Besides artists who already have profiles at the Canadian Music Blog, popularity of the maple blazers listed below intensified in 2015. Some have been at it for a little while and others completely broke through during the year.
Brampton, Ontario’s Alessia Cara (short for Caracciolo) is an R&B singer of Italian descent. She gained popularity at 18 years of age with hit single “Here” which lyrically is about those who secretly hate parties and musically follows a vibe originally done by Isaac Hayes, later used by Portishead and Tricky. The song eventually went multiplatinum in Canada and made the Top 10 in the United States. Alessia had been at it for a while posting covers on YouTube. She signed a deal with Def Jam Recordings and released an EP and full length album. Cara performed at a number of high profile American chat shows and was brought on stage by Taylor Swift at the final concert of her 1989 tour.
Due to his natural talent, Toronto’s Francesco Yates was signed by Atlantic Records when he was only 16. He broke out three years later with “Better To Be Loved”, a Top 40 hit in 2015. Though a non-Top 40 hit in Canada (it peaked at #42), “Sugar” by German house music maker Robin Schulz featuring Francesco’s vocals topped the charts or peaked at #2/#3 in several European countries as well as Australia. It was a big hit in Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.
From the humble town of Langenburg, Saskatchewan, country artist Jess Moskaluke took the field by storm, a realm heavily dominated these days by Americans and men. As a Canadian female soloist, she scored the first gold single since Shania Twain, won the CCMA female artist of the year award thrice, had her LP Light Up the Night nominated for album of the year, and landed two Top 10 Billboard country radio hits in 2015: “Kiss Me Quiet” and collaboration with Paul Brandt “I’m an Open Road”. In 2017, her mini album Kiss Me Quiet won the JUNO Award for Country Album of the Year.
A native of the rural area of South Slocan, British Columbia, Shawn Hook scored a couple of minor hits circa his debut album Cosmonaut and the Girl in 2012. With things ending for record label EMI, Shawn was scooped up by Universal and generated tremendous buzz with hit “Million Ways” which he co-wrote with Grammy winning songwriter Victoria Horn. Followup “Sound of Your Heart” continued generating steam through much of the year and catapulted Shawn Hook to platinum status. He released second album Analog Love in 2015. Shawn scored a second platinum single in 2017 with Vanessa Hudgens: “Reminding Me”.
The Torontonian’s brand of alt-RnB managed to break through by his combining three indie albums into one package, Trilogy, in 2012. It attained double platinum sales in Canada, with track “Wicked Games” nesting itself just outside the Top 40. The Weeknd’s feature in Drake’s “Crew Love” became a Top 40 hit in Britain. He signed with Universal Republic, but followup album Kiss Land did not do as well as hoped, and a team of ace writers and producers were called in to slick things up for his next album, including Sweden’s Max Martin. The strategy that paid off was having him team up with American singer Ariana Grande. “Love Me Harder” became a Top 10 hit in both Canada and The United States. Strategy #2 was having him do a song featured in a Hollywood blockbuster. “Earned It” from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack became a multiplatinum single. With that, The Weeknd was a hit internationally. Album Beauty Behind the Madness, one of the year’s top sellers, placed not one but two songs at the summit of the charts: “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”. In 2016, The Weeknd released album Starboy. The title track topped the charts.
Winner of The Voice 2014, baritone country singer Yoan (Garneau) of Ferme-Neuve, Quebec, released his debut eponymous album in 2015. The bilingual work topped the albums charts and struck platinum sales. The album features collaborations with Alberta’s Brett Kissel and Yoan’s coach from The Voice, Isabelle Boulay. It was the second biggest 2015 album on the Billboard year-end albums chart and won a Canadian Country Music Association award.
Montreal potpourri artist Bernard Adamus went gold with his 2009 debut album Brun, and his third, Sorel Soviet So What, topped the Billboard albums chart in 2015. Thunder Bay folktronica artist Coleman Hell scored platinum single “2 Heads”. He will be releasing an album through Sony’s Columbia Records in 2016. Calgary’s Jocelyn Alice went gold with “Jackpot” and signed a deal with Sony affiliate Disruptor Records. An album is expected in 2016. Mont-Laurier, Quebec’s Kevin Bazinet, winner of The Voice 2015, launched his debut album and scored a Billboard Hot 100 hit. Halifax’s Ria Mae got snatched up by Sony and went gold with single “Clothes Off”. At the tender age of 19, Toronto’s Scott Helman landed his first gold single with “Bungalow”.