2011 in Music

In the Autumn, I was walking along in the Collingwood neighbourhood of Vancouver. A young Chinese-Canadian woman beside me suddenly gasped and pointed to a street lined with trees. The sky was completely blue. The sight of the leaves glistening in the sun was spectacular. They were green, chartreuse, yellow, orange, vermillion, red, burgundy, and purple. The year 2011 in sound was similar to that sight; there was a diversity of musical styles being created. Moreover, there were a number of new faces this year, and Canadian artists of Asian descent are on the rise which is very encouraging. Is Canada going to take on a leadership role in the western world in this regard?

Canadians of West Asian descent who enjoyed hits this year included Kristina Maria. Her “Let’s Play” was the 64th biggest song of the year. Karl Wolf is another name. This year he teamed up with Kardinal Offishall in the song “Ghetto Love” which was 67th.

A Canadian of South Asian heritage was Anjulie whose parents immigrated from Guyana, South America. “Brand New Chick” was a platinum single and the 52nd most popular song of the year. Raghav’s “Fire” went gold and was 94th.

Another positive element of 2011 was a burgeoning of Canadian dance music, a genre the output of which has seen Canada historically lag behind other countries. We are becoming masters of the genre, and artists like Dragonette, Deadmau5, Kristina Maria, Mia Martina, and Alfa Rococo are spinning some delicious tunes that make sitting still impossible.

Interestingly, the biggest albums of the year were Christmas albums: Michael Bublé’s jazzy Christmas (7x Platinum) and Justin Bieber’s R&B-ish Under the Mistletoe (3x Platinum). This was true both domestically and internationally. Besides those two, the other best-selling Canadian albums globally were rapper Drake’s Take Care, Avril Lavigne’s pop-oriented Goodbye Lullaby, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never: the Remixes, and Nickelback’s heavy metal release Here and Now

The most successful Canadian artist internationally in terms of a hit single was Avril Lavigne whose “What the Hell” was the highest-charting Canadian single. This includes the world’s three largest markets for music: the United States, Japan (where it was 10th of the year), and Britain. In the world’s most populous nation, China, it was 11th. It was also the most successful Canadian single in Australia. Domestically, there was much more going on in terms of hit singles.

International Success of Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” in 2011:

Year-End Chart Weekly Chart Peak Rank Among Canadian Singles
Canada 63 6
U.K. n/a 16 1
U.S. 62 1
Japan 10 1
China 11 1
Australia 48 1

 Top Singles of the Year

The highest charting song entirely by a Canadian artist was the aforementioned “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne, which peaked at #8 on the weekly singles chart and was the 63rd biggest song of 2011. “Hello”, a collaborative effort by Toronto synth-pop group Dragonette and Martin Solveig of Paris, France, enjoyed the highest position partially by a Canadian artist on the Top 100 singles of 2011 (#11) and was the most successful in terms of sales, achieving double-platinum digital download status.

The biggest song of 2011 entirely by a Canadian artist was “Alone Again” by Alyssa Reid (#24). This was a reworking of Heart’s song “Alone”. In terms of an original song entirely by a Canadian performer, honours would go to Fefe Dobson for her “Stutterin'” which was the 45th biggest song of the year.

Simple Plan’s “Jet Lag”, which featured U.K. singer Natasha Bedingfield, was 37th and was certified platinum. They also recorded a French version of the song which featured Québec’s Marie-Mai. Romanian Edward Maya’s song “Stereo Love”, which featured New Brunswick’s Mia Martina, was 34th. And Barbados’ Rihanna was at #32 with “What’s My Name” a song that featured Drake.

Other platinum digital downloads besides those mentioned above were “Brand New Chick” by Guyanese-Canadian Anjulie, “Electric” by Portuguese-Canadian Shawn Desman, Hedley’s “Invincible”, Nickelback’s “When We Stand Together”, and Marianas Trench’s “Haven’t Had Enough”.

Only 2 songs involving Canadian artists made the Top 10 on the British weekly charts this year, both being collaborations between Drake and Rihanna: “What’s My Name” (#1) and “Take Care” (#9). The most successful song entirely by a Canadian artist in the U.K. was “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne (#16).

Things were similar south of the border. “What’s My Name” was the 20th biggest song of the year in the United States. Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” was the most successful song there that was not a collaboration between a Canadian and an international artist. It was 62nd of the year.

The biggest Canadian song in Japan the world’s 2nd largest market for music after the U.S. – was Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” which was the 10th most popular song of the year there.

According to Montreal’s CKOI FM 96.9, the five most popular Francophone songs of the year were as follows:

1. Vincent Vallières’ “On va s’aimer encore” (#4)
2. Marie-Mai’s “Comme avant” (#15)
3. William Deslauriers’ “Je ve mon verre” (#35)
4. Clément Jacques’ “Ariane” (#37)
5. David Jalbert’s “P’tit homme” (#43)

Ten songs were nominated for single of the year at the Félix gala held in October. These are listed below with the winner being Vincent Vallières’ “On va s’aimer encore”.

10 Felix-Nominated Songs

“Météore”, Alfa Rococo
“Fruits défendus”, Brigitte Boisjoli
“J’taime pas, j’t’adore”, Nicola Ciccone
“Près de toi”, Martin Deschamps
“Jusqu’au bout”, Éric Lapointe
“Elle s’appelait Serge”, Les Trois Accords
“Comme avant”, Marie-Mai
“Toujours de nous”, Mario Pelchat
“Je repars”, David Usher, Marie-Mai
“On va s’aimer encore”, Vincent Vallières

The biggest song of the year in Canada this year was from Britain’s Adele—”Rolling in the Deep”.

It will be interesting to see what the JUNO awards in April next year will award in terms of singles, given that there are so many collaborations with foreign artists, covers, and partial covers.

Below is a table of the most successful singles in 2011, all having at least one of the following characteristics:

a) Was on the Billboard Canadian Top 100 singles of 2011 chart
b) Peaked in the Top 20 on the weekly Billboard Canadian Hot 100 singles chart during 2011
c) Was awarded gold / platinum certification (singles on the Top 100 of 2010 or that peaked on the weekly charts of 2010 receiving certification this year are not included)

Note: Most of the Top 20 songs that did not make the Top 100 of 2011 appeared late in the year and will most likely appear on the Top 100 of 2012 chart next year. Foreign artists (with whom Canadians collaborated) are in blue.

2011 Singles Comprehensive Chart

Song Artist 2011 WP C
Hello Martin Solveig, Dragonette 11 8 2xP
Alone Again Alyssa Reid 24 11 G
What’s My Name? Rihanna, Drake 32 5
Stereo Love Edward Maya, Mia Martina 34
Jet Lag Simple Plan 37 11 P
Stutterin’ Fefe Dobson 45 10 P
Brand New Chick Anjulie 52 16 P
Electric Shawn Desman 59 P
What the Hell Avril Lavigne 63 8
Let’s Play Kristina Maria 64 19 G
Ghetto Love Karl Wolf, Kardinall Offishall 67 20 G
Invincible Hedley 69 9 2xP
Latin Moon Mia Martina 74 G
Can’t Breathe Fefe Dobson 76 19 G
Like Magic JRDN 80 G
Haven’t Had Enough Marianas Trench 81 9 P
About Us Neverest 89 G
Moment 4 Life Nicki Minaj, Drake 92
Fire Raghav 94 G
I Wanna Dance w/ Somebody These Kids Wear Crowns 95 G
She’s Dope Down with Webster 100 18 P
Mistletoe Justin Bieber 9 G
When We Stand Together Nickelback 10 P
Shut Up and Dance Victoria Duffield 12 P
Today is Your Day Shania Twain 14
One Life Hedley 16 P
She Will Lil Wayne, Drake 16
Headlines Drake 18 P
Pray (For LJ) Pardon My Striptease 20
Hit Me Up Danny Fernandes ft. Josh Ramsay and Belly 22 P
Famous Audio Playground G
Co-Pilot Kristina Maria G
123 Craig Smart G
Lullaby Nickelback G
Whatta Night Ricky J. G

Top Albums of the Year

There were an astounding number of albums released this year. With a sharp decline in record sales over the past few years, it is a huge honour just to score a gold album these days, something that was pretty much guaranteed for an album with a radio hit in years past. By the end of the year, 8 albums released in 2011 received gold certifications, 2 platinum, and 3 multi-platinum.

The most successful albums of the year by Canadian artists were Christmas albums. Michael Bublé’s Christmas was certified 7x platinum and Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe 3x platinum. Nickelback’s Here and Now was a double-platinum release. The best-selling Francophone album was Maxime Landry’s L’avenir entre nous (platinum). At the October Félix gala, most popular album accolades went to Ginette Reno for La musique en moi. Hedley’s Storms was certified platinum at the end of the year.

All albums mentioned above (with the exception of L’avenir entre nous) made it to #1 on the weekly albums chart. Additionally were City and Colour’s Little Hell, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never: the Remixes, and Drake’s Take Care.

The biggest album of the year in Canada was 21 by Britain’s Adele which was certified diamond, the first studio album to do so since Céline Dion’s These Are Special Times 4 years ago.

Below is a table of all albums released in 2011 with at least one of the following characteristics:

a) Was awarded gold / platinum certification
b) Was on the Billboard Canadian Top 50 albums of 2011 chart
c) Peaked in the Top 5 on the Billboard Canadian weekly albums chart during 2011

We will continue updating new levels of certification for these 2011 albums through 2012.

2011 Albums Comprehensive Chart

Album Artist C 2011 WP
Christmas Michael Buble 8xP 16 1
Under the Mistletoe Justin Bieber 3xP 36 1
Here and Now Nickelback 2xP 1
Little Hell City and Colour P 40 1
Storms Hedley P 2
Metals Feist P 2
L’avenir entre nous Maxime Landry P
Mixmania2 (Various Artists) G 46 4
L’existoire Richard Desjardins G 49 2
Better Be Home Soon George Canyon G
Undercover Me 2 Jann Arden G
Dans le silence de la nuit André Gagnon G
Ever After Marianas Trench P
Noel Nadja G
The Truth Is… Theory of a Deadman G
C’est un monde Fred Pellerin G
A Napoli Marc Hervieux G
La vie a deux Jean-Francois Breau & Marie-Eve Janvier G
Les grands espaces Isabelle Boulay G
La musique en moi Ginette Reno P 26 1
Never Say Never: The Remixes Justin Bieber 33 1
Americana II Roch Voisine 44 3
Take Care Drake  2xP 1
Seul au piano Pierre La Pointe 2
Goodbye Lullaby Avril Lavigne 2
Get Your Heart On Simple Plan 2
The Truth Is… Theory of a Deadman 2
Siberia Lights  G 3
Collider Sam Roberts Band 3
Michigan Left Arkells 5
Blonde Coeur de Pirate 5
Que Du Vent Les Cowboys Fringants 5
Je Suis Marie-Elaine Thibert 5
Lights of Endangered Matthew Good 5
Everything’s Going My Way Nadja 5

New Artists in 2011

Though a song by Toronto’s Neverest barely scraped into the Top 30 on the weekly charts, its long stay, helped by a popular music video, pushed it into the year-end Top 100; “About Us” was 89th of the year. JRDN is Ralph Jordan Croucher who grew up in both Halifax and Toronto. His “Like Magic” was the 80th biggest song of the year. Like The Stereos, Chilliwack, BC’s These Kids Wear Crowns were discovered on MuchMusic’s “disBand” program. Their cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” was 95th of the year.

Another Chilliwack rock band, Pardon My Striptease, made it to #20 with their song “Pray (For LJ)” about lead singer Andrew Putt’s one-year-old daughter who was in the hospital battling brain cancer. The band challenged Nickelback to match donations to the Children’s Hospital if their song surpassed Nickelback’s “When We Stand Together” on the iTunes chart. Nickelback announced it would honour the challenge and would donate $50,000 to the hospital.

What follows are mini-profiles on the biggest newcomers of 2011.


We have completed a major profile on Anjulie which is HERE.

Brigitte Boisjoli

Beautiful Brigitte is from Drummondville, QC and, in 2009, she finished 3rd in reality television series Star Académie, the same year that Maxime Landry won the singing competition. She led a very athletic life, participating, among other sports, in bungee jumping, parachuting, and kickboxing. As a teen, she participated in musicals. After her success in Star Academy, she released her debut album in 2011, Fruits defendus. Her work was recognized by the Felix awards as she was nominated in several categories. She ended up winning Best New Artist of the Year. Brigitte released a Patsy Cline tribute album in 2015 which went gold.

Victoria Duffield

This diligent and multi-talented singer from Abbotsford, BC was a finalist on the third season of talent search YTV program The Next Star. By the age of seven, she was singing and dancing in local competitions. She began an acting career appearing in such shows as Cold Squad, Smallville, and Supernatural. After her success in The Next Star, Ryan Stewart (who has worked with Carly Rae Jepsen and Suzie McNeil) co-wrote the song “Shut Up and Dance” with her. It was picked up by radio stations across the country at the end of 2011 and climbed up to #12 on the weekly singles chart going platinum. A version with an added French part featuring Lukay was released in Quebec.  Victoria released her debut album in 2012 named after her Platinum single.  Tracks “Feel” and “Break My Heart” both made the Top 40 on the Canadian Hot 100. In 2014, Victoria released her second album, Accelerate and went on tour with The Backstreet Boys.

Kristina Maria

We have completed a major profile on Kristina Maria which is HERE.

Mia Martina

From a small village of 500 people—Saint Ignace, NB—arose one Mia Martina who, after relocating to Ottawa for university, was discovered and asked to sing backup for Danny Fernandes and Belly. She released a dance remix of Edward Maya’s “Stereo Love”, featuring her vocal, a Top 10 hit in Canada at the end of 2010. It finished as the 34th biggest song of 2011. Her own song, “Latin Moon” which was released in both official languages finished the year in 74th place. “Burning” peaked at #25 on the Hot 100 and was the 64th biggest song of 2012. Her debut album was entitled Devotion. Mia’s bilingual song “Danse” went gold in 2014. She released her second album, self-titled, in 2015. It spawned the Top 40 hit “Beast”.

Alyssa Reid

The 24th biggest song of 2011 was brought to us by Alyssa Reid. Born in Edmonton and now living in Brampton, Ontario, she was a finalist on the first season of talent search YTV program The Next Star just as the aforementioned Victoria Duffield. Her “Alone Again” was a reworking of Heart’s song “Alone” (which has also been covered by Céline Dion) with added lyrics and a rap segment by P. Reign, a Guyanese-Canadian from the Toronto area. “Alone Again” peaked at #11 on the weekly singles chart and was certified gold. Her debut album, released in June, is entitled The Game.  “Alone Again” made it to #2 on the British charts in 2012. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” became a Top 40 single in 2013. Alyssa released album Phoenix in 2015 showcasing a more acoustic singer-songwriter style.

JUNO Awards

The JUNO Awards for 2011 music were held in Ottawa on the weekend of March 31, 2012.  Blue Rodeo was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame.  Album of the Year was awarded to Michael Buble and Single of the Year to The Sheepdogs.  For a full list of nominees, click on the following links:  JUNOs Part 1  JUNOs Part 2.

Related Posts

Canadian Music Blog’s Album of the Year 2011

Canadian Music Blog’s Song of the Year 2011

Mini-Profiles on Artists Whose Popularity Intensified in 2011

(Includes Vincent Vallières, Fred Pellerin, Nadja, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dragonette, Richard Desjardins, Coeur de Pirate, City and Colour, and George Canyon)

Felix Awards:   Nominees   Winners Part 1   Winners Part 2