In honour of International Women’s Day, we list songs from female soloists that topped the Canadian year-end charts.
By female soloists we do not include all-female duos or groups and no female fronted bands; however, we have included a female who names her backing band in the artist name (e.g. Joan Jett and the blackhearts).
Not all years have official year-end charts. We have 1967-1999 (minus 1972) from RPM and 2008-2017 from Billboard. From these we found 10 instances in which a female soloist had the number one song of the year. We list them below in chronological order with some info on the song penned and the music video embedded.
Surprisingly, songs you might think took the crown came in at #2, often outdone by a so-called novelty song. For example, “Bette Davis Eyes” was robbed of glory by The Stars on 45 “Medley” in 1981, and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was outdone by Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” in 2012.
Another point to consider is that sometimes a song appeared on two consecutive year end charts because it charted from the end of one year through the beginning of the next. Had it charted within one year, its performance on the lone year-end chart would be much better. This is why we cannot really consider these as the biggest female soloists songs in Canadian history, though they are certainly among them.
We have slipped in an 11th entry, as we took a look at the year-end CKOI charts to see if any musique Francophone tracks from female soloists made the lofty grade, and there was one.
The 11 songs below, from ballads to rock-outs were megahits back in the day, slaying like nothing else. Four of them are from Canadians. Which one is your favourite?
YEAR-END CHART TOPPERS
You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone
This inspirational piece was the number one song of 1977 in Canada. Debby is the daughter of Pat Boone who was a major player in the 1950s. “You Light Up My Life” spent five weeks at the top of the weekly RPM singles chart.
I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Very different from Boone’s entry but equally delicious, this bluesy rock anthem spent eight weeks at #1 and became the biggest song of 1982. The single was certified double platinum.
The Power of Love, Jennifer Rush
Later covered by Céline Dion, “The Power of Love” from the New Yorker was the biggest song of 1986 and went gold spending a couple of weeks at the summit of the weekly charts.
Like a Prayer, Madonna
Madonna’s biggest hit in the Great White North, “Like a Prayer” was on top for four weeks and became the top song of 1989 to close out the 80s.
L’aigle noir, Marie Carmen
This brilliant cover of French singer Barbara’s “Black Eagle” by Canadian singer Marie Carmen was the #1 song of 1992 on the CKOI chart beating out all English language and foreign artist songs of the year.
I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
From the diamond certified soundtrack to feature film The Bodyguard, “I Will Always love you” from the late American singer spent 8 weeks at #1 and was the biggest hit of 1993. It’s a cover of the Dolly Parton original.
You Learn, Alanis Morissette
At #1 for 3 weeks, “You Learn” was Alanis Morissette’s biggest hit and the top song of 1996. Her “Ironic” was 2nd of the year. Both are from her double diamond certified album Jagged Little Pill.
Building a Mystery, Sarah McLachlan
At the zenith of the weekly charts for eight weeks, Sarah McLachlan scored the biggest song of 1997. It is from her diamond certified album Surfacing.
My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion
Theme from blockbuster film Titanic, which broke all box office records, and was directed by Canada’s own James Cameron, this stands as Céline’s biggest hit to date. It was #1 for six weeks and the top song of 1998.
California Gurls, Katy Perry
Pop slayer Katy Perry championed the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 with this romp of pure fun for nine weeks, and it became 2010’s biggest hit.
Rolling in the Deep, Adele
With her soulful, salty vocals, Adele is the only British female singer to have a number one song of the year in Canada, and it was this one, in 2011. The MV has well over a billion views.