We don’t know if Alice Merton, bülow, and Kris Wu are Canadian citizens, but a number of Canadian artists and pseudo-Canadian artists leapt out of obscurity to make their mark whether on the charts or awards shows. Below is a list of 10 such notables in alphabetical order. We give a pair of honourable mentions to the following for their success on the album chart: pianist Alexandra Streliski whose Inscape became her first Top 10 album and Your Favorite Enemies member Alex Henry Foster whose debut solo disc Memories Don’t Die reached #6. A further pair of slayers involved singer Anders who teamed up with Loud Luxury on followup charting single “Love No More” and EDM whiz Dzeko who joined Tiesto on Top 10 smash “Jackie Chan”.
Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine
Duo Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine from Ottawa were participants in CTV talent search show The Launch which was responsible for six new singles from half a dozen aspiring artists. “Ain’t Easy” from the pair, shaped by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, was the most successful making the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching platinum sales. EW x JF did not stop there releasing followup number “Better Off” which also made the Hot 100. Elijah’s knack for electropop production and Jamie’s soulful singing proved a successful combination.
Glam rock specialist Hubert Lenoir provided fodder for music critic giddiness this year. His debut concept album Darlène released in early February 2018 may not have ripped up the album charts but it was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize. Later in the year, Lenoir won four Félix awards: critically acclaimed album of the year, pop album of the year, single of the year (“Fille de personne II”), and best new artist.
Jeremy Dutcher was awarded the $50,000 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, a work recorded in his First Nations language of Wolastoq. The disc was made following a research project on archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in an attempt to preserve the music, culture, and language of his people. He sings in his native tongue over classical music compositions.
Growing up on a farm in Ontario, country gent Jade Eagleson scored his first hit in 2018, “Got Your Name On It” which reached #90 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 at country radio. Jade initially played gigs to earn extra money to save the farm. He was invited to perform at a country music festival where he dazzled the audience. Eagleson was eventually signed to Universal Music releasing his debut EP in October. He is definitely a name to watch.
Rising Canadian star Kelly Yu scored a huge Mandopop hit this year, theme song for Chinese romcom feature film The Ex-File 3: The Return of the Exes. The song bears the title “Tĭ Miàn” (Decent). An audio of it at Youtube has surpassed Vevo certification levels of 100 million. From Vancouver, Kelly attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She is such an accomplished guitarist that the legend who is Peter Frampton invited her to perform on stage with him in concert.
“No Sad, No Bad” is the first charting single from Filipino-Bajan rapper Killy, reaching #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. His real name is Khalil Tatem. Two previous singles, though not charting, were certified gold by Music Canada in 2018: “Distance” and “Killamonjaro”. At the age of 8, Killy moved from Toronto to Victoria where he attended school. In his late teens he relocated back to Toronto to begin his career in rap music.
Loud, alias of Simon Cliche Trudeau, is a rapper who won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize in this year for his piece”56K”. His stage name comes from his former association with band Loud Lary Ajust. Around for several years, it failed to place a hit on the Hot 100. With his going solo, Loud made it to #94 with Franco tune ” Toutes les femmes savent danser”. Loud also collaborated with Cœur de pirate on the track “Dans la nuit” from her 2018 album En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé. Loud’s debut solo album Une année record was longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and won rap album of the year at the ADISQ gala. He also won the Félix trophy for the Quebec Artist with the Most Distinction Outside the Province.
Duo Andrew Fedyk and Joe Depace, under moniker Loud Luxury was easily the biggest success story of 2018. Gaining recognition for remixing Martin Garrix’s single “Scared to Be Lonely”, Loud Luxury released the EDM song “Body” featuring Brando. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified 7x platinum by year-end. It was a major success story across Europe, including a #4 placement on the British charts, and Australia where it reached #7. Followup single “Love No More” featuring Canadian singer Anders also charted.
Based in Toronto, trio New City scored its first charting single this year, dance-pop number “Getting Closer” (#73). The band describes its vision as “We now live in a playlist culture. For listeners today, musical genres and divisions are breaking down, and songs live or die on their own merits—no longer dependent on which category they’re placed in. Toronto-based trio NEW CITY is a new band with a new sound for this new moment.”
Montreal-based Jean-François Ruel, a.k.a. Yes McCan, left alternative rap group Dead Obies for a solo career. He scored his first charting single in 2018: Désirée (#96). It features the talents of Cape Tula and Yen Dough) and is the final track on his 2018 album, Oui. The official YouTube audio for the track has racked up nearly 1.5 million listens (at this writing).