Drake: First Canadian to Score Diamond Single, Tops IFPI’s Global Best-Sellers

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Big news for country star Tim Hicks, as he lands his first platinum certified single, that being “Get By”. Tim grew up in Niagara Falls, ON. His provincial companion, Toronto rapper Drake, has become the first Canadian artist in history to score a diamond single. The gold/platinum program at Music Canada has awarded “One Dance” diamond certification which is equivalent to 10x platinum or 800,000 units. The units are determined by the sale of digital downloads and streaming at the rate of 150 streams equivalent to 1 unit. “One Dance” is not an original composition but a reworking of “Do You Mind” by Crazy Cousinz and Kyla. Previously, the UK’s Mark Ronson scored a diamond single via “Uptown Funk”. The Black Eyed Peas of the United States received digital download only diamond certification for “I Gotta Feeling”. Other certifications have come in for Drake as well. “Too Good” now stands at quadruple platinum and “Controlla” at double platinum. His album Views has been upgraded to double platinum status.

Drake leads the world according to the recently released IFPI annual report for 2016. The international trade organization has handed him the IFPI 2016 Global Artist of the Year Award, which recognizes a recording artist’s worldwide success across physical and digital formats, including downloads and steams. The award has been presented annually since 2013, and Drake is the first Canadian to receive it. The Top 10 of 2016, which include three Canadians, are as follows:

1. Drake
2. David Bowie
3. Coldplay
4. Adele
5 .Justin Bieber
6. Twenty One Pilots
7. Beyoncé
8. Rihanna
9. Prince
10. The Weeknd

Note that only some countries around the globe keep data on music consumption which may help explain why all top 10 artists are Anglophone.

Sarah McLachlan to Be Inducted into the Music Hall of Fame

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She’s done pop, new wave, adult contemporary, and alternative music. She had the biggest song of the year 1997. She’s a diamond recording artist, as one of her many multiplatinum albums hit the 10x mark for selling a million copies in Canada. She’s sold 30 million records worldwide. She’s won 10 JUNOs and 3 Grammy Awards. She debuted in 1988. In 1997, she created music festival Lilith Fair to showcase and support female recording artists. In 2003, she founded a school of music in Vancouver which offers free music education to at-risk children and youth. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada. And now, announced by CARAS and the JUNO Awards, Halifax’s Sarah McLachlan is to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Congratulations, Sarah!

Carly Rae Jepsen Opens NHL All-Star Game

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Wearing lucky number 8, Carly Rae Jepsen opened the 2017 NHL All-Star Tournament by singing “O Canada”. Sporting a new blonde do, the singer was introduced in Los Angeles, USA with the words “And now, to sing the Canadian national anthem, please welcome multiplatinum, Grammy and JUNO nominated singer and songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen.” More accurately, Carly is multiplatinum in Canada but now diamond in the States. She is Grammy nominated but JUNO winning (she has three trophies).

The tournament itself was naturally not as exciting as seeing and hearing Carly perform. But to recap things… Players representing the four NHL divisions played in two semi-final games. Pacific beat Central 10-3 and Metropolitan beat Atlantic 10-6. The winners of those two games—Pacific and Metropolitan—played in the final championship game with Metropolitan winning 4-3. The Metro players will split a $1 million prize.

Fifth Harmony was scheduled to sing the U.S. anthem. Yes, it’s called a national hockey league but is actually continental. With one of the four remaining members having taken ill, however, the Fifth pulled out, lest they were only a Third, and the US anthem was handled by Courtney Daniels. American pop singer Nick Jonas performed a medley at the intermission preceding the championship game. It was so hot they said, the ice began to melt.

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Justin Bieber Takes Team Gretzky to Victory

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Playing against Team Lemieux in the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity hockey game, Justin Bieber got to tap one of his many talents Saturday, as he laced up a pair of skates and took Team Gretzky to victory. Playing against some hockey heavyweights, he managed a goal and an assist in the 5-3 result at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, USA. The Biebs was stopped on two penalty shots by former NHL goalie Jamie Storr but with only 3 seconds remaining managed to break through and score an empty netter. Cuba Gooding Jr. tried to coax coach Wayne Gretzky into crediting him with the game-winning goal. Team Lemieux’s assistant coach Alyssa Milano attempted to fuel enthusiasm, but the roster proved no match for Team Gretzky, as no ice hockey defenceman could resist Bieber’s charms.

The players wore a patch on the right front shoulder honoring Canadian actor and passionate hockey fan Alan Thicke (AT in a maple leaf), who passed away on December 13. The All-Star Celebrity Shootout benefitted nonprofit organization Echoes of Hope, founded by Luc Robitaille and his wife Stacia, which strives to inspire at-risk foster youth.

Justin Bieber of Stratford, Ontario became an international teen sensation in 2009 and since then has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide. At home, all studio albums have hit #1 and achieved multiplatinum status. Among Justin’s mound of awards are 7 JUNOs, 2 BRITs, and a Grammy.

HMV Canada Closing All 102 Stores by April 30

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A grave next to A&B Sound, Sam the Record Man, and other record chains is now being dug for HMV Canada. The courts have approved an application to place Canada’s biggest record store chain, HMV Canada Inc., into receivership. The application was filed by HUK 10 Ltd. which lent money to the struggling chain and now says HMV owes it almost $39 million with no payments received since November 2014.

In order to stay afloat, HMV would need 2 to 5 million dollars annually. As it stands now, the company is losing $100,000 per day, as customers have turned away from compact discs to digital purchases in a retail climate where convenience trumps sound quality. Moreover, streaming services have managed to trick many into believing that access is favourable to ownership. Trips to the record shops have also possibly been hurt from online mail-delivery ordering services like Amazon.

Legal documents state that HMV shops must cease operations by April 30. There are currently 102 stores across Canada which employ about 1,340 people. All are now to be closed. Most of the company’s head office staff have already been laid off, and HMV owes its major suppliers, including music labels, a reported $56 million.

For many music fans and movie enthusiasts, the closure will mean the disappearance of all shops of its kind in their cities, leaving them without a single retail outlet with a good selection of CDs and DVDs. With less and less CDs being readily available, the closure of the chain will undoubtedly deal a severe blow to overall record sales. Some may feel that HMV’s demise will benefit independent shops, but these are disappearing as well.

This is a very, very sad day.

Headlines and Footdots: January 23, 2017

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January 29 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles is the time and place of the 62nd annual all-star game of the National Hockey League. The event starts 12:30 p.m. pacific time. The Canadian national anthem will be performed by Carly Rae Jepsen. Her American sisters Fifth (now down to four) Harmony will handle the U.S. anthem. Nick Jonas will perform during the game’s second intermission. During the weekend’s festivities, Robin Thicke will honour his Canadian father Alan Thicke who passed away recently.

The February 4th Saturday Night Live show will be hosted by Hollywood actress Kristen Stewart (Panic Room, Into The Wild, Twilight) and the musical guest will be Alessia Cara who responded to the announcement by saying, “my head is spinning”.

Disney adapted Beauty and the Beast into an animated feature film in 1991, and Céline Dion teamed up with Peabo Bryson to sing its theme song. It was included on her second Anglo album (self-titled) in 1992 and won the Single of the Year JUNO award in 1993. Fast-forwarding to the present, 2017, Disney has decided to give the film a live action treatment, and Céline has been recruited to contribute a new song on the soundtrack which will be titled “How Does a Moment Last Forever”.

Music industry veteran Randy Lennox has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award which has been given out annually since 1984. The award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the development of the Canadian music industry. Randy was president and CEO of the country’s biggest record label, Universal Music Canada. In his role, he helped launch the careers of such artists as Hedley, Shawn Mendes, Drake, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, The Tragically Hip, and The Weeknd. Lennox is now president of content and broadcasting at Bell Media. In such a role, he acts as a key contributor to the production work of CTV, the JUNO Awards, the MMVAs, and Canada’s Walk of Fame. He also sits on the board of governors for Massey Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, and the culture advisory board for Ontario. Randy co-produced 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games anthem “I Believe” as well as charity single “Wavin’ Flag” which raised over $2 million for disaster relief in Haiti.

jb-eckl-everywhere-at-onceIt has taken awhile but now Saskatoon singer, songwriter, and guitarist JB Eckl will be releasing his formal debut album, Everywhere at Once. In the 1990s, JB hooked up with Latin pop producer KC Porter in Los Angeles and went on tour as a supporting guitarist with 70s funk band War. He contributed to Carlos Santana’s blockbuster 1999 album Supernatural and 2002’s Shaman. He also worked with Santana on the soundtrack for film Girlfight. Recently, JB co-wrote the theme song of Sully starring Tom Hanks. JB’s solo album Everywhere at Once is scheduled for release on February 20. Of the album he says, “It represents the exact opposite of our current media circus: an album of deeply personal songs crafted over a long period of time, an inner soundtrack for the soul as we struggle to become our higher selves. It’s organic, it’s a little electronic, it’s full of textures, tones, guitars and grooves…”

It has been a while since we’ve heard new music from Kristina Maria. She announced today that she is offering a private listening session of her upcoming new songs in Montreal, February 12 from 2-5 p.m. The presentation will be followed by a meet and greet.

Country star MacKenzie Porter has been busy with acting duties in TV series Travellers. But somehow, she has found time to make new music. Today, she announced she is cutting a new record. The Port’s debut album appeared in 2014. She has scored four Top 40 hits on the country charts to date.

Finally, Coeur de Pirate has released a new, fantasy-themed music video for track “Undone” off her acclaimed album Roses which we embed below.

Headlines and Footdots for January 19, 2017

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A slew of new albums will be out tonight. EDM fans can, in the meantime, enjoy the triple album of club bangers, Let’s Live, by Miss Tara which is out now. Other tidbits and newsy items include the following.

Alanis Morissette‘s former manager has admitted to stealing over 5 million dollars from her and more than a million dollars from other celebs. By pleading guilty to the charges, he expects to serve less jail time.

The People’s Choice Awards recently took place. Interestingly, no Canadians won in the music categories, but a few won in acting. Ryan Reynolds, the Vancouverite who chooses to speak with a Chicago accent, was chosen Favourite Movie Actor. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was picked Favourite Premium Series Actor. Toronto’s Lilly Singh was selected Favourite YouTube Star.

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Commonwealth sisters Carly Rae Jepsen, Lorde, and Charli XCX recently circulated this photo on Twitter facetiously expressing a yearning to form a “hot girl band”. Charli XCX plans to release a new album in May, Lorde sometime this year, and Carly is working on new music as well.

Michael Bublé has pulled out from hosting the BRIT Awards to take care of his child diagnosed with cancer. It is unknown at this point whether he will host the JUNOs. Nominations for the JUNO Awards will be announced February 7.

Music Canada’s Gold and Platinum Awards Program recently certified Coleman Hell‘s “Fireproof” a platinum single. The Weeknd‘s Starboy album has been upgraded to platinum. Country star Tebey can holster a gold single thanks to “Wake Me Up”.

Danielle Marie is a relatively new country artist from White Rock, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. Her 2015 album Here Right Now was well received. Danielle has collaborated with Scotty “Chops” Cooke, known for his work with Florida Georgia Line, Dallas Smith, and Cold Creek County. Danielle has opened for or shared festivals with the likes of George Canyon, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Dallas Smith, and High Valley. She is generating buzz with her new single “I Wanna Go There” which sounds just great. We have embedded a video of Marie talking about her new single below.

Buffy Sainte-Marie to Receive 2017 Allan Waters Humanitarian Award

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CARAS, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, has announced the 2017 recipient of the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, and her name is … Buffy Sainte-Marie. The award, which will be presented in conjunction with the JUNO Awards in Ottawa this year, “recognizes an outstanding Canadian artist whose humanitarian contributions have positively enhanced the social fabric of Canada and/or whose impact can be felt worldwide.” It is named after the founder of the CHUM broadcast network, most notably Toronto radio station 1050 CHUM which launched in 1954. Waters committed the network to community and public service initiatives. The Allan Waters Humanitarian Award has been given out annually since 2006. Past winners in chronological order are Bruce Cockburn, Tom Jackson, Paul Brandt, Sarah McLachlan, Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Simple Plan, Tom Cochrane, Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida, Rush, Arcade Fire, and now Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Buffy has had a long and successful career spanning half a century. She was chosen as a recipient this year, as it was felt she “exemplifies the essence of humanitarianism through her dedication to protecting indigenous communities and indigenous intellectual property, which have been at the epicentre of her lifelong activism”. Sainte-Marie was born on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan. In 1964, she became well-known for anti-war peace anthem “Universal Soldier,” which has been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1969, she founded The Nihewan Foundation for Native American Education. Her 1976 hit song “Starwalker”, which she dedicated to the American Indigenous Movement marked the first time Aboriginal and pop music were combined, and with Sainte-Marie dubbing it ‘powwow rock’ she created a new genre. She was a regular on children’s television series Sesame Street from 1975 to 1980. At the Bahá’í World Congress in New York 1992, Buffy appeared in the musical event prelude.

Her list of awards is impressive. As noted by CARAS, in addition to an Academy Award (Best Original Song) for “Up Where We Belong,” “Sainte-Marie is also the recipient of four JUNO Awards, a Golden Globe, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, a BAFTA Award, multiple Queen’s Jubilee Medals and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. She carries the Order of Canada and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.” Her songs have been covered by a slew of A-listers including Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Céline Dion, Cher and Indigo Girls.

Sainte-Marie’s most recent album Power in the Blood (2015) won 2016 JUNO Awards for Aboriginal Album of the Year and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. It also took the Polaris Music Prize.

Jepsen, Kissel, and Two Radios Light Up New Year’s Eve

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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.

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Canadian Olympic hero, Penny Oleksiak. In 2016 at the Rio Games, she became the first Canadian to win four medals in the same Summer Games and the country's youngest Olympic champion.

Canadian Olympic hero, Penny Oleksiak. In 2016 at the Rio Games, she became the first Canadian to win four medals in the same Summer Olympic Games and the country’s youngest Olympic champion.

Country singer Brett Kissel performing through heavy snowfall.

Country singer Brett Kissel performing through heavy snowfall.

Pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen who has sold 20 million records worldwide.

Pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen who has sold 20 million records worldwide.