The 25 Best Albums of 2017

We tracked a total of 678 Canadian artist albums released in 2017. Of these, 55 were greatest hits, various artist compilations, live albums, or holiday releases, and we did not count them towards contention for our Top 25 of the year. We ranked our favourite 25 of the remaining 623 after many listens regardless of genre, language, region, and relative popularity of the artist. These 25 represent an elite 4% of 2017 Canadian artist studio albums. At Canadian Music Blog, we like music that is sophisticated with catchy melodies and pleasing vocals (unless it is instrumental). Find below our 25 favourite Canadian artist albums of 2017 including our Album of the Year!.

258 of Hearts by Blinker the Star

Since the mid-90s, Pembroke, Ontario’s Blinker the Star has been concocting some delicious music. 2017’s 8 of Hearts could be classified as alternative rock; in addition, you will hear a good dose of a retro progressive rock kneaded into the dough. At times, there are surprises, like a banjo on track “Heather” and haunting piano with fluttering analog synth on “Caves and Shadows”. Here are well written songs that are highly enjoyable to listen to. We’re lucky to have this great band aboard Team Canada.  iTunes

24The Space Between by Majid Jordan

It’s the Canadian duo that does R&B right. Majid Jordan brought us sophomore effort The Space Between. The Toronto pair is best known for giving Drake his first Top 5 hit as a main artist – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. The Space Between sees Majid crooning smoothly over Jordan’s downtempo musicianship. It is chillout music with ground-shaking bass, addictive beats, cool grooves, and (thankfully) clean lyrics. Both those heavily into R&B and those not typically taken by the genre will find this little nugget diggable. The album features well-known artists dvsn and PartyNextDoor.  iTunes

23A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone by Mappe Of


Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle, through Paper Bag Records, presented his debut album A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone under moniker Mappe Of. Lyrically, he populates the disc with an interesting gang of characters: a disturbed boy setting fire to his family’s home, a vagabond in Australia who’s disavowed all family ties, a Canadian youth figuring life out overseas, and an elder dying from Alzheimer’s who can’t recognize his family. Musically, the album is a dreamy, meta-dimensional sequence of alternative folk masterpieces. Mappe Of blends synthesizers with organic instruments including guitars (both acoustic and electric), trumpets, violins, kalimba, and autoharp. Where you allow this album to take you is entirely up to you; it’s filled with sonic magic.  iTunes

22LLL (Love, Loss, Latitude) by Wanting


Vancouver based Wanting released this, her third album. While keeping her singer-songwriter and adult contemporary sensibilities, she dressed some of the songs up with a slicker, more upbeat, electronic pop sound. Assisting her with this was producer Justin Gray whose impressive CV includes work with two MCs – Miley Cyrus and Mariah Carey. As a result, we get a nice blend of flavours. One of the things that makes LLL so enjoyable is that Wanting’s clear vocals shine though the music in such a way that you get drawn into the lyrics, and as far as lyrics go, she holds nothing back and tells it as it is. Check out especially tracks “You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” and “Set You Free”. Wanting expresses without reservation the euphoric throes of love and the paralyzing sting of loss. Her skills at songwriting have never been stronger, and her vocals seem to have gotten even better. Every track here is enjoyable, and LLL is a beautiful album.  iTunes

21Love Is Gold by Ryan Kennedy


A singular voice and beautifully written smooth folk-pop songs deck this one. Last year, Ryan Kennedy‘s “Honest Song” stirred up some buzz and graced the airwaves in certain regions of the country; its MV has racked up over 100,000 views. He composed all tracks on the 2017 album, and there isn’t a single bland one in the batch. As both a singer and a songwriter, Kennedy aces both which is uncommon. Count this album a winner.  iTunes

20Midnight for a While by Walkwaves


Walkwaves, a Markham, Ontario group goes beyond the popular pool of smooth synth pop into the rougher seas of new wave here and succeeds. At times funky, at others gritty, but always with catchy beats and expressive vocals, Walwaves strikes us as a more organic Depeche Mode. Opener “Get You Out” burbles along carefully before switching on some rumbling bass pulses; it’s a delicious track. The catchy “Girls on Snapchat” combines vocal crooning with detailed instrumentation. While modern electronic musicians seem to perpetually use the same few synth/computer voices when there are thousands available, you’ll find a nice variety through the Walkwaves disc; find many on track “T.T.T.L.”. For something different, check out the atmospheric “Friend” one of the more experimental tracks which satisfies by throwing in unexpected musical twists. Closer “Nightfall” packs a nice punch to cap things off with a bang.  iTunes

19La grande nuit vidéo by Philippe B


Everybody enjoys a big video night. JUNO nominee and collaborator of such aces as Pierre Lapointe, Groenland, and Salomé Leclerc, Philippe B dazzles on fifth album, La grande nuit vidéo. Find meticulous attention to detail and a knack for penning masterful tunes with immaculate arrangements. Philippe is the sort of fellow who makes music critics drool copiously, a true champion of folk or singer-songwriter styles. On the album, he explores the bygone age when couples would spend the night together before cathode-ray screens watching television series, movies, and everything presented by the intelligent box of communication. The nostalgia abounds with superb orchestral arrangements and is augmented by the sweet guest vocals of Milk & Bone’s Laurence Lafond-Beaulne. If you want a work of art, this is it.  iTunes

18Antisocialites by Alvvays


Toronto group Alvvays pressed its sophomore album, Antisocialites. The band is helmed by Nova Scotian raised Molly Rankin. The smart mixing job appropriately obscures the vocals slightly on the shoegaze tracks, such as delicious opener “In Undertow”. And on jangly pop tracks, like “Dreams Tonight,” they shine through. Molly purposefully sings in a deadpan style which works well with the Alvvays design. The writing is strong and the fusion of flavours is seamless, as heard on songs like decade defying “Plimsoll Punks”. Although the cubby-hole genre does not have broad spectrum appeal, the musical composition here will waft onto many wanderers its charms. No one can resist a good tune, and Alvvays has the savvy to craft more than a few. Nicely done!  iTunes

17Finale by Mike Rocha


Toronto-based producer Mike Rocha surfed up a pleasant surprise, his debut album Finale. His past production credits include works from Greys, Electric Youth, Ivana Santilli, and Black Pistol Fire. The instrumental electronica, led by the Prophet ’08 synthesizer, at times amusing and at others dark, is highly cinematic and rich enough to please fans of both classic and modern sides of the field of time. The weaves of sound succeed in eliciting tension, urgency, thrills, suspense, and all emotional rollercoaster effects required for an entertaining film experience. At times, you will feel like you’re listening to a therapeutic mixtape in The Unborn, being hunted by the terminator, or inside the complex of Ex Machina. Finale is as good as anything done by Markus Guentner or any of the other acclaimed crafters of the genre.  iTunes

16There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light by Stars


Twinkling ever so brightly is this one by Quebec group Stars, produced by Peter Katis who has done an excellent job blending orchestral manoeuvres with upbeat synth pop. As always, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell take turns at the mic delivering sensitive lyrics. The album was heralded by single “Privilege” which opens the disc. Playful B-side “We Call It Love” is included. “Losing to You”, at over 6 minutes, is packed with enough goodies to keep you captivated: a nocturnal shimmer that breaks into slapping beats and burbling bass. Another standout is “Hope Avenue” suggesting a place to go for Strange Advance’s “We Run”. “Real Thing” seals the deal for a great album, a synth pop ace. Even on the mellower tracks, genius is present, an example being “California, I Love That Name”. “Wanderers” is the perfect closer, dramatic and feel-goody. Three JUNO nominations, all for Alternative Album of the Year, are among Stars’ achievements.  iTunes

15Cindy Doire présente: Panorama by Cindy Doire


With origins in Timmins, Ontario, and serving as one-half of popular singer-songwriter duo Scarlett Jane, Cindy Doire presents her fourth solo album Panorama. The disc is a genre-defying collection of carefully calculated catchy compositions encompassing measured grooves. The panoramic sound is both ethereal and delicate, as Cindy concocts a new style for this work, an amalgam of dream pop and Moog synthesizer inflected folk all wrapped up in a silvery sheath of angelic vocals. On production detail is Mark Howard (Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Waits). Cindy Doire présente: Panorama is an album for the intelligent who love to dream. It soothes, captivates, and rearranges frayed emotions into perfect order.  iTunes

14Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene


Toronto collective Broken Social Scene (a.k.a. BSS) has scored two gold albums each of which won a JUNO (Alternative Album of the Year). At the core of the lineup which has gone anywhere from six to nineteen members were founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Though a hit single has eluded the group, critical acclaim has poured in. BSS failed to stay afloat announcing a hiatus in 2010, but in 2017 experienced a strong return via this fab new album. Onboard are such notables as Feist and Metric’s Emily Haines & Jimmy Shaw; 15 members are on the disc. Track “Halfway Home”, absolutely epic, combines a towering Coldplay anthem with intelligent Arcade Fire facets; this was our favourite cut. Metric’s Emily Haines seems to have set off on a ski jump with a gliding vocal delivery while guitars pump the air beneath her in “Protest Song”. “Skyline” blends the cinematic folk of Grapes of Wrath with the alternative atmospherics of Love & Rockets; we dig the guitar work yielding to boss percussion halfway through. The popular “Stay Happy” is funky, quirky, and bold. Feist takes the mic in title-track “Hug of Thunder” drenched with her signature choppy approach, flickering bass, and subdued boom.  iTunes

13Black Moon by AMAARA


Triple threat Kaelen Ohm, recording artist, actress, and award-winning filmmaker, released album Black Moon under moniker Amaara. Technically an LP (with six tracks, it has a run time of 27 minutes), the album is drenched in dream pop atmospherics. Amaara, having served as a member of Reuben and the Dark, proves she can make just as satisfying music as a soloist. The music frolics airily through lullabies, fantasies, and fairy tale magic. The exceptional title-track perfectly delivers her style. “Dreamcatcher” blends the ominous with the soothing before breaking into a soft flow. Amaara’s Black Moon is a hauntingly beautiful album for those seeking something magical.  iTunes

12L’appartement by Ludovic Alarie


Handsome Canadian singer-songwriter Ludovic Alarie of Montreal gave us his second album L’appartement. Essentially an alternative work, Ludovic writes beautiful folky songs and dresses them with sparkles of electronic hooks. In mood, L’appartement drips with pacifying melancholy. Alarie says the music embodies the “feeling of an apartment in which you lived, how you were, how you evolved, and all the feelings and memories that are attached to it”. He says the musical composition came to him quite quickly but the lyrics not so much, explaining that it took him only 3 or 4 days to finish the music but 3 or 4 months to complete the poetry. Of lyrics, he feels he is completing a puzzle where each word has a precise spot. Overall album production was handled by Warren C. Spicer of locally based group Plants and Animals. Whether you live in an apartment, a condo, or a house, Ludovic Alarie’s L’appartement will fill the rooms with alluring songs. This one’s a keeper.  iTunes

11Human Voicing by The Luyas


Montreal indie alt-rock group The Luyas hit the scene in 2006 and saw a Polaris Prize nomination for third studio album Animator in 2013. The band is known for including some unusual instruments in its recordings. Human Voicing is album number four. The Luyas, currently signed to Paper Bag Records, are four members including lead singer Jessie Stein. The vocals hit the spot, and the music is well-written and intelligent. Our ears remained engaged throughout most of the album. There’s a nice wall of sound, dynamic and stimulating, and edgy without being too noisy. An enjoyable listening experience from one of the world’s better indie bands.  iTunes

10Themes for Dying Earth by Teen Daze


Teen Daze, i.e. B.C. Fraser Valley’s Jamison Isaak, has a formidable work ethic releasing two albums this year. We loved both but were quite taken with this, the earlier disc. It features contributions from Jon Anderson, Sean Carey, Nadia Hulett, Sound of Ceres, and Dustin Wong. The album is a fine banquet of electronic ambient pop that explores themes of nature as a respite from the concrete forest, and the environment as something to be conserved. The album opens with “Cycle,” which begins an exploration of the artist’s personal experience dealing with anxiety and depression, and branches out to examine external forces, like climate change, that affect those moods. Another standout track, “Lost,” gently flutters in like a colourful butterfly before opening up droning vocal harmonies and bringing in Nadia Hulett’s twinkling serenade toward the close. Teen Daze’s Themes for Dying Earth expertly spins a crystalline web of dream and euphoria.  iTunes

9You Don’t Know by Jenna Nation


As far as R&B goes, it doesn’t get much better than Toronto’s Jenna Nation. You Don’t Know was the best album of the genre through the year. It includes her stunning vocal work, ground shaking beats, and a ton of atmosphere, with melodies, sky-scraping choruses, and all the trimmings of a masterful recording. The album’s standout track if there is one is “Can’t Get Over You” with bass to drool over. Electronic pizzazz abounds on “I Love It” and mysterious grooves animate the title track.  iTunes

8La vie qu’il nous reste by Marc Dupré


Canadian superstar Marc Dupré launched his sixth album in 2017 – La vie qu’il nous reste. It swiftly scrambled into the iTunes Top 10. Two of Marc’s previous albums have gone gold. Five of his songs have appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 including Félix song of the year winner “Nous sommes les mêmes” at #47. This album is one of the best pop albums of 2017, chock full of very enticing tracks enhanced by sharp production and an uplifting delivery.  iTunes

7Departures, Vol. I by North Atlantic Drift


When we think of ambient electronica, the Germans come to mind as being world leaders of the genre. Well, guess what, Canadians rank right up there too. You will not believe your ears when you take in the sounds of North Atlantic Drift‘s Departures, Vol. I. This is a duo from Toronto, and it was one of the best albums in the genre that we’d heard in a long time. “Temperance” is an instant classic.  iTunes

6COLLXTION II by Allie X


With this album, Oakville, Ontario’s Allie X earned a pass into the league of extraordinary pop music pros. She hit her stride and is now in a position to charm the masses with her brand of catchy synth pop. A Billboard Hot 100 charting artist, thanks to “Catch” (#55), Alexandra Ashley Hughes launched a career in indie pop from Toronto. Four years ago, her talents took her to Los Angeles, US where she worked as a songwriter and on her own music, often collaborating with JUNO award winning Canadian producer Cirkut. CollXtion II is her first formal full-length album. Choice cuts include ripe-for-radio whistling and plucky opener “Paper Love”. Slow-burning “Need You” combines seductive flickering percussion with an effective processed vocal feature of Valley Girl. “Lifted” crescendos into an exhilarating reggae-tinged chorus. A similar effect envelops the slightly eerie “Simon Says” which creeps into a synth-spicy chorus. Giving the album a large wattage of shimmer is “Old Habits Die Hard”. Previously released as a single, “That’s So Us” has perhaps the album’s winning melody. Strong writing for CollXtion II is enhanced by pristine production. Ideas have been carefully cultivated into perfect fruition.  iTunes

5Future Politics by Austra

Austra is a JUNO nominated electronic pop project from Toronto, created by Katie Stelmanis in 2009 and includes three other players. Future Politics is album number three. It offers a tighter, punchier sound than the previous two with addictive beats and instant likeability. Lyrically, the songs are smart in not offering specific political ideas in a world where a cacophony of entrenched opinions and opposing interests is flourishing fiercely, scattering humanity into different antagonistic camps. Universal themes are touched upon, for example that both exploitation and mendicancy are undeserving of praise. Katie also re-introduces the subject of alienation by technology, certainly truer in today’s world with ubiquitous cell phone finger tapping. She does this, however, with a warmer presentation than grim visions presented by say Ultravox in “Dislocation”. As such, the album has more of a hopeful vision of the future and inspires us to be creative in conjuring up new and better systems of society than the worn-out models of today. And amidst the chaos and the hostile arguments, it reminds us too, via the cover, that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Austra’s Future Politics offers a refreshing cleanse for wearied minds.  iTunes

4Fear/Nothing by The Belle Game


Vancouver group The Belle Game launched Fear / Nothing, its second LP. While the debut was an adventurous trek of a band trying out different things, everything gels on #2, and the group hits its stride. The music packs quite a punch, with its appreciable energy, dreamy crooning from lead singer Andrea Lo, rich, piercing synthesizers, and addictive percussion. Track “Spirit” is one of best songs of 2017 released anywhere in the world; it’s the kind of uplifting number with which any artist would love to close out a show. Onboard the Belle Game team for this album are producers Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Dave Hamelin (The Stills). Fear / Nothing is both dynamic and dramatic encompassing a sound described by the band as “crush pop”.  iTunes

3Noir Éden by Peter Peter


Peter Peter, a synthpop specialist, Quebec City native, and multiple Polaris Prize nominee, cast forth his third studio album, Noir éden. He proves on this record that he is especially good at crafting a catchy and satisfying chorus. We highlight some standout tracks such as delightful keys dancing along in “Damien,” reminiscent of say Gazebo’s “I Like Chopin” or Double’s “The Captain of Her Heart”. “Allégresse” includes a nice touch of aloof vocal work that Phèdre did so well on “Ancient Nouveau”. Hear captivating bass synth on the title track adding nicely to other detailed touches in a very well put-together song. “Loving Game” is pure 80s, a bilingual, pulse-driven standout with French verses and an English chorus. Noir éden is Peter Peter’s best work yet and so much worth checking out for fans of the genre.  iTunes

2The Courtneys II by The Courtneys


Vancouver indie fuzz rock trio The Courtneys debuted in 2013 with a set that impressed on an international scale. In fact, New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records signed the group to oversee the sequel, The Courtneys II. The aloof, sugary singing from drummer “Cute Courtney” binds nicely with “Classic Courtney’s” exciting phaneritic guitar work. Together with “Crazy Courtney” on bass, the trio takes us on a highly engaging ride through lo-fi slacker culture and bubble-gum garage punk. The disc opens with “Silver Velvet”. “Country Song” bursts with a wall of guitars, the album’s standout jam. “Lost Boys” pays tribute to the 80s’ vampire craze while surf rock dresses up “Mars Attacks”. This was easily 2017’s best rock album. No contest.  iTunes

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Canadian Music Blog’s 2017 Album of the Year

Our 2017 album of the year artist is from Cranbrook, BC. When she was just 15, she was signed to Madonna’s Maverick label as bass player of all-girl JUNO nominated rock group Lillix. Now based in Vancouver and signed as a soloist to Light Organ Records, always ready to participate in various projects including new wave band Gold and Youth, this slayer released her third solo record in early 2017. It earned a Polaris Prize nomination. The album is introspective, guitar-oriented new wave with some strokes of synth, New Orderesque high-pitched bass pulses, and tight drumming. But there’s more to the opus. Track “Strange Weather” sees her master the country-inspired genre, complete with lap steel! The tunes are deliciously shadowy, and her bright vocals and energetic delivery give it a sunny glaze. There’s the charming “Pharaoh”, the delicious “Moonlight Shadow”, the dreamy and dazzling “Hyesteria”, and the gliding surf of “Who’s the Madman”, the latter as good as anything done by Echo and the Bunnymen. This is yet another ace for one of Canada’s most underrated talents, and her best work to date: great singer, songwriter, and musician. The Canadian Music Blog declares Young Mopes by Louise Burns as 2017’s Album of the Year!  iTunes

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The 10 Best EPs of 2017

An extended play record (EP), as far as we are concerned, is one with at least three original tracks that have a combined run time of less than 25 minutes. Sometimes remixes of one or more tracks on the EP result in a disc run time of over 25 minutes. We still consider these to be EPs. We do not count as an EP a disc with only one or two original songs plus various remixes of them. We may consider as an EP a collection of bonus tracks released as an addendum to a studio album even if it runs over the 25-minute mark.

Canadian music blog editors tracked 128 qualifying extended play records from Canadian artists released in 2017. We listened to all and settled upon a year-end ranking of the 10 best regardless of genre. Find below our 10 favourite Canadian artist EPs of 2017 including our 2017 Extended Play Record of the Year! 

10Joseph of Mercury by Joseph of Mercury

Toronto’s Joseph Salusbury, under stage name Joseph of Mercury, had the thermometer visibly rising with the release of his superb 2017 EP. It’s 80s synth pop combined with 50s velvety crooning. He has the theatrical good sense of Freddie Mercury, captures the excitement of Future Islands, and dishes out the echo heavy proclivities of Roy Orbison. With the Joseph of Mercury disc, the man was named artist of the week by Apple Music in both The United States and Canada. The beats are well done, and the ride is one of unexpected twists; the whole package sounds fresh and is as engaging as fireworks on the 1st of July. This is quite the ace in the hole and we look forward to a full-length from this super talented artist in the future.  iTunes

9Beautiful Chaos by Kayla Diamond

Toronto’s Kayla Diamond dropped her debut mini album Beautiful Chaos which contains some of the finest pop music of 2017. Kayla’s academic pursuits in law school were interrupted when she won Slaight Music’s It’s Your Shot Contest and was offered a recording contract with Cadence Music. Leading up to the EP release was her delicious single “Carnival Hearts” which got her named iHeartRadio’s Future Star for the month of July. The song did well hitting airwaves across the country, getting spun into the hundreds of thousands on Spotify, and charting on Shazam. But the EP has much more to offer with well crafted charmers dressed with her glittery vocals.  iTunes

8Maps on the Palms by Aléatoire ft. Alina Libkind

Though he started out on guitar, Montreal’s Charles-Alain Roy expertly crafts chillout electronic music under the moniker Aléatoire (French for random) and presented EP Maps on the Palms containing four tracks all featuring the exquisite vocal talents of Toronto’s Alina Libkind. “Immune”, previously released as a single, received a nice writeup in Fader Magazine which stated the song “weaves a crushing set of circumstances into a warm and blissful light at the end of the tunnel”. Indeed, the tracks are each a comfortable cushioned sofa and serve as hypnotic neon lights pushing away the darkness of night with sonic flashes and shimmers all dressed with Alina’s mesmerizing coos.  iTunes

7Electric Heart by Emily Rowed

Vancouver’s Emily Rowed was heavily into folk music when EDM wizard Tiësto chose her as the voice on “Say Something”, a reworking of the song by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera. She found the progressive currents exciting and decided to make music that was bigger, more energetic, colourful, and electric. Signed to world renowned label 604 Records, Emily launched her single “Arrows” in May. Presenting a warm vocal delivery, the song is rooted in her acoustic songwriting while brought into fruition by smart alt-pop production. The La+ch remix of the track dresses the music with more ornate electronics. Rowed heralded her EP Electric Heart with the exquisite song “Electric”. Beginning as a boot-stomping bluesy number, it morphs into an advanced sculpture with both electric and electronic grooves. The other tracks on the disc are just as popular: “Burn” flickers, “Swords” cuts to the chase, and “Rubies” dances brightly.  iTunes

6Natasha Zimbaro by Natasha Zimbaro

From the Metro Vancouver city of Maple Ridge is this country newcomer who decked 2017 with her debut EP, an eponymous one. The six-track disc followed the release of single “Rebound” last October. Her name is Natasha Zimbaro, and if her name or face seems familiar, that may be because she was a finalist in Simon Cowell’s X Factor UK in 2011. Moreover, she was one of three in pop group Prty H3ro who placed two singles in the Billboard Hot 100, “Life of the Party” and “Young & Shameless”. As a soloist, Natasha has decided to return to her country roots, the genre she embraced when she became a teenager. Natasha gives the country music scene what it needs – a fresh, vibrant, youthful style, and she injects a wallop of confident energy into the genre. Picture Back to the Future III’s Doc Brown tossing some Presto logs into the locomotive boiler. That’s what Natasha does here. She elevates country music to a dynamic realm. She has a great voice and the music on this is fab.  iTunes

5Relax by Kashka

Kashka is the project name of Toronto’s Kat Burns who had us all smiles with synthpop EP Relax. Standout tracks include the burbling, glittery “Holding Steady”; funky, chiming “Wild Things”; and trippy yet sobering “Reset/Outro” propelled by eerie synths and backed by grieving strings. As the EP’s title suggests, this is music to relax to with unprocessed, crystal clear vocals, haunting electronica, and superb songwriting, in short everything a fan of progressive music can ask for.  iTunes

4In Comes the Night by Bobby Wills

Calgary’s Bobby Wills released a stellar EP in 2017, In Comes the Night, heralded by two singles, “Get While the Gettin’s Good” and the title-track. The writing, vocal delivery, and production are all top-notch making this 7-track disc a gem among the year’s country music releases. The EP soothes, exhilarates, and has us cheering as great track follows great track. It was a fabulous late summer release that had us welcoming the fall. Bobby Wills won the CCMA Rising Star Award in 2013 and the following year released his music through MDM Recordings.  iTunes

3Lolaa by Lolaa

Sisters Lex Valentine and Nadia Valerie King formed pop duo LOLAA last year launching debut single “Always Been” with backing vocals by Love Inc.’s Simone Denny. The duo put on some live shows around the GTA supporting such acts as MSTRKRFT. Lex and Nadia are not necessarily new to the game; they were part of rock trio Magneta Lane which has put out some albums. On board the LOLAA project is producer Jon Drew (Tokyo Police Club). The duo cites Gloria Estefan, Kim Carnes, Laura Branigan, Debbie Harry, and Donna Summer as influences. On the EP, find six radio quality pop charmers with memorable melodies, pleasant vocals, and addictive beats. This one has a nice bite to it.  iTunes

2First Move by Stacey

Toronto’s Stacey is surfing at the forefront of a new wave of music we can describe as “nuage-pop” being made right here in Canada. Canadian women such as Stacey, Rosemary Fairweather, and Amaara are world leaders in making ambient pop music with crystal clear vocals and dreamy keyboard sequences. It’s all very exciting. Stacey offers a style that is at times a little more vigorous. Her latest EP is entitled First Move, and it comes with five exquisite tracks. They take on a nice balance between soothing background mood music and surging foreground suds of captivation.  iTunes

1Canadian Music Blog’s 2017 EP of the Year

The quality of progressive pop music kept bubbling up to new heights through 2017. The best extended play record of the year harnesses the sound of the decade that began with the release of Atari’s Missile Command and closed out with the introduction of the first Game Boys. Fresh 2017 synthpop was crafted by a Toronto slick stylist of cool who found herself signed to prestigious label 604 Records. The EP borders on the excellence delivered by Tegan & Sara on the duo’s last two LPs. And in fact the Quin twins became fans of this disc, a pretty big endorsement. Find half a dozen bright, burbling, and melodic gems that conjure up scenes of playing Tomy’s Waterful Ring-Toss. If nothing else, track “Tease” should make your day. Canadian Music Blog declares Ralph by Ralph as 2017’s Extended Play Record of the Year!  iTunes

The Best International Music of 2017

As per routine, though our focus is primarily on Canadian artist music, once per year, to show we are not completely insular, we publish our picks for the best international music of the year. We cannot claim to have heard every song and album and viewed every music video released throughout the world, but we do remain inclusive of all popular music regardless of the country and language in which it is recorded. A few honourable mentions are in order like that fabulous R&B album by Britain’s Jessie Ware, the sumptuous instrumental piano track “The Girl with the Sun in Her Eyes” by Sweden’s Jay-Jay Johanson, and perhaps the year’s most overlooked album, Sacred Hearts Club by U.S. alternative band Foster the People.

Best International Music Video of 2017:
Eternal Love by MLTR & Phoebe Yang

Danish soft rock group Michael Learns to Rock (MLTR) which performs in English has had a dramatic career filled with many ups and downs. Of all the places in the world, the band became massive superstars in a most unexpected but supremely populated region—eastern Asia. The band came up with the name in keeping with phrases common at the time (1988), Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Johnny Hates Jazz, hence Michael Learns to Rock. MLTR is considered the most popular international act of all time in China. In 2017, the group reworked a song from a Korean TV drama called Healer and in the track featured up and coming Chinese singer Phoebe Yang. The song is bilingual, sung in English and Chinese, and MLTR released a gorgeous music video (shot in China) which we embed below. The song is called “Eternal Love”.

Rising International Star of 2017:
Kelly Lee Owens

In the modern area, Canadian artists are leading the way when it comes to x-axis far-right field music, i.e. progressive endeavours. It was not so in the 80s. In that decade, especially in the first half, the synth Britannia movement which helmed the second British invasion inspired and influenced Canadians to follow suit. Some Brits even relocated to Canada to show Canadian musicians how to capture that choice new wave sound. How things have changed; in fact, the opposite is happening now. Kelly Lee Owens of northern Wales supplied a track to Tegan and Sara’s The Con tribute album. On her own debut (self-titled) LP, she captures a sound like Grimes and presents an album cover like Lights’ Siberia. The album appears on many best end of year lists including Pitchfork. Kelly Lee Owens is the one to watch.

Best International Comeback of 2017:
Slowdive

The 90s British shoegaze movement was never really allowed to take off, being overtaken and overshadowed by the American presentation of grunge. The less said about the latter style the better. While in Canada, acts like Alvvays were gaining critical acclaim for reintroducing us to the shoegaze genre, the masters of it decided to release a new album, its first in 22 years. Slowdive thrilled fans of that dreamy fuzzy sound with its 2017 eponymous album which made many best albums lists for the year. Track “Star Roving” just may be the crowning achievement of the history of shoegaze.

Best International Song of 2017:
Labyrinth by Mondo Grosso ft. Hikari Mitsushima

Mondo Grosso is Italian for big world and is the stage name of Japanese DJ and record producer Shinichi Osawa. Crafting a variety of EDM flavours over the years – acid jazz, house, etc. – the sound on his 2017 album, Reborn Again and Always Starting New, is an excursion off the beaten path to more creative territory. Grosso is regarded as one of the country’s best DJs. The new album, his first under the Mondo Grosso moniker, sold well in the land of the red sun, cracking its iTunes Top 5, with a couple of tracks that were particularly popular: “Labyrinth” featuring the vocal talents of Hikari Mitsushima is the most delicious track we heard throughout 2017.

Best International Album of 2017:
The Far Field by Future Islands

While it managed a Top 20 placement in both iTunes UK and US, it made the Top 10 in Canada. New wave has often done better in Canada than the United States with songs like “Let’s Go” by The Cars and “Rock Lobster” by the B’52s, both American bands, charting much better in the land of the maple leaf. Post wave group Future Islands’ ability to capture the new wave sound is not just in the instrumentation but the singing style which masters the measured theatrics and pitch down bending techniques used by such acts as Simple Minds (UK), Sniff ‘n’ the Tears (UK), The Cars (US), and The Spoons (Canada). While millennials and boomers may be able to get into this, the Future Islands band is considered a breath of fresh air for Gen X-ers, and it helps too that Blondie’s Debbie Harry is featured on a track. It is very difficult to find an album in which all tracks are good. This is one of those rare jewels. “Time on her Side” is probably our favourite of the bunch. Below is the video for track “Ran”.

Vote for the Best Music of 2017

It’s time to vote for the best music of 2017! We have created three polls. You may vote once daily through the month of December. We will publish the winners of the three polls on New Year’s Day 2018. If you did not like any of the works listed, vote for the one you disliked the least.

Nielsen Year-End Report

Nielsen Music has released a year-end report for 2016. Now we have the actual numbers of album and tracks sales. You can read the whole report here. Some highlights below. Total consumption refers to full albums purchased (whether digital or physical) plus track equivalent albums (10 tracks is equivalent to 1 album) and streaming equivalent albums (1,500 streams is equivalent to 1 album). 

TOP ALBUMS BY TOTAL CONSUMPTION

1. Views by Drake, 457,000 units
2. 25 by Adele, 266,000 units
3. Purpose by Justin Bieber, 240,000 units
4. Blurryface by Twenty-One Pilots, 172,000 units
5. Starboy by The Weeknd, 171,000 units
6. Anti by Rihanna, 170,000 units.
7. This Is Acting by Sia, 169,000 units.
8. Encore un soir by Celine Dion, 140,000 units.
9. Lemonade by Beyoncé, 138,000 units.
10. Collage by The Chainsmokers, 136,000 units.

TOP ALBUMS BY SALES

1. Views by Drake, 196,000 copies
2. 25 by Adele, 196,000 copies
3. Encore un soir by Celine Dion, 134,000 copies
4. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen, 106,000 copies
5. Hardwired to Self-Destruct by Metallica, 103,000 copies
6. Lemonade by Beyoncé, 101,000 copies
7. Purpose by Justin Bieber, 92,000 copies
8. Starboy by The Weeknd, 79,000 copies
9. Yer Favourites by The Tragically Hip, 75,000 copies
10. Blurryface by Twenty-One Pilots, 73,000 copies

TOP DIGITAL SONGS

1. Cheap Thrills by Sia, 367,000
2. 7 Years by Lukas Graham, 326,000
3. One Dance by Drake, 323,000
4. I Took a Pill in Ibiza, 303,000
5. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, 293,000
6. Stressed Out by Twenty-One Pilots, 283,000
7. Closer by The Chainsmokers, 276,000
8. My House by Flo Rida, 271,000
9. Love Yourself by Justin Bieber, 258,000
10. Cake by the Ocean by DNCE, 244,000

The 2016 Canadian Invasion

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A number of Canadian artist singles made it onto 2016’s year-end charts in various countries. Not all countries have charts and only some who have them formulate annual ones. We looked at charts in the major Anglo country markets (Canada itself, the USA, UK, and Australia) and at Japan which is #2 in the world. In Canada itself, 32 of the Top 100 for the year were by or featured a homegrown artist. This is a new record in Canadian chart history. In the USA, there are 26 Canadian artist entries, 16 in the UK, and 14 in Australia. In Japan where, obviously, Japanese language songs are preferred, four songs from two Canuck label-mates made it into the year-end Top 100.

In the table below, you can see all Canadian artist songs that made it into at least one of the charts in the five countries. Canadian artists had the #1 song of the year in three of them (and all 3 are different songs). Canadians preferred Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” (they are stereotyped as being polite), while Americans went for “Love Yourself” (they are typecast as having narcissistic tendencies). The Brits favoured Drake’s “One Dance” (perhaps they’re asking for one more dance with Europe pre-Brexit) which was the top Canadian entry on the Australian chart at #2. Aussie artist Flume’s “Never Be Like You” which features Kai was 4th of the year down under. “One Dance” and “Treat You Better” were the most agreed upon in the four countries where they made the charts, as the positions were quite comparable. “Work” by Rihanna featuring Drake was a much bigger hit in the States (#4) than in Australia (#40). Carly Rae Jepsen continues to sweep the Japanese off their feet. “Call Me Maybe”, now over five years old, still made it onto the 2016 year-end chart. “I Really Like You” finished 6th in 2015 and squeaked into the 2016 chart as well (#95).

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2016’s Biggest Canadian Hits, Both English and French

CMB medThe most successful Anglo Canadian song of 2015 was “Sorry” by Justin Bieber which peaked at #1 on the weekly Billboard Canadian Hot 100 and was the biggest song of the year overall. This is the second time since the debut of the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 that a Canadian citizen has topped the year-end chart. Dual citizen Robin Thicke accomplished this in 2013 with “Blurred Lines”. Nine of the 2016 year-end Hot 100 songs that involved Canadian artists peaked at #1 on the weekly charts either in 2016 or 2015. Thirty-two songs involving Canadians made the year-end Top 100 songs which is a record, surpassing 31 in 1996. A number of the 32, however, had Canadians as featured artists. In addition, 24 songs involving Canadians made the weekly Top 40 through the year making for a total of 56 Canadian artist hit singles of 2016.

No Franco song appeared on the Hot 100 through the year. Ten Canadian artist Franco songs made the CKOI year-end Top 50 which we list below. Tops was Les Cowboys Fringants’ “Marine marchande”.

HY = Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart position
HW = Billboard Hot 100 weekly charts, peak position
CY = CKOI year-end Top 50 chart position

2016 Franco Hits

TITLE ARTIST CY
Marine marchande Les Cowboys Fringants 6
M’aimerais-tu pareil 2Frères 13
Belle Montrealaise Sam Harvey 15
Pas plus que ça Gabrielle Goulet 24
33 tours 2Frères 29
Plaroid Alex Nevsky 33
Black Black Heart David Usher ft. Marie-Mai 38
Octobre Les Cowboys Fringants 43
Liberte Groenland 46
Crier tout bas Coeur de Pirate 48

2016 Anglo Hits

TITLE ARTIST HY HW
Sorry Justin Bieber 1b 1a
Love Yourself Justin Bieber 2 1
One Dance Drake 4 1
Work Rihanna ft. Drake 13 1
Cold Water Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber 18 1
What Do You Mean? Justin Bieber 19b 1a
Treat You Better Shawn Mendes 23 7
Hotline Bling Drake 25b 3a
Too Good Drake 26 9
Wild Things Alessia Cara 27 14
Let Me Love You DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber 31 4
Starboy The Weeknd 32 1
Can’t Feel My Face The Weeknd 36b 1a
The Hills The Weeknd 39b 1a
Stitches Shawn Mendes 43b 10a
Lost Boy Ruth B 46 14
Never Be Like You Flume ft. Kai 51 21
2 Heads Coleman Hell 54b 15a
Controlla Drake 66 27
In the Night The Weeknd 67 12a
Low Life Future ft. The Weeknd 72 25
Pop Style Drake 76 19
Spirits The Strumbellas 77 23
Here Alessia Cara 79b 19
Luv Tory Lanez 82 28
I Know What You Did… Shawn Mendes/C. Cabello 86 19
Fireproof Coleman Hell 89 30
Lay You Down Easy Magic! 90 36
Lose Control Hedley 91 37
Where Are U Now Skrillex/Diplo/Bieber 92b 5a
Might Not Belly ft. The Weeknd 93 28
Hello Hedley 94 20a
Party Monster The Weeknd   8
Fake Love Drake   10
Summer Sixteen Drake   12
Scars to Your Beautiful Alessia Cara   14
Sidewalks The Weeknd   14
Used to This Future ft. Drake   17
Hallelujah Leonard Cohen   17
Sneakin’ Drake   20
Six Feet Under The Weeknd   20
No Shopping French Montana ft. Drake   25
Rockin’ The Weeknd   25
Bobcaygeon The Tragically Hip   27
Secrets The Weeknd   27
6 Inch Beyonce ft. The Weeknd   31
Hype Drake   31
With You Drake ft. PartyNextDoor   32
True Colours The Weeknd   32
False Alarm The Weeknd   33
Grammys Drake   34
Die For You The Weeknd   35
Still Here Drake   37
All I Know The Weeknd   38
9 Drake   39
A Lonely Night The Weeknd   40

a – Weekly peak achieved in 2015
b – Also made year-end Hot 100 of 2015

LINKS

More Charts…

2016 in Music – Links

2016 Overview

2016 Year in Review

2016 Charts and Analysis

The Most Successful Canadian Albums Released in 2016
The Most Successful Canadian Singles of 2016
List of All Canadian Artist Songs That Debuted on the Hot 100 in 2016
14 Canadians Who Debuted on the Hot 100 in 2016
Music Canada’s Gold/Platinum 2016 Report
CKOI Year-End Top 50
Nielsen Year-End Report
2016 Canadian International Hits

2016 Billboard Year-End Charts

Hot 100 Singles of the Year 2016
Top 50 Albums of the Year 2016
Top 25 Hot 100 Artists of 2016
Hot Digital Songs of 2016
Hot 100 Airplay of 2016
Emerging Canadian Artists of 2016
All-Format Airplay
CHR/Top 40 Airplay
Rock Airplay
Country Airplay
AC Airplay
Hot AC Airplay
Top Artists by Radio Format

Canadian Music Blog 2016 Picks

Canadian Music Blog’s 10 Best EPs of 2016
Canadian Music Blog’s 15 Best Music Videos of 2016
Canadian Music Blog’s 25 Best Songs of 2016
Canadian Music Blog’s 25 Best Albums of 2016
Canadian Music Blog’s International Music Picks of 2016

Awards for 2016 Music

ADISQ Félix Awards: Part 1 Part 2

Juno Awards: Part 1 Part 2 Gala Summary

From Starboy to Lost Boy: 2016 in Music

 

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Overview

While 2016 lost a number of A-list recording artists, including those who bear the maple leaf, it was a year that saw the Canadian invasion of the globe reach new heights. To cite one impressive feat, Justin Bieber became the first artist in history to hold the #1, #2, and #3 spots simultaneously on the UK’s official singles chart. His labelmate Carly Rae Jepsen became the 9th artist, 3rd female, 2nd Canadian, and first British Columbian to receive a diamond single award from the RIAA in the United States. Alessia Cara, Drake, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, and the Weeknd were names all over global music charts and nominated for international awards. Drake’s “One Dance” topped the year-end British charts, Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” the U.S. chart, and, tipping its tuque to renowned tendencies for giving polite apologies, Canada put The Biebs at #1 of the year for his song “Sorry”. Canadian country artists, still struggling to break out internationally, won a few small victories. (More on that later.) At home, Dallas Smith reached #1 at country radio with “Autograph”, and Jess Moskaluke became the first female country soloist from Saskatchewan in all history to achieve platinum status.

Domestically, 14 new artists debuted on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, most notably Edmonton’s Ruth B who scored triple platinum single “Lost Boy”. The music industry’s infrastructure was given fresh support. Calgary opened the National Music Centre and Nunavut its first record label. British Columbia, not quite the powerful music hub it once was, received a hearty government grant in the hopes the BC Music Fund rekindles the province’s clout. For the first time, Canada received a seat on the IFPI board, and Music Canada’s Gold and Platinum Program introduced new branding badges to certified music and the new single award which includes streaming data in certifying tracks.

Canadians proved admirably resilient in dealing with tragedy. A massive Fire Aid concert was held in Alberta to raise funds for the Fort McMurray fires. Among the long list of performers were Nickelback and Blue Rodeo. Gord Downie, frontman of diamond band The Tragically Hip, was diagnosed with cancer. The band went on a final cross country tour. When large numbers of tickets were bought by profiteers for scalping purposes, the CBC helped out by airing a show on national television. Gord himself released a solo album in his Secret Path project to address Canada’s historical mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples in residential schools. Ill heath also struck the Bublé family, as one of Michael’s children was diagnosed with cancer. Michael had been slated to host both the 2017 JUNO awards as well as the BRIT awards in the UK.

A bright spot of the year was Canada Day. A concert on Parliament Hill featured the diverse lineup of Alex Cuba, Alex Nevsky, Coeur de Pirate, Coleman Hell, Metric, Les Hay Babies, and Indian City.

Most Successful Singles

justin-bieber-sorryFor the first time since Alanis Morrisette in 1996, a Canadian artist had the #1 and #2 songs of the year. Justin Bieber topped the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 with “Sorry” and “Love Yourself”. Both singles were certified at 7x platinum by the end of the year. Up from 21 last year, 32 of the top 100 songs of the year were by or featured Canadian artists, a new record in Canadian chart history. On the weekly charts, five songs involving Canadians reached #1: the aforementioned pair from Justin Bieber as well as Major Lazer’s “Cold Water” which features him, “One Dance” by Drake as well as Rihanna’s “Work” which features him, and The Weeknd’s “Starboy”. The most successful (and only) Franco song to make the Hot 100 through the year was Céline Dion’s “Encore un soir” which peaked at #92. Les Cowboys Fringants’ “Marine marchande” was the top Franco song on CKOI’s year-end Top 50, at #6 overall.

On the weekly charts, 106 songs involving 43 unique Canadian artists debuted on the Hot 100. Of these, 47 reached the Top 40, nine the Top 10, and four #1. Regarding songs that reached their peak chart position by the end of 2016 (which includes songs that debuted in 2015 and songs which may achieve new peaks in 2017), 49 made the top 40, ten the Top 10, and five #1. By the end of the year, 7 of these 49 songs were awarded multiplatinum certification at Music Canada. Additionally, 10 of them made platinum, and 5 are at gold.

Canadian Songs Slay Abroad

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Drake, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and Shawn Mendes were #1, #2, #7, and #9 on Billboard USA’s year-end Hot 100 artists chart. The top 4 songs on their year-end Hot 100 involved Canadian artists: #1 – “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, #2 – “Sorry” by Bieber, #3 – “One Dance” by Drake, and #4 – Rihanna’s “Work” featuring Drake. Twenty-six entries on that chart involved Canadian artists. In Japan, the world’s second largest music market, but a non-English language one, four songs from Canadians made the year-end Top 100, two from Bieber and two from Carly Rae Jepsen. In the world’s third biggest market, the United Kingdom, Drake’s “One Dance” topped the year-end chart in addition to 15 more Canadian artist entries.

Most Successful Albums

Celine Dion - Encore un soirThe only Canadian artist album released in 2016 to be certified multiplatinum by the end of the year was Céline Dion’s Encore un soir. The year-end Billboard Canada albums chart has as the top Canadian artist album Justin Bieber’s Purpose (released in 2015) at #2. The top 2016 album from a Canadian on the chart was Drake’s Views at #3. Eight 2016 Canadian albums topped the weekly albums chart through the year. On the year-end Top 50, 13 albums were Canadian, only three of which were released in 2016. Thirty-six Canadian albums peaked in the weekly Top 10 through the year: 18 from Ontario artists, 12 from Quebec artists, 2 from BC artists, 1 from Nova Scotia, 1 from Alberta, 1 from Saskatchewan, and 1 from New Brunswick. By the end of the year, 1 of these albums went multiplatinum (as mentioned above), 3 platinum, and 4 gold.

First-Time Charting Artists

14-newcomers

In 2016, 14 artists made the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 for the first time. They are Jonathan Roy, Sleepy Tom, The Strumbellas, Lucky Rose, Yan Etchevary, Bit Funk, Ruth B, PartyNextDoor, Kai, Delaney Jane, Shaun Frank, Michelle Treacy, Leonard Cohen, and Bobby Bazini. As mentioned, Edomton’s Ruth B went triple platinum with “Lost Boy”. Toronto’s Kai, featured in Flume’s “Never Be Like You” struck double platinum and is up for a Grammy Award. Roots group The Strumbellas went Platinum with “Spirits”. “Be Right There”, Sleepy Tom’s collaboration with Diplo, became a Top 10 hit in Britain and went gold there.

Domestic Awards

adisq2016_gagnants-22

The ADISQ Félix Awards honouring the best mainly in Canada’s Francophone music released in 2015-2016 were held in the fall in Montréal. Safia Nolin was named Best New Artist. Song of the Year went to Marc Dupré for “Ton depart” and Pop Album of the Year went to 2Frères for Nous autres.

The 2016 JUNO awards were held April 3 at Calgary’s Saddledome to recognize the best in 2015 music. The event was hosted by Calgarian recording artist Jann Arden and Olympic gold medalist (skeleton) Jon Montgomery from Manitoba. Brampton, Ontario teen star Alessia Cara won Breakthrough Artist of the Year. As of this writing, she has two triple platinum singles. Guess Who frontman and successful soloist Burton Cummings was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame. The Weeknd won Single of the Year for “Can’t Feel My Face” and Album of the Year for Beauty Behind the Madness. The 2017 JUNO Awards recognizing the best of 2016 Canadian music will be held in Ottawa April 2, 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Canadian Artists Nab International Trophies

Brit Awards 2016 - Show

Canadian artists won awards at international galas like the People’s Choice Awards. Justin Bieber won his first Grammy award (USA) for Best Dance Recording while The Weeknd was given trophies for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best R&B Performance. Justin Bieber won the BRIT award (UK) for Best International Male. At the Billboard Music Awards, The Weeknd won eight, Bieber two, and Drake one. Céline Dion was given the Icon Award. At the MTV Video Music Awards, Drake won Best Hip Hop Video for “Hotline Bling” from Canada’s Director X, the latter’s “Work from Home” by Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla Sign winning Best Collaboration Video. At the European MTV Awards, Bieber won three, Shawn Mendes two, Drake one, and The Weeknd one. At the American Music Awards, where Canadians were nominated for a whopping 23 awards, Drake and Justin Bieber won four awards each.

Unsung Canadian Heroes

the-40

Canadian songwriters and producers were behind some of the most successful works from international recording artists. The best-selling album of 2016 in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. was Adele’s 25. The music video for lead single “Hello” was directed by Canada’s Xavier Dolan and popular track “When We Were Young” was co-written by North Vancouver’s Tobias Jesso Jr. Another best-seller of the year was Rihanna’s Anti which had writing and production duties handled by a number of Canadians including Jahron Anthony Brathwaite, Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib, and Frank Dukes. Canada’s Nikhil Seetharam, T-Minus, and the aforementioned Tobias Jesso Jr. worked on another big album this year, Sia’s This Is Acting. Canada’s Director X was behind two of the year’s biggest music video’s – Rihanna’s “Work” featuring Drake and Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home”.

In the field of country music, Canada’s Steven Lee Olsen co-wrote Keith Urban’s “Blue Ain’t Your Colour”, one of the biggest hits of the year in the genre. Blake Shelton’s, “Came Here To Forget” was co-written by Canada’s Deric Ruttan. “Sleep Without You” by Brett Young was co-written by Canuck Kelly Archer. Joey Moi from The Yukon is a producer for Florida Georgia Line who had another stellar year.

R.I.P.

rip-2016-copy

The biggest news stories of the year, in the minds of some, concerned the large number of A-list celebrities who passed away, many of them being untimely deaths secondary to organ damage from drug use and alcoholism and in some cases gun violence. The prominent Canadian music related stars did a bit better, coasting into their 70s and 80s but still left empty voids and broken hearted fans after remarkable careers. In January, Céline Dion’s husband and manager René Angélil, one of Canada’s most successful music producers, succumbed to throat cancer. He was 73. In June, early 60s rock-a-ballad superstar Bobby Curtola died, also at the age of 73. Shortly after releasing a new album, world-famous bard-musician Leonard Cohen passed away at age 82.

The Year’s Best Music

cmb-picks-2016-copy

While magazines, as usual, were listing their best albums of the year based on which artists were endorsers of the brands that paid the magazines the most for advertising, the Canadian Music Blog, untouchable from such interests, revealed its favourite EPs (10), albums (25), songs (25), and music videos (15) of 2016. The CMB named Lexi Strate’s Waves as EP of the Year, Alexe Gaudreault’s self-titled LP as Album of the Year, Bobby Bazini’s “C’est La Vie” as Song of the Year, and Jason Bajada’s “Demain vendredi” as Music Video of the Year.

And that’s a wrap. It’s time for 2017.

The Most Successful Canadian Singles of 2016

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A total of 32 songs involving domestic artists made the year-end Billboard Canadian Hot 100 in 2016. This sets a new record in the history of the Canadian charts, one that had remained unbroken for 20 years since RPM’s year-end for 1996 which held the record at 31. In 1996, Alanis Morissette had both the #1 and #2 songs of the year for “You Learn” and “Ironic” respectively. Justin Bieber repeats her accomplishment in 2016 with “Sorry” and “Love Yourself” at #1 and #2 of the year. Last year, 2015, saw only 21 Canadian artist singles in the year-end top 100.

The table immediately below shows all songs by domestic artists that made the year-end Billboard Canadian Hot 100 with their position on the chart. Because a number of these songs were cross-overs from 2015, we have included the positions for those in the year-end chart for 2015. Also, find the weekly chart peak position of these songs and the year it reached the peak (either 2015 or 2016). We have also included all Canadian artist tracks that peaked within the weekly Top 40 of the Hot 100 through 2016 but didn’t make the year-end Top 100. Note that a number of these, still on the weekly charts, will reach new peak positions in 2017.

We have also listed any current Gold/Platinum certification levels achieved by the songs (these may receive higher certifications in the future). Those that haven’t received certifications have either not reached the numbers or the artist’s team hasn’t submitted applications for them through the Music Canada program. Later in 2016, the program, in the new Single Award, began including streaming data into the qualifications at the rate of 150 streams equivalent to 1 unit sold. That is in addition to digital downloads or any CD single sales. Gold is 40,000 units; platinum 80,000; double platinum 160,000, triple platinum 240,000; etc.

Because Franco songs have a tough time reaching the chart as they do not receive broadcast-wide airplay, we have included any songs that made the Hot 100 (non-Top 40). This year, Céline Dion’s “Encore un soir” was the only song to achieve this, making it to #92. Below the first table is a second listing all French language Canadian artist songs that made the year-end Top 50 at radio network CKOI. The good folks over there have published year-end Top 50 charts since 1976. The chart includes both Anglo and Franco (and occasionally Allo) tracks and both foreign and domestic ones. You can click on the tables to enlarge them and see the text more clearly.

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The Most Successful 2016 Canadian Albums

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The only Canadian album released in 2016 to be certified multiplatinum by the end of the year was Celine Dion’s Encore un soir (double platinum). Highest up on the Billboard year-end albums chart was Drake’s Views at #3. Eight Canadian albums released in 2016 hit #1 on the weekly charts. Below are two tables. The first in a list of all 2016 albums that received gold/platinum certifications by the end of the year, appeared on the year-end Billboard chart, or made the Top 5 of the weekly charts. The second table has all 2016-released albums that peaked at #6 to #10 on the weekly charts. Note that only albums released in 2016 are included. There were a number of albums released in previous years (especially 2015) that appeared on the weekly and year-end charts for 2016. A number of the 2016 albums will no doubt continue to sell in 2017 and may receive higher gold/platinum certification in the future. Thirty-five 2016 Canadian artist albums made the weekly Top 10 in the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. Sarah McLachlan’s Christmas record Wonderland did not make the Top 10 but managed to go gold through steady sales over a number of weeks.

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14 Canadians Who Debuted on the Hot 100 in 2016

The Billboard Canadian Hot 100, the definitive chart for measuring the relative success of songs from week to week, welcomed 14 Canadian artists for the first time in 2016. The chart, which combines measurements of digital purchases of tracks, radio airplay, and streaming data (the latter a recent addition), launched in June 2007 replacing the old, highly problematic Nielsen SoundScan charts which measured the sale of CD singles only. For one of the thousands upon thousands of Canadian artists to make an appearance on the chart, it is a very difficult task. Nevertheless, while the chart was dominated by all kinds of foreign artists and Canadian A-listers like Drake, Justin Bieber, and The Weeknd, 14 managed to climb in. Some may have lasted for only a week and some may have gotten in via a credited feature in a track, buy hey they did it, and it’s a huge accomplishment! Who are these 14 artists? Where are they from? What kind of music do they make? We intend in this post to put faces to the names. Here they are in alphabetical order. Watch for some of these slayers in 2017.

Bit Funk

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Now based in New York, this Halifax lad is a producer, remixer and DJ. He is making his mark on the contemporary club scene with his EDM wizardry. In late 2015, Bit Funk released his pop crossover single “Off the Ground”. It gained traction on streaming services, gaining 4 million on Spotify, and the MV did well on YouTube. Some mainstream radio stations picked it up, and it managed to squeak itself into the Hot 100.

Bobby Bazini

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This hot soul singer is known throughout the land. While scoring a pair of platinum albums and four JUNO nominations, a hit single was sure to come at some point. Voila! In 2016, “C’est La Vie” off his third album was picked up by radio, especially AC and Hot AC stations, and rocketed up to the top 20 at iTunes. It is Bazini’s first Hot 100 charting single. There will be many more to come.

Delaney Jane

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Delaney is from Toronto and began making music with Shaun Frank. They teamed up with international chart topping Canadian duo DVBBS in track “La La Land” which made the Hot 100. Delaney is working on her debut EP, and collaborations with other DJs are in store.

Jonathan Roy

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The star hockey player now has a star singer son. The Roys are awesome. Jonathan’s launch was helped by mentor Corey Hart, and his delicious single “Daniella Denmark” popped into the charts in February. He’s from the suburbs of Quebec City.

Kai

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One of the biggest songs of the year, “Never Be Like You” peaked at #21 and stayed on the chart for 28 weeks. The EDM track is from Australia’s Flume and features Toronto singer Kai. She had previously collaborated with Adventure Club, Diplo, Skrillex, and Childish Gambino. She also wrote the song “Sweet Talker” for Jessie J. But, of course, Kai’s big breakthrough came with the Flume track. It is now up for a Grammy Award.

Leonard Cohen

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Leonard Cohen? Yes. Remember that the Canadian Hot 100 has been around only since mid-2007. Following his heartbreaking death, Leonard’s song “Hallelujah” became a hit at iTunes and undoubtedly received some radio spins. It debuted on the chart at #17 remaining for just the one week. The same week, “You Want It Darker” from his last studio album charted at #73. It is a nice way to cap off the Montrealer’s legacy.

Lucky Rose

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Vincent Carrier, a.k.a. Lucky Rose, is a DJ/producer from Quebec City who specializes in tropical pop. Lucky released his first official single “The Way You Want Me” featuring Yan Etchevary, and it was picked up by the Virgin radio group across Canada. It made the Hot 100 in February.

Michelle Treacy

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This youthful star from Ottawa is red hot. She was selected to perform with Lady Gaga and was quickly signed by Sony. Michelle released her debut single “Armageddon” which remained on the Hot 100 for several weeks. Its music video racked up 300,000 views by the end of the year. Keep your eyes on this singer!

PartyNextDoor

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Being the first one signed to Drake’s OVO Record Label doesn’t hurt when it comes to breaking out in the urban music market. This Mississaugan’s real name is Jahron Anthony Brathwaite. He made the chart a few times through the year including as a collaborator. His first charting single (which incidentally featured Drake) was “Come and See Me” which peaked at #73.

Ruth B

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The most successful newcomer in 2016 was Edmonton’s Ruth B who scored a triple platinum single for her delicate piano ballad “Lost Boy”. It was on the Hot 100 for 28 weeks peaking at #14. She may just be western Canada’s answer to Alessia Cara.

Shaun Frank

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Shaun is the Toronto based DJ/producer involved in the aforementioned Delaney Jane and DVBBS track “La La Land”. He has done work with the likes of Borgeous, Kiesza, Down with Webster, and The Chainsmokers.

Sleepy Tom

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Speaking of EDM crafters, Vancouver’s Sleepy Tom (Cam Tatham, born in Squamish, BC) teamed up with Diplo to score the charting single “Be Right There”. It garnered 160 million streams worldwide and went gold in Britain peaking at #8 on the official British charts! Sleepy has worked with Zeds Dead and Martin Solveig.

The Strumbellas

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Another of the bigger successes of 2016 was Toronto roots leaning, JUNO award winning group The Strumbellas. “Spirits” peaked at #23 and went platinum. It also saw big success internationally. The photo above is the band being presented with a gold award by Germany.

Yan Etchevary

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Yan, from The Magdalen Islands, was featured in the aforementioned single “The Way You Want Me” by Lucky Rose. The song was included in Sony compilation album Just the Hits 2016.

All Canadian Artist Songs that Charted on the Hot 100 in 2016

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We are pleased to provide a detailed list of all Canadian artist songs that debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016. There are 106 of them from 43 unique Canadian artists. We included tracks by international artists that feature a Canadian in a major way. International artists appear in a grey box. Canadian artists who made the Hot 100 for the very first time have their names bolded in green; there are 14 of them. The Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charts debuted in June 2007. We have included the peak position achieved on the chart, the date of that chart peak (“PDATE”), the number of weeks spent on the chart, the start date (“SDATE”) when the song debuted and the end date (“EDATE”) when the song last appeared on the chart. The dates are from Nielsen which are normally 10 days behind the Billboard charts published online. Note too that many of these with the end date of December 27 will continue on the charts into 2017. Songs that debuted on the chart in 2015 and carried over into 2016 are not included here. Some of the 2016 songs may have dropped off and re-entered the chart, so the total weeks are not necessarily continuous weeks. We have screen-captured the data from Excel in five batches; click to enlarge the images so that the text is clearer.

The Billboard Hot 100 combines digital sales of tracks, radio airplay, and streaming data to give a comprehensive picture of how relatively popular the songs are for the week in which the chart was published. These Canadian artists and their songs were successful in large part because of your support. Let’s celebrate the songs and the artists that made the chart through the year! We hope you will all find the information below useful and encouraging.

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The 15 Best Music Videos of 2016

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We are counting down our favourite music videos of 2016. A good music video is one that keeps your attention even with the sound turned off. We admire MVs that are cinematic, adventurous, fun, sentimental, clever, artistic, original, that have attractive wardrobe choices, breathtaking shots, architectural or natural wonders, or a stellar message. With high standards, we prefer MVs that are low on violence, lechery, expletives, self-mutilation, and do not display the use of toxic substances, all of which are ugly to us. We select videos that are beautiful to look at, colourful, with crisp, clear photography and brightness/contrast controls properly balanced. Below is a list of our 15 favourite Canadian MVs released in 2016. As YouTube often changes the addresses of videos, we have not embedded the MVs here but have provided links to them for your convenience. (Do note that these may become invalid in the future). As usual, we allowed only one entry per artist on the list and have provided a screen capture for each video below.

15Black Moon by Amaara

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New Canadian singer and dream pop specialist Amaara, based in Toronto, launched debut single “Black Moon” complete with a music video that is filled with mystical themes and dark ambience. Find Amaara near a misty forest joined by some real animals—horse, wolf dog, and owl—lightning, and a rising supermoon. The MV was shot in Alberta.  Link

14Time by Dean Brody

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Time is a subject many recording artists like to address. Country superstar Dean Brody does a fine job especially when singing about how time can alienate generations. “He takes her fishing but he feels bad; she can’t take her eyes off that Facebook page”. And then speaks of how taking time for granted will result in missed opportunities. “But someday soon, who knows how long, she’ll look up from that phone and he’ll be gone.” The wonderful music video does the song justice with many beautiful, related shots that are often dark, damp, and leafy.  Link

13How Far I’ll Go by Alessia Cara

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Alessia performs the song from the Disney animated film Moana on the beach. She has the mother of all sticks and has fun drawing intricate patterns in the sand.  Link

12Faint of Heart by Tegan and Sara

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The Calgary twins put out a number of impressive MVs for tracks off the Love You to Death album. We liked this one best. It features a number of music fans dressing up as their favourite icons with suitable backdrops. Included are Madonna, Elvis, David Bowie, and more.  Link

11Armageddon by Michelle Treacy

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Michelle Treacy was one of the breakout artists of the year; her song “Armageddon” made the Billboard Hot 100. She’s from Ottawa. In the MV, she takes notes in her big journal with a plume and decks herself in colourful attire surrounded by a crowd of teddy bears. Can she make it through the Armageddon?  Link

10Mea Culpa by Automat

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Quebec City’s Automat knew just where to find some picturesque landscapes heading over to Iceland for the shoot. It’s always a good idea to use a decent camera to take advantage of the climes which the band has done here. Exploring a new land is always fun and the MV perfectly captures that spirit.  Link

9Je Reviens by Marie-Mai

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Pop-rock platinum superstar Marie-Mai released this MV at the end of last year after we published our best MVs of 2015 list, so we’ve given it a home on 2016’s. The song is a supercharged rock juggernaut with electronic pulses and a cool oriental vibe; the MV is a feast for the eyes.  Link

8World Princess Part II by Grimes

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Vancouver’s Grimes treated us with a number of music videos in 2016 and just about any of them could be placed here. We like this one best with its raindrops falling on green grass next to a dilapidated castle and footbridge backed by great architecture among other sights.  Link

7Shore by Daniela Andrade

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This popular Edmonton indie pop whiz delighted us with 4 music videos for the 4 tracks on her 2016 EP, Shore. They are all spectacular, shot in Canada, Cuba, and Morocco. We settled on the MV for title-track “Shore”.  Link

6So Far Away by Bridgeway ft. Stéphanie Bédard

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One of the year’s best bilingual version songs came from Bridgeway and features Drummondville, QC’s Stéphanie Bédard. It has a nice pop/rock feel with rich textures reminiscent of Take That. The MV for “So Far Away” presents some spectacular views of snowy land surrounding a tower.  Link

5Need You Now by Gelsea Mae

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Newcomer Gelsea Mae from Vancouver Island put out the perfect video for pop song “Need You Now” as she dances amidst jiving neon lines, kaleidoscopes, and flashes of glitter.  Link

4Too Young by Zeds Dead

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One of the cleverest videos of the year, one can only imagine how much work went into it. A model with various rooms and sets showcases the goings on with the animated figures. Zeds Dead is from Toronto.  Link

3Underside by You Say Party

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This music video deserves an award. Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s classic movie Princess Mononoke, we watch a little one journeying through vast terrain to find something or perhaps hoping to be found. The group filmed 4,000 km around Japan. This is pretty amazing.  Link

2Diamond Eyes by Lexi Strate

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Making effective use of contrasts between shadowy turquoise verses and a glittering peachy chorus, as well as adding a mixed emotion pink/blue combo for the bridge before going for the kaleidoscope at the close, this is fabulous music video art that complements an artistic pop track perfectly. A delicious dessert for both the ears and eyes.  Link

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Canadian Music Blog’s 2016 Music Video of the Year

The iceman cometh. When grief-stricken in a cold and very sad, blue world, one must be careful lest the sudden arrival of the warmth of love cause the heart to melt and the body too! Being thrown from one world to the opposite one may be a relief but sometimes the change is too much. Our protagonist is melting like wax and his beautiful companion is rushing to save him with a bag of ice. But will it be too late? However you may interpret it, what an amazing music video, beautifully shot, and with all kinds of meanings. Canadian Music Blog declares “Demain vendredi” from Jason Bajada as 2016’s music video of the year!  Link

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2016 CKOI Year-End Top 50

lettrage-camion-ckoiMontreal radio station CKOI has published a year-end Top 50 chart annually since 1976. It includes international songs as well as both Canadian Anglo and Franco songs. While the latter have a tough time making it onto the national charts, the CKOI chart gives us a good idea of the most popular Franco songs by year. Of all the year-end charts, this one is the most inclusive offering a very balanced presentation. There is greater variety of genres with pop, rock, dance, R&B, folk, soul, and even country. Because of this and other factors, you may find on the chart international Anglo songs that are absent from English language radio playlists. It has been a tough year for Franco music in France, as Anglo music, due to materialistic forces, has taken over the charts in the country. Canada, and the province of Quebec in particular, has more effective legislation to protect music from such interests. The top Canadian Franco song of 2016 on the chart is Les Cowboys Fringants’ “Marine marchande” at #6 overall. In classic radio style, let’s count them down from #50 to #1. Canadian artists are bolded in red. Of the 50, 18 involve Canadian artists.

50. Send My Love, Adele
49. Let It Go, James Bay
48. Crier tout bas, Coeur de Pirate
47. Cold Water, Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber
46. Liberté, Groenland
45. Don’t Wanna Know, Maroon 5
44. Just Like Fire, P!nk
43. Octobre, Les Cowboys Fringants
42. My Way, Calvin Harris
41. Fireproof, Coleman Hell
40. That Love, Shaggy
39. Daniella Denmark, Jonathan Roy
38. Black Black Heart, David Usher ft. Marie-Mai
37. Adventure of a Lifetime, Coldplay
36. 24K Magic, Bruno Mars
35. Starboy, The Weeknd
34. Willing to Die, Gin Wigmore
33. Polaroid, Alex Nevsky
32. The Greatest, Sia
31. Ride, Twenty One Pilots
30. Hymn for the Weekend, Coldplay
29. 33 tours, 2Frères
28. Broken Arrows, AVICII
27. My House, Flo Rida
26. Can’t Stop the Feeling, Justin Timberlake
25. I Took a Pill in Ibiza, Mike Posner
24. Pas plus que ça, Gabrielle Goulet
23. Come, Jain
22. Honest Song, Ryan Kennedy
21. Can I Get a Witness, SonReal
20. Castle in the Snow, The Avener
19. Spirits, The Strumbellas
18. Way Down We Go, Kaleo
17. Love Yourself, Justin Bieber
16. Speeding Cars, Walking on Cars
15. Belle Montrealaise, Sam Harvey
14. Make Up, R. City
13. M’aimerais-tu pareil, 2Frères
12. Cake by the Ocean, DNCE
11. Human, Rag’n’Bone Man
10. Heathens, Twenty One Pilots
9. This Girl, Kungs
8. Faded, Alan Walker
7. Lost on You, LP
6. Marine marchande, Les Cowboys Fringants
5. Catch & Release, Matt Simons
4. Don’t Be So Shy, Imany
3. The Sound of Silence, Disturbed
2. 7 Years, Lukas Graham
1. Cheap Thrills, Sia