The 25 Best Songs of 2016

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After listening to several thousand songs released in 2016 whether as singles, on EPs, or LPs, we have settled on our 25 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, here are our 25 favourite Canadian artist songs of 2016 including our Song of the Year for 2016. We have included songs by international artists that feature Canadians. Charting songs released in 2015 which achieved peak Billboard Hot 100 positions in 2016 are included. We have included the artwork for the single when one exists, failing that, the LP or EP that includes the song.

25I Didn’t Fall in Love with Your Hair by Brett Kissel Ft. Carolyn Dawn Johnson

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Flat Lake and Grande Prairie Albertan JUNO winners Brett Kissel and Carolyn Dawn Johnson teamed up for this beautiful Hot 100 charting country song about cancer that had us whipping out the tissues.   iTunes

24Firestorm by Rachel Woznow

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After enjoying radio spins in the U.S. for “Big and Loud”, Edmonton’s Rachel Woznow launched sparkly dance-pop anthem “Firestorm” that further bolstered her rise as one of pop music’s up and comers with great vocals to boot.  iTunes

23Treat You Better by Shawn Mendes

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Giving us plucky strings that burst into an infectious chorus, Pickering, Ontario teenthrob Shawn Mendes is growing better with age. It’s no surprise that “Treat You Better” became a Top 10 hit and platinum single.   iTunes

22Dive In by Dani & Lizzy

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This Vancouver twin sister duo launched debut album Work of Heart this year, a fun mishmash of pop, R&B, and dance. You could place just about any track from the album here but we shall settle on “Dive In”, a good representation of the Dani & Lizzy sound.  iTunes

21Animal by Graph

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Toronto’s Graph sounds like she had a blast making her debut 80s themed album Lipstick Graphiti. Track “Animal” did for 2016 what Cyndi Lauper did for the decade of Rubik. It’s playful, upbeat, and a party anthem for all times.  iTunes

20Slow Down by Memorecks & Jenna Pemkowski

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Brantford, Ontario’s Jenna Pemkowski released her debut album, Follow, in collaboration with Toronto producer Memorecks. Just about any track could be placed here. We’ll settle on atmospheric electronic pop jam “Slow Down” for chilling out in the lounge.  iTunes

19One Dance by Drake

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Drake topped the charts for the first time with this reworking of “Do You Mind” by Crazy Cousinz and Kyla. The Toronto urban artist slowed it down a little and turned it into a tropical thumper with Caribbean guitar. It was the essential summer jam.  iTunes

18Air I Breathe by Crystalyne

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This Toronto band released its third EP Follow in 2016 led by single “Air I Breathe”. Pop music doesn’t get much better than this. It flutters around playing with contrasts, an upbeat song about heartbreak all led by the heart melting vocals of Marissa Dattoli.   iTunes

17After All by Charlotte Day Wilson

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This smoking hot newcomer from Toronto brought sultry R&B back into fashion on her EP. “After All” is like spending a scorching afternoon on the porch with an ice cold lemonade, too drowsy to focus and too wakeful to crash. All thoughts are lost in the haze of dream and contentment.  iTunes

16Witch Trials by Traitrs

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This new Toronto duo sent a delicious wave of shivers down our spines with debut album Rites and Ritual which explores the shadowy realm of witch trials, youth cults, and burnt offerings all offered up in a gritty post-punk cold wave with atmospheric guitars. This alternative rock track is a pure delight.  iTunes

15I Don’t Remember by Linda Chung

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2016 was a busy year for Vancouver’s Linda Chung. She gave birth to daughter Kelly in August and managed to release album Under the Stars. Linda performed this beautiful ending theme song of TV drama Inspector Gourmet which aired on Hong Kong’s famous TVB network.  iTunes

14Cinquante fois by Bruno Pelletier

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One of the nation’s finest male vocalists Bruno Pelletier surprised fans by launching his 13th career album in 2016. Track “Cinquante fois” is a blast and is all about enjoying life while in one’s fifties. Those who have viewed the MV will agree that it is the sort of song made for carpool karaoke, especially when sung with clones.  iTunes

13Let Me Love You Featuring Justin Bieber

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Stratford, Ontario’s Justin Bieber made a huge comeback in 2015 with his blockbuster album Purpose, but that return all started with his feature in a Skrillex and Diplo track. In 2016 he offered up his salty vocals to be used by more EDM crafters like Major Lazer and France’s DJ Snake. The latter’s “Let Me Love You” was a Top 5 platinum smash with an irresistible hook.  iTunes

12Chasing Shadows by Vito V

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Canada has a lot more to offer in EDM territory than deadmau5 (though the mau5 is fab). A specialist of the genre is Montreal’s Vito V, originally from Venezuela. He puts the D back in EDM and outshines many of his contemporaries by offering a nice variety of beats. “Chasing Shadows” from his 2016 album is mainly instrumental and will get your feet shuffling in no time.  iTunes

11Face the Arrows by Stef Lang

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Vancouver Island bred Stef Lang released the second of two EPs called Arrows this year. The EP is so good, it was tough to pick a standout track. In the end, we chose the more dreamy and subdued “Face the Arrows” which caps off the two-part project perfectly.  iTunes

10Pékin (Les amitiés) by Jason Bajada

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This fantastic driving pop-rock jam complete with molten hot guitar solos was the most popular track from Jason Bajada’s album Volcano. It’s perky but hypnotic, intense but relaxed, and so completely wonderful.  iTunes

9Pharaoh by Louise Burns

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British Columbia’s Louise Burns has been making admirable music whether with bands like Lillix and Gold & Youth or as a soloist. Here is a true artist, talented musician, solid singer, and brilliant songwriter. Louise has a new album coming out in 2017 and released this super cool single in 2016.  iTunes

8Starboy by The Weeknd

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“Starboy” was the song that won over many of those who hadn’t really been into The Weeknd’s music. It topped the charts in December and is the title track of the Torontonian’s blockbuster album. The Weeknd wrote this slick R&B track with French electronic duo Daft Punk and Canadians Daheala, Cirkut, and McKinney.  iTunes

7Deer in the Dark by Ominar

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Halifax raised Ominar (Tawny Lucas) knows how to make ominous music. “Deer in the Dark” off album Leaving offers exciting dark-wave indie pop that is melodic and gothic with heartbreaking lyrics delivered by reflective and beautiful vocals.  iTunes

6Underside by You Say Party

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The hypnotic drone of this post punk charmer is the “Are ‘Friends’ Electric” of 2016. The Abbotsford, BC band, devastated by the passing of its drummer, try to find meaning amidst the seized-up waterfall of emotion, and the fruit of such searching is both devastating and glorious.  iTunes

5Mirage by Alexe Gaudreault

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It was difficult to pick a track from our favourite album of 2016, but the opener does the trick with its peppy swagger and ultra confident, creamy vocal delivery from this finalist of The Voice. First-rate writing and slick production, this is pop music that shines.  iTunes

4The One by Carly Rae Jepsen

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With only a few exceptions, the world’s best pop music is being made by the female soloists of British Columbia (Grimes, Louise Burns, Victoria Duffield, Stef Lang, Paige Morgan, etc.) Mission, BC’s Carly Rae Jepsen delighted us all with the surprise release of a companion disc to her critically acclaimed album Emotion. Extremely addictive, “The One” has arguably the best pop hook of the year.  iTunes

3Moonlight by Rosemary Fairweather

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Perhaps the most obscure recording artist on this list, Rosemary is a newcomer from Toronto, and she’s just getting started, releasing her first singles this year. “Moonlight” is a gorgeous electronic pop track, that glides like clouds aglow before the moon, and is presented with patience and seductive calm.  iTunes

2Diamond Eyes by Lexi Strate

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2016 Western Canadian Music Award winner for Pop Artist of the Year, Alberta’s Lexi Strate dropped this masterpiece of alternative pop early in the year. It’s fresh and mysterious, moves at a stately pace, and provides a nice touch of funky guitar.  iTunes

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Canadian Music Blog’s 2016 Song of the Year

He’s a soul singer who hails from the province of Quebec and has scored two platinum albums, the second of which was the best-selling album domestically in 2014. Album #3 landed in 2016, his finest work to date. The lead single was the first of his to receive significant airplay on radio stations across the nation, mainly AC and Hot AC. It also championed CBC’s Radio Two chart. Those bluesy keys were simply irresistible. It was catchy and gave those of us a bit tired of the same old at radio something different for a change. The Canadian Music Blog declares “C’est La Vie” by Bobby Bazini 2016’s Song of the Year.  iTunes

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