Are You Listening? LIGHTS Pedals into Platinum

Canadian recording artist LIGHTS, a multiple JUNO award winner, had her status upgraded today from gold to platinum. Music Canada has certified her debut LP The Listening a platinum album for sales in excess of 80,000 copies. The album contains her Top 40 hits “Drive My Soul” and “Saviour”; a total of five tracks from the album appeared on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. She wrote all tracks herself, some co-written with Canadian producers Thomas “Tawgs” Salter and Dave “Dwave” Thomson. LIGHTS specializes in electronic, synthesizer driven pop/rock and has also released acoustic versions of her songs. The Listening has a five-star rating on iTunes with 900 casting votes (a high number for Canada). LIGHTS is currently working on her fourth album Skin & EarthThe Listening is a must-buy for those who love progressive pop music. Below is the music video for track “Saviour” with the iconic scene of LIGHTS playing keytar. Below that is “Drive My Soul” with its classic hair-raising vocals at 2:18.


Avril Lavigne’s Let Go Turns 15

Seventeen years ago, a new millennium was upon us, but fears over the Y2K bug somewhat spoiled the end-of-1999 party to which Prince had alluded. The British shoegaze movement, American grunge experiment, and standard alternative rock that defined the 90s had run out of steam, and audiophiles were eager for a new vibe to kick off the new millennium. The first two years were largely dominated by well established acts: U2, Madonna, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, and Janet Jackson. Even Santana returned from the Twilight Zone thanks to someone named Maria.

Britney Spears had carried the torch for the teens into the 21st century and was briefly joined by a turning-20 Christina Aguilera. Throughout history, the teen stars who topped the charts had done so with dance pop songs and love ballads, and perhaps the new kind of star the masses longed for would be a teen who would shatter the mould. The call was answered by a small-town Ontario girl who grew up playing hockey with the boys. She had joined country superstar Shania Twain on stage in Ottawa. A record deal signed in the States, the Napanee native teamed up with production team The Matrix and sat on the grass in Los Angeles writing songs and convincing the team that the sound she wanted was something unusual for the demographic she represented.

Exactly one week before the debut of American Idol Season 1 came the release of album Let Go from a female teen rock star who was anything but manufactured. She was the real deal, a talented songwriter with a beautiful, wholesome, and powerful voice. And her name was Avril Lavigne. Let Go, her first album, sold 20 million copies around the world and was voted by a Rolling Stone readers’ poll as the fourth best album of the 2000s. The album was certified diamond in Canada.

Released on June 4, 2002, Avril Lavigne’s Let Go turns 15 years old tomorrow.

The album opens with “Losing Grip” that flutters around playfully before exploding into an ear-splitting rock chorus. “Complicated”, a juggernaut hit owing perhaps to its likeable sing-song melody, convinces the listener that Lavigne can straddle both pop and rock realms with ease. The punky power piece “Sk8er Boi” helped define one of the genre streams of the decade, influencing a number of acts. Soaring anthem “I’m with You” is arguably the best cut. It is deep, emotional, and when Lavigne, after her Rihanna-sampled yeah-yeahs and softening of her vocal touch, belts out sky-scraping “I don’t know who you are, but I … I’M WITH YOU” it literally makes goosebumps appear all over your body.

“Mobile”, our pick for the album’s most underappreciated track, contains one of the best rock choruses in the history of music, not to mention a perfect bridge. “Unwanted” delves further into rock territory returning to “Losing Grip’s” packed punch. “Tomorrow” proves Avril can handle the singer-songwriter realm very well. The unique percussion sound is a nice touch, and the song flows in such a way that it pulls you along with it. By the time you hear the catchy choruses on “Anything but Ordinary” and “Things I’ll Never Say”, the album will have you hailing it as a masterpiece, and it is just that. Lavigne gets personal in “My World” talking about growing up in Napanee. She tries her hand at rapping in “Nobody’s Fool”. “Too Much to Ask” is the emotional core of the album; it is heart-wrenching both musically and lyrically. As for closer “Naked”, it caps off the album on a sad note which makes you want to listen to the disc again.

Avril Lavigne’s Let Go is one of the finest albums of the 21st century. Happy 15th!

Canadian Albums Turning 10 in 2017

2007 were trying times, especially in British Columbia. The domed roof of BC Place Stadium in Vancouver collapsed. At YVR airport, Robert Dziekański was tasered to death by the RCMP. In the suburbs, a high-rise apartment was the scene of the Surrey Six slayings. The first incident of a severed foot washed up on the BC coast. But it wasn’t all bad news. At a Calgary Flames game, young Cree singer Akina Shirt became the first to perform “O Canada” in an Aboriginal language at a major-league sporting event. Media magnate Conrad Black was convicted on three charges of fraud.

 The highest grossing film of the year was Spider Man 3 followed by Shrek the Third. American Idol continued its reign at the top of Nielsen television ratings. Brian Melo won Canadian Idol. The Billboard Canadian Hot 100 debuted. Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” and Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right” were huge hits internationally.

Two quadruple platinum Canadian artist albums appeared in 2007: Céline Dion’s Taking Chances and Michael Bublé’s Call Me Irresponsible. At double platinum were Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing, Feist’s The Reminder which won the Album of the Year JUNO, Céline Dion’s D’Elles, and Johnny Reid’s Kicking Stones. Also reaching the certification level were two duet albums: Anne Murray’s Duets, Friends, and Legends and Claude Dubois’ Duos Dubois.


Canadian Albums Turning 20 in 2017

1997 was a year that saw massive flooding of the Red River in Manitoba. Confederation bridge linking Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick opened. Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident. Fourteen-year-old Reena Virk was beaten to death by classmates in Victoria. 43 were killed in Canada’s worst ever traffic accident as a tour bus fell off a cliff. Canadian film The Sweet Hereafter by Atom Egoyan about a school bus accident debuted. Motion picture Titanic by Canada’s James Cameron premiered at the cinema in December eventually setting a box office record which remained unbroken for 12 years. The Arrow, a mini-series about the Avro Arrow project, gained a large television viewership. Television comedy series Seinfeld topped the Nielsen ratings.

“Building a Mystery” by Sarah McLachlan was the #1 song of the year. Her album Surfacing was certified diamond (or 10x platinum) for sales of 1 million copies and won the Album of the Year JUNO the following year. Céline Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love which included “My Heart Will Go On” featured in the aforementioned film Titanic also went diamond. It won the same JUNO in 1999. Our Lady Peace released Clumsy, another diamond album. But surpassing all of them, reaching two million in sales, and becoming one of the most globally successful albums ever released, was Shania Twain’s Come on Over. 1997 saw the release of more Canadian albums certified multiplatinum than any other year in history with a total of 13. It was possibly the biggest year ever for album sales. Other big sellers were Loreena McKennitt’s The Book of Secrets at quadruple platinum. Play by Great Big Sea made triple platinum.

Double platinum albums in 1997 were Big Wreck’s In Loving Memory Of…, Bruno Pelletier’s Miserer, Chantalk Kreviazuk’s Under These Rocks and Stones, Diana Krall’s Love Scenes, Jann Arden’s Happy?, The Tea Party’s Transmission, and The Tragically Hip’s Live Between Us.


Canadian Albums Turning 30 in 2017

1987 was the year that witnessed the city of Frobisher Bay change its name to Iqaluit. Rick Hansen returned home to Vancouver after his Man in Motion world tour. The one dollar coin was introduced, often called the loonie. Quebec City was the first municipality in North America to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Edmonton had a summer tornado that killed 27 while Montreal had a flood. Hockey player Sidney Crosby and actress Ellen Page were born. Actor Lorne Greene and author Margaret Laurence passed away. Stock markets around the world fell after the USA’s dropped 22.6%. An underground fire at King’s Cross Tube Station in London, UK killed 31 people.

In entertainment, the first Final Fantasy video game came out. Three Men and a Baby was tops at the cinema followed by Fatal Attraction. Television viewers tuned into The Cosby Show and its spinoff A Different World. “La Bamba” by Los Lobos was the most popular song of the year.

Seven albums by Canadian artists in 1987 eventually struck multiplatinum. Debut album Outskirts by Blue Rodeo, helped by hit single “Try”, was the highest at quadruple platinum followed by Bryan Adams’ Into the Fire at triple platinum. As there were no JUNO Awards held in 1988, Robbie Robertson’s self-titled LP, his first as a soloist, had to wait two years to win the Album of the Year trophy. Other double platinum works besides Robbie’s were Céline Dion’s Incognito, Michel Rivard’s Un Trou Dans Les Nuages, Rita MacNeil’s Flying on Your Own, and The Tragically Hip’s debut, eponymous mini-album. It’s interesting that the musical style on most (not all) of these is not what we normally think of as “80s music”.


Canadian Albums Turning 40 in 2017

1977 was the year that saw the first Star Wars film, now called A New Hope. It completely smashed all box office records becoming the highest grossing film of all time. Television viewers tuned in to watch Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, and Three’s Company. Debby Boone was all over the radio airwaves with her megahit “You Light Up My Life”. Toys Micronauts and Mattel’s hand-held game electronic football were selling like hotcakes. New York City had a blackout that lasted 25 hours and resulted in looting. The United States returned the Panama Canal to Panama. And the first Apple II computers went on sale.

Five Canadian albums released in 1977, yes, that’s 40 years ago, struck double platinum: Angele Arsenault‘s Libre, Burton CummingsMy Own Way to Rock, Raffi‘s More Singable Songs, Triumph‘s Rock ‘n Roll Machine, and, winning the Album of the Year Juno the following year, Dan Hill‘s Longer Fuse. 1977 certainly doesn’t win any awards for album covers. They were shaggy. They were sweaty. But as we know, it’s what’s under the covers that rocks.


Diamond Albums: The 100+ Best-Selling Albums in Canadian History

diamond albums collage copy

Diamonds are … the recording industry’s best friend, certainly when it comes to album sales. Canada’s certification program awards records that have achieved 10x platinum status as “diamond”. Prior to May 2008 when gold/platinum definitions were adjusted in light of the digital era, a diamond album was one that had shipped 1 million units in Canada. Since then, a diamond album is 800,000. More than 100 albums have hit the diamond mark since releases from 1969. These are the best-sellers, the classics, reflecting Canadian tastes in music. We have listed all of these gems below. Those that achieved double diamond status (2 million prior to 2008) are in bold print and Canadian artist albums in red. In the column Type, GH stands for greatest hits. They are sorted in chronological order of release year. Chances are, you own or have owned at least a few of these. Which one is your favourite?

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin 1969 Studio
Abbey Road The Beatles 1969 Studio
IV Led Zeppelin 1971 Studio
Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd 1973 Studio
1962-1966 The Beatles 1973 GH
1967-1970 The Beatles 1973 GH
Crime of the Century Supertramp 1974 Studio
Greatest Hits Vol I. Elton John 1974 GH
GH 1971-75 The Eagles 1976 GH
Hotel California The Eagles 1976 Studio
Boston Boston 1976 Studio
Bat Out of Hell Meat Loaf 1977 Studio
Rumours Fleetwood Mac 1977 Studio
Saturday Night Fever Various Artists 1977 Soundtrack
Grease Various Artists 1977 Soundtrack
1974-1978 Steve Miller 1978 GH
The Wall Pink Floyd 1979 Studio
Breakfast in America Supertramp 1979 Studio
Greatest Hits Kenny Rogers 1980 GH
Back in Black AC/DC 1980 Studio
Face Value Phil Collins 1981 Studio
Thriller Michael Jackson 1982 Studio
Colour by Numbers Culture Club 1983 Studio
Can’t Slow Down Lionel Richie 1983 Studio
Sports Huey Lewis 1983 Studio
Eliminator ZZ Top 1983 Studio
Born in the USA Bruce Springsteen 1984 Studio
Reckless Bryan Adams 1984 Studio
Like a Virgin Madonna 1984 Studio
Boy in the Box Corey Hart 1985 Studio
Brothers in Arms Dire Straits 1985 Studio
No Jacket Required Phil Collins 1985 Studio
Whitney Houston Whitney Houston 1985 Studio
True Blue Madonna 1986 Studio
Slippery When Wet Bon Jovi 1986 Studio
The Joshua Tree U2 1987 Studio
Dirty Dancing Various Artists 1987 Soundtrack
Hysteria Def Leppard 1987 Studio
Faith George Michael 1987 Studio
Kick INXS 1987 Studio
Appetite for Destruction Guns ‘N Roses 1987 Studio
Hangin’ Tough New Kids on the Block 1988 Studio
Cocktail Various Artists 1988 Soundtrack
Girl You Know It’s True Milli Vanilli 1989 Studio
Alannah Myles Alannah Myles 1989 Studio
Up to Here The Tragically Hip 1989 Studio
Waking Up the Neighbours Bryan Adams 1991 Studio
Mad Mad World Tom Cochrane 1991 Studio
Road Apples The Tragically Hip 1991 Studio
Metallica Metallica 1991 Studio
Achtung Baby U2 1991 Studio
Use Your Illusion I Guns ‘N Roses 1991 Studio
Nevermind Nirvana 1991 Studio
Unplugged Eric Clapton 1992 Live
The Bodyguard Various Artists 1992 Soundtrack
Some Gave All Billy Ray Cyrus 1992 Studio
Celine Dion Celine Dion 1992 Studio
Gordon Barenaked Ladies 1992 Studio
Abba Gold ABBA 1992 GH
The Colour of My Love Celine Dion 1993 Studio
The Sign Ace of Base 1993 Studio
Get a Grip Aerosmith 1993 Studio
Fully Completely The Tragically Hip 1993 Studio
The Lion King Various Artists 1994 Soundtrack
The Hits Garth Brooks 1994 GH
Forrest Gump Various Artists 1994 Soundtrack
Dookie Green Day 1994 Studio
Cracked Rear View Hootie & the Blowfish 1994 Studio
Cross Road Bon Jovi 1994 GH
The Woman in Me Shania Twain 1995 Studio
Jagged Little Pill Alanis Morissette 1995 Studio
Mellon Collie… Smashing Pumpkins 1995 Studio
Tragic Kingdom No Doubt 1995 Studio
Amanda Marshall Amanda Marshall 1995 Studio
Oh What a Feeling Various Artists 1996 Compilation
Falling Into You Celine Dion 1996 Studio
Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys 1996 Studio
Spice Spice Girls 1996 Studio
Come On Over Shania Twain 1997 Studio
Let’s Talk About Love Celine Dion 1997 Studio
Big Shiny Tunes 2 Various Artists 1997 Compilation
Titanic Various Artists 1997 Soundtrack
Backstreet’s Back Backstreet Boys 1997 Studio
Aquarium Aqua 1997 Studio
Savage Garden Savage Garden 1997 Studio
Surfacing Sarah McLachlan 1997 Studio
Spice World Spice Girls 1997 Studio
Romanza Andrea Bocelli 1997 GH
Clumsy Our Lady Peace 1997 Studio
Millennium Backstreet Boys 1999 Studio
Baby One More Time Britney Spears 1999 Studio
Ricky Martin Ricky Martin 1999 Studio
Supernatural Santana 1999 Studio
All The Way Celine Dion 1999 GH
One The Beatles 2000 GH
These Are Special Times Celine Dion 2000 Christmas
Up! Shania Twain 2002 Studio
Let Go Avril Lavigne 2002 Studio
The Eminem Show Eminem 2002 Studio
Come Away with Me Norah Jones 2002 Studio
Stereo Boxed Set The Beatles 2009 Catalogue
21 Adele 2011 Studio
Christmas Michael Buble 2011 Christmas
25 Adele 2015 Studio

Canadian Albums that Topped the UK Charts

cdn albums in uk copy

The Official Charts of the United Kingdom recently released lists of the all the number one albums in Britain, the top album each year, and the 60 best-selling albums of all time in the country. Three of the latter are from Canadian artists. We eyeballed through the lists and our findings are below. Only a baker’s dozen Canadian artists have placed an album at the summit of the British charts over the years.

The first number one album by a Canadian artist in the United Kingdom was Neil Young‘s Harvest in 1972. It took 19 years for another Canadian album to top the British charts, Bryan AdamsWaking Up the Neighbours in 1991. In 1994, his So Far So Good also reached the summit. Céline Dion was next thanks to The Colour of My Love in 1995 followed by Falling Into You in 1996. The same year Alanis Morissette‘s Jagged Little Pill hit #1 and is now the third best-selling Canadian album of all time in the UK (41st overall as of July 2016). It was the best-selling album of the year 1996. Bryan Adams returned to the zenith in 1996 via 18 Til I Die. Let’s Talk About Love from Céline Dion did the trick in 1997.

In 1999, Come on Over by Shania Twain was the best-selling album of the year and became the highest selling LP from a Canadian of all-time in the UK (15th overall), remarkable in a country not known for its zeal towards country music. Céline Dion’s All the Way a Decade of Song managed to squeak itself into the top spot that year as well. Nickelback did the honours in 2002 with Silver Side Up back to back weeks with Dion’s A New Day Has Come. In 2003, Avril Lavigne kicked off the year with her #1 Let Go. Her Under My Skin scaled the heights in 2004, and The Best Damn Thing in 2007.

It was Michael Bublé‘s turn in 2010; his Crazy Love is now the second best-selling Canuck LP in Britain (24th overall). Arcade Fire made an appearance on top the same year with The Suburbs. Bublé returned in 2011 thanks to Christmas. Justin Bieber‘s Believe was on top in 2012 and Bublé’s To Be Loved in 2013. AmeriCanadian Robin Thicke was #1 in 2013 as well thanks to album Blurred Lines. Arcade Fire returned to the summit in 2013 with Reflektor. 2015 saw a number one Canadian album from The Weeknd (Beauty Behind the Madness). Drake‘s Views went #1 in 2016.

The best-selling album of all-time in the United Kingdom was not Michael Jackson’s Thriller (6th), rather 1981’s Greatest Hits by Queen. In second spot is 1992’s Gold (Greatest Hits) by Sweden’s ABBA. The Beatles are in at #3 and biggest studio album with 1967’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Adele’s 21 is 4th and Oasis’ What’s the Story Morning Glory 5th.

Canadian number one albums in the uk copy

Amanda Marshall Turns Twenty

amanda marshall

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Amanda Marshall’s debut, eponymous album, released October 17, 1995. The album spawned seven Top 20 hits and was awarded with diamond certification for selling one million copies in Canada. The album’s biggest hit was “Birmingham” which peaked at #3 and at #43 in the United States. “Beautiful Goodbye”, #5, and “Let It Rain”, #7, attracted some attention in Britain charting within the Top 80. A track listing with weekly peak RPM chart positions is below.

Amanda Marshall

1. Let It Rain, #7
2. Birmingham, #3
3. Fall From Grace, #11
4. Dark Horse, #5
5. Beautiful Goodbye, #5
6. Sitting On Top of the World, #5
7. Last Exit to Eden
8. Trust Me This Is Love, #18
9. Let’s Get Lost
10. Promises

amanda marshall diamond canada copy

Amanda’s husky vocals and earthy pop-rock style were compared to the works of Bryan Adams, Melissa Ethridge, and Sheryl Crowe. The album provided a nice complement to the more alternative rock vibes of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill released four months earlier. Songwriters on the Amanda Marshall album included some of Alannah Myles’ collaborators: Christopher Ward and David Tyson. The latter, a three-time JUNO winner, also produced the album. Canadian songwriters Dean McTaggart and Marc Jordan and the United States’ Kristen Hall lent a hand as well. The Canadian Encyclopedia writes:

“More than 2 million units were purchased worldwide, and it was certified gold in Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Australia. Elton John was a fan of the album, and his televised endorsement on Rosie O’Donnell’s show won Marshall valuable exposure in the US. Her songs were also included on a number of top soundtracks, including those for the television program Touched by an Angel, and the movies My Best Friend’s Wedding and Tin Cup.

amanda marshall gold aria copy

Amanda Marshall was born and raised in Toronto. She released two more studio albums after her debut which did well and contributed further to an impressive array of hit singles. Amanda released a greatest hits compilation in 2003. She never won a JUNO award but was nominated 11 times. Amanda Marshall’s “Beautiful Goodbye” was one of the eight tracks by Canadian artists in the RPM Top 10 of November 25, 1996, quite possibly the most CanCon Top 10 in domestic chart history.

25 Nov 1996 RPM Top Singles

The Canadian Music Blog strongly recommends this superb album as an essential addition to one’s music collection. Amanda Marshall is one of the finest studio albums ever to come out of Canada.  iTunes

Music’s Avro Arrow: Sunday Lost Love but Never Fefe Dobson

fefe dobson sunday love

Fefe Dobson’s second studio album Sunday Love, though available through U.S. iTunes in 2012 was not available in Canada until recently. It is a very important album, and it’s time to talk about it.

Dobson was on a roll when her debut self-titled punk album hit platinum sales and drew a pair of JUNO nominations. Her followup was set to do even better. Consider her collaborators: Joan Jett, Courtney Love, Cyndi Lauper, and Pharrell Williams among others. The album was to come out in September 2005 through Island Records. The two lead singles were not picked up by radio despite rave reviews and therefore did not chart. The album release was thus postponed and eventually cancelled.

2005 was a difficult year for music in general as it saw the transition to digital throwing the charts and the fate of CD singles into disarray. Singers from the Idol shows were getting the attention and jingles from commercials became the big hits.

After, and in part because of, its cancellation, Sunday Love garnered a respectable cult following. A number of its tracks were covered by other artists from Taiwan’s S.H.E., to American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, and Selena Gomez. Some of its songs were featured in films and television programs. Dobson was mature in that she simply moved on to the successful Bob Ezrin produced pop album Joy in 2010 which spawned three big hits.

The listener able to see through the media games of associating genres of music with types of artists and conveniently altering definitions of style names, will find Sunday Love a solid rock album. The writing is phenomenal and the production top notch. At times, Fefe’s vocals tickle flamboyant leanings which have resonated with some more than others. This slight camp though makes the ride more enjoyable, as the body-hugging energy and exciting musicianship flows engagingly through the 14-track disc. “Don’t Let It Go to Your Head” contains one of the best choruses of all-time. Sunday Love is so good that the only disappointment one feels when hearing it is the heart breaking at thoughts of its cancellation. This was another Avro Arrow.

Ready for release as iTunes and the digital revolution came online, the launch of Sunday Love misfired, the key missing link between obnoxious noughties punk and resolute modern rock. Now available, its placement in the timeline of sound rallies the scattered jigsaw pieces together and completes the landscape. Fefe Dobson’s Sunday Love is one of the best Canadian rock albums of the new millennium.  iTunes

Boy in the Box Turns 30

corey hart - boy in the box1

Besides a knack for songwriting and charming vocals, his cool, clean, boyish good looks and a brooding intensity enabled Montreal’s Corey Hart to work with some big names in the business, and it was not long before Aquarius Records offered him a recording contract. He was sent to Manchester, England to write for his debut 1983 album, First Offense. “Sunglasses at Night” reached #24 on the charts, and, given the quality of the album, awareness spread mainly by word of mouth.

Due to its success, Hart was under tremendous pressure for his followup release. He had his entire life to write his first album but only a couple of years for the second. The buzz generated by the debut meant that his sophomore work had to be as good if not better if he were to capitalize on the momentum and hit the big time. Another challenge for Hart was that the Canadian singles charts were at the time dominated by British acts: Simple Minds, Tears for Fears, Wham!, and Duran Duran. The Canadian media did an excellent job of building tremendous anticipation for Corey’s new music. Heavy promotion preceded the launch of single “Never Surrender” which heralded the release of Boy in the Box on June 14, 1985, exactly 30 years ago today.

Corey Hart

As stations across the country hyped the pending airing of “Never Surrender”, we all sat with our ears glued to the radio waiting. And then we heard it. Those opening keyboard riffs made the hair at the back of our necks bristle out, and we were completely floored. Number one smash “Never Surrender” was the biggest song of the entire year 1985 and won the Song of the Year JUNO. The album’s title-track broke into the Top 10, and “Everything In My Heart” hit #1. Album Boy in the Box became only the second Canadian album in history to attain diamond sales; it sold 1 million copies in Canada.

never surrender path to number one

The Canadian Music Blog has been in touch with Jacki Andre who recently contributed a celebratory article and trivia slideshow to the Huffington Post (see it here) and comments on some of the tracks from Boy in the Box with the following words:

Thirty years later, fans continue to hold on to the song [“Never Surrender”] for support during personal crises, such as chronic and mental illness, addiction, and grief. Hart describes hearing fans’ stories about the impact of the song on their lives as “the ultimate gift” for a songwriter. Hart has provided insight to some lyrics on the album. “Everything in my Heart” was written as a love letter to his fans; “Sunny Places – Shady People” is about apartheid in South Africa; and “Boy in the Box” was inspired by DJ Steve Anthony, who signed off with, “This is Steve Anthony, your boy in the box, on 98 Hit Radio CKGM [in Montreal].”

Corey Hart made us all very proud to be Canadian.

Jagged Little Pill Turns 20

alanis morissette - jagged little pill

Ottawa’s Alanis Morissette had a busy childhood. She wrote songs, entertained patients at hospitals, starred in You Can’t Do That On Television, released her first single “Fate Stay with Me” in 1987 when she was just 13, performed at the Tulip Festival, sung the national anthem at sporting events, attracted the attention of Leslie Howard of band One to One, recorded a demo, was signed by John Alexander at MCA, and her platinum debut album spawned three Top 40 hits as did her second.

Due to her success, Alexander contacted Paula Abdul agent Scott Welch to secure a stateside release for Alanis’ two albums. To make a long story short, Welch eventually suggested she go to Los Angeles and meet Michael Jackson songwriter-producer Glen Ballard. Ballard and his team were so impressed with her they signed her onto Madonna’s label Maverick Records under the Warner Music Group. Ballard and Morissette clicked almost immediately as a song-writing duo and recorded the alternative rock ripper Jagged Little Pill which was released on June 13, 1995.

Alanis Morissette

Single “You Oughta Know” was immediately picked up by a local radio station and was soon being played across the U.S. She performed the song at the MTV Awards in New York and on Saturday Night Live. “You Oughta Know” was released in Canada in early summer 1995. It scaled up to #20 then looked as if it was on its way out. But it began a second climb and eventually broke into the Top 10 peaking at #6. It won the Song of the Year award at the Junos. The second single appeared on the charts on October 9th. It broke into the Top 40 November 6th and began receiving extensive radio airplay. The following week it was at #25, the week after #5, and then it replaced Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” at #1. It was the 11th biggest song of the year and made the year-end chart the following year as well. And that song was “Hand in My Pocket”.

From there everything snowballed. The next three singles “Ironic”, “You Learn”, and “Head Over Feet” all topped the charts. In short, the album became the first Canadian release to spawn four number one hits. The year-end chart for 1996 had three of them in the Top 10, including the biggest song of the year, “You Learn”. “Ironic” was named song of the year at the Junos in 1997.

Alanis Morissette

Jagged Little Pill sold like nobody’s business. There was talk back in the day of record stores having trouble keeping copies in stock. It ended up hitting double diamond status in Canada for sales in excess of 2 million copies. It is estimated that Jagged Little Pill sold 33 million copies worldwide. It won the Album of the Year JUNO and album of the year Grammy in the States. Alanis went on tour for a year and a half which took her 252-date show to 28 countries.

The album was very influential. In the words of the JUNO Awards, Alanis “changed the face of the music industry for women, not only in Canada, but worldwide”. A number of modern recording artists have cited it as the reason they went into music. To name one: Katy Perry. This year, Canadian recording artist Alanis Morissette was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame. Today, we celebrate Jagged Little Pill’s 20th birthday.

A 30-Year Dream Becomes Reality For Susan Jacks

Susan Jacks - DreamVancouver’s The Poppy Family scored six Top 40 hits from 1969 to 1972. Saskatoon-born member Susan Jacks went solo after the group dissolved enjoying a few hit singles including “Anna-Marie” in 1976, from her 2nd album Dream. The album was kept from shop shelves by Goldfish Records’ Ray Pettinger, the former business associate of Susan’s husband Terry Jacks. Apparently, Pettinger used Susan’s funds to finance the buyout of Terry’s interest in the business, re-christening the label Casino Records. Susan won the lawsuit she filed against him but at the expense of Dream’s release and several years of career stagnation. Casino Records folded in 1978. Susan was signed by CBS records and resumed recording in 1980.

After 30 long years, album Dream has been remastered and is finally available for purchase on CD. Those around and into Canadian music in the mid-70s should regard this collectors’ item from the four-time JUNO nominee as a boon. The album can be ordered from Susan’s website here. You can also read more on the album from Bill Smith here. We have embedded a song sampler below.

Blast From Past Albums: Part 2 – 1995 and 1985

As we straighten our tuques in anticipation of 2015’s smashing Canadian albums, containing the best music this side of Antarctica, let’s take a moment to remember the great albums that slayed in past years. We have selected half a dozen jewels from 20 years ago and 30 years ago, featured below. Do you own any of these albums? If not, it’s time to grab one or two. Part 1 of this feature looked at works from 2010 and 2005 which you can find here.

Stellar Albums from 20 Years Ago – 1995

Selected 1995 Canadian Albums copy

People were buying CDs like hot cakes in 1995, and it was the female soloists who did best. Amanda Marshall’s self-titled debut hit diamond sales and spawned a number of Top 10 hits. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill became one of the best-selling albums of all-time globally – double diamond at home – and saw four of its tracks top the charts. It won the JUNO for album of the year. Pigeon d’argile by Kevin Parent was certified triple platinum, remarkable for a Franco work. Susan Aglukark was on par with Kevin sales wise. This Child blended Inuk folk, country, and popular music. Great Big Sea anchored itself as one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most successful bands with quadruple platinum Up. And of course 1995 wouldn’t have been complete without a second double diamond global ripper: Shania Twain’s classic country album The Woman In Me.

Stellar Albums from 30 Years Ago – 1985

Selected 1985 Canadian Albums copy

In 1985, we were cryin’ over … who? Probably not Platinum Blonde, one of our quintessential 80s bands. Alien Shores was a quadruple platinum charmer. Gino Vannelli did well in the transition from 70s to 80s with album Black Cars, as we learned that they really do look better in the shade. Corey Hart scored the second diamond Canadian album in history, and its “Never Surrender” became the biggest song of the year. It was no doubt difficult to slay if you were a female soloist in 1985 unless you were Francophone. Perhaps capturing the 80s sound better than anything else in any language was Ce soir l’amour est dans tes yeux by Martine St-Clair. The title track was even nominated for the Single of the Year JUNO and Martine for best female vocalist. Nominated for eight Felix Awards, the album won five! Rush continued its legacy with Power Windows. Finally, Strange Animal was the breakout album for male soloist Gowan.

Blast From Past Albums: Part 1 – 2010 and 2005

As we straighten our tuques in anticipation of 2015’s smashing Canadian albums, containing the best music this side of Antarctica, let’s take a moment to remember the great albums that slayed in past years. We have selected half a dozen jewels from five years ago and ten years ago, featured below. Do you own any of these albums? If not, it’s time to grab one or two. Part 2 of this feature looks at works from 1995 and 1985.

Stellar Albums from 5 Years Ago – 2010

Selected 2010 Canadian Albums copy

Marc Dupré’s masterpiece won the Félix Award for Pop/Rock album of the year cementing him as one of our top male soloists. Speaking of the latter, Justin Bieber’s first full-length album was the year’s biggest seller at triple platinum and won the JUNO Award for pop album of the year. The year 2010 belonged to Nikki Yanofsky in many ways. Single “I Believe” from album Nikki was used to promote the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and stands as one of the four best-selling CanCon digital singles of all time domestically. The album itself recently hit platinum. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs won awards all over the world including the album of the year JUNO at home. The excellent electro-rock album Tigerlily was somewhat overlooked perhaps due to Lillix losing the distinctiveness of its all-female lineup. We think the Evin sisters hit their stride on the album, with brilliant songwriting, and consider it one of the finest LPs of the year. Actress Alexz Johnson became an even better pop star than she portrayed in her roles on CTV, releasing an exquisite album both vocally and musically.

Stellar Albums from 10 Years Ago – 2005

Selected 2005 Canadian Albums copy

Yes, it’s hard to believe that a full decade has passed since the year that saw these fine works! The year’s top album was Nickelback’s All the Right Reasons, at 7x Platinum to date! Ariane Moffatt’s Le cœur dans la tête was named pop/rock album of the year at the ADISQ gala. And, believe it or not, 2005 was the year that saw Hedley release its debut album! The music the BC musicians are making now sounds quite different in style from that LP, showing just how skilled they are at adapting to changing trends. The album of the year JUNO went to Michael Bublé‘s It’s Time, which includes his beautiful composition “Home”. On ne change pas was Céline Dion’s first comprehensive Franco hits package which included three new songs. Finally, let’s hope nobody has forgotten about Saskatchewan Canadian Idol finalist Theresa Sokyrka who released the gorgeous JUNO-nominated album These Old Charms.