This multiple JUNO award winner from St. Catharines, ON has been hailed by many as one of Canada’s finest songwriters. No real hit singles yet to speak of has more to do with his singer-songwriter style of alternative AC or folk pop not fitting into any of the pigeon holes radio formats have defined for themselves in current times. His voice sounds similar to Paul McCartney’s. Song “Whatever It Takes” off 2004 album Retriever has the kind of beauty that would make one stop dead in his tracks. For it and a few other cuts off the album, Ron Sexsmith won the JUNO for Songwriter of the Year. The song was covered in a more Latin style by Michael Bublé on his multiplatinum, JUNO-winning album Crazy Love. The original is one of our all-time favourite tunes by a Canadian artist.
We’ve all been hurt by love It’s out of our hands But for all it’s worth I’m drawing a line in the sand
Another morning just won’t do I need your love to shine on through Or it won’t be new
(Chorus:) Whatever it takes, my love, I’ll find it Whatever it takes my love To put the lonely days behind us I’m laying it down Whatever it takes my love
If there’s a chance For two hearts to celebrate To blow out some candles And tempt the hands of fate
You make a wish, I’ll make one too But close your eyes love when you do Or it won’t be true
‘Cos I’ve been wandering ’round With the same old blues That have been dragging me down If you feel the same way too Maybe it takes two
And if we give thanks For our love at each new dawn We’ll find the strength And the will to carry on
The sun alone will never do Without your love to shine on through It just won’t be new
A female solo artist who, in 2012, won the Virgin Radio Star contest in Edmonton was flown out to Vancouver to record some singles with the Milk Music production team. In 2013, her third single appeared, a jewel of songwriting and expert production. This intelligent dance track, filled with complex percussion, bright keyboards, and a galvanizing chorus was named as song of the year by the Canadian Music Blog. What really makes its excellence stand out is the gorgeous, soulfully spicy voice of its singer. We are happy to induct “All For You” by Alberta’s Lexi Strate into our Great Canadian Songs list.
I wasn’t counting on the storyline I wasn’t looking for a star in the sky And now you’re tearing down the walls inside It’s like the sun is coming up at night
[Bridge:] And I want you close Beside me And the feeling glows Inside me Cause you never know What we might be Oh, oh, oh
[Chorus:] You’re never ready for a hurricane The way you came and blew my heart away I’m spinning round, I don’t know what to do I’m going crazy and it’s all for you It’s all for you, it’s all for you I’m going crazy and it’s all for you
I’m not the kind that likes to lose control Can’t tell you why ’cause I don’t really know But now I want to let you see my soul So I’m going to let that fiction go
Jonas Tomalty is one of the country’s finest talents. A couple of JUNO nominations, a gold album, and tours with Stevie Nicks, Van Halen, and Collective Soul garnish his achievements. Excellent rock album Live Out Loud under the moniker Jonas & the Massive Attraction was released in 2013. “Cover Me” instantly transfixed us, a progressive pop/rock masterpiece. It had us soaring through dense material backed by invigorating power and restorative juices. It’s a feel-good anthem with a wall of sound that is rich, intricate, and plentiful. We are pleased to induct “Cover Me” by Jonas & the Massive Attraction into our all-time favourite Canadian songs list.
Growing up in NE Calgary, these twin sisters began a recording career in 1999. The first indication that they were a hit was a JUNO nomination in 2006, and from there things blossomed. Their albums went gold and top DJs Tiesto, Morgan Page, and David Guetta featured them in singles which charted. They were set to take the world (or at least the nation) by storm. Slickly produced with excellent songwriting, album Heartthrob hit #2 and #3 on the Canadian and US albums charts respectively. Lead single “Closer” catapulted the duo to platinum status. It was so good that Peter Mansbridge and his team at CBC Television’s flagship nightly newscast, The National, did a feature on the work. Three JUNO awards followed.
The album’s second single was a serene, breezy Top 20 hit and gold single that sizzles and swaggers its way back to a retro 80s new wave vibe. It opens with piano, provides a solid backbeat, is delivered with the sweetest of vocals, and burns into the grooviest of choruses in natural stereo sound from the twins. The Canadian Music Blog hereby inducts Tegan and Sara’s “I Was a Fool” into its all-time favourite songs list.
Do you remember I searched you out How I climbed your city’s walls? Do you remember me as devout How I prayed for your calls?
I stood still is what I did Love like ours is never fixed
I stuck around I did behave I saved you every time I was a fool for love I was a fool for love I was a fool [x2]
Then you blamed me and blocked me out How long did you think I’d last? Then you disappeared for weeks to pout How many times could I pack?
But stand still is all I did Love like ours is never fixed
Still I stuck around I did behave I saved you every time I was a fool for love I was a fool for love I was a fool [x2]
If you’re worried that I might’ve changed Left behind all of my foolish ways You best be looking for somebody else Without a foolish heart, a foolish heart
But stand still is all we did Love like ours is never fixed
I stuck around I did behave I saved you every time I was a fool for love I was a fool for love I was a fool [x5]
As far as year-end lists go, this bilingual song was named by Sirius FM as 2013’s 7th best song. Voir put it at #2! Montréal indie band Le Couleur delivers a sophisticated, kaleidoscopic, danceable sound which makes us yearn to do cartwheels down the throbbing artery of Saint Catherine Street lined with nuclear-powered 1970s strobe lights. The song was produced by expert remixer French Fox and features French Horn Rebellion. Giroux-Do’s sultry vocals, punctuated candy-coated bass funk, ear-soothing synths, and unanticipated hooks will suck you into a vortex of ecstasy and fun.
The song gets the bongos sounding, the cymbals tinkling, the beat pounding, and most importantly the bass funking. It fires up the synths, begins tickling the guitars, pairs the American boy with a Canadian girl, and alternates between male Anglo and female Franco vocals. What could serve as a more addictive treat? We absolutely adore how the song’s grand finale provides that extra bass hook. We have inducted Le Couleur’s “Vacances de 87” into the Canadian Music Blog’s all-time favourite songs list.
Oh baby “Do you like Hall and Oates” was the first thing she said to me It’s crazy After that there were words but they sounded like French to me I was in love Right from the start
The summer Of 1987 was our symphony Together On a vacation of love That made me see, made me see, made me see An American boy Canadian girl Though they don’t speak the same together You know that they can change the world Oh we can change the world
Les vacances de 87 Ce souvenir lointain J’avais pas du tout ça en tête Pourquoi j’men souviens ? Y’a cette lettre qui me dit comment C’était pour mon bien Et l’air un peu gamin Me rappelant l’accent américain
Oh baby The summer Of 1987 was our symphony An american boy Canadian girl Though they don’t speak the same together You know that we can change the world We can change the world
Les vacances de 87 Ce souvenir lointain J’avais pas du tout ça en tête Pourquoi j’men souviens ? Y’a cette lettre qui me dit comment C’était pour mon bien Alors il pris mon bras Me chuchote à l’oreille “Allez, suis-moi”
Oh baby “Do you like Hall and Oates” was the first thing she said to me It’s crazy After that there were words but they sounded like french to me I was in love Right from the start
Les vacances de 87 Ce souvenir lointain J’avais pas du tout ça en tête Te voilà enfin Y’a cette lettre qui me dit comment C’était pour mon bien Et l’air un peu gamin Me rappelant l’accent américain
À la plage tout près de Sunset Naïve et parfaite Là où ton bronzage reflète L’allure de starlette Sans savoir où ça nous mènerait Ce flirt à l’essai Alors il pris mon bras Me chuchote à l’oreille “Allez, suis-moi”
Aside from the occasional hit, Canadian artists seldom fashioned successful dance music in the 70s and 80s. It was a genre that remained largely untapped in the Great White North. But in the late 1980s out of nowhere appeared a band of sweethearts that opened the door. Everybody loved them. The band recorded only two albums before calling it quits. These two discs spawned at least seven Top 40 hits (RPM charts from the end of 1988 to beginning of 1989 are currently unavailable). Their first album was certified platinum, and the group was nominated for an amazing seven JUNO awards. Sadly, they have been largely forgotten.
Thanks to the rich, beautiful, sweet, joyful, and refreshing sounds generated by these pioneers of the genre, Canada is now making some of the world’s most treasured dance music. The band began their journey performing at weddings and secured a record deal with IRS. As a new act, first single “Dancing Under a Latin Moon” was pushed and pushed and pushed until it finally made a breakthrough. It was a huge smash in the United States as well. Lead singer Candy Pennella married the drummer and they decided to start a family. She now teaches school in Toronto.
Two songs from one of the most talented and most important bands in Canadian history are especially loved by us. Their ballad “Saving All the Love” is beautiful enough to make a grown man cry. For our ATF listing, we have settled on Top 20 hit “Missing You”, as it is more representative of the group’s signature sound and of how we now feel about them.
Like the many who were captivated by them back in the day and wore the magnetism off the cassette tapes of their albums, Candi and The Backbeat will be in our hearts forever.
They are in our humble view one of the finest rock bands ever to be formed in Canada, and sadly have been forgotten, this despite a Top 30 single on the US Billboard Hot 100 in the late 1970s. Although they started out in 1969, they remained a performance based group locally in Vancouver until 1977 when they were signed by Parachute Records and released a successful debut album. After their release, Parachute Records folded. The group’s accomplishments were enough to get them signed over to RCA, but they were unable to match their prior success. In 1999, they re-recorded their songs for a greatest hits CD as the master tapes for the original recordings had been lost. The band’s keyboardist John Webster went on to join Red Rider in 1984 after which he became a fairly accomplished musician and producer doing work for Aerosmith, The Moffats, The Cult, Kevin Parent, Poison, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Bif Naked, David Bowie, Eric Lapointe, The Tragically Hip, AC/DC, and Michael Bublé among others.
The group of which we are speaking is Stonebolt. They scored a few charting singles in Canada including “Don’t Ya Hide It” and their biggest “I Will Still Love You” (#19, RPM). Our pick from them which also charted is “Love Struck”, one of our favourite Canadian tunes of all-time.
A singer from a district municipality in British Columbia, signed to an independent record label down the river, released a new single September 20, 2011. It entered the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 at #97 on October 14 beginning a slow climb up the chart. To promote the single, she performed shows in humble venues in a few western Canadian cities. By the time the tour was over, the song had entered the Top 40. Radio airplay spread eastward, and she shot a music video that came out in December. By the end of the year, the song was just outside the Top 20.
Although only a hit domestically, out of nowhere came a string of swoon-triggering endorsements by a host of international superstars: Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, … and Cookie Monster. In early February 2012, the song was number one on the Canadian charts. And with that, the singer signed an international record deal with American powerhouse manager Scooter Braun, and the song was released globally.
Radio spins generated a tornado that swept up the masses in adoration as the song whirled its way around the world smashing records, topping the charts, whisking awards into the singer’s lap, and injecting a panacea into the heart of chronic ennui. And when the tempest had exhausted its feverish campaign, the song had become the worldwide best-selling single of 2012, had spent 74 weeks on the charts at home, and had achieved double the sales of the previous top single by a Canadian artist domestically. It was popular not only because the composition itself was genius, but because of its fresh sound of pure Canadian dance pop that had caught the urban music saturated international populace off guard. One of our all-time favourites is Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”.
I threw a wish in the well, Don’t ask me, I’ll never tell I looked to you as it fell, And now you’re in my way
I’d trade my soul for a wish, Pennies and dimes for a kiss I wasn’t looking for this, But now you’re in my way
Your stare was holdin’, Ripped jeans, skin was showin’ Hot night, wind was blowin’ Where do you think you’re going, baby?
Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here’s my number, So call me, maybe!
It’s hard to look right At you baby, But here’s my number, So call me, maybe!
Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here’s my number, So call me, maybe!
And all the other boys, Try to chase me, But here’s my number, So call me, maybe!
You took your time with the call, I took no time with the fall You gave me nothing at all, But still, you’re in my way
I beg, and borrow and steal Have foresight and it’s real I didn’t know I would feel it, But it’s in my way
Before you came into my life I missed you so bad I missed you so bad I missed you so, so bad
Before you came into my life I missed you so bad And you should know that I missed you so, so bad (bad, bad)
Somehow, we feel we have not yet heard the best that JUNO-winning Metric has to offer, given that they continue to improve with each release. What they have done thus far is amazing, whether the smooth ethereal sounds or gritty electronic indie rock vibes. Emily Haines’ perfect new wave tempered vocals are an essential part of the package. Though not released as a single, Synthetica’s “Clone” stands as one of our all-time favourite Canadian tunes. The song deals with the dilemma of making decisions based on society’s expectations (becoming a clone) or taking the road less taken. In any case, “it’s too late in the day” to change the course one set off on in the past. An extremely catchy song, with a swaggering groove, this one just compels you to keep hitting that replay button.
Call me out My regret Only makes me Stronger yet
Nothing I’ve ever done right Happened on the safe side It’s the other way I’m missing everyone I know now
It’s too late in the day, Too late in the day to take you on all the rides I was afraid to tell you that
Back to that Photograph Can you clone me? I look like everyone you know now
(Chorus:) It’s too late in the day, Too late in the day to turn it around or change my mind It’s too late in the day to take you on all the rides It’s too late in the day to tell me I’m off the path We’re already in the aftermath
Superb Toronto rocker Fefe Dobson enjoyed a JUNO-nominated, platinum debut album she recorded when she was 18. In 2005, she released a single called “Don’t Let It Go to Your Head” which was to be a part of her second album, Sunday Love. She co-wrote the song with Josh Alexander and Billy Steinberg and delivered it with an atypical vocal style which appears to have resonated with some more than others. Because the song and its followup single did not chart, the album was eventually cancelled by her record company, though a bootleg version leaked onto the internet. “Don’t Let It Go to Your Head” was covered by a Norwegian girl group and given a softer and less impactful treatment by American Idol champion Jordin Sparks. After the success of Fefe’s third album, Joy, an official digital copy of Sunday Love was released in 2012 in the United States. Fefe Dobson’s “Don’t Let It Go to Your Head” is one of our all-time favourites from a Canadian artist. In three words: best chorus EVER.
So what if I came clean And told you all you mean to me So what if I meant every word I said Baby don’t let it go to your head So what if I write your name Cause you’re always on my brain In a heart, I paint it crimson red Baby don’t let it go to your head
Don’t be getting any big ideas Let me make it clear
(Chorus:) Just cause I can’t go on Just cause I die when you’re gone Just cause I think of you in bed Don’t let it go to your head If I looked in your eyes One, two, too many times And memorized every word you said Don’t let it go to your head
So what if I want to kiss From your toes up to your lips It don’t mean that you’ve had me yet You’re gonna be good, I bet
I’m the one who’s in control here Let me make it clear
I had a porcelain doll I held on to it so tightly But when it broke, I swore I’d never hold on to something that tightly again Don’t let it go to your head Oh, no (oh, no)
The Lower Mainland of British Columbia enjoyed one of its first teen idol pop stars in the early 1960s when a 15-year-old Terry Black scored a #2 nationwide hit with “Unless You Care” and made an appearance on American Bandstand. Fast forward 48 years and acquaint yourselves with a “triple threat” from Abbotsford. She acts, she dances, and she sings. She was signed to Warner Music, became a platinum recording artist, won a Canadian Radio Music award, won the Nielsen Emerging Artists award for 2012, and was nominated for a JUNO award—all before completing high school. She has also travelled to Kenya with Free the Children. Third single from her debut album was a Top 40 dazzling tune produced by the capable hands of Canadian dance pop specialist Ryan Stewart. Filled with keyboard toots, an irresistible beat, and clever pop hooks, Victoria Duffield’s energizing “Break My Heart” is one of our favourite Canuck tunes of all-time. iTunes
Broken glass Broken heart There’s a picture of you laying on the floor Empty space on the wall While I am staring at Wishing that you’d call Cause every time you call me up I’m reminded of the pain you caused Can’t move on it’s so hard When you keep on coming back for more
[Chorus] It’s time for me to say I know you’re only gonna break my heart You’re getting in the way I should’ve seen this coming right from the start So baby don’t come around anymore Or you’ll be standing outside my front door So listen as I say Baby I’m tearing us apart Cause you’re only gonna break my heart I’m tearing us apart You’re only gonna break my heart I’m tearing us apart
Everyday it’s the same I keep seeing you I keep hearing your name And I know that one day I’ll get over you and I’ll be ok But every time you call me up I’m reminded of all the pain you caused Can’t move on, it’s so hard When you keep on coming back for more
Someday, somehow I might say These words aloud And I’ll make you see what you’re doing to me isn’t right But not right now
They formed in Jim Carrey’s hometown of Newmarket, ON in 1983 and originally called themselves Tokyo. Bryan Adams collaborator Jim Vallance produced the band’s debut album which became a quadruple platinum release. Between the years 1986 and 1994, half of their 14 Top 40 hit singles made the Top 10, one of which topped the charts and made #4 on the year-end chart. They won 5 JUNO awards during the late 80s. The band did fairly well internationally. Two songs made the Top 40 in the UK where the vocally gifted lead singer was born. A pair infiltrated the Billboard Top 10 in the US where the band was nominated for a Grammy award.
One of our all-time favourite songs from a Canadian artist is a piece entitled “Someday”, a Top 20 hit that made the 1986 year-end Top 100 chart. It won the JUNO award for Single of the Year in 1987. The band, of course, is Glass Tiger. iTunes
When I come home You telephone, and say You’re waiting for me. I ask you why, I hear you cry, but You’re still waiting for me.
Chorus: Someday You’ll be shedding your tears To cry over me Someday I’ll be losing this fear.
Now I’m alone You telephone and tell me you don’t need me I ask you why You tell me lies and say the truth would hurt me.
Down in the streets where lovers meet That’s where I’m waiting for you. Oh! In the streets, where lovers meet. I’m still waiting for you.
Diamond Rings (stage name of Toronto’s John O’Regan) has been recognized as one of the current artists to make synthpop sound good again. Countering current trends, he sings in baritone and makes music videos of a more glitzy nature. His expertise of the genre managed to attract celebrated 80s act Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark who ensured Diamond Rings opened for them on their 2013 North American tour. (He also opened for Swedish synthpop star Robyn in 2011). His brilliant sophormore album Free Dimensional from 2012 garnered high praises. Its track “Put Me On” was named Song of the Week by iTunes and is one of our all-time favourite tunes from a Canadian artist. iTunes
Beneath the sliver of the autumn moon Between the pigeons and the northern loons Crossing the river to the valley’s side Driving together in your fathers ride Come on
Put me on, put me on. Come on.
Roll down the window and let down your hair Turn up the music in the cool night air The engines revving through the heart beat glass And all I wanna do is make it last Come on
Put me on, put me on. Come on.
Hold me in arms until I’m blacker than blue And if you wanna lay down, I’ll lay down next to you I can take you places you thought you never knew Baby, we can will this dream into coming true It’s for you
No matter what I’ll try the best I can And because of you, I am who I am So take my hand and get behind the wheel And let me give you everything I feel Come on
Toronto’s Sheriff formed in 1979 with members Freddy Curci (vocals), Steve DeMarchi (guitars), Arnold Lanni (keyboards), Wolf Hassel (bass), and Rob Elliott (drums). They released only one full-length album which spawned two hits. Single “You Remind Me” peaked at #28 in Canada and “When I’m With You” did better reaching #8. Despite this success, the band broke up in 1985 citing internal tensions and a lack of international success as the main instigators. Lanni and Hassel went on to form the band Frozen Ghost which scored five Top 40 hits from 1987 to 1992.
“When I’m With You” was composed by the band’s keyboardist Arnold Lanni after he fell in love with Valeri Brown. He played it for her on Valentine’s Day and the two ended up marrying. He introduced the song to the rest of the band and they started playing it live. As the band was more into arena rock, they never intended the power ballad to be included on the album but their producer thought it was album worthy. Not only did the song become their biggest hit in Canada but it also charted in the United States peaking at #61 on their Billboard Hot 100.
Five years later, a New York disc jockey rediscovered the song and began playing it. Other radio stations in the area followed suit. On February 6, 1989, the song reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Legend has it that lead singer Freddy Curci was working as a pizza delivery boy when he was informed that the song had topped the US charts.
An attempt to reform Sheriff was unsuccessful as Lanni and Hassel were now busy with Frozen Ghost. As a result, Curci and Steve DeMarchi formed a new band called Alias which scored three hits in the early 90s, their biggest being “More Than Words Can Say” which topped the charts in Canada and was the second biggest hit of 1990.
The beautiful Canadian love song “When I’m With You”, for which an official music video was never made, is one of our all-time favourites. It closes with one of the longest notes ever held in a pop song. iTunes
I never needed love like I need you And I never lived for nobody, but I live for you Oooh, babe, lost in love is what I feel when I’m with you
Maybe it’s the way you touch me with the warmth of a sun Maybe it’s the way you smile, and I come all undone Ooh, babe, lost in love is what I feel when I’m with you
Baby, ooh I get chills when I’m with you Baby, my world stands still when I’m with you When I’m with you
I never cared for nobody like I care for you And I never wanted to share the things I want to share with you Ooh, babe, lost in love is what I feel when I’m with you
Baby, ooh I get chills when I’m with you Baby, my world stands still when I’m with you
Emerging from the forests of North Vancouver District, Paul Janz was a fairly big name in Canadian pop music back in the 80s. His son Colin Janz released material in 2008 and then mysteriously disappeared from the internet. According to Last FM and Myspace, he was to operate under the name Esper. An EP was released bearing the title Artisan Kane. CBC Music stated that this was the title of the artist and the work was called Shadowlands. However iTunes says Artisan Kane is the name of the EP, the artist’s name being Frederick. The EP was supposedly released by Vancouver’s 604 Records but they did not list Colin (under any of the aliases) as one of their artists, although he contributed a song to their A 604 Records Christmas album in 2010. His website listed by his Myspace was taken down. His Facebook page became inactive. Things looked very fishy.
Through paranormal techniques, we managed to summon the spirit of Robert Stack (Unsolved Mysteries) to investigate and were informed that Shadowlands was to be the album by Artisan Kane (Colin Janz). However, his shady investors who owned the rights to the music disappeared one day. The result was that Colin’s big budget album that was finished could not be released. Not uncommon for things like this to happen in the music business, it’s nevertheless always heartbreaking. No doubt, the incredibly talented artist was devastated. Those charmed by his amazing music were as well. Now under the name Frederick, Colin Janz is working with Light Organ Records (Louise Burns is one of their artists) and hopefully will be releasing new material soon (check out THIS). We pray that one of Canada’s finest talents will be able to fill our lives with lots of beautiful music in the future.
For now, we can enjoy Frederick’s mind-blowing 3-track EP. Its “Falling Forward” is one of our favourite songs of all-time by a Canadian artist. iTunes