Parliament Hill, Ottawa: New Year’s Eve celebrations ploughed through a blizzard. Nova Scotian innovative electro hip hop duo Radio Radio, Albertan country heart-lassoer Brett Kissel, and British Columbian global pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen performed their hits on the nation’s center stage while performances from cities across the country were broadcast through the hosting duties of Newfoundland comedian Rick Mercer. Barbecues provided pockets of warmth while 10 to 15 cm of snow was deposited on the ground by gusting winds. In attendance was Canada’s athletic hero of 2016, 16-year-old Rio quadruple swimming medalist Penny Oleksiak. Security was tight and bags were searched. Rick Mercer’s toenail clippers were confiscated while tonnes of explosive pyrotechnics were piled up on a barge. Streets were closed and snowploughs were busy. When the toll of midnight hit the capital, candle bearing, tuque-clad enthusiasts huddled together and fireworks lit up the night sky over the Peace Tower ushering in Canada’s sesquicentennial year. A few photos below.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s B Gets an A From Idolator
U.S.-based music blog Idolator published its list, The 10 Best EPs of 2016. Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion: Side B is ranked #1. Editor Carl Williott states, “Liking Carly Rae Jepsen post-‘Call Me Maybe’ is a little like being a teen and wondering why your favourite band isn’t more popular. You wish they’d get the arena-filling crowds they deserve, but then you get a little older and think, ‘Ya know what, I’m glad it’s my little secret. I don’t want them to be pressured to pander to the taste-blind masses.’ Granted, Jepsen is famous, but she still feels like a pop secret. And so a year after releasing what was arguably 2015’s best pop album, she puts out throwaways from that project and the results are nearly as exhilarating — and even more ignored by the masses.”
Shawn Mendes to Play the 2017 JUNO Awards
Shawn Mendes may not have picked up any Grammy nominations but he is set to rock the JUNO stage for the third year in a row. CARAS recently confirmed him to play at the gala in Ottawa, April 2, 2017. He is the first confirmed performer. The Pickering, Ontario native made his Saturday Night Live debut recently with host Emma Stone, performing two tracks.
Jess Moskaluke vs. The Hacker
Country superstar Jess Moskaluke was not impressed nor her fans when hackers broke into and took over her Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. They changed her Twitter handle and blocked all her followers. Team Moskaluke and the RCMP were on the case and managed to regain control. The downside is that 20,000 former Twitter followers had to be unblocked and fans must re-follow her.
iTunes Canada Picks and Stats for the Year
iTunes Canada has uncovered the best-selling music of 2016 as well as staff picks for the best works. Drake’s “One Dance” was the best-selling track of the year on the digital platform. It is also the staff’s favourite Anglo tune of 2016. Justin Bieber had the second most downloaded song from a Canadian artist; “Love Yourself” was 5th overall. iTunes staff chose “Les échardes” by Charlotte Cardin as the best Franco song of the year.
In terms of digital albums downloaded from iTunes, Drake’s Views was #1 and Justin Bieber’s Purpose (released in 2015) #2. iTunes staff picked Fred Fortin’s Ultramarr as the best Franco album. They sided with the Polaris group in favouring Kaytranada’s 99.9% as the best Anglo album.
The Canadian Music Blog as usual will be publishing lists of its picks for the best albums, EPs, songs, and music videos of 2016 later this month. Also to be unveiled later are the year-end Billboard Canada charts which we will put up on the site.
Courage My Love Puts the Stereo in Synesthesia
JUNO nominated Kitchener pop trio Courage My Love will be releasing debut LP Synesthesia next year under Warner Music, and single “Stereo” is, according to Nielsen Music, bubbling under the CHR airplay chart.
Michael Bublé Is Nobody but Platinum
Nobody but Me, the latest studio album from Michael Bublé has been certified platinum by Music Canada’s Gold and Platinum program for 80,000 units sold. Other 2016 Canadian albums with certifications thus far are La Voix IV (Various Artists) platinum, Views by Drake platinum, Man Machine Poem by The Tragically Hip gold, Encore un soir by Céline Dion double platinum, and You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen gold.
New Music Video by Catherine Major
Adult contemporary ace Catherine Major has released a music video of track “Nos délicats” from her popular 2015 album La maison du monde which we embed below.
Parliament Hill will be ringing in the new year with class including a Peace Tower carillon concert and appearances by Olympic athletes. British Columbian multiple JUNO winner and multiplatinum sweetheart Carly Rae Jepsen will be headlining the New Year’s Eve bash as Canada heads into 2017 to celebrate its 150th birthday (sesquicentennial—remember that word). The December 31 party promises to fill the sky with a whole lot of fireworks. The Department of Heritage announced today that festivities will kick off at 7 p.m. local time. Events are set to rock the capital from three vantage points – Parliament Hill, the Alexandra Bridge, and Nepean Point. Everyone’s favourite hip hop crew Radio Radio is set to play at 9 p.m. followed by Albertan hot country star Brett Kissel at 10 p.m. Carly Ray Jepsen will close the night with a bang. A number of concerts and events in cities across the country are expected as well.
Saturday Night Live (often abbreviated SNL) is a live television sketch comedy and variety show based in New York City. The show was created by Canadian Lorne Michaels. SNL has been running since October 11, 1975, the first episode being hosted by comedian George Carlin with musical guests Billy Preston and Janis Ian. Since then, each episode has been hosted by a celebrity guest, who performs in skits along with the regular cast, and has featured performances by a guest recording artist. The sketches often parody contemporary entertainment, culture, and politics. Lorne has helped ensure that many Canadian entertainers have been part of the show whether in terms of regular cast members, hosts, or musical guests. The first notable Canadian recording artist featured was Anne Murray who performed on January 10, 1976. Others have included Gordon Lightfoot, The Band/Robbie Robertson, The McGarrigle Sisters, Bruce Cockburn, Loverboy, Bryan Adams, Cowboy Junkies, Neil Young, k.d. lang, Crash Test Dummies, The Tragically Hip, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne, Feist, Michael Bublé, Justin Bieber, Arcade Fire, Drake, Carly Rae Jepsen, and The Weeknd.
We can now add one more name to that list. On December 3, 2016, from the most populated city in what has quickly become the Disunited States of America, a Canadian singer-songwriter will be joining host Emma Stone to give us something to smile about. His name is Shawn Mendes.
To get you pumped for the show, below we have embedded three of the more popular segments involving Canadians: find Kiefer Sutherland, Mike Myers, and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Dallas Smith’s Autograph Inked at the Top
Dallas Smith’s hit single “Autograph” has hit #1 on the Country Airplay chart. It is the British Columbian’s second chart-topping song since “Wastin’ Gas” crowned country in January 2015. “Autograph” is the first #1 for a Canadian country artist since Brett Kissel’s “Airwaves” in September 2015. Dallas is the first Canadian Country artist to score multiple number one songs since Dean Brody picked up his second summit smasher in 2013.
C’est La Vingt
It is remarkable that Canadian soul singer Bobby Bazini has scored two platinum albums and four JUNO nominations without landing a hit single. Then again, that may be due his style not fitting into a radio climate ruled by EDM bangers, acoustic guitar ditties, warbled R&B, and ranting rap. As we have seen throughout the years, however, when an irresistibly delicious song comes out, the gate keepers succumb to its charms. Bobby Bazini’s “C’est La Vie”, not yet significantly airing on CHR radio, has made the Top 20 on AC and is threatening to on Hot AC. What is more eyebrow-raising is that it has vaulted itself up to #20 on iTunes. We will keep our eyes on its progress.
Red and Blue Angels
Artistic pop specialist Jane Siberry of Guelph, ON will be releasing new album Angels Bend Closer on Friday (November 18, 2016). Jane is best known for “One More Colour” a Top 40 hit in 1985. She was one of the artists who participated in the “Tears Are Not Enough”, Northern Lights project that same year.
Canadian EDM duo Adventure Club is set to release one of the slickest albums of 2016: Red // Blue. Due out on December 2, it will be the two-time JUNO nominee’s first full-length album. Adventure Club, from Montreal, scored Top 40 hit “Wonder” in 2014.
The Biebs’ Swiss Army Night
Justin Bieber will be performing at the American Music Awards, but not from Trumpland, rather from Schneider-Ammann territory. Yes, The Biebs will perform from his Purpose tour in Zurich, Switzerland, marking his sixth time performing at the AMAs. Two other Canadians will be performing at the gala on Sunday (November 20, 2016), namely Shawn Mendes and The Weeknd. Maple leaf artists are nominated for 23+ awards at the fan-voted show.
In a recent interview, Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun was asked what he anticipates for Justin with respect to the Grammy Awards. Scooter made the following reply:
My point of view on Justin’s album is very simple: It deserves all the accolades, and the reason is as follows: He was hated. There’s not a voter out there who was voting for Justin Bieber. Adele is phenomenal, but we all love Adele. Her latest album had 900k pre-orders before we even heard a song. It’s sacrilegious to say anything bad about Beyoncé; we love her. People didn’t love Justin Bieber. They trashed-talked him, despised him. Big executives who are supposed to be on his team told me his career was over. And his album changed all that, to the point where he’s had more number ones on his album than any of the other people we’re talking about, and sold more copies than anyone ever dreamed this album would do.
I think that when we’re judging on the Grammys, we’re supposed to judge based on the music. If we do, this album is undeniable because it made us love Justin Bieber again—a feat that everyone thought was impossible. People told me it’s impossible to make a teenage act that’s hated become an adult. Justin Bieber is at the height of his career; he’s bigger than he was before, based on Purpose, and I hope that people recognize that, put their feelings about him aside and judge him based on the music. I think everyone can agree this was a great album and it deserves the appreciation.
Bryan Adams bumped into Hollywood actress Julia Roberts on Monday (November 14, 2016) at the memorial for director Garry Marshall held in Los Angeles, USA. He shared this photo.
Ruth B Is In My Dreams
Alessia Cara may be the only female Canadian soloist receiving significant radio support these days, but Ruth B is attempting to squash the tokenism. Ruth who hails from the northern metropolis of Edmonton launched her career via the Shawn Mendes route of now defunct video platform Vine. Her 2015 single “Lost Boy” became a hit both domestically and internationally, now certified in Canada at triple platinum. She is following up with “In My Dreams” which heralds her debut full-length album. The track was produced by Joel Little who has worked with Ellie Goulding, Lorde, and Sam Smith. The song was featured in an episode of hit ABC series Once Upon a Time. We embed the lyric video below which in five days is well over 100k views.
Connections with the Greco muse completed long ago,
I strum my strings. I grind my voice and tug it very low.
Umbrellas propped on St. Laurent to shield the drops of clay,
The silver coating on the clouds completely worn away.
A case of gloom is opened wide. My tears begin to show.
The grip complete around my pen, the verses start to flow.
Completed is my choosing of a suit of dusty grey.
My breakfast at the bagel shop’s completed for the day.
I choose a crater on the moon
In which to take a seat.
The darkened stars, the mute guitars,
My art is now complete.
EMAs & AMAs Mendes Performance Weeknd
The European Music Awards gala is set to go down November 6, and, as is usually the case, it has more to do with northern American artists than European ones. Both The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes will be performing at the spectacle and are two of five Canadians nominated for awards, the others being Alessia Cara, Drake, and Justin Bieber. The Biebs and Beyoncé lead with five nominations each. Four of the five artists up for Best Male are Canadian. The EMAs are taking place in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes will also be performing at the American Music Awards on November 20th. Canadian artists are nominated for 23+ awards.
Jess Moskaluke Strikes Platinum
Canadian country superstar Jess Moskaluke, winner of CCMA Female Artist of the Year three years in a row, has another huge accomplishment to add to her growing honours. The Saskatchewan singer is now a platinum recording artist, thanks to her single “Cheap Wine & Cigarettes”. They are very proud of her in her home province as a number of media articles there are celebrating the fact that she is the only female country soloist in the history of the province to accomplish this.
Leonard Cohen: You Want It Golder
Leonard Cohen’s recent album You Want It Darker has gone gold. It is only the 5th Canadian artist album of 2016 to receive gold/platinum certification, the others being various artists’ compilation La Voix IV (platinum), Drake’s Views (platinum), The Tragically Hip’s Man, Machine, Poem (gold), and Céline Dion’s Encore un soir (double platinum).
Michael Bublé’s Son Diagnosed with Cancer
As many of you have heard, it has been reported that Michael Bublé’s 3-year-old son Noah has been diagnosed with cancer. It has not been stated what kind. They initially thought he had a case of the mumps. Devastated by this, both Michael and his Argentinian celebrity wife Luisana Lopilato say that they are putting their careers on hold while Noah receives medical treatment in the U.S. It is unknown at this point whether or not Bublé will keep his engagements to host The JUNO Awards and the UK’s Brit Awards next year.
Some big names are set to release new albums to close out the year. These include Bobby Bazini, Dragonette, Alex Nevsky, and Chocolat November 11; High Valley and Protest the Hero November 18; The Weeknd November 25; and Neil Young December 9.
Saturday Night with Klô Pelgag
We leave you with the new health care themed music video for Klô Pelgag’s “Samedi soir à la violence” off her recently released third studio album L’étoile thoracique.
Canada has The JUNO Awards, the United States has The Grammy Awards, and the United Kingdom has … The BRIT Awards. Both the JUNOs and Grammys predate the launch of the British awards gala. Like the JUNOs, the BRITs award home-grown music but have a couple of international categories as well. Unlike the JUNOs, the BRITs often have international performers. We would argue that, as the world’s third largest music industry/market, the UK can afford to do this, while the JUNOs are better off sticking to Canadian performances only, as Canada, ranks 7th.
The BRIT Awards have made a stunning announcement regarding the 2017 gala which will take place at London, UK’s 20,000 seat O2 Arena.
The host of the show will be a Canadian entertainer!
And his name is … Michael Bublé!
The host of the 2013 JUNOs, Michael will handle emcee duties at the BRITs giving British comedic duo Ant and Dec, who hosted the past two galas, a break. Bublé will serve as only the third foreign host in the history of the awards. The gala will take place February 22, 2017.
Michael says, “Even though I didn’t grow up as a Brit I’ve always been well aware of The BRIT Awards and their impact globally. I’m very much looking forward to February and celebrating the success stories of a great year in music.”
Nominations for the BRIT Awards will be announced at a special live broadcast on January 14, 2017.
The BRITs are not Michael Bublé’s only highly anticipated British television appearance, as he will perform material from his upcoming album Nobody but Me along with some of his classic hits on a BBC special later this year.
We like Commonwealth solidarity.
Carly Rae Jepsen may now have to alter her lyrics to “Pennies and diamonds for a kiss, I wasn’t looking for this…” Carly has become the ninth recording artist, third female, second Canadian, and only British Columbian to score a diamond single in the United States. The song is 2011’s “Call Me Maybe” (released internationally in 2012). The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced October 5, 2016, that the single is only the 12th in history to accumulate a combined sales and streaming tally of 10 million units in the U.S. The full list of diamond singles certified by the RIAA is as follows.
Carly Rae Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe”
Elton John, “Candle in the Wind 1997″/ ”Something About…”
Eminem, “Love the Way You Lie”
Eminem, “Not Afraid”
Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”
Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
Justin Bieber, “Baby”
Katy Perry, “Firework”
Katy Perry, “Dark Horse”
Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
Lady Gaga‚ ”Poker Face”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, ”Thrift Shop”
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” sits at 8x platinum in Canada, though this is based solely on digital download sales of over 640,000. Music Canada began including streaming data in its gold/platinum certification program last month.
Superstar Justin Bieber, having meteorically risen to fame during his teens, showered current teen star and fellow Ontarian Shawn Mendes with praises for his new album Illuminate. The album debuted at #1 in 65 countries around the planet, and Mendes tops this week’s U.S. Billboard Artist 100. This morning, Justin Bieber launched the tweet, “Shawn Mendes’ voice makes me smile. Truly a gift to be able to move people’s emotions through songs! So proud of you brother! Great album!” Now, 12 hours later, that statement has been retweeted 100,000 times. And, yes, Shawn Mendes replied to the tweet with the following words to his Canadian brother, “Ah man! Thank you SO much!!! Truly thank you!” Universal Music Canada must have taken note, as the nation’s biggest record label wrote, “Dearest Justin and Shawn, Please Collaborate – Signed Canada.” It would certainly be the collaboration of the decade. Justin further urged his fans (the Beliebers) to buy a copy of Shawn’s album Illuminate.
The sketch comedy and variety show Saturday Night Live, created by Toronto’s Lorne Michaels, has been running since 1975 and is based in New York, USA. The October 1, 2016 broadcast had The Weeknd return as musical guest who performed two songs from his upcoming album. “Starboy” is the second most popular song in Canada this week according to the Billboard Hot 100, and we embed below the SNL performance of the track which thankfully was performed with clean lyrics. Not present was French outfit Daft Punk featured in the song. Below that is The Weeknd’s delivery of “False Alarm”. Judging by the commentary, most folks seemed more interested in his less flamboyant hair style than the performance itself. Taking honours for the more flamboyant hairstyle was Alec Baldwin, but we won’t get into that. Abel did a fine job.
A headline from last night informed us that a WestJet flight from Britain en route to Edmonton began having trouble with its left engine and was dumping fuel. Diverting its course, the jet made a safe, emergency landing in Iceland. Three days before that, a Canadian pop star arrived at the Reykjavik Airport by private plane to launch his European tour. On the outskirts of the capital city of the Nordic island nation, thousands were camped out overnight to attend the first of two concerts to be performed. Justin Bieber sold 19,000 tickets for the shows making it the biggest concert event in Icelandic history. (We’re not sure what kind of numbers homegrown Björk mustered.) The 19K figure doesn’t sound impressive by Canadian standards, but given that Iceland has a population of around 320,000, it meant that 6% of babies, children, teens, adults, and seniors on the island were in attendance to see the Biebs. Justin chose Iceland as the place to launch the European leg of his Purpose tour out of a fondness for the country which was fortified last year when he ventured to the dazzling landscapes to shoot the MV for “I’ll Show You”.
Gord Downie, lead singer of diamond group The Tragically Hip, will be releasing a new solo album accompanied by a graphic novel in a project called Secret Path scheduled for release October 18, 2016. That date marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Aboriginal boy fleeing from abuses at one of Canada’s notorious residential schools. These were institutions set up by the Canadian government and administered by the Christian churches that forcefully removed Aboriginal children from their families in attempts to indoctrinate them in European culture. In addition to murder, rape, and malnourishment, many children suffered abuses such as having needles stuck in their tongues as punishment for speaking their native language. Downie says, “I never knew Chanie, the child his teachers misnamed Charlie, but I will always love him.”
The walk back to Wenjack’s home on the Marten Falls First Nation (NE of Thunder Bay) was a trek of 600 km, but Wenjack was desperate to flee from the nightmare. His corpse was found near railway tracks near Kenora, ON, 60 km from the school. He had died of exposure to cold October temperatures and hunger. “Chanie haunts me,” Downie says, “His story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable.”
The Secret Path project began as 10 poems which Gord later turned into songs. The album will be accompanied by an 88-page graphic novel telling Chanie’s story. It was illustrated by Jeff Lemire. Proceeds from sales will go to the Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation via The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at The University of Manitoba. Downie himself paid a recent visit to Chanie’s grave and met with his surviving family members. The First Nations community was heartened by the fact that despite having terminal brain cancer, Gord would make the journey, and it hopes the project will help move Canadians along the path towards reconciliation.
At 9x platinum, “Blurred Lines” stands as the best-selling single from a Canadian artist during the digital era. Hungry for a fat piece of the pie, the children of Marvin Gaye selected this song of the year 2013 to launch a copyright infringement suit claiming it copied Marvin’s song “Give It Up”. They won a 7.4 million USD verdict (which the judge reduced to $5.3 million). Lawyers representing the defendants, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and TI, have appealed the decision, and now, more than 200 recording artists are supporting them by filing a brief with the court of appeals to express disapproval of last year’s ruling. The Go-Go’s, Tears for Fears, Linkin Park, Hans Zimmer, R. Kelly, The Black Crowes and many more say the dangerous precedent set by awarding the Gaye descendants, when the two songs do not bear similar melodies or even share a single melodic phrase, stands to have an adverse impact on their own creativity, on the creativity of future artists, and on the music industry in general. The brief also notes that Marvin Gaye himself was heavily influenced by other artists.
Who has wolfed down the most strips of bacon in 5 minutes is a pretty finite record in itself. These days, it seems Guinness is becoming even more microscopic. Which green-eyed 30-something male from Bolivia has wolfed down the most strips of Maple Leaf brand bacon in 5 minutes? Yes, let’s put aside for a moment the bacon question about sugar being listed as an ingredient while the nutrition facts template lists sugars at 0%.
At one of his recent sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Justin Bieber was presented with 8 framed certificates celebrating his record-breaking achievements by staff from Jim Pattison’s Guinness World Records. (The publisher has dropped the words “Book of” from the title). These records will be included in the 2017 edition. While we, along with fans of the highly successful recording artist, are happy with the announcements, we are reminded by some of the records how over-inclusive the Guinness group has questionably become. They are supposed to be world records but included are records within a country. They also endorse certain brands. We will spell things out with comments following the Biebs’ records below.
1. The record for the most streamed track on Spotify in one week (“What Do You Mean?” – 30,723,708 plays).
2. The record for the most streamed album on Spotify in one week (Purpose, 205 million plays).
3. The record for the most YouTube subscribers of any male (20,711,202).
4. The record for the most viewed YouTube music channel (10,478,651,389).
5. The record for the most Twitter followers of any male (82,235,563).
6. The record for the first act to fill the three top slots simultaneously on the U.K. singles chart: (“Love Yourself” (No. 1), “Sorry” (No. 2) and “What Do You Mean?” (No. 3).
7. The record for having the most simultaneous new entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (13).
8. The most simultaneous tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 (17).
We wonder why Guinness is highlighting streaming brand Spotify in particular? Deezer, Pandora anyone? Streaming records only across all services would undoubtedly be more appropriate. For some things, records by age group, sex, ethnicity, etc. may make sense but some may not think it is a must for brands Twitter and YouTube. It is interesting that Guinness mentions Canada’s Justin Bieber in records for singles charts of The United Kingdom and The United States but not for Canada. A reminder to Canadian Jim Pattison that Bieber held not 17 but 18 simultaneous tracks on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. Sure, that chart has only been around since mid-2007, but again these are supposed to be world records; we question the mention of success on certain national charts above the rest.
The spirit of this is not to rain on the Guinness parade but to express a desire for the system to be tweaked and improved. We’re happy for The Biebs.
The Weeknd scored a couple of entries as well: most streamed album on Spotify in one year (Beauty Behind the Madness), current (60 million unique listeners). He also gets one for the most consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 by a solo male artist.