Award receiving medals pressed at the Canadian Mint. The sisters have opened for superstars such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, performed at the 2015 Academy Awards, collaborated with EDM heavyweights Tiesto and Morgan Page, scored a trio of JUNO awards, and achieved gold/platinum certifications on nine recordings. Following the ceremony, Tegan and Sara were featured on CBC’s The National in an interview with Rosemary Barton.
♦ Canadian R&B singer CDW a.k.a. Charlotte Day Wilson was crowed winner of the 2018 Prism Prize which grants a cash reward to what is deemed the best/most artistic Canadian music video of the year. Her MV for song “Work”, the whole of which features pedestrians on an escalator, pleased the judges most. Surrounding the awards was talk of the potential demise of higher-budget music videos made for Canadian B-list artists due to the folding up of muscular funding bodies like MuchFACT. Since its inauguration in 1984, The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent awarded $100 million to 9,000 projects. Fantavious Fritz, director of Charlotte’s “Work”, won the grand prize of $15,000 for best Canadian music video. He declared that part of the money would be used to create a one-time music video grant for a female director.
♦ Jeremy Dutcher was awarded the Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, a work recorded in his First Nations language of Wolastoq. The disc was made following a research project on archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in an attempt to preserve the music, culture, and language of his people.
♦ Double diamond country pop superstar Shania Twain hosted the 2018 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) awards September 9 in Hamilton. Jess Moskaluke became the first female to win the Album of the Year Award (for Past the Past) in 14 years, the last time being Carolyn Dawn Johsnon in 2004 (Dress Rehearsal). James Barker Band‘s “Chills” was named Single of the Year.
♦ Country stars Brett Kissel, Chad Brownlee, Dallas Smith, Gord Bamford, The Hunter Brothers, and Jess Moskaluke played a fundraising concert for the victims and their families of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy April 27 in Saskatoon. Sixteen were killed in a bus crash when a lorry struck it on the highway. Tom Cochrane released a reworked version of his song “Big League” to honour the victims. Paul Brandt performed a powerful song in homage on CBC’s q. Rap superstar Drake wore a Broncos jersey at a Toronto Raptors (basketball) game. After the match, he and the Raptors signed the jersey, which was auctioned to raise funds for the families.
♦ Bell Media’s The Launch, produced by the Big Machine Label Group, wrapped up Season One after seven episodes broadcast on CTV. Six singles voiced by winning contestants saw success in terms of digital downloads and picked up radio spins across the country. The most successful on the charts was “Ain’t Easy” by Ottawa’s Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, shaped by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder. The other five singles were Logan Staats‘ “The Lucky Ones”, The Static Shift‘s “Wide Awake”, Poesy‘s Soldier of Love, Jayd Ink‘s “Codes”, and Ethan Young‘s “Giants”.
The success of the show means it will be returning in 2019 for season 2, the first episode airing January 30. Mentors, songwriters, and producers appearing through Season One included Alessia Cara, Boy George, busbee (P!nk, Shakira, Blake Shelton), Dann Huff, Fergie, Ian Kirkpatrick (Jason Derulo, Selena Gomez), Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), Julia Michaels (Mötley Crüe), Ryan Tedder (One Republic), Shania Twain, and Stephan Moccio (Nikki Yanofsky, Miley Cyrus).
The Launch’s format involved the introduction of a new original song composed by a hit songwriter in each episode. Five aspiring recording artists auditioned. Two were selected whom the mentors felt had the most potential and worked over the next 48 hours to record their version of it. The two contestants then performed their rendition before a live audience and one was chosen. The resulting digital single was launched that night.
♦ Beloved platinum recording artist Victoria Duffield returned as an independent artist after releasing a pair of albums through Warner Music Canada. She shared her story on social media and in interviews provided some fascinating insights into some of the challenges she had faced when signed to the major label. Hooking up with a new production team, she graced 2018 with new singles, the first of which was savory pop song “Wow”.
♦ La Voix (The Voice) Season 6 crowned throaty singer Yama Laurent as the victor, finalist of team Garou. The other coaches (and their finalists) this year were Lara Fabian (Miriam Baghdassarian), Éric Lapointe (Jonathan Freeman), and Alex Nevsky (Yann Brassard). Winners of the first five season of the show are Valérie Carpentier, Yoan Garneau, Kevin Bazinet, Stéphanie St-Jean, and Ludovick Bourgeois.
♦ Exhibit Biebs decked the halls in Justin Bieber‘s hometown of Stratford, Ontario. From boy busker to global pop superstar, the Biebs was honoured with the opening of a dedicated exhibit at Stratford’s Perth Museum. Later in the year, Justin tied the knot with model and television personality Hailey Baldwin, daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin.
♦ After multiplatinum albums and singles and multiple JUNO awards, one of Canada’s most successful bands of the 21st century, Hedley, fell from grace. In mid-February, members of the band were anonymously accused of sexual misconduct including with girls as young as 14. The band mutually agreed with CARAS on pulling out of the 2018 JUNO Awards both in terms of a scheduled performance and nominations for trophies. On social media, the band called the accusations “unsubstantiated”. In the midst of a cross-Canada tour, the group announced it would go on an indefinite hiatus following the shows. Opening acts for the tour pulled out, Hedley was dropped by its management team, radio stations suspended spins of their songs, and fans were split on whether, before any legal proceedings, the band should be considered guilty of the accusations, as Twitter hashtags #outhedley2k18 jostled with #IStandWithHedley. The plot thickened when an Ottawa woman accused lead singer Jacob Hoggard of sexual assault. In July, he was charged with one count of sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm.
♦ Drake‘s 2018 album Scorpion broke many records, including Spotify and Apple Music’s one-day global streaming tallies. Drake surpassed Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, and Usher to become the sixth artist with the most consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard US Hot 100. He is now the male soloist with the most number one singles on the chart (33 of them) and the most consecutive weeks in the Top 10. He ranks 1st overall in the most Top 10 debuts (17), the most Top 40 singles (94), and the most consecutive weeks on the chart (431). Drake ranks second overall for having the most Hot 100 hits (192). He now holds the record for the most entries in the Hot 100 during a one-week period, with 27. Drake is the only artist to have a number-one debut replace another number-one debut. He did this April 21, 2018, when “Nice For What” replaced “God’s Plan” at the summit, after the latter had spent eleven weeks on top. On July 14, 2018, Drake set the record for the most songs in the top ten at once, with seven. The Beatles had previously held the record, since 1964, with five entries.
The Year’s Best Music
There seemed to be little agreement on the best albums of 2018, be they Canadian or international works. Canadian Music Blog revealed its favourite EPs (7), albums (15), tracks (30), and music videos (10) of 2018. Avril Lavigne‘s “Head Above Water” was named Music Video of the Year, The CMB named Éric Charland‘s singer-songwriter disc La tristesse n’est qu’une saison as EP of the Year, Diversion‘s EDM LP Connection as Album of the Year, and Lindsay Ell‘s country tune “Criminal” as Song of the Year.
C’est quoi? Well, Montreal radio station CKOI has published a year-end Top 50 chart annually since 1976. It includes both international and Canadian and both Anglo and Franco songs. While the latter have a tough time making it onto the national charts, the CKOI chart gives us a good idea of the more popular Franco songs by year. Of all the year-end charts, this one is the most inclusive offering a very balanced presentation. There is greater variety of genres with pop, rock, dance, R&B, folk, soul, and even country. Because of this and other factors, you may find on the chart international Anglo songs that are absent from English language radio playlists. The top Canadian Franco song of 2018 on the chart is “Toutes les femmes savent danser” by rapper loud (#1). We have put initials after the artist name to indicate Canadian Franco (cf) and Canadian Anglo (ca). Of the Top Fifty, 15 involve Canadian artists, up from 13 last year but down from 18 in 2016.
|1||Toutes les femmes savent danser||loud (cf)|
|3||Body (feat. Brando)||Loud Luxury (ca)|
|5||Leave a Light On||Tom Walker|
|6||Des p’tits bouts de toi||Roxane Bruneau (cf)|
|7||Be Alright||Dean Lewis|
|8||One Kiss||Calvin Harris|
|9||Fille de personne II||Hubert Lenoir (cf)|
|10||High Hopes||Panic! At The Disco|
|12||Vintage à l’os||Séba et Horg (cf)|
|13||New Rules (Acoustic)||Dua Lipa|
|14||Girls Like You||Maroon 5|
|16||Best Friend||Sofi Tukker|
|19||Meant to Be||BEBE REXHA|
|21||Where’s My Love||SYML|
|23||Cinq à Sept||Koriass (cf)|
|24||Simple||Florida Georgia Line|
|25||Youngblood||5 Seconds Of Summer|
|27||Better Now||Post Malone|
|28||Belle folie||Éric Lapointe (cf)|
|29||Have It All||Jason Mraz|
|30||Whatever It Takes||Imagine Dragons|
|32||On perd la tête||Swing (cf)|
|34||Jackie Chan||Dzeko ft. Preme (ca)|
|36||Power Over Me||Dermot Kennedy|
|37||Say Something||Justin Timberlake|
|38||Ça va||Emile Bilodeau (cf)|
|39||Almost Home||Sultan + Shepard (ca)|
|40||That’s It (I’m Crazy)||Sofi Tukker|
|42||Léo Gagné||2Frères (cf)|
|44||I Feel Like I’m Drowning||Two Feet|
|45||Dans la nuit||Coeur de Pirate (cf)|
|46||Let You Down||NF|
|47||Love Someone||Lukas Graham|
|48||Corinne||Les Trois Accords (cf)|
|49||Flames||David Guetta & Sia|
This week, the final 2018 weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart was released, and we can now look at some statistics to recap the year.
First off, a total of 89 tracks by or featuring Canadian artists debuted on the Hot 100 in 2018. Only 30 Canadian artists were involved in these, most of them responsible for only one entry. Drake is king having placed 26 as the main artist, 1 as the co-main, and 7 as a featured artist; this makes a total of 34 entries. In second place is The Weeknd with a total of 9. Tory Lanez has 7. With 6 apiece are NAV and Shawn Mendes. Two French language tracks made the charts in 2018: Loud’s “Toutes les femmes savent danser” and Yes Mccan’s “Désirée”.
Three tracks released in 2017 reached their peak positions in 2018 (none reaching the Top 40), and some songs debuting on the charts at the end of 2018 may peak in 2019. Of note, Michael Bublé’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” which debuted on the charts in 2011 re-entered the charts at the end of 2018 reaching a new peak position (#34).
The number of tracks debuting in 2018 which entered the Top Forty is 49 meaning more than half of the 89 made it. Only two female soloists contributed to these: Alessia Cara and Avril Lavigne. Entering the Top Ten were 18 songs. Reaching #1 were five, four of them from Drake (“God’s Plan”, “In My Feelings”, “Nice for What”, and “Nonstop”) and one from The Weeknd (“Call Out My Name”). Ten Canadian acts landed on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in 2018.
Streaming data was incorporated into the Hot 100 in September 2014. One of the casualties of the new metrics is a sharp decline in the number of Canadian artists on the chart. The year prior to the incorporation of streaming data, 2013, saw 89 Canadian artists land Hot 100 hits. The year when streaming data was counted saw this drop to 67. The year 2015 witnessed 50 and 2016 had 45. Last year, 2017, was graced by 34, and now 2018 sees a paltry 30. Therefore, streaming has cut the number of Canadian artists on the chart by roughly one-third. See these numbers more dramatically illustrated in the graph below. Below that find a list of the 30 Canadian artists and how many 2018 hits they scored as the main, co-main, or featured artist. Artists charting for the first time in 2018 are in green.
|Carly Rae Jepsen||1||1|
|Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine||2||2|
We don’t know if Alice Merton, bülow, and Kris Wu are Canadian citizens, but a number of Canadian artists and pseudo-Canadian artists leapt out of obscurity to make their mark whether on the charts or awards shows. Below is a list of 10 such notables in alphabetical order. We give a pair of honourable mentions to the following for their success on the album chart: pianist Alexandra Streliski whose Inscape became her first Top 10 album and Your Favorite Enemies member Alex Henry Foster whose debut solo disc Memories Don’t Die reached #6. A further pair of slayers involved singer Anders who teamed up with Loud Luxury on followup charting single “Love No More” and EDM whiz Dzeko who joined Tiesto on Top 10 smash “Jackie Chan”.
Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine
Duo Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine from Ottawa were participants in CTV talent search show The Launch which was responsible for six new singles from half a dozen aspiring artists. “Ain’t Easy” from the pair, shaped by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, was the most successful making the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching platinum sales. EW x JF did not stop there releasing followup number “Better Off” which also made the Hot 100. Elijah’s knack for electropop production and Jamie’s soulful singing proved a successful combination.
Glam rock specialist Hubert Lenoir provided fodder for music critic giddiness this year. His debut concept album Darlène released in early February 2018 may not have ripped up the album charts but it was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize. Later in the year, Lenoir won four Félix awards: critically acclaimed album of the year, pop album of the year, single of the year (“Fille de personne II”), and best new artist.
Jeremy Dutcher was awarded the $50,000 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, a work recorded in his First Nations language of Wolastoq. The disc was made following a research project on archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in an attempt to preserve the music, culture, and language of his people. He sings in his native tongue over classical music compositions.
Growing up on a farm in Ontario, country gent Jade Eagleson scored his first hit in 2018, “Got Your Name On It” which reached #90 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 at country radio. Jade initially played gigs to earn extra money to save the farm. He was invited to perform at a country music festival where he dazzled the audience. Eagleson was eventually signed to Universal Music releasing his debut EP in October. He is definitely a name to watch.
Rising Canadian star Kelly Yu scored a huge Mandopop hit this year, theme song for Chinese romcom feature film The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes. The song bears the title “Tĭ Miàn” (Decent). An audio of it at Youtube has surpassed Vevo certification levels of 100 million. From Vancouver, Kelly attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She is such an accomplished guitarist that the legend who is Peter Frampton invited her to perform on stage with him in concert.
“No Sad, No Bad” is the first charting single from Filipino-Bajan rapper Killy, reaching #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. His real name is Khalil Tatem. Two previous singles, though not charting, were certified gold by Music Canada in 2018: “Distance” and “Killamonjaro”. At the age of 8, Killy moved from Toronto to Victoria where he attended school. In his late teens he relocated back to Toronto to begin his career in rap music.
Loud, alias of Simon Cliche Trudeau, is a rapper who won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize in this year for his piece”56K”. His stage name comes from his former association with band Loud Lary Ajust. Around for several years, it failed to place a hit on the Hot 100. With his going solo, Loud made it to #94 with Franco tune ” Toutes les femmes savent danser”. Loud also collaborated with Cœur de pirate on the track “Dans la nuit” from her 2018 album En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé. Loud’s debut solo album Une année record was longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and won rap album of the year at the ADISQ gala. He also won the Félix trophy for the Quebec Artist with the Most Distinction Outside the Province.
Duo Andrew Fedyk and Joe Depace, under moniker Loud Luxury was easily the biggest success story of 2018. Gaining recognition for remixing Martin Garrix’s single “Scared to Be Lonely”, Loud Luxury released the EDM song “Body” featuring Brando. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified 7x platinum by year-end. It was a major success story across Europe, including a #4 placement on the British charts, and Australia where it reached #7. Followup single “Love No More” featuring Canadian singer Anders also charted.
Based in Toronto, trio New City scored its first charting single this year, dance-pop number “Getting Closer” (#73). The band describes its vision as “We now live in a playlist culture. For listeners today, musical genres and divisions are breaking down, and songs live or die on their own merits—no longer dependent on which category they’re placed in. Toronto-based trio NEW CITY is a new band with a new sound for this new moment.”
Montreal-based Jean-François Ruel, a.k.a. Yes McCan, left alternative rap group Dead Obies for a solo career. He scored his first charting single in 2018: Désirée (#96). It features the talents of Cape Tula and Yen Dough) and is the final track on his 2018 album, Oui. The official YouTube audio for the track has racked up nearly 1.5 million listens (at this writing).
After listening to several thousand songs released in 2018 whether as singles, tracks on EPs or LPs, we have settled on our 30 favourites. To create a fairer and tidier list, we allowed only one entry per artist. Regardless of genre, language, and relative popularity of the artist, below is a list of our 30 favourite Canadian artist songs of 2018 including our Song of the Year! Note that we have included instrumental tracks even though, technically, a “song” is a piece of music that is sung. Hit singles released in 2017 but achieved their peak chart success in 2018 are included. As well, songs released as singles in 2017 but were included on an album released in 2018 were considered. We have used the artwork for the single where one exists, failing that, the LP or EP that includes the song. We would like to give honourable mentions to “Empire” by Sarah MacDougall, “Hotel Delmano” by Munya, and “Signals” by To the Trees.
Trust us, the 30 songs below are all really, really good and make us proud to be Canadian.
This talented man won the Prism Prize in 2016 for his “Avalanche” music video. He released solid studio album Youth in 2018, and this track tickled us most, given its wispy vocals, addictive keyboard pulses, and thumpy beats.
Off excellent album Nightcrawler, New Brunswick’s Simon Daniel put together this sumptuous brew of brooding tones, at times sounding like a cross between Radiohead and Travis.
Timmins, Ontario recording artist Céleste Lévis is an ADISQ nominated finalist of The Voice Season 3. Her thick honeyed vocals are a perfect match for “Je n’arrive pas à revenir” with its delicate arrangements that build into a towering climax complete with some delicious synthesizers.
This earth quaking R&B number struck number one on April 10, as fans speculated it was about Selena Gomez. “Call Out My Name” is the opening track off The Weeknd’s EP My Dear Melancholy.
A radio hit it certainly was, “Kiss Me” was lead single off reggae-pop group Magic’s third studio album, Expectations, arguably its best yet. We love how it ends with some horns.
Vancouverite Kelly Yu slayed China with a Mandopop megahit this year, and while it was definitely a winner, we preferred “Fèngpéi” (Accompany), a piano ballad with a great catchy chorus.
From one of the best EPs of the year, “Sight Of” from Lesser Evil is an instantly likeable chillout nugget with funky grooves. It teases vocally and claps its way along ever so coolly.
One of Canada’s most successful recording artists of all time made a big comeback in 2018. In fact, this inspiring piano ballad was one of only two songs by a homegrown female soloist to make the Top 40 through the year.
From one of the year’s best pop albums, “Seule comme une étoile” from Maïa of former group Ladies of the Canyon, injects a soft flowing dose of soul-stirring piano and haunts like a Sarah Brightman song.
Speaking of great pop music, how about that EP from Allie X? Arguably “Science” was its most likeable track. It sits somewhere between The Human League and Electric Youth and fits easily into an imagined soundtrack for both Miami Vice and Ryan Gosling’s Drive.
A synth pop duo that conjured up a magical album was Toronto’s Brave Shores. It was difficult to pick a standout track but “We Are the New VR” has such a dazzling, uplifting wall of sound quality, we have to place it here.
The Toronto queen of underground new wave is the one to watch in 2019. Airy vocals, captivating beats, and dreamy synths make her music ever so exquisite. “MTV” has some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus and hearkens back to the 80s, appropriate for a song about MTV.
Edmonton multiplatinum JUNO winner, Ruth B released this song which struck us for sounding different from what everyone seemed to be doing in 2018. Its teasing synth pulses and raspy beats should hook you immediately.
Canada is taking its shot at ambient electronic music and becoming a world leader at it. One of our finest outfits is North Atlantic Drift. “Good Intentions II” at just under four minutes does not overstay its welcome gently pulling you along in its breathtaking flight.
BC’s The Coriolis Project gives ambient music more of an edgier rock sound, as explicitly evident on a cut like “Branches”. It switches on an atmosphere that swings serenely, thanks to some nice ride cymbal percussion, and ultimately excites with riveting guitars and ultra spicy synth riffs.
Quadruple platinum artist Coleman Hell of Thunder Bay delivered perhaps the best lyrics of the year thanks to this knee-slapping stroke of genius dedicated to those who suffer from so-called mental illness. Our favourite stanza:
“So I wrestle my demons
‘Til I go off the deep end
Where I’m drowning and I can’t come up for air
I’ve tried every medication
And I’ve gone in hibernation
Hiding in my room like a bi-polar bear”
A sweeping tapestry of ambient soundscapes animates Viñu-Vinu’s excellent album Echoes from Afar which opens with track … “Afar”. This is a creepy waking dream, a deliciously dreary ride through both spook and calm.
From our EP of the year, “Seuls à deux” by Éric Charland has it all. A finely crafted, catchy, and coherent adult electropop tune reminding us a little of Jason Bajada.
The surprise R&B album of 2017 was Jenna Nation’s You Don’t Know and of 2018 is Adrian Underhill’s CU Again. It is smooth, mellow R&B inflected adult contemporary with splashes of alternative. Pastel grooves swish through the gentle earworm “I Want It All” which harnesses a simple melody that is ever so catchy.
It was very difficult to choose a track from our 2018 album of the year, Connection by EDM house wizard Diversion. We finally settled on this, a moderate tempo track amidst faster and slower numbers. The vocals of featured singer Yemi Bolatiwa make it even better. Dense and rich with fantastic beats and ground-shaking bass, “Would You Just” is pure euphoria.
Title track of Beatrice Deer’s boss 2018 album, “My All to You” is a driving stomp along pleaser oozing with fragrant swagger. So simple and yet so satisfying, it forces you to do one thing: hit the repeat button.
This definitely qualifies as one of the best tracks emanating from Canada’s most recognizable name in EDM – deadmau5. Monophobia features the vocals of Rob Swire. Wait for the electrifying synth and beats to kick in and you’re in for the feel-good anthem of the year.
It took ten long years, and a young woman from Calgary finally did it. She became the first homegrown female soloist in a whole decade to reach #1 at country radio. This song did pretty well in the US too, making it into the country Top 20, a rare event for a Canadian song these days. Another rarity is for a singer to melt hearts by voicing a single word, in this case “boy”. Plucky guitar leads up to the most sing-along worthy chorus in a long time. This song deserved every milestone it passed. Off 2017 album The Project, the Canadian Music Blog declares “Criminal” by Lindsay Ell as 2018’s song of the year!
We are counting down our favourite music videos of 2018. A good music video as far as we are concerned is one that keeps a person’s attention even with the sound turned off. We admire MVs that are cinematic, adventurous, fun, sentimental, clever, artistic, original, that have attractive wardrobe choices, breathtaking shots, architectural or natural wonders, or a stellar message. With high standards, we prefer MVs that are low on violence, lechery, expletives, self-mutilation, and do not display the use of toxic substances, all of which are ugly to us. We select videos that are beautiful to look at, colourful, with crisp, clear photography and brightness/contrast controls properly balanced. Below is a list of our 10 favourite Canadian MVs released in 2018. As YouTube often changes the addresses of videos, we have not embedded the MVs here but have provided links to them for your convenience. (Do note that these may become invalid in the future). As usual, we allowed only one entry per artist on the list and have provided a screen capture for each video below.
Dead Can Dance? Well, apparently Deadpool can, especially when Céline Dion is performing a show-stopping power ballad on stage. But what we’re really wondering is – is that Ryan in the costume or a professional dancer? The best-selling Canadian artist of all-time took theme song of feature film Deadpool 2 – “Ashes” – and put a big smile on our faces with this niblet of joy. Link
Ham’l’n JUNO winning rock band The Dirty Nil, somewhat alternative, somewhat punk, somewhat costumed up, takes a van to a warehouse venue and performs amidst colourful lights and pyrotechnics. It’s a blast. Link
2018 was the year of celebrity Canadian marriages, perhaps inspired by the Royal Wedding. Tyler Shaw was among those who tied the knot, but he has always been Mr. Romance. This certainly comes through in the beautifully done music video for Billboard Hot 100 hit “With You”. With it, he has placed a total of seven songs on the chart. Link
Impératrice Marie-Mai flirts between black and white and pastel colours in a drool-inducing slick slice of cool that is her music video for “Empire”. She’s been able to decorate the Billboard Hot 100 with seven Franco hits, a truly amazing feat. Two platinum albums isn’t too shabby either. Link
“No Depression” will greet you when you watch this adorable MV. Afie Jurvanen a.k.a. Bahamas gets a puppet version of himself who embarks on a soul-searching mission through the wilderness, only to settle down roasting hot dogs at a campfire with the real version of himself. Link
The MV for chart-topping hit and third biggest song of the year, “God’s Plan”, documents Drake‘s donating the video’s entire budget to Floridians in need. He tells shoppers that anything they buy in the store is on him. He donates $25,000 to a high school. And there are some other surprises. On Instagram he commented that it was “the most important thing I have ever done in my career.” Link
It took four days and 2,250 pieces of paper but in “UnAmerican”, Said The Whale finally put out this handmade effects-filled video containing no visual effects after tons of meticulous preparation. The MV combines still photos (printed frames of a filmed live performance) with a continuously moving canvas resulting in an eye-popping work of art. Link
On top of a green blotter that evokes nostalgia back to days before the whiteboard and after the blackboard, an ambidextrous artist (director Meags Fitzgerald) puts all her skills to good use live before the camera: drawing, cutting, shaping, arranging, crafting, illustrating a host of art pieces. In our route to becoming adults, for some reason, somewhere along the way, we lost our desire to make art like this. Hopefully the MV for Rich Aucoin‘s “The Middle” will bring back such inspiration. Link
Vancouverite Kelly Yu had an amazing year, scoring one of Mandopop’s biggest hits and releasing her second album, Undefined. In the MV for track “Fèngpéi” (Accompany), follow Kelly around the Bund in Shanghai, one of the word’s most recognizable urban locales. Though colourful videos have proven the most attractive, so-called earth tones work well here, as does her choice of wearing a beige trench coat. The MV includes enough details to keep the eyes pleased – photographs, toys, paintings, books. Link
Iceland is a favourite place for many artists to shoot music videos; even the Biebs did one there. This artist released a video on her birthday, marking her big comeback. She is known for having made some of the most gorgeous music videos, 13 of which are Vevo certified at over 100 million views, and she certainly succeeds here. Her ghostly figure carrying a lamp emerges from a cave to amble along jagged cliffs overlooking the dark teal waters of the ocean and whitecaps crashing on the beach. And let’s not forget the breathtaking underwater shots. Canadian Music Blog declares Avril Lavigne‘s “Head Above Water” as 2018’s music video of the year! Link
Trade organization Music Canada recapped 2018 with a report on the year’s Gold/Platinum certification program. In general, the number of awards increased thanks in part to the inclusion of streaming data for both single and album certifications. A simplified application portal for certification approvals and plaque orders also helped smooth the process.
Single Award certifications in 2018 were up 33% from 2017. Seven singles went diamond. The highest certification for a Canadian artist was awarded to “God’s Plan” by Drake, an 8x platinum winner. This was followed by the 7x platinum EDM smash “Body” by Canadian duo Loud Luxury. The top certified Canadian artist album was Drake’s Scorpion at double platinum. Shawn Mendes‘ self-titled release made platinum. There was a 24% increase in album certifications this year over last with a 10% rise in Canadian album certifications. The highest certification through the year was double diamond for 2011 album 21 by the UK’s Adele. It was the first disc to make the grade since Shania Twain‘s Up! In 2004. In terms of albums released in 2018, the highest certification was given to Post Malone whose album made it to quadruple platinum.
There was an 80% increase in Canadian artist single award certifications with several Canucks receiving their first including Baka Not Nice, Charlotte Cardin, Delaney Jane, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, Felix Cartal (see photo above), Grandtheft, Half Moon Run, Keys N Krates, Killy, the aforementioned Loud Luxury, Majid Jordan, NEW CITY, Sultan + Shepard, The Glorious Sons, and The Reklaws.
Fred Savage no longer has a bloody mole probably because Ryan Reynolds chopped it up and turned it in to guacamole when the unaging Freddy said something not very nice about Nickelback.
There are those who may not like the idea of a Canadian invasion, but we keep invading, and the global masses keep on loving it. Remember when Canadian director James Cameron released the film Titanic with Canadian actor Victor Garber as captain and had Céline Dion voice the phenomenal theme song, “My Heart Will Go On”. Absolute magic. And of course, the movie smashed all box office records.
Céline Dion returned in 2018 to do the same for Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds for his blockbuster film Deadpool 2. “Ashes” was the theme song of that one. A recut of the movie is showing for a limited time in theatres, a cleaner version which drops the R rating to a PG13, and adds 20 minutes of extra footage. Promoting the film, Ryan Reynolds appears to be reading a bedtime story to Fred Savage, somewhat of a recreation of a scene from The Princess Bride in which Fred starred as a child. They seem to be getting along until Fred begins criticizing Marvel being licensed by Fox, making it analogous to The Beatles being produced by Nickelback – “it’s music, but it sucks”. Hear the needle being pulled off the record, as Deadpool slams the book shut and pwns ol’ Freddy, sticking it to all Nickelback haters. Savage finally comes to his senses and joins hands with Ryan to sing “How You Remind Me”.
Nickelback digged it, responding on Twitter with a reworked lyric to the song as, “It’s not like @VancityReynolds to say sorry, we’ve been waiting on a different @deadpoolmovie story.”
Watch Once Upon a Deadpool below.
The Canadian Music Blog tracked a total of 579 Canadian artist studio albums released in 2018. Below is a ranking of our 15 favourites of these regardless of genre, language, region, and popularity of the artist. These 15 represent 2.6% of the albums. We did not consider live, various artist, Christmas, and compilation albums, none of which are included in the 579. For EPs we published a separate list. At the CMB, we like music that is sophisticated with catchy melodies and pleasing vocals (unless it is instrumental). Though fairly eclectic, this list reflects Canadian artists becoming world leaders at progressive music. Find below our 15 favourite Canadian artist albums of 2018 including our Album of the Year!.
Dusted is a pet project of Brian Borcherd, and Blackout Summer the sophomore record. Essentially a work of alternative rock, its strong suit lies in the writing. Songs often begin discreetly and grab attention when the bass and drums enter the picture. Opener “Seasons” welds the brooding hypnosis of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Sister Europe” with the ghostly yodels of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. The more experimental “Dead Eyes” pairs subdued vocals with perky guitars oscillating between simpler arrangements and ones more sophisticated. The swaggering “No Prison” beautifully captures the jangly guitar sound of the 60s from such aces as The Byrds and beefs things up with some pleasurable pulses. Well done! iTunes
Scoring huge Mandopop hit “Ti Mian” (Decent) this year, theme song of Chinese feature film Ex-Files 3: Return of the Exes, Canadian singer and actress Kelly Yu followed up with her first album in four years after debut LP Spirits. Though the Vancouver raised star gained fame with her roles in TV series One and a Half Summers and blockbuster film Ex-Files 3, Yu in fact graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music and was guitarist in a backing band before launching her own solo career in music. The legend who is Peter Frampton was so impressed with her guitar skills, he had her perform with him on stage.
Kelly’s 2018 album, entitled Undefined, consists of ten soothing ballads including previous hits “Can’t Steal Now” (Track 1), “Past” (Track 4), and of course “Decent” (Track 8). The album also contains English language number “Save Me”. Undefined’s standout track, though is possibly, “Accompaniment” (Track 7) which does what Mandopop does best, hooks us onto an irresistible melody with soul-piercing vocals over some killer piano. Hear some heart-melting keys and strings on concluder “You Are Mine”. iTunes
Beatrice Deer is originally from Quaqtaq, QC and now based in Montreal. She is of Inuit and Mohawk descent and in the past 14 years has become a natural at blending Indigenous flavours with contemporary pop-rock. She refers to her resulting folk-rock style as Inuindie. Beatrice’s 2018 LP My All to You, her fourth, showcases such a marvellous sound with songs performed in three languages: English, French, and Inuktitut. Being more involved in the songwriting herself, than on previous works, she still managed to pull in some high-profile collaborators including members of The Barr Brothers, Land of Talk, Stars, and Timber Timbre.
Hear modern alternative rock and folk with traditional throat singing and the stuff of Inuit legend. My All to You is a collection of eight original pieces with Beatrice Deer’s interpretation of two traditional songs. Thematically, it is, in the author’s words, about reconciliation with oneself, “the hardest thing to do.” The wistful “1997” contains some nostalgic guitar strums that might remind one of Travis or Smashing Pumpkins. Title-track “My All to You” asserts an irresistible, steady beat. Closer “You’re with Me” acknowledges the importance of companionship along life’s treacherous journey. On My All to You, Beatrice Deer, embarked on a voyage of personal reconciliation, and sounds as if she came out of it with pure resilience. iTunes
Roots music outfit Ladies of the Canyon was a successful quartet, nominated for the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2011. After two albums, the group felt it had reached a crossroads, its members wanting to embark on separate paths. Maïa Davies had already released solo album Héritage paying homage to the Francophone side of her bilingual roots. But her path eventually began to veer in a more progressive direction, and at some point along the way she bumped into JUNO award winning producer Gavin Brown who has crafted works from Mother Mother, Metric, The Tragically Hip, Sarah Harmer, and Three Days Grace. Maïa’s penning catchy songs began to attract more stellar names to join her team: Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies and JUNO nominated recording engineer Gus Van Go.
The 2018 album, Plus que vive, marks Maïa‘s first foray into the exciting kingdom of pop music with electronic trimmings. You will also hear some choice nuggets of progressive rock, some of which outshine even the immediately catchy pop charmers like “Alléluia” and “Échos”. Opening with the electronic boom of atmospheric “Années-lumière”, a piece that smartly combines Maïa’s angelic vocals with processed vocoder backups, we were immediately hooked. Fortunately, her songwriting skills come complete with big, satisfying choruses heard in cuts like “Éternellement”.
Maïa also has a knack for creating addictive beats – in “Folie” for instance – a track that is drenched in a dizzying wall of sound. The driving “Les couleurs me reviennent” presents another example of an exhilarating chorus. It’s not all a high wattage pop electronica however, as “Seule comme une étoile” injects a cool dose of soul-stirring piano, haunting like a Sarah Brightman song. Oh, and feel free to clap along to “Içi dans les nuages” – good music is meant to inspire you to do so. We come to closer “Comme un homme” with electric guitar themes that remind us of Gary Numan’s “Ancients” (that’s meant as a huge compliment by the way). Her vocals on the track are simply delicious.
The great voice, songwriting, and production make this thing a triple threat that should unravel the prowess of all A Listers. iTunes
The group hardly needs an introduction, but reggae pop act Magic holds the overlooked distinction of being the first Canadian band to top the British charts … ever! Two JUNO wins punctuate its status, plus of course global smash hit “Rude”. Expectations is the outfit’s third studio album, and despite “Kiss Me” becoming a certified hit, the album should have received much more attention because the quality of the music is outstanding. Although there is still some reggae seasoning, the players shifted to a more mainstream pop sound that is richer than on its previous discs. Expectations by MAGIC! is one of the finest pop releases of 2018. iTunes
Originally from Saint-Romuald, QC which has now been amalgamated with Lévis, Montreal-based electropop ace Ariane Moffatt released her sixth studio album in 2018, Petites mains précieuses. Her debut album, Aquanaute (2002), went platinum, and her third, Tous les sens (2008), won a JUNO award. The new album is perky with some dark patches and is modern sounding with occasional tips towards 1970s grooves. It is always a pleasure to listen to her velvety voice which wisps through the tracks gracefully. Popular cuts include stringy opener “Du souffle pour deux”, funky “Les apparences”, and the driving “Pour toi”. As interesting musically as its title, we enjoyed the fluttering “Cyborg” and more heavily electronic “ONO” which stands for One Night Only. Not many artists can boast six solid albums, so Ariane Moffatt is among the elite. iTunes
After launching an EP in 2015, which allowed him to play more than a hundred shows in Canada and Europe and to win numerous prizes and accolades, Moncton, New Brunswick’s Simon Daniel launched in 2018 full-length album Nightcrawler, and it’s a beauty. Of the disc’s title and theme, Daniel states, “Myself, being a night owl, that’s when my imagination lets loose and when I’m most creative.” Nightcrawler exposes his creative genius in concocting a fresh sound with funky bass grooves and punchy trip hop beats intertwined with crackling guitars and whirls of analog synthesizers. The tracks lead off with simplicity and gradually evolve into sophisticated soundscapes, often with towering choruses. It’s both a nocturnal road trip and an intergalactic odyssey. Simon Daniel’s Nightcrawler could well be 2018 alternative pop’s finest hour. iTunes
With a voice as enticing as Coeur de pirate’s and as enchanting as Anna of the North’s, The Yukon’s Sarah MacDougall scored a winner in 2018 new wave folk album All the Hours I have Left to Tell You Anything. By her own telling, the lyrics deal with “strength, identity, death, the breakdown of relationships, birth, and the ghosts we honor and carry throughout”. These themes were influenced by the passing of her grandparents, birth of her niece, and a breakup. The music’s atmospherics were shaped by the vast and desolate Yukon terrain as well as the shadowy splendour of her country of origin: Sweden. One of the disc’s chief strengths lies in Sarah’s ability to craft surging choruses that do more than satisfy. Listen too for some savoury electric guitar solos. All the Hours… was heralded by singles “Empire” and “We Are Fire” but has much more to offer, such as the slow-burning drive of “Bleeding on the Dancefloor”, stabbing thrill of “Animal”, and synth tingles of “Cruel Spring”. iTunes
Via Universal Music, Toronto synth pop duo Brave Shores released sophomore LP La Hoo La La following EP La Hoo earlier in the year. It is an album that just might knock you off your feet, as the dense wall of sound is a hard-hitting scoop that elevates the listener up to planes of euphoria, especially with such an array of bristling, ethereal synth voices. But even electric guitars make grand entrances from time to time packing a spicy jolt. Some of the earlier tracks on the album do something which may sound impossible to the imagination: combine 70s progressive rock with 80s synth pop. The two styles merge into a whole new animal which is a charming one. La Hoo La La also presents nuggets that are completely unique. The album was expertly produced by personnel behind Bjork, Future Islands, and Canadian acts Dear Rouge and Said the Whale. Brave Shores is brother and sister duo Jay and Stefanie McCarrol. iTunes
Adrian Underhill launches his debut album C U Again. It is smooth, mellow R&B inflected adult contemporary with splashes of alternative. Adrian is originally from Vancouver but now based in Toronto via Montreal. Pastel grooves swish through the disc ever so naturally. The gentle earworm “I Want It All” harnesses a simple melody that is oh so catchy. “Cruel” flows along nicely before breaking out into a funky conclusion. “As I Think of Something Different” makes effective use of vocal harmonies, and “How to Make a Life Count” includes some dazzling keyboard work. Find pleasant reggae peppering on “I Could”. As far as R&B goes, Adrian Underhill’s C U Again album is the surprise charmer of 2018! iTunes
British Columbian outfit The Coriolis Project returned in 2018 with album Demagogue presenting its brand of ambient music with a driving edge. Unsealing track “Branches” switches on an atmosphere that swings coolly thanks to some nice ride cymbal percussion and ultimately excites with bristling guitars and ultra spicy synth riffs. Another standout for us is “Mephistopheles” opening with icicle clicks, wind chimes, and Gregorian type background chanting, augmented with electrifying guitar strums, haunting bells, and thunderclaps. Past the halfway mark enter electronic bass pulses to bring things to a glorious climax. Brilliant. iTunes
Toronto based Mike Abercrombie and Brad Deschamps are back again with another stellar album of ambient electronica. Recording under project name North Atlantic Drift, the followup to last year’s excellent Departures Vol. 1 was released this year, the second volume. If you ever wanted to depart for a seafaring adventure in the North Atlantic but felt it was too dangerous, the waves of electronic drones and shimmers on this recording will transport you into a dreamworld that involves basking in the sun on the deck of some modest craft, adrift in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by nothing but dark blue water. With Departures Vol. 2, North Atlantic Drift is on its way of becoming one of Canada’s finest acts of the genre that include Tim Hecker, Loscil, and the aforementioned Coriolis Project. iTunes
Electronic group Young Galaxy formed in Vancouver but relocated to Montreal where prolific album releases – six so far – have ensued since 2007. A few of these have been long or shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. After going through a number of membership changes, YG is essentially down to the duo now of Catherine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay. 2018’s Down Time is the outfit’s first fully independent release. Stuffed with often lengthy tracks of warm, dense, mesmerizing electronic soundscapes and sophisticated percussion and effects, the disc picked up strong reviews.
Down Time opens with the haunting bleeps and burbles of “Under My Wing”, complete with veiled vocals. Glittering synths animate “Show You the Valley”. The lively percussion and layered vocals on “River” feel like a Caribbean cruise while the long instrumental prologue of ethereal wisps in “Frontier” gently blow the listener up and up and outside the atmosphere. “Stay for Real” released last year was ranked by the CMB as the 14th top track of 2017. It is the album’s strongest track as far as single-suited material goes. Young Galaxy’s Down Time is very cool stuff. iTunes
Following up 2017 album Encounters, Canadian electronic act Viñu-Vinu dropped Echoes from Afar, a sweeping tapestry of ambient soundscapes reminiscent of the best cuts from Tangerine Dream. More remarkable is that the album was recorded live off the floor (in Banff, AB and Montreal), capturing a spontaneous organic process that circumvents modern proclivities towards repetitive loops. Chillout vibes, downtempo beats, and ethereal synthesizers merge to create an enjoyable waking dream. We particularly liked track “Afar”, a deliciously dreary ride through spook and calm. Also savory is the droning whirl of “Deep Forest” something in which we would not mind getting lost with a soundtrack like this booming through the trees! Brilliant album. iTunes
Canadian Music Blog’s 2018 Album of the Year
What do you call an album that is among the best you have ever heard, but no one has heard of it, nor the artist? Concealed from the ears of the land, the most priceless jewel among all 579 Canadian artist studio albums released in 2018 is the best EDM record we have ever heard. This project, released through Colorize, delves into trippy, chillout house electronica. Think of Kaskade’s early stuff but a little richer, dreamier, and more ethereal. The album mixes instrumentals with some vocalized pieces, and the vocals are astounding. While the soothing ambient surf of tracks like “Get Closer” caresses the soul, the disc also bristles with energetic beats heard on cuts like “Knockdown” and “Would You Just”. Importantly, hypnosis is also a factor, most evident on “Falling”. Four years in the making, this masterpiece contains not a single weak moment; it is a solid joyride from start to finish. The album had us speechless. The Canadian Music Blog declares Connection by Diversion as 2018’s Album of the Year! iTunes
An extended play record (EP), as far as we are concerned, is one with at least three original tracks that have a combined run time of less than 25 minutes. In some cases, remixes of one or more tracks on the EP result in a disc run time of over 25 minutes. We still consider these to be EPs. We do not count as an EP a disc with only one or two original songs plus various remixes of them. We may consider as an EP a collection of bonus tracks released as an addendum to a studio album even if it runs over the 25-minute mark.
Through the year, we tracked 178 qualifying extended play records from Canadian artists released, which is 50 more than last year. This number does not include various artist, Christmas, or live discs which we do not consider for year-end lists. We listened to all 178 and settled upon a year-end ranking of the 7 best regardless of genre. We did not choose a rounder number like 5 or 10 for the list this year because we found these 7 to be a significant cut above all the rest in terms of the quality of the music.
Find below our 7 favourite Canadian artist EPs of 2018 including our 2018 Extended Play Record of the Year!
EP2 by Jamison Isaak
Jamison Isaak had the music factory switched to overdrive this year, as he championed the cause of prolific output. From Abbotsford, BC, Isaak is the wonder behind ambient project Teen Daze. His EP1 released in February harnessed a neoclassical piano-driven swish, while EP2 saw him swing back into the electronic serenity he is perhaps best known for. Cinematic and mood-conjuring, EP2 relaxes the mind while sharpening the senses. If nothing else, this brilliant work of art brings the Zen to the lounge and will have you feeling refreshed by its close. iTunes
Lesser Evil by Lesser Evil
Lesser Evil is a new “college rock” duo from Montreal dropping its debut, eponymous four-track EP this year. The disc opens with “V.W” where a smoky jazz & blues bar croon from some sort of film noir yields to hauntingly cool synthesizers. The more raucous “Caution” provides paranoid horns and keys gone berserk. “Sight Of” is an instantly likeable chillout nugget teasing some funky grooves. Closeout number “Cobra Effect” combines warm vocals with eerie musicianship. Lesser Evil is pure pleasure. iTunes
Joseph by Birthday Boy & Trish
Following singles “Magic” and “Chance to Go Far”, Toronto producer Birthday Boy and singer Trish teamed up to release EP Joseph. The disc paves a dreamy ride through chillout R&B / house terrain with some occasional funk, feel-good beats, sunny horns, and electronic bells and whistles. It is both retro and current – King meets Majid Jordan perhaps. Both Complex and Noisey magazines gave the work glowing reviews; you can add CMB to the list. iTunes
To the Trees by To the Trees
Waterloo, Ontario band To the Trees impressed us with its eponymous EP. With it, the group contributes more choice cuts to the genre of synthrock that sadly is a little on the depleted side these days. The disc offers six beautifully crafted songs, and though independently released can boast a very professionally sounding production. The vocals are lovely, musicianship pleasing, and writing top notch. We are very excited to watch the career of this talented group unfold. iTunes
Delmano by Munya
Munya is the alternative pop music project of Josie Boivin. She intends to kick things off with three extended play releases. The first, released May 5, 2018, was a delightful three-track offering entitled North Hatley, a village located close to and southwest of Sherbrooke. Her second, Delmano (Oct. 5), revolves around Hotel Demano, an establishment situated in Brooklyn, New York. We slightly preferred this second effort though the six tracks from these first two discs are all superb and present a breezy sound that is dreamlike and slightly haunting in effect. We definitely look forward to Munya’s third outing. iTunes
Super Sunset by Allie X
One of our finest pop talents, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X treated us with slickly produced EP Super Sunset this year. With the catchy “Not So Bad in La”, she muses on happenings in her adoptive city. Seductive beats abound on the adorable Robyn-styled entry of “Little Things”. 80s themed “Science” dreamily wallows up to the playful “Girl of the Year” where Allie X, like a chameleon, slips her vocals into a grand … Ariana Grande pose. “Can’t Stop Now”, another catchy nugget, sets things up for the funky, nocturnal closer that is “Focus”. Super Sunset by Allie X is warm, charming synth pop to drool over. iTunes
Canadian Music Blog’s 2018 EP of the Year
He is relatively new at the game, though a raw sounding EP came out in 2014. Four years later, this talent emerged from the wilderness to deliver a winner where grief is presented as a season. It came out very early in 2018, and we declared it as frontrunner for EP of the year. Nothing else came out that was quite this good. Produced by Éric Goulet, it is a much richer effort than his previous disc: finely crafted, catchy, and coherent adult electropop. He reminds us a little of Jason Bajada – very pleasant to listen to. Here are five songs, all perfectly constructed and expertly delivered. The Canadian Music Blog declares La tristesse n’est qu’une saison by Éric Charland as 2018’s EP of the year! iTunes
Toronto’s Rosemary Fairweather has been slipping singles into the ocean of Canadian music since 2016, pearls discovered by music lovers at Beats 1, The Fader, Stereogum and more. We were lucky to discover this enigmatic figure early on and named her song “Moonlight” as the third best song of 2016. Rosemary’s first batch of singles plus a couple more songs were gelled together on album Heavenly with CD pressings available in Japan. Through Universal Music Canada, Fairweather dropped a new single in 2018 – “MTV” – and a few days ago launched a music video which we have embedded below. Rosemary Fairweather has a smart DIY attitude concocting dreamy, mysterious synth pop chimes, and sprinkling fairy dust with her tantalizing vocals. iTunes