Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, spring is upon us. As we await warmer weather and some cherry blossoms, Canadian Music Blog has settled upon one dozen picks in terms of releases from the winter months up to the spring equinox which was March 20 this year. We listened to 125 albums from Canadian artists, 20 EPs, and a batch of stand-alone singles. To celebrate the works we found particularly exquisite, we created album badges with some words from our reviews of the works and decked them with five maple leaves. They are arranged in chronological order and are colour coded. There are eight albums, two EPs, and two singles. We took the two singles plus our favourite track from each of the LPs and EPs to create a 12-song playlist. Find it at the very bottom. We had trouble deciding on the order of the tracks, given that it’s not cohesive in terms of style, though not fully eclectic either. However, when we arranged them in chronological order by release date, it sounded pretty good. So we left it at that. We encourage all of you out there to do the same. Celebrate your favourite Canadian music by creating some playlists from the last three months.
It was a stellar year for Canadian artists, and as far as international music goes, some good things were cooked up in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, Oceania, and the rest of North America too. We cannot claim to have listened to every song and album released around planet Earth through 2016 (who can?), but we checked out as much as we could and will simply stamp as best one music video, one song, and one album. Unlike the narrow focus of mainstream media, we considered music from all 200 countries performed in any language or genre.
A large assortment of great international music came out in 2016. There were wonderful cutting edge albums like Cosmic Explorer from Japan’s Perfume and chillout Gemini from the United States’ Astronautica. Norway’s Dagny released a fantastic EP called Ultraviolet. South Korean R&B singer Lyn gave us the wonderful song “Love Story” for TV series The Legend of The Blue Sea. The Republic of China’s S.H.E. made somewhat of a comeback with an EP and song that were … Irreplaceable. And of course there were nifty works from Radiohead, Keith Urban, and that cute track from Kungs & Cookin’ On 3 Burners.
International MV of 2016: Love Myself More, Della Ding
For our Chinese language readers, that’s the music video for song 只是不夠愛自己 from singer 丁当.
Della Ding’s (birth surname Wu) rise to superstardom has been slow and steady. She is a native of the PRC’s Zhejiang Province (south of Shanghai), and when 18 years old pursued a singing career, eventually basing herself in Taibei, Republic of China, which has developed a strong music industry infrastructure over the years.
Della released her seventh studio album in March, 2016, Be My Own Friend, or 當我的好朋友. Strength lies in her vocals which are just gorgeous and wholesome. The music video for track “Love Myself More” is beautiful with a very clean look. The MV tells a story while providing lots of detailed shots, crisp, clear photography, classic architecture, little trinkets, and a dip in the hot springs surrounded by snow. We even get to see Della wearin’ a tuque. A nice touch was the cherry blossoms at the end reminding us that spring is just around the corner. 13 million plus views is not too shabby either.
International Song of 2016: Home, Diana Wang
Diana Wang is a Dutch recording artist, born and raised in The Netherlands (the city of Gorinchem). When she was 19, she travelled to the Republic of China and got involved in its entertainment industry. She struck a deal with Warner Music and released Mandarin language album Love Lesson which included tracks written by Hong Kong based hit-maker Khalil Fong. Apparently, with a lack of consensus over her musical direction, Diana and Warner parted ways, though on good terms. After dabbling in acting, Wang returned to music as an independent artist and dropped the amazing single “Home”. It is an R&B song that thankfully has melody, and one of the catchiest in a long time. Her vocals are nothing short of addictive. Check out the music video below which is up to 14 million views.
International Album of 2016: My Wild West, Lissie
The United States’ Lissie pulled off an impressive neo-trad feat, lighting up the sound stage with both flickering torches and neon lights on her third album My Wild West. She even dedicated a song to Ojai, California, the dusty wild west hometown of hi-tech heroes, the bionic man and woman. At the core of the sound is roots music (rock, country, folk), but it is often dressed in handsomely progressive attire. There are some tender moments and rollicking ones when she pumps out her powerful but pleasant vocals. Pure ecstasy is achieved when she blows things wide open like an emotional tornado but leaves everything intact.
The album tames the bronco, unstoppably pulses along, ploughs through the dirt, and lets loose when it needs to. Hear big choruses of elation on “Wild West”, “Hero”, and “Don’t Give Up on Me”, and beautiful writing and delivery on cuts like “Together or Apart”. My Wild West by Lissie is a wonderful album and our international favourite of 2016. MV for track “Wild West” embedded below.
Around Halloween, there are a few tracks you can count on that will sell well, such as Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “The Monster Mash”, and Ray Parker Junior’s “Ghostbusters”. Spooky themes from scary movies are often hard to find: “Rocky Mountains” by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind from The Shining soundtrack and “The Unborn” from Gary Numan and Michael R. Smith are two standouts. Some are more available like “Suspiria” by Goblin. If you prefer your spook more on the IDM side, as if to dance under blood sprinklers Blade style, Canada’s Renee Cooper, who records under Zombie Girl, should do the trick. From her excellent Killer Queen album released last year, here is some Halloween techno; opener “Thorazine” is embedded below. Lots of good tracks and remixes on the deluxe version of the album. iTunes
Canadian rocker Andie Duquette, whose debut album last year Ton problème was very well received, has teamed up with The Missing Children’s Network to share the faces of people unaccounted for over the years with her album’s track “Pour oublier” as soundtrack. She says she would be grateful if the result of this endeavour was to find even one of the many children and youth who have gone missing over the years. The music video opens with the statement that every day 18 children are reported missing in the province of Quebec alone. With info in both official languages, the website of the Missing Children’s Network is here. iTunes
Well to answer that question in specific terms, Carly Rae Jepsen will be performing at the Polaris gala September 19, as her album Emotion is one of 10 shortlisted for the annual prize. One of her fans (a jepsie) recently used an image to explain why she is referred to as Carly “Slay” Jepsen. We took the idea a little bit further in the listing of Metacritic scores for selected popular albums below. (No offence to fans of the other artists.)
We didn’t include any albums from her fellow Canadians, as Canada is not in a competition with itself. However, we make a brief reference to Justin Bieber’s Purpose with a Metacritic score of 63, Drake’s Views 69, and The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness 74, all below her towering score of 78. The number 78 can also serve as a reference point to the year 1978 which lies in the decade Carly promises to pay tribute to next. While Emotion was all about the 80s, Carly wants to get us dancing Bee Gees or ABBA style promising that her fourth studio album will be all about the 70s. Strobe lights? Yes, please. Platform shoes? Ah, maybe we’ll pass on that one. Carly is probably best at getting us dancing. Even the security guards at her early concerts couldn’t stand still. While we eagerly wait for her next album, with Emotion Side B holding us over, here is a summary of Carly Rae Jepsen’s biggest hits to date.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s 10 Biggest Hits to Date
10. Tonight, I’m Getting Over You
From album Kiss, Carly penned this track with a legion of writers including the ubiquitous Max Martin. While making it to #88 in Canada, it was a Top 40 smash in the UK peaking at #33.
9. Run Away with Me
The opening track from critically acclaimed Polaris shortlisted Emotion was co-written with Sweden’s Shellback. Without much radio support, it climbed to #83 at home and #58 in Britain.
Anticipation rode high in the days surrounding Carly’s Kiss album for a collaboration with Justin Bieber, as she had been signed to his management team. Fans were not disappointed with the result. “Beautiful” made the Top 40 at #37.
7. Tug of War
Jepsen’s folk-pop debut single and title track of her first album was co-written with Canadian dance pop doyen Ryan Stewart. Reaching #36, this one went gold, and Carly became to the rest of the world Canada’s best-kept secret.
Followup to “Tug of War”, “Bucket” was the album’s second single. Also going gold, it did slightly better on the charts reaching #32 in the summer of 2009.
5. This Kiss
Off Carly’s second LP, “This Kiss” became a staple of radio airplay and peaked on the charts at #23.
Followup to smash hit “Call Me Maybe”, the original version of “Curiosity” from the EP of the same name was all over the airwaves and also went gold. It made it to #18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
3. I Really Like You
Despite a lukewarm response from radio, the lead single from album Emotion went gold and peaked on the charts at #14. It was even a bigger hit in the UK where it reached #3.
2. Good Time
A surprise collaboration with Owl City, “Good Time” topped the charts becoming Carly’s second #1. It was included on album Kiss helping the album go gold and win the JUNO award for Album of the Year.
1. Call Me Maybe
“Call Me Maybe” took a while to build momentum but once it did it became a global blockbuster, topping the charts in dozens of countries around the planet including Canada. It apparently was the best-selling digital single of 2012 in the world and was domestically certified at 8x platinum. The song was included on both the Curiosity EP as well as album Kiss.
The year 2015 had us all living in a ramshackle town when it came to women in country music. Misogynistic statements made by some players in the broadcast industry tarnished the genre as a whole, as male and female players and listeners were all left with bad tastes in their mouths. In Canada, country songs voiced by women, whether as soloists or lead singers of groups and duos made up an appalling 7.3% of spins among the 50 most played songs of the year. Even rock radio had better representation from the fairer half.
Rather than offering a sincere apology and a promise to turn things around, perhaps in the interest of saving face, the broadcast industry has been quietly increasing femcon since the end of 2015, though there is still a long ways to go to achieve balance. Notable players include both Canadian and American women in country. On the stars and stripes side, we have American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, California’s Cam, and recent breakthrough artist Maren Morris, all of whom have scored big hits recently.
The sweethearts of maple include Jess Moskaluke. “Kiss Me Quiet” became her first Top 10 country radio hit, and followup “Take Me Home” has also done well, reaching the Top 15. While even the Canadian men of country have had a hard time getting airplay in the U.S., Alberta’s Lindsay Ell got some fairly significant spins with “By the Way”, a Top 20 country hit in Canada.
Come the end of April, a coalescence of forces will see to it that women clean up this town. Three majors are set to saddle up with new releases. Past CCMA Female Artist of the Year winner Kira Isabella, whose voice is ever so heavenly, will be catapulting new single “I’m So Over Getting Over You” to the airwaves April 27. All ready to one-two the bandits of disinterest, two prominent cowgirls will be launching full-length albums on the same day, April 29. Following up her Top 20 hit “Bow Chicka Wow Wow”, Meghan Patrick‘s Grace & Grit joins the release of Madeline Merlo‘s Free Soul which includes her #11 smash “Whatcha Wanna Do About It”. These two hot discs will be available at record saloons country wide, best enjoyed with an ice cold glass of sarsaparilla.
MAGIC!’s Nasri was recently interviewed by QMFM DJ Olivia Jones. It is one of the funniest interviews we have seen in some time. Nasri talks about new single “Lay You Down Easy” and the reggae pop group’s upcoming studio album. QMFM was recently crowned the most listened to radio station in Metro Vancouver.
In high school chemistry we learn(ed) about covalent bonding and ionic bonding. But perhaps the most glorious type of all of them is … male bonding? Scott Helman sat behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Beetle Dune to pick up his fellow singers Franseco Yates and Brett Kissel on their way to the JUNOs. The car has a Knight Rider feature with a voice that sounds much nicer than KITT’s. Brett Kissel was very impressed that his intro by Wikipedia was accurate.
This video is a few months old but it is so worth checking out. Follow Carly Rae Jepsen to the sweetest bakeries in the beautiful country of Japan. Fresh off her recent, successful concert tour of sakura land, Carly will be joining Hedley and the aforementioned Francesco Yates on tour across Canada through April and May. Things kick off in St. John’s, NL at Mile One Stadium on April 7. The final show will be May 20 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Canada’s installment of The Voice / La Voix, happening in Montreal, is getting down to the wire in season 4. Each of the four teams is down to two contestants. We have embedded videos of the singers in action that will give you a taste of their talents. Which one do you think deserves to win?
Markos Gonzalez Clemente
With Canadian music slaying on the international stage the past little while, we thought we’d check in with what international music is doing well outside of Canada. Given our exceptionally diverse ethnic makeup, Canadians are always curious to know what’s happening overseas. We looked at the six biggest music markets. As Canadians are familiar with what’s happening in the US due to the preferences of our media and broadcasters, we exclude that nation and instead look at the world’s most populous country, China. For each nation, we selected a currently popular tune within its borders (that isn’t on the Canadian charts) by an artist from that country. We’ve embedded official videos if they exist.
The United Kingdom
We’re under the queen, but often big hits in Britain are ignored by CHR radio in Canada. Moving on up the UK charts is “Girls Like” by British rapper Tinie Tempah. The track features Sweden’s Zara Larsson. Tempah is very adept at combining hip hop with house music, the latter having been very popular in the UK over the past few years.
Our Commonwealth cousin is only 24 million compared to our 36 but has a bigger music market. The reason for it is that the average Australian spends $20 USD per year on music whereas the average Canadian spends only $12 USD. Australia’s Flume is doing well especially with platinum certified single “Never Be Like You” which features Kai. Guess where Kai is from? Toronto.
Jain is a new singer from Toulouse, France who recently released her debut album and scored her first major hit, “Come”. The MV is as fun as the song itself.
Della Ding is a female soloist from Mainland China, growing up in Jiaxing, a city in the province of Zhejiang. When she was 18, she relocated to Taiwan to pursue a career in music, the island having over the past decades developed a very strong infrastructure of music production. Her latest hit is called “Give Me One Love”. See the MV below.
Production duo Stereoact teams up with Berlin singer Kerstin Ott to deliver this fabulous Allophone piece called “Die immer lacht” a big hit in Germany. MV below.
The world’s second largest music market is experiencing Perfume fever! The EDM female trio from Hiroshima will be releasing new album Cosmic Explorer April 6, and yes it will be available at iTunes Canada. Song “Flash” is at this writing at #1 on iTunes Japan. From what we understand, it is theme song for live action movie Chihayafuru which is based on a Japanese comic strip.
2015 may have been a male heavy year in terms of media coverage, music sales, radio spins, and 2016 JUNO nominations, but these ten women were absolute fire, and we love them. Based on the success of albums and singles on the Canadian charts, here are the Top 10 female soloists of 2015.
#10. Mia Martina
While “Danse” was her big hit of 2014 (and gold-certified), the New Brunswick superstar who launched her career from the nation’s capital, released her second album, a self-titled affair, and single “Beast” which clawed itself into the Top 40. She also gave the track a spectacular performance at the Much Music Video Awards. Mia has been nominated for 3 JUNO Awards in the past though none this year.
#9. Jann Arden
It’s pretty daunting to launch a Christmas album after Michael Bublé’s juggernaut, but Calgary’s Jann Arden did, and it was so good it impressed the likes of Rod Stewart. The album reached the Top 5 on the Billboard charts, received gold certification for sales of 40,000 units, and got her a JUNO nomination for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year.
#8. Ria Mae
Hailing from Halifax, Ria Mae’s “Clothes Off” became a sizable hit, reaching #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually going gold. It is nominated for Single of the Year at the JUNOs. Hopefully an album will appear in 2016.
#7. Brigitte Boisjoli
A remarkable tribute album of Patsy Cline numbers, this native of Drummondville, QC has not yet been nominated for a JUNO but has won a number of other awards and accolades. The album reached #2 on the Billboard charts and struck gold.
#6. Jocelyn Alice
Calgary’s Jocelyn Alice hit gold with “Jackpot”. It was the 80th biggest song of the year. Jocelyn put the release of an album on hold due to the success of the single, and many resulting approaches from bigger record labels. Now that she has inked a deal, an LP should appear in 2016.
#5. Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly released her critically acclaimed album Emotion. It did fairly well on the charts reaching #8. The album also spawned gold single “I Really Like You” (88th of the year). The song could have done better had it received stronger radio support. Carly is nominated only for JUNO Fan Choice this year. She won 3 awards in 2013.
#4. Ariane Moffatt
Ariane’s song “Debout” was 43rd of the year at CKOI which ranks both Anglo and Franco and both Canadian and international hits. Her album 22h22 made it to #4 on the weekly Billboard charts. It won Best Pop album at the ADISQ Felix Awards in Quebec. The album is nominated for Francophone Album of the Year at the JUNOs. Ariane won a JUNO in the same category in 2009.
#3. Cœur de pirate
Beatrice Martin’s “Carry On” was the Billboard Hot 100 charting single (her first) from album Roses. The native of Outremont, QC released a Franco version of the song called “Oublie-Moi”. The bilingual album was the second most successful from a Canadian female at 29th of the year (Billboard). It peaked on the weekly charts at #2 and went gold. Coeur de Pirate is nominated for 2 JUNOs this year: Songwriter of the Year and JUNO Fan Choice.
#2. Diana Krall
Diana’s gold-certified album Wallflower was the most successful album of the year from a Canadian female soloist. It is nominated for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year at the JUNOs. Diana is originally from Nanaimo, BC.
Before we reveal the number one female soloist, here are a few honourable mentions: Grimes (critically acclaimed #16 album), Jess Moskaluke (Billboard Hot 100), Shania Twain (Billboard Top 10 album), Andee (Billboard Hot 100), Ash Koley (Billboard Hot 100), Avril Lavigne (Billboard Hot 100), Alyssa Reid (Billboard Hot 100), Charlie (Billboard Hot 100), Marie-Pierre Arthur (Felix Award winner), Bia (Felix Award winner), Jorane (Felix Award winner), Janina Fialkowska (Felix Award winner).
#1. Alessia Cara
From Brampton, Ontario, this Italian Canadian teen star had the biggest and only platinum recording of the year from a home-grown female soloist. “Here”, the anti-party anthem, was a huge success internationally as well and brought the singer to perform on high-profile televised chat shows, not to mention at the last show on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour. At 60th of the year overall, the song has given Alessia four JUNO nominations, and she was the first confirmed performer at the gala.
Ah, the 1980s. Canada won 44 medals in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Among the heroes was swimmer Alex Baumann. Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988. Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers won four Stanley Cups through the decade. Vancouver was the site of the 1986 World Expo. From the metropolitan area, Michael J. Fox, star of TV sitcom Family Ties starred in the blockbuster film Back to the Future in 1985. A number of Canadian pop/rock recording artists became global superstars in the 80s. Of course, there were many more exciting things, but in this post we celebrate the 80s by looking at the biggest song per year through the decade as well as the biggest Canadian artist hit (source: RPM magazine). Check them out in the table below.
Michael Bublé’s fifth Christmas special opened with him singing while perched on top of the iconic Hollywood sign. He walked through a movie set even enjoying the driver’s seat behind a flux capacitor powered DeLorean. The Grinch grimaced at him through a window. Taking the stage at Orpheum Theatre, built in 1926, he commented that there may not be snow in Hollywood but it is a place where people come with the hopes and dreams of being movie stars. “And just like snow, most of those dreams will melt away and turn into slush.” Bublé pointed out that his family is from Canada and his wife is from Argentina. “So if Donald Trump wins, neither of them are going to get to cross the border.” (The American politician has suggested building walls along the northern and southern borders of the United States.) Michael introduced his first guest, new pop singer Tori Kelly.
Interspersed with the performances was Michael appearing in a sketches riding in a tour bus through the streets of Hollywood. On his first encounter, he spotted Jay Leno driving up alongside in a hot rod. Michael called out to him. Jay mispronounced his name but remembered having him on his show 10 or 12 years ago. He verified that Michael was Canadian and then accused him of being another foreigner, which he mispronounced as fareigner, taking a job away from an American.
Michael sang “Here Comes Santa Claus” before introducing a “once in a generation talent”, Céline Dion who performed “O Holy Night”.
Michael continued on the tour bus spotting model Gigi Hadid taking out the garbage and not wearing much. Michael’s hormones got the better of him as he attempted conversation, and Gigi was rescued by her protective beau. After she left, we heard, “Mike, she wanted you…” The bus driver turned around, and it was William Shatner, continuing, “…to leave.” Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings performed next, an upbeat R&B rendition of “White Christmas”.
Michael repeated the segment he did last year in which he took Christmas song requests from social media. One fan asked him to do Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. Michael commented that it was not a Christmas song so he would not be doing it. The crowd laughed. He did do The Chipmunks’ “Don’t Be Late”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, and “Feliz Navidad”. Michael then performed “Jingle Bells” with Tori Kelly.
Michael aboard the tour bus got excited stopping at Blake Shelton’s house assuring us their relationship status had gone from “it’s complicated” to “best, best friends”. He was even wearing a Blake Shelton T-shirt. Michael hollered for Blake to come out. He did and looked very disappointed to see Michael. “Stop sending me those friendship bracelets, man. I’m not interested.”
The highlight of the night was when Michael Bublé sang in duet with Céline Dion, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. The few moments when they sang in unison were priceless. Michael closed the show with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.
Tomorrow, December 7, 2015, nominations will be announced for the United States’ Grammy Awards. A number of nods toward Canadian artists are expected. JUNO nominations will not be out until next year; however, normally they confirm a first batch of performers in December. The main Billboard year-end charts are due out on Wednesday, December 9: the Canadian Year-End Hot 100, Top 50 Albums, and Top 25 Artists. Additional Canadian year-end charts will be published via the Nielsen Music Update Newsletter a week or two later. We will publish them all on the site plus some analysis as we did last year. We will also take a look at international year-end charts to see how our artists did. We look forward to CKOI’s annual year-end chart which gives an idea of the most popular Franco songs of the year. With the year’s biggest retail season underway, a batch of new Music Canada gold & platinum certifications will be out at some point. The Canadian Music Blog will be publishing its year-end favourites lists later on: 10 music videos, 10 EPs, 25 albums, and 30 songs of 2015. At the end of the year, we will unveil the winners of our four readers’ polls.
We were asked to provide information on new Canadian female soloists in 2015. By “new” we will identify those who made the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 for the first time through the year to date. Many more of course released their debut singles, EPs, or albums in a variety of genres this year.
To date, a total of 95 tracks credited or co-credited to Canadian artists peaked on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 in 2015. Of these, 11 were from female soloists which are listed below.
“Sorries” by Andee
“I Really Like You” by Carly Rae Jepsen
“Carry On” by Coeur de Pirate
“Beast” by Mia Martina
“Fly” by Avril Lavigne
“Jackpot” by Jocelyn Alice
“Here” by Alessia Cara
“Clothes Off” by Ria Mae
“Dangerous” by Alyssa Reid
“Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen
“Ghosts” by Charlie
Andee made the Hot 100 last year with her Top 40 hit “Never Gone”. Carly Rae Jepsen, Mia Martina, Avril Lavigne, and Alyssa Reid are no strangers to the Canadian charts. Coeur de Pirate is a bit of an anomaly. “Carry On/Oublie Moi” is her first song to ever make the Hot 100, but she certainly is not new to success with a couple of platinum albums under her tuque. That leaves four “new” charting female soloists for 2015:
Calgary’s Jocelyn Alice has been releasing music independently since 2011. “Jackpot” was her breakout single in 2015. It has gone gold.
Unlike the other three, teenager Alessia Cara broke out internationally, not just within Canada. Gold single “Here” was her official debut. She followed it up with EP Four Pink Walls and LP Know-It-All, all released in 2015. She is of Italian descent and grew up in Brampton, Ontario.
Ria Mae independently released an EP in 2009 and an album in 2011, but 2015 was her breakout year getting signed to Sony Music and going gold with hit single “Clothes Off”. Ria is from Halifax.
Like Jocelyn Alice, Charlie (Storwick) is from Calgary and like Alessia Cara, she is a teen star. She was crowned winner of YTV’s The Next Star Season 4 when she was 12. “Ghosts” is her formal debut single.