British electronic rock pioneer John Foxx (Ultravox) in singing about a dystopian future, presented us with songs like “Burning Car” on 1980’s Metatronic album. Fast forward to 2018, and Lights sets fire to one in the MV of her newly released pop banger single “We Were Here”. Lights has moved from synthpop to electronic rock to electropop, and now standard pop with comic books on her latest album Skin & Earth proving she can do it all. The song has entered the Top 50 at radio, one of the very few from a Canadian female. Lights has made some of the best and iconic Canadian music videos over the years. The “We Were Here” MV clocks in at 350,000 views in its first two weeks. You can find it at the usual platforms. The platinum recording artist has won a pair of JUNO awards and is up for a pair this year. She is currently on tour across the U.S. and Canada which winds up in early April. iTunes
Country music superstar Jess Moskaluke is platinum certified and a JUNO award winner. The Saskatchewan native has sent her latest single release to radio, the most popular track off disc Past the Past – its title track. “Past the Past” is a lovely piano ballad which helps bring to the ears just how great a singer Jess is. She launched the music video for the song on Friday and we embed it below for your enjoyment. The MV was directed by Joel Stewart and shot at Jess’ hometown theatre in Langenburg, Saskatchewan. iTunes
The Empress of Canadian Pop Carly Rae Jepsen has released a new track with Charli XCX and will be busy performing on Katy Perry’s Witness tour, but there is much speculation she will be making 2018 a very memorable year with a new album. We are delighted that her 2017 banger “Cut to the Feeling” populated so many year-end lists. Indeed, it was perhaps her best song since “Curiosity”. Whether you’re a fan or not of Carly’s music, it is heartwarming to see a Canadian artist charm so many music critics around the world. We summarize some of the placements below with quoted excerpts.
“It’s a skyscraper of a song that both describes and enacts the modus operandi of pop music as an entire project, rising so high with every new chorus that you’re dizzy by the time it’s done.” — Lauren O’Neil
Pop Matters: #64
“It is a classic formula executed to perfection, building from tense verses to a chorus that explodes like fireworks. Nolan Lambroza’s production is shimmering and radiant, the perfect backdrop for Ms. Jepsen, who conveys the song’s feeling of euphoria with her trademark charisma.” — Adrien Begrand
Rolling Stone: #44
“Canada’s hook hero saved 2017 with her bracing rejoinder to Xanax-pop malaise, a rainbow-bright collision of ‘Lucky Star’ synth bursts and processed-handclap beats. Jepsen’s boisterous vocal adds extra urgency to this jump-along anthem’s much-needed e•mo•tional rescue.” — Rolling Stone Staff
“It is the dark and glittering sound of running full speed on a boardwalk at night, of sitting on a roof under the stars, these perfect places with proximity to the infinite.” — Jenn Pelly
“This was a belt-it-from-your-car distillation of all things wonderfully Carly Rae: yearning for something grandly romantic (‘I wanna dance on the roof, you and me alone’) with a breathless, stratospheric chorus, not unlike ‘Run Away with Me.'” — R.M.
“It’s a luscious jolt of bombastic energy, the perfect pick-me-up at the end of a hard day (or a physically and mentally challenging race).” — Josh Kurp
“Guaranteed to cause spontaneous, involuntary dancing, no matter where you are or how you’re feeling.” — Eliza Thompson
“From the opening handclaps accompanied by CRJ’s trademark husky vocals, you know that ‘Cut to the Feeling’ is going to be a Class A banger; but it’s only when you reach the utterly bombastic and outrageously vivacious chorus when you realise what a truly excellent pop song has been created.” — NME
“Two years later, one final argument in praise of E•MO•TION: Carly Rae Jepsen’s modern classic was so stacked that they couldn’t find room for this enraptured blast of fresh air.” — Chris DeVille
CBC Music: #6
“Without a doubt, this was the feel-good song of 2017. Carly Rae Jepsen cranked out some of her best hooks since ‘Call Me Maybe’ on this splashy summer hit.” — Editorial Staff
Slant Magazine: #4
“Jepsen’s voice breaks in her ecstatic admission that ‘I’ve been denying how I feel,’ and she dons an almost British affectation during the bridge when she sings, ‘Show me devotion/And take me all the way,’ atop some ‘Edge of Seventeen’-style guitar riffing. — Cinquemani
Entertainment Weekly: #4
“This E•MO•TION-era gem, left off both her 2015 LP and its b-sides collection before finding a home in the movie Leap!, reaches the same giddy heights of ‘Call Me Maybe.’ — N.F.
Canadian Music Blog: #1
“It will bring joy to your heart, sweeten your dreams, and make you fall in love with the charmer or charmers. Slam and dunk.” — CMB Team
After listening to several thousand songs released in 2017 whether as singles, on EPs, or LPs, we have settled on our 30 favourites. To create a fairer and tidier list, we allowed only one entry per artist. Regardless of genre, language, and relative popularity of the artist, here are our 30 favourite Canadian artist songs of 2017 including our Song of the Year. Note that we have included instrumental tracks even though, technically, a “song” is a piece of music that is sung. Charting songs released in 2016 which achieved peak Billboard Hot 100 positions in 2017 are included. As well, songs released as singles in 2016 but were included on an album released in 2017 were considered. We have used the artwork for the single when one exists, failing that, the LP or EP that includes the song.
The Vancouverite may not have swept up the Canadian masses to the extent that U.S. singer Debbie Gibson did in the late 80s, but few can create a killer piano ballad as good as Wanting these days. “Best Plan” was the lone Chinese language song on her 2017 album LLL, but somehow it reigns supreme with a great melody, soaring chorus, and delicious bridge.
As with Wanting, Nico Lelièvre, whom we luckily acquired from France, closes out his 2017 album with its crowning achievement. This golden nugget of alternative rock with effective drumming, sonorous textures, and melancholy charm is instantly loveable.
Remember those slayers of noughties decade R&B like Shawn Desman and good old Keshia Chanté? Well, Keshia surprised us, or shall we say had us down and shook, by releasing a slick electropop song in 2017. “Lights Out” proves her vocals sound fantastic with the genre, and the song was pop perfection.
It was difficult to pick an outstanding track from Marc’s extremely popular 2017 album, but this one takes the cake. It builds nicely into an irresistible chorus with punchy beats and dancing piano keys.
While Keshia Chanté was slaying the pop realm, Toronto’s Jenna Nation grabbed R&B by the reins and shook the continent with beats and bass galore on this brilliant jazzy number.
There was no shortage of electronic pop in 2017 and one of the best contributions, “Holding Steady” was made by Kashka off very impressive EP Relax.
If there was ever a summertime jam to play by the pool or beach or backyard barbecue, country superstar Gord Bamford supplied it.
Featuring Valley Girl, “Need You” by one of Canada’s finest pop talents Allie X is a slow-burning ember of brilliance with a nice touch of processed vocal work.
Perhaps this one’s finest feature is the percussion work which is fresh, sophisticated, and catchy. The song smartly has the vocals pull back at times letting those beats take the spotlight for a bit.
The reunion of this supergroup and release of a new album was one of the biggest news stories of the year. Some preferred Hug of Thunder’s title track; others like us found the sonically richer “Halfway Home” to be the standout. In either case, alternative rock doesn’t get much better.
Surprise! This is our favourite country song of 2017. What gives it extra umph is Natasha’s conscientious vocal work and an irresistible chorus. And let’s also mention a short but righteous guitar solo.
Ah, yes, you were hoping we had the boys on here somewhere, weren’t you. We think this is the band’s catchiest song since “Kiss You Inside Out”. Not released as a single (so far), it’s a great mid tempo dance pop number with ever so captivating feel-good funky guitar.
Released as a single last year, this one appeared on Amaara’s (Kaelen Amara Ohm) 2017 album. Its dark ambiance and mystical charm grew on us to become one of our favourites of the year. Beautifully done.
Now into the Top 10, this was our favourite track from 2017’s EP of the year, though the others are nifty as well. Newcomer Ralph was all over the blogosphere this year with her refreshing brand of sweet synthpop.
There’s something about acoustic guitar strums coupled with delicate analog synth notes. Ludovic Alarie’s concept album was all about the apartment, and the rustic sounds of this choice cut do make us feel like kickin’ back in the bachelor (or bachelorette) pad.
Bilingual songs? More please! English and Spanish? Not really; we’re Canadian. English and French? Now you’ve got it. Peter Peter brought us back to the 80s with this exquisite synthpop song – verses in French and chorus in English. The album was nominated for the Polaris. Need we say more?
More synthpop cometh. “Future Politics” was almost as endearing as “Utopia”. The latter has a chorus that is both creepy and warm, opened by an enticing drum roll. You won’t believe it until you hear it!
From our Album of the Year, Young Mopes, this was ever so slightly our favourite track. It’s shadowy, dreamy, but also uplifting. Drums slap, bass flickers, and keyboards exhilarate. The vocal delivery is sensitive and impeccable, one of Louise’s best songs to date.
“Spirit” by Vancouver’s The Belle Game is easily one of best songs of 2017 released anywhere in the world. It begins with a drum beat and synth pulse, adds electronic textures, and Andrea Lo’s angelic voice surges above. Then those addictive beats kick in, heavier synths burst forth, and we are on a joy ride to the stars. Pure excellence, pure elation.
They make it seem so simple, and it is so simple. One guitar, one bass, one drum set, three lovely voices, kick-butt riffs, a measured tempo, and presto, we have one of the most exhilarating rock songs of all-time.
In a year made soggy by downpours of vocal warbling that resembled disarrayed wails coming from within an insane asylum’s padded white walls; in a year stifled by the secret that underwhelming click beats and flaky synthetic finger snaps have long, long, long overstayed their welcome; in a year when EDM lost its spark by mimicking a failing car engine that keeps conking out needing to be jumpstarted again and again—in such a year, something magical happened.
Two years ago, an album was released that championed most end-of-year best album lists. It was long and then shortlisted for the Polaris Prize in Canada. A deluxe version of the album contained three additional songs.
Due to popular demand, last year, a companion album was issued forth containing bonus tracks recorded during the album sessions. This collection of throwaways was deemed by Billboard as better than 90% of the pop songs of 2016.
But after all that, this year, the artist quietly and patiently reached up her sleeve and placed an ace down on the table. She had kept the ultimate leftover, the best song for last.
She has been called by many affectionate names. But with this song, “Pop Music’s Last Stand” seems to resonate most. Those of you who still curse wasting three hours of your lives watching The Tommyknockers can earn that time back by keeping this on repeat for the same length of time. It will bring joy to your heart, sweeten your dreams, and make you fall in love with the charmer or charmers.
Slam and dunk. The Canadian Music Blog declares “Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen as 2017’s Song of the Year.
Shania Twain the Real Grey Cup Champion
If there is one truth in Canadian football, it’s never over ’til it’s over. The Calgary Stampeders had all but wrapped things up for a victory but a fumble close to touchdown territory led to a record-breaking 109-yard TD from the Toronto Argonauts to tie the game, winning minutes later with a field goal. The real victor of the game, however, was Shania Twain who rocked the halftime show. Entering the stadium on a real live dog sled over the field covered in snow to the stage she performed three of her hits: “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, “Life’s About to Get Good”, and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” capping it off by saying, “Man! I feel like a Canadian” to cheers from the bundled up 36,000 attendees.
RIP Patrick Bourgeois
Patrick Bourgeois singer of multiplatinum Canadian band Les BB has passed away from cancer at the young age of 55. We offer our condolences to family, friends, and fans.
CBC Publishes Best Songs of the Year List
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has published a list of its picks for the 100 best Canadian artist songs of 2017. Excluded are songs released after November 1. On the plus side it is a nice mixture of popular songs and underground ones as well as various genres. “Passionfruit” by Drake is placed at #1. While the list includes Allophone tracks, it excludes Francophone ones and states that this is “a task our sister site ICI Musique will be undertaking”. This kind of segregation reminds us of how Black people and White people in the U.S. have been required to go to separate establishments. What the broadcaster should have done is create one list that includes Anglo, Franco, and Allo songs and publish the same list on both sites with English language writeups on the songs at CBC Music and French language writeups at ICI Musique. That would be a nonracist way of doing things.
Justin Bieber Surprises Whistler Hockey Team
Justin Bieber was in Whistler, BC last week, a surprise visit to the members of a local hockey team. He apparently casually slipped in during their practice to join the scrimmage. The coach simply told the players a “new guy” would be stopping by to try out for the team. Of the Biebs’ hockey skills, the father of one of the players wrote on his Facebook page, “The Biebs has pretty good hands and knew exactly where to be. He was super humble and a true gentleman. I gained a lot of respect for him as a result. Thank you JB!!!” Justin scored two goals during the practice. He hung around afterwards to chat with the players and pose for photos.
“He was very humble, he was very polite, and just excited to be there. We gave him a jersey, and he instantly put it on. He just wanted to go play,” said Steve Legge, president of the Whistler Minor Hockey Association.
Ruth B Returns to Her Old High School
Multiplatinum superstar Ruth B returned to her old high school in Edmonton – Ross Sheppard – to help the choir sing her song “Lost Boy”. We leave you with a video of that encounter.
Fresh Christmas singles are in the works. And we are so happy that BC’s Shawn Hook has teamed up with Ontario’s Serena Ryder in a cover of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. Find the official audio embedded below. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, the song is a sweet plea for peace on earth, something we all want to see. Shawn Hook is the author of two platinum singles and was recently given the annual Allan Slaight award from Canada’s Walk of Fame which recognizes young talent. Serena Ryder is a multiplatinum recording artist and JUNO award winner. Both Shawn and Serena released albums this year (Shawn’s was an EP). We embed the official audio of the new track below. After that find a recent interview with Shawn Hook on Breakfast Television in Toronto. iTunes
Swedish Grammy-nominated composer, producer, and musician Patrik Berger has formed a project with songwriter Markus Krunegård called BC Unidos. No, they are not from BC; however, featured on one of the tracks on new EP Bicycle is a British Columbian singer. The disc includes British singer Charli XCX, and track “Trouble in the Streets” is sung by none other than Carly Rae Jepsen. The disc has a post-punk feel to it. It is very good and lots of fun. Check it out. iTunes
Keeping an ace up one’s sleeve has reached new heights. Left off the album Emotion, not included as a bonus track, and not even appearing on the Emotion Side B extras disc, Carly Rae Jepsen pulled the best song from the Emotion era and released it as a stand-alone single at the end of May this year. It is on its way to becoming known as the best pop song of 2017. Carly finally treats us to its official music video, half a million views in three days. The MV was shot in a studio in Los Angeles. Enjoy. iTunes
What Justin Bieber and Grimes Have in Common
Due to scanty releases in the summer, we will be combining this week’s with next week’s in our new releases posting. It is worth mentioning at this point that the new #1 at iTunes is “Friends”, the latest single from Justin Bieber. Again, it is a collaboration for Mr. What Do You Mean. This time around, it is BloodPop, alias of Michael Tucker (from Dorothy’s Kansas). He used to record under the moniker Blood Diamonds you may remember from such choice cuts as Grimes‘ “Go”. The new Bieber track is reminiscent of Robyn.
What Carly Rae Jepsen and Katy Perry Have in Common
Billboard recently reported on the dearth of women atop the U.S. Hot 100. On the Canadian one, Sia was the last female as the main artist to champion the chart, which she did August 20, 2016 with “Cheap Thrills”. So, it has been a year. Even Katy Perry is having a hard time these days despite having more Twitter followers than anyone else in the world, the only one to have more than 100 million followers. Katy Perry will be on tour promoting her latest album, Witness. What does this have to do with Canadian music? Well, you’ll never guess who will be joining her in concert. Noah Cyrus will join her first as things kick off in Montreal September 19 and remaining onboard through to the Toronto concerts ending November 1. Then cometh Purity Ring. No way! Yes way. Edmonton’s Purity Ring will join Ms. Roar in Los Angeles November 7 through to the end of the year December 20 in Miami. In the new year, launching in New Orleans January 5 and marching through to Vancouver February 5, Katy Perry will be joined by Carly Rae Jepsen.
Jessicka is a new singer from Vancouver and has signed with Light Organ Records, a label specializing in alternative music. Her debut single “Wake Up” is a dreamy synth pop number with crystal clear vocals and now translates itself into the visual plane with a music video. Jessicka plans on releasing an EP in the fall. Rumoured guests on the disc include Juno Award-winning violinist Jesse Zubot and members of indie group Mother Mother. “Wake Up” MV embedded below. iTunes
Jess Moskaluke is a JUNO Award winning platinum recording artist specializing in country music. She is from Langenburg, Saskatchewan and released her debut album Light Up the Night in 2014. She has been called Canada’s Carrie Underwood. Moskaluke has won the Canadian Country Music Association’s Female Artist of the Year award for the past three years. She struck platinum with her single “Cheap Wine and Cigarettes” and recently gold with Paul Brandt in “I’m an Open Road”. Jess’ album Kiss Me Quiet won the JUNO Award in 2017 for Country Album of the Year beating out discs from slayers Aaron Pritchett, Chad Brownlee, Dallas Smith, and Gord Bamford. All this, and she’s just getting started! Jess Moskaluke’s latest single is called “Kill Your Love”, and she recently released a music video which we have embedded below. iTunes
In 2017, it’s a tough go getting on the radio if you’re a Canadian female. It’s also tough if you’re not from Ontario. The only Canadian artist outside of that province to score a Top 40 hit so far in 2017 is none other than … Shawn Hook. Shawn is from British Columbia, and so is a pop group no stranger to landing hits called Hedley. Two JUNO awards have been won by the band, and two albums have struck the double platinum mark. Hedley began releasing music in 2005 scoring a few hits prior to the launch of the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 in mid-2007. On this chart, the band has placed an impressive total of 24 songs, 16 of which have made the Top 40, and nine the Top 10. “Kiss You Inside Out” is the biggest Billboard hit at #2.
Hedley is one of the few bands from the mid-noughties still successful at making music today. The group is launching seventh studio album Cageless at the end of September. Lead single “Love Again” is up to #56 on the charts, and the group presents its nocturnal neon themed music video complete with a robot which we embed below. The video is a “virtual reality” which you can rotate around 360 degrees. (It works on some browsers and not others.) The new album is now available for pre-order. iTunes
Meet the most successful Canadian female soloist of 2017 after Alessia Cara (by our reckoning)…
Despite some sure-fire pop hits, the radio airwaves in Canada haven’t been kind to Canadian females, preferring instead to go with the American ladies. Alessia Cara is the only home-grown female to score a Top 40 hit in 2017, and she had to team up with Zedd to do so.
Beautifully crafted songs of various styles have appeared from Allie X, Amaara, Carly Rae Jepsen, Emily Rowed, Keshia Chanté, Louise Burns, Natasha Zimbaro, Ralph, Stacey, and female-fronted groups like Austra, The Coutrneys, Lolaa, The Luyas, and Young Galaxy.
Limited airplay has been given to Jocelyn Alice, Mia Martina, Ria Mae, and Serena Ryder. Newcomer Kayla Diamond is gaining some momentum.
In order to find the most successful Canadian female artist after Alessia Cara, we have to think outside the box. In this case, the box represents language.
Introducing Andréanne A. Malette, a red-hot Canadian singer-songwriter. Her song “Fou” both from the standpoint of radio airplay and sales is a massive Franco hit in Canada. Malette was a finalist during popular talent search show Star Academy in 2012 and appeared on its double platinum certified various artists compilation album with her fellow contenders as well as its platinum Christmas CD.
Andréanne released her debut solo album Bohèmes in 2014. She has performed at home of the Habs, Montreal’s Bell Centre and has shared the stage with Stromae and Jean Leloup. “Fou” has been at or near the top of the Franco charts for months; in fact, it has been certified as the #1 Top BDS Francophone track in Canada. We present the lyric video below. It’s a folk-pop tour de force. Enjoy.
Move over “Weird Al” Yankovic, Canadian singer Mikey Bustos, an alumnus of Canadian Idol, though making successful original music, is becoming increasingly known for his hilarious parodies. We previously featured his delightful lyrical re-write of Meghan Trainor’s “No”. Mikey has taken the #1 hit “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber and, hitting the beach, rewritten the Spanish lyrics into English ones and titled it in true swimwear fashion: “I Wear Speedos”! It has surpassed 24 million views on Facebook and a million on YouTube. Canadian Music Blog sends Mikey a big congrats on the continuing success. He’s a very talented guy. Below is the MV which should put a big smile on your face.
Emerging pop artist Every Last Chance (ELC) will be releasing new single “When I Grow Up” on July 21. The song presents a heartfelt and honest monologue inspired by almost losing a parent. Says the group, “That reflection became a discovery, that adulthood is scarier than it appeared when we were children – and that we never really feel as though we’ve ‘grown up'”. Ultimately the song explores what it really means to be an adult and how drawing on inspiration from our parents can help guide us on our journey. Canadian Music Blog embeds the official audio below. A music video is planned for September.
Every Last Chance (ELC) is a Canadian project that aims to make pop music with meaning. Debut single “Spotlight” featuring the superb vocals of Marissa Dattoli (lead singer of Ontarian band Crystalyne) stirred up some buzz; the euphoric EDM masterpiece peaked at #65 on the Mediabase CHR chart. Followup single “Roll the Credits” featuring David Spekter continued the momentum reaching #27 at AC and #39 Hot AC nabbing for the group Bell Media’s Future Star award. ELC launched its first EP (iTunes), a self-titled work, in 2016. The act has amassed close to half a million Spotify plays. A new EP is in the works expected to come out in the fall of 2017 which will include the new song “When I Grow Up”.