Natasha Zimbaro Drops Debut EP

From the city of Maple Ridge, which lies within Metro Vancouver, comes a country recording artist who recently dropped her debut EP, an eponymous one. The six-track disc follows the release of single “Rebound” last October. Her name is Natasha Zimbaro, and if her name or face seems familiar, that may be because she was a finalist in Simon Cowell’s X Factor UK in 2011. Moreover, she was one of three in pop group Prty H3ro who placed two singles in the Billboard Hot 100, “Life of the Party” and “Young & Shameless”. As a soloist, Natasha has decided to return to her country roots, the genre she embraced when she became a teenager.

Before we tell you how much we love this treat of an EP, let us state that the country music scene needs Natasha Zimbaro. One of the reasons for Shania Twain’s success was that she made the genre accessible to a broader audience by toning down the twang and making it fun-loving. She gave it some oomph (for lack of a better word). Natasha does that in spades. She has a fresh, youthful style and injects a wallop of energy into the genre. Picture Back to the Future III’s Doc Brown tossing some Presto logs into the locomotive boiler. That’s what Natasha does here. She elevates country music to a dynamic realm. She has a great voice and the music is fab. Hoping the very best for this brightest of shining stars.  iTunes

14 Canadians Who Debuted on the Hot 100 in 2016

The Billboard Canadian Hot 100, the definitive chart for measuring the relative success of songs from week to week, welcomed 14 Canadian artists for the first time in 2016. The chart, which combines measurements of digital purchases of tracks, radio airplay, and streaming data (the latter a recent addition), launched in June 2007 replacing the old, highly problematic Nielsen SoundScan charts which measured the sale of CD singles only. For one of the thousands upon thousands of Canadian artists to make an appearance on the chart, it is a very difficult task. Nevertheless, while the chart was dominated by all kinds of foreign artists and Canadian A-listers like Drake, Justin Bieber, and The Weeknd, 14 managed to climb in. Some may have lasted for only a week and some may have gotten in via a credited feature in a track, buy hey they did it, and it’s a huge accomplishment! Who are these 14 artists? Where are they from? What kind of music do they make? We intend in this post to put faces to the names. Here they are in alphabetical order. Watch for some of these slayers in 2017.

Bit Funk

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Now based in New York, this Halifax lad is a producer, remixer and DJ. He is making his mark on the contemporary club scene with his EDM wizardry. In late 2015, Bit Funk released his pop crossover single “Off the Ground”. It gained traction on streaming services, gaining 4 million on Spotify, and the MV did well on YouTube. Some mainstream radio stations picked it up, and it managed to squeak itself into the Hot 100.

Bobby Bazini

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This hot soul singer is known throughout the land. While scoring a pair of platinum albums and four JUNO nominations, a hit single was sure to come at some point. Voila! In 2016, “C’est La Vie” off his third album was picked up by radio, especially AC and Hot AC stations, and rocketed up to the top 20 at iTunes. It is Bazini’s first Hot 100 charting single. There will be many more to come.

Delaney Jane

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Delaney is from Toronto and began making music with Shaun Frank. They teamed up with international chart topping Canadian duo DVBBS in track “La La Land” which made the Hot 100. Delaney is working on her debut EP, and collaborations with other DJs are in store.

Jonathan Roy

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The star hockey player now has a star singer son. The Roys are awesome. Jonathan’s launch was helped by mentor Corey Hart, and his delicious single “Daniella Denmark” popped into the charts in February. He’s from the suburbs of Quebec City.

Kai

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One of the biggest songs of the year, “Never Be Like You” peaked at #21 and stayed on the chart for 28 weeks. The EDM track is from Australia’s Flume and features Toronto singer Kai. She had previously collaborated with Adventure Club, Diplo, Skrillex, and Childish Gambino. She also wrote the song “Sweet Talker” for Jessie J. But, of course, Kai’s big breakthrough came with the Flume track. It is now up for a Grammy Award.

Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen? Yes. Remember that the Canadian Hot 100 has been around only since mid-2007. Following his heartbreaking death, Leonard’s song “Hallelujah” became a hit at iTunes and undoubtedly received some radio spins. It debuted on the chart at #17 remaining for just the one week. The same week, “You Want It Darker” from his last studio album charted at #73. It is a nice way to cap off the Montrealer’s legacy.

Lucky Rose

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Vincent Carrier, a.k.a. Lucky Rose, is a DJ/producer from Quebec City who specializes in tropical pop. Lucky released his first official single “The Way You Want Me” featuring Yan Etchevary, and it was picked up by the Virgin radio group across Canada. It made the Hot 100 in February.

Michelle Treacy

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This youthful star from Ottawa is red hot. She was selected to perform with Lady Gaga and was quickly signed by Sony. Michelle released her debut single “Armageddon” which remained on the Hot 100 for several weeks. Its music video racked up 300,000 views by the end of the year. Keep your eyes on this singer!

PartyNextDoor

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Being the first one signed to Drake’s OVO Record Label doesn’t hurt when it comes to breaking out in the urban music market. This Mississaugan’s real name is Jahron Anthony Brathwaite. He made the chart a few times through the year including as a collaborator. His first charting single (which incidentally featured Drake) was “Come and See Me” which peaked at #73.

Ruth B

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The most successful newcomer in 2016 was Edmonton’s Ruth B who scored a triple platinum single for her delicate piano ballad “Lost Boy”. It was on the Hot 100 for 28 weeks peaking at #14. She may just be western Canada’s answer to Alessia Cara.

Shaun Frank

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Shaun is the Toronto based DJ/producer involved in the aforementioned Delaney Jane and DVBBS track “La La Land”. He has done work with the likes of Borgeous, Kiesza, Down with Webster, and The Chainsmokers.

Sleepy Tom

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Speaking of EDM crafters, Vancouver’s Sleepy Tom (Cam Tatham, born in Squamish, BC) teamed up with Diplo to score the charting single “Be Right There”. It garnered 160 million streams worldwide and went gold in Britain peaking at #8 on the official British charts! Sleepy has worked with Zeds Dead and Martin Solveig.

The Strumbellas

the-strumbellas

Another of the bigger successes of 2016 was Toronto roots leaning, JUNO award winning group The Strumbellas. “Spirits” peaked at #23 and went platinum. It also saw big success internationally. The photo above is the band being presented with a gold award by Germany.

Yan Etchevary

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Yan, from The Magdalen Islands, was featured in the aforementioned single “The Way You Want Me” by Lucky Rose. The song was included in Sony compilation album Just the Hits 2016.

Gelsea Mae Set For Big Things

gelsea-mae-need-you-nowIf ever there was a superstar in the making and one to watch for in 2017, Gelsea Mae is it. This multi-talent grew up on Vancouver Island studying classical piano at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and taught herself the guitar. Moving to Vancouver, she got into photography, and her work was scooped up by Cosmopolitan mag. Acting jobs came knocking. She landed roles in TV series Witches of East End and Rush. In 2017, she will star in thriller series The Arrangement. Gelsea’s feature film debut was in 2015’s Beeba Boys directed by Oscar nominee Deepa Mehta. In 2017, she will star in comedy The Fusion Generation.

Of course, we are most interested in Mae’s musical pursuits. A song of hers was featured in the movie All Things Valentine, and one of her covers attracted praises from Meghan Trainor. Now, Gelsea has teamed up with top producer Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Hedley, Tyler Shaw, Victoria Duffield) to create her official debut single “Need You Now” which has received radio spins across the nation. Gelsea Mae recently launched its beautiful neon-themed music video which we have embedded below along with links to her social network sites.  iTunes

 

The Katherines and Frederick Are Better Off Now

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Album To Bring You My Heart is set for release January 13, 2017. It will be the debut long play from Vancouver alt-pop female trio The Katherines, signed to 604 Records. Ahead of this highly anticipated disc, the group has launched beautiful track “Better Off Now” featuring Frederick as a single complete with a music video which we have embedded below. Frederick is the alias of Colin Janz, son of North Vancouver 80s pop icon Paul Janz. Frederick released an exceptionally brilliant alternative pop EP back in 2008 called Artisan Kane. The Katherines are Kate Kurdyak, Lauren Kurdyak, and Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher and work with musicians Liam McKeeWright (guitar), Mike Young (bass), and Johnny Andrews (drums).  iTunes

Let’s Give It Up for The Beaches

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Nielsen Music features Toronto’s The Beaches this week. The all-female rock band consists, according to the official biography, of “good girls gone great … their sassy, saw-toothed alt-rock songs recall … Metric and The Runaways and writhe, snarl and spit the kind of romantic defiance, youth rebellion and peer solidarity that makes these females such a formidable force for rock.” Single “Give It Up,” according to Nielsen, is bubbling under both the Modern Rock Airplay as well as the Emerging Artists charts. Members are sisters Jordan (bass) and Kylie (guitars) as well as Eliza (drums) and Leandra (keys). The group released a pair of independent post punk / new wave EPs and now has been signed by Island Records (UMG) with “Give It Up” being the band’s debut major label single. We embed the music video below, and you can find the song at iTunes.

The Black Moon Rises with Amaara

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New Canadian singer and dream pop specialist Amaara (Kaelen Amara Ohm), based in Toronto, is gearing up for release of an EP in early 2017, and she has launched her debut single “Black Moon” complete with a music video that stands as one of the year’s best. Filled with mystical themes and dark ambience, find Amaara near a misty forest joined by some real animals—horse, wolf dog, and owl—lightning, and a rising supermoon. The MV was shot in Alberta in June.  iTunes

Mylène Farmer

Mylene Farmer

Born: 1961, Pierrefonds, QC
Debut: 1984
Genres: New Wave, Pop

Achievements

• 6 Diamond albums (France)
• 15 Number One Hits (France)
• 45+ Top Ten Hits (France)
• Album Point de suture spawned 5 number one hits
• Number one hits in 4 consecutive decades
• Appearance in Guinness Book of World Records for best-selling French single of all-time, “Désenchantée”

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

1986: Cendres de lune

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• Hit Singles: “Libertine” (#10), “Tristana” (#7)

1988: Ainsi soit je…

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• Diamond
• Hit Singles: “Pourvu qu’elles soient douces” (#1), “Sans contrefaçon” (#2), “Sans logique” (#10), “Ainsi soit je…” (#12)

1991: L’Autre…

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• Diamond
• Hit Singles: “Désenchantée” (#1), “Regrets” (#3), “Je t’aime mélancolie” (#3), “Beyond My Control” (#8)

1995: Anamorphosée

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• Diamond
• Hit Singles: “XXL” (#1), “L’instant X” (#6), “California” (#7), “Rêver” (#7), “Comme j’ai mal” (#11)

1999: Innamoramento

innamoramento

• Diamond
• Hit Singles: “L’âme-stram-gram” (#2), “Innamoramento” (#3), “Souviens-toi du jour…” (#4), “Optimistique-moi” (#7), “Je te rends ton amour” (#10)

2005: Avant que l’ombre…

avant-que-lombre

• 2x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “F*** Them All” (#2), “Peut-être toi” (#3), “Q.I” (#7), “Redonne-moi” (#7), “L’amour n’est rien…” (#7)

2008: Point de suture

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• 3x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Dégénération” (#1), “Appelle mon numéro” (#1), “Si j’avais au moins…” (#1), “C’est dans l’air” (#1), “Sextonik” (#1)

2010: Bleu noir

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• Diamond
• Hit Singles: “Oui mais… non” (#1), “Bleu noir” (#1), “Lonely Lisa” (#1)

2012: Monkey Me

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• 3x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “À l’ombre” (#1), “Monkey Me” (#3), “Je te dis tout” (#3)

2015: Interstellaires

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• 3x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Stolen Car” (#1), “City Of Love” (#1), “Insondables” (#23)

Other Hit Singles

“Que mon cœur lâche” (1992, from Dance Remixes, #9), “La poupée qui fait non” (1997, from Live à Bercy, #6), “Dessine-moi un mouton” (2000, from Mylenium Tour, #6), “L’histoire d’une fée, c’est…” (2001, from Rugrats in Paris, #9), “Les mots” (2001, from Les Mots, #2), “C’est une belle journée” (2002, from Les Mots, #5), “Pardonne-moi” (2002, from Les Mots, #6), “Slipping Away (Crier la vie)” (2006, from Go – The Very Best of Moby, #1), “Avant que l’ombre… (Live)” (2006, from Avant que l’ombre… à Bercy, #10), “Déshabillez-moi (Live)” (2007, from Avant que l’ombre… à Bercy, #10), “Du temps” (2011, from 2001.2011, #4)

Note: All certifications and hit single peak chart positions above are for France.

Biography

Mylène Farmer (born Mylène Jeanne Gautier) is a progressive French-Canadian recording artist and one of the most successful Francophone singer songwriters of all time. She has scored six diamond albums in France, 15 chart-topping singles, and 47 top ten hits. Her album Point de suture accomplished the same feat in France that Michael Jackson’s Bad did in the United States spawning five number one singles. Farmer has collaborated with a number of global A-listers including the United States’ Moby and United Kingdom’s Sting and Seal. She has worked with French director Luc Besson (Nikita, Leon the Professional, The Fifth Element) on music videos. She is also responsible for launching the career of French dance-pop sensation Alizée.

Mylène was born in the greater Montreal area to French parents and grew up in the Paris suburbs from the age of eight. Because of jus soli birthright citizenship recognized in Canadian law, as in most American countries, Mylène Farmer was awarded Canadian citizenship at birth.

Farmer was fascinated by horse racing in her teens and became a qualified equestrian instructor. She ended up leaving the stables to pursue an acting career by enrolling at a drama school. She changed her surname from Gautier to Farmer in tribute to her idol, Hollywood actress Frances Farmer and was able to earn a living as a model acting in television commercials. In 1984, Mylène answered a newspaper ad seeking actors from film student Laurent Boutonnat. The two became friends and forged a creative partnership which included writing and producing music for film progressing to the making of music videos. Farmer managed to attract attention with a series of risqué MVs.

Farmer’s first two singles released gained minor success, but she was determined to release an album. Her first studio LP, Cendres de lune, came out in 1986. Boutonnat wrote the music and directed the cinematic-style videos while Farmer penned the lyrics and sang. Singles “Libertine” and “Tristana” cracked the Top 10 in France. Album Ainsi soit je… followed in 1988 and catapulted Mylène Farmer to superstardom. The album went diamond, was the best-selling LP from a female artist in France through the 1980s, and spawned her first number one hit, “Pourvu qu’elles soient douces”.

Facing the pressure of a followup blockbuster in the early 90s, Farmer succeeded, rising beyond superstardom to become iconic. This was achieved with album L’Autre and the phenomenon that was single “Désenchantée” which topped the charts for 9 weeks entering the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling French single of all-time worldwide.

Around this time, a deranged fan entered the Polydor Records headquarters in Paris, shot the receptionist, and held employees at gunpoint demanding to talk to Farmer. Following this, Mylène left the country to live in Los Angeles for a few weeks. She released a remix album with new song “Que mon cœur lâche”, the MV of which was directed by Luc Besson. She returned to the U.S. for a break again after the debut feature film from Boutonnat, Giorgino, in which she starred, was a commercial disappointment. It was in California where Farmer began work on 1995 album Anamorphosée. This was the first album for which Farmer wrote music. Pumped up by electric rock guitars, single “XXL” was her first song to debut on the French charts at #1.

From then on, Mylène Farmer began to tour extensively and released live albums which sold exceptionally well. She closed out the 90s with her fourth consecutive diamond studio album Innamoramento and in 2001 contributed the song “L’histoire d’une fée, c’est…” to the film Rugrats in Paris.

In the new millennum, Farmer and Boutonnat put together music which they felt more appropriate for a younger star and found Alizée of Corsica. They wrote and produced Alizée’s albums Gourmandises and Mes courants électriques. Alizée’s hit song “Moi… Lolita” topped the charts, and she became the most successful French singer of 2001. For her own hits, Farmer released a compilation double disc album Les Mots that year, another diamond seller for her.

Mylène Farmer released Avant que l’ombre… in 2005. The following year, she collaborated for the first time with electronic musician Moby who invited her to record a duet with him in song “Slipping Away”. She also worked on Luc Besson’s animated feature film Arthur and the Minimoys, lending her voice to Selenia, the character voiced by Madonna in the international version.

Album Point de suture was released in 2008 and spawned five #1 singles. Bleu Noir, co-produced by Moby, followed in 2010. With the continued success of albums and singles, Mylène Farmer at this point now had number one singles in four consecutive decades. Her ninth and tenth studio albums are Monkey Me in 2012 and Interstellaires in 2015. The latter features a collaboration with Sting (The Police).

Rise Up with Liz Loughrey

liz-loughrey-rise-up-2016Canadian singer Liz Loughrey recently released her fourth digital single “Rise Up”. Though bearing the same title as The Parachute Club hit, it is an original piece. “Rise Up” is the heralding track of the Torontonian soul-pop marvel’s upcoming EP and burbles along nicely through reggae tinged territory. The singer hopes the song will inspire us all to rise up for positive change in our local communities. Liz is currently visiting schools across Canada to talk to youth about doing so. She also hopes people will share stories on social media about making a difference under hashtag #RiseUpMovement. The “Rise Up” song was written and produced in Miami, USA by Loughrey, Adrian X (The Weeknd, Drake, Kylie Minogue), and Supa Dups (Drake, Party Next Door, Mary J Blige).  iTunes

Michelle Treacy: From Lady Gaga Duet to Debut Single

michelle treacy - armageddonOur radar screen picked up a new major blip, a very bright one! We are excited to tell you about Michelle Treacy. She’s a 20-year-old who hails from the nation’s capital. In 2014, Michelle, attending Lady Gaga’s concert at Montreal’s Bell Centre, was brought onstage to sing a duet with her. Her brother filmed the scene and had to apologize for the shaky recording because he was bawling the whole time. Michelle is now signed to major label Sony Music and working on her debut album. Treacy’s debut single “Armageddon” is out. It was produced by Canadian whizzes Todd Clark and Steve Kozmeniuk (Phillip Phillips, Kendrick Lamar). The song is currently getting added to radio and at #47 on Nielsen BDS. The national broadcaster featured Michelle in an article July 11.  We have embedded the official audio of “Armageddon” below. You want talent? You’ve got it!  iTunes

Three New Singers to Brighten Up Your Summer

3 new singers

Avery Raquel

Teen prodigy Avery Raquel is a big reason why Canada is a world leader of jazz music. One of the cool things about the genre is that it doesn’t matter how old you are; singers and musicians of all ages, from junior to senior, are welcome in the spotlight. Avery released an astonishingly good vocal jazz album of covers in early 2016 called Life Lessons which matches her singing talent with very professional and gorgeous arrangements. We embed a video of performance snippets below. You can check out her album on iTunes.

Rosemary Fairweather

Little is known about this independent artist who has thus far released three singles in the underground depths. We do know that she is from Toronto and is getting started on social media with her website in the early stages of development. Her most recent single “Moonlight” is a breathtaking electronic pop song of dreamy cloud surfing. We embed the SoundCloud below. Find a copy of the song on iTunes.

Vanessa Piunno

This Montreal-based teenage singer was selected to be the voice of the latest song from popular DJ MC Mario. While Mario has sold 3.5 million records, Vanessa is at the cusp of stardom. Having already appeared in commercials for Canadian Tire and in a music video from Snow Patrol (!), Vanessa takes the mic in “Dreamers” which is primed to become the anthem of summer 2016. Have a listen below and find the track on iTunes.

A Secret Canadian Superstar Named Gina Choi

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Canadian recording artists based abroad tend to get disregarded by domestic media unless the foreign country in question is the United States. If a Canadian artist gets snatched up by a foreign record label and relocates to a country like the UK, Hong Kong, Germany, South Korea, what have you, he tends to remain oblivious to the Canadian populace. Things become especially obscure when that artist records music in an Allophone tongue. Consider the scenario that a Canadian singer fluent in both English and Italian gets offered a generous contract by an Italian label, relocates to Italy, records primarily in Italian, and becomes a huge superstar in Italy. Will the Canadian media bring this to the attention of the Canadian public? Aside from maybe a little piece in the back pages of a newspaper or two, generally not.

We have featured a number of these types of artists in Canadian Music Blog, and it is time for another. One of the biggest superstars born and raised in Canada that most of you will have never heard of is Gina Choi who records under the name G.NA.

Gina Choi was born in Edmonton and graduated from Fraser Heights Secondary School in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. She was signed by Good Entertainment under Korea’s CJ Group and was to lead girl group Five Girls. However, the group disbanded prior to its scheduled debut in 2007 due to the label’s financial troubles. Choi found herself stranded in Korea trying to break into the music industry. She became a backup singer for K-pop superstar Hyuna. Despite being of Korean descent, she had a hard time with culture shock, having grown up in Canada.

In an English interview in Singapore, G.NA stated that, in Canadian culture, if an elder person asks you to do something, you can ask why or just say no. In Korea however, this is considered taboo. She also said certain body language and gestures meant different things, and she had to relearn the way she motioned her hands.

At long last, G.NA was picked up by Cube Entertainment and experienced a huge breakout success as a soloist, not only in South Korea but a number of other countries. Her EPs and songs like “Top Girl”, “2Hot”, and “Black & White” rocketed up the charts. According to one source, the latter single reached #1 in Korea selling over 2.5 million copies there.

Alas, at this writing, G.NA is at a new crossroads. On March 1, 2016, she announced that she had chosen not to renew her contract with Cube and left the label under good terms. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she finds a suitable new home and continues slaying in the K-pop realm or perhaps a switch to maple pop? We have embedded below G.NA’s MV for 2011 smash “Black & White” which has 12 million views on YouTube.

Top 10 Female Soloists of 2015

2015 may have been a male heavy year in terms of media coverage, music sales, radio spins, and 2016 JUNO nominations, but these ten women were absolute fire, and we love them. Based on the success of albums and singles on the Canadian charts, here are the Top 10 female soloists of 2015.

#10. Mia Martina

Mia Martina

While “Danse” was her big hit of 2014 (and gold-certified), the New Brunswick superstar who launched her career from the nation’s capital, released her second album, a self-titled affair, and single “Beast” which clawed itself into the Top 40. She also gave the track a spectacular performance at the Much Music Video Awards. Mia has been nominated for 3 JUNO Awards in the past though none this year.

#9. Jann Arden

Jann Arden

It’s pretty daunting to launch a Christmas album after Michael Bublé’s juggernaut, but Calgary’s Jann Arden did, and it was so good it impressed the likes of Rod Stewart. The album reached the Top 5 on the Billboard charts, received gold certification for sales of 40,000 units, and got her a JUNO nomination for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year.

#8. Ria Mae

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Hailing from Halifax, Ria Mae’s “Clothes Off” became a sizable hit, reaching #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually going gold. It is nominated for Single of the Year at the JUNOs. Hopefully an album will appear in 2016.

#7. Brigitte Boisjoli

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A remarkable tribute album of Patsy Cline numbers, this native of Drummondville, QC has not yet been nominated for a JUNO but has won a number of other awards and accolades. The album reached #2 on the Billboard charts and struck gold.

#6. Jocelyn Alice

Jocelyn Alics

Calgary’s Jocelyn Alice hit gold with “Jackpot”. It was the 80th biggest song of the year. Jocelyn put the release of an album on hold due to the success of the single, and many resulting approaches from bigger record labels. Now that she has inked a deal, an LP should appear in 2016.

#5. Carly Rae Jepsen

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Carly released her critically acclaimed album Emotion. It did fairly well on the charts reaching #8. The album also spawned gold single “I Really Like You” (88th of the year). The song could have done better had it received stronger radio support. Carly is nominated only for JUNO Fan Choice this year. She won 3 awards in 2013.

#4. Ariane Moffatt

Ariane Moffatt

Ariane’s song “Debout” was 43rd of the year at CKOI which ranks both Anglo and Franco and both Canadian and international hits. Her album 22h22 made it to #4 on the weekly Billboard charts. It won Best Pop album at the ADISQ Felix Awards in Quebec. The album is nominated for Francophone Album of the Year at the JUNOs. Ariane won a JUNO in the same category in 2009.

#3. Cœur de pirate

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Beatrice Martin’s “Carry On” was the Billboard Hot 100 charting single (her first) from album Roses. The native of Outremont, QC released a Franco version of the song called “Oublie-Moi”. The bilingual album was the second most successful from a Canadian female at 29th of the year (Billboard). It peaked on the weekly charts at #2 and went gold. Coeur de Pirate is nominated for 2 JUNOs this year: Songwriter of the Year and JUNO Fan Choice.

#2. Diana Krall

Diana Krall

Diana’s gold-certified album Wallflower was the most successful album of the year from a Canadian female soloist. It is nominated for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year at the JUNOs. Diana is originally from Nanaimo, BC.

Honourable Mentions

Before we reveal the number one female soloist, here are a few honourable mentions: Grimes (critically acclaimed #16 album), Jess Moskaluke (Billboard Hot 100), Shania Twain (Billboard Top 10 album), Andee (Billboard Hot 100), Ash Koley (Billboard Hot 100), Avril Lavigne (Billboard Hot 100), Alyssa Reid (Billboard Hot 100), Charlie (Billboard Hot 100), Marie-Pierre Arthur (Felix Award winner), Bia (Felix Award winner), Jorane (Felix Award winner), Janina Fialkowska (Felix Award winner).

#1. Alessia Cara

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From Brampton, Ontario, this Italian Canadian teen star had the biggest and only platinum recording of the year from a home-grown female soloist. “Here”, the anti-party anthem, was a huge success internationally as well and brought the singer to perform on high-profile televised chat shows, not to mention at the last show on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour. At 60th of the year overall, the song has given Alessia four JUNO nominations, and she was the first confirmed performer at the gala.

Shane Harte: Teen Star On the Rise

shane harte - left standing“Left Standing” from Brampton, Ontario, 19-year-old Shane Harte is gaining traction at radio. The single was released back in November 2015 through Cardinal Point Music but is finally seeing the light of the airwaves. Shane’s May 2015 song “Let You Know” garnered 100k plus YouTube views. In addition to a singer and songwriter, this talented teen has had roles in TV series Lost & Found Music Studios, The Next Step, and Good Witch. In 2013, Harte was one of the youth choir singers in Classified and David Myles’ quadruple platinum single “Inner Ninja”. We have embedded the “Left Standing” MV below.  iTunes

Shane Harte:     Facebook     Twitter     Website

Maple Blazers of 2015

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.

Alessia Cara

alessia cara squareBrampton, 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.

Francesco Yates

francesco yates squareDue 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.

Jess Moskaluke

Jess Moskaluke1From 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 twice, 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”.

Shawn Hook

shawn hook squareA 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.

The Weeknd

the weekndThe 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.

Yoan

yoan squareWinner 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.

More…

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”.

Caveboy’s Debut EP

caveboy

caveboyMichelle, Isabelle, and Lana are marvellous Montreal female trio Caveboy (formerly Diamond Bones), creators of superb synthrock songs. Self-titled, six-track debut EP has hit the shops. Caveboy includes some dreamy, shoegazing, and funky grooves that add extra gusto to the already dark, dense, addictive sound. The EP was produced by Patrick Krief, guitarist of The Dears, and mixed by Jace Lasek, of Besnard Lakes. Closing track “Muscle Memory” is not a cover of the LIGHTS song but an instrumental spaceflight trip that caps off a great disc.  iTunes