When Prince sang “We’re going to party like it’s 1999” and the year finally rolled around, there was perhaps more talk of Y2K than partying, that overlooked computer glitch that was “a train wreck waiting to happen on the way to nowhere…”
1999 began with the launch of the Euro, was rocked by conflict in Kosovo, and ended with the United States handing over complete administration of the Panama Canal to the Panamanian government.
Here at home, we saw the birth of a new territory called Nunavut and the death of beloved country star Hank Snow. Eaton’s went bankrupt, Air Canada took over Canadian Airlines, and Gretzky retired from playing hockey.
At the cinema, our Mike Myers had the third most popular movie of the year (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) behind #1 Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and #2 Toy Story 2. The most recognized Canuck film was Sunshine starring Ralph Fiennes.
And yes, the year was filled with tension about the so-called Y2K virus. When the year ended, nothing happened.
The most popular albums in Canada through the year were #1 Millennium by The Backstreet Boys, #2 Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, and #3 Come on Over by Shania Twain. The biggest song of the year was Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” followed by Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning”, and The Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way”. The most successful Canadian tune was Sky’s “Love Song”, the 6th most popular song of the year.
At the JUNOs, the award for BEST POP/ADULT ALBUM went to a record that was 52nd of the year (released in October) and was certified double-platinum. Its author won the JUNO for BEST FEMALE ARTIST. The album was the sophomore work of a piano prodigy singer-songwriter from Winnipeg who, in addition to becoming one of the country’s most beloved artists, has written / co-written songs for Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Hilary Duff, Carrie Underwood, and Avril Lavigne among others.
Colour, Moving, and Still is perhaps our favourite Canadian album of all-time. From start to finish, the music is refreshingly inspired, complex, literary, reflective, yearning, beautiful, and earnest. Though the album opener, “Blue”, is perhaps our favourite track, it was the playful “Before You” that became its biggest hit. It scaled up the RPM charts peaking at #2 and finished in the Year-End Top 100 at #71.
Our blast from the past is 1999’s, “Before You” by Chantal Kreviazuk. Enjoy.
In early 2007 I was on an Air Canada flight across the Pacific. The sky was dark and the thought of nothing but a vast expanse of black water kilometres beneath me was somewhat unnerving. I needed a distraction, so I popped in the earphones to listen to some on-flight music. The pre-recorded broadcast announced that a new album had come out a few months ago from one of my favourite Canadian singer-songwriters, and a few songs were played off the disc. One of them knocked the wind out of me.
You can tell when a music critic (excuse me, “entertainment journalist”) grew up in the ’60s. He seems to think that electric guitars have more place in rock music than acoustic pianos, obviously oblivious of the original rock and roll in the ’50s. He seems to think that song lyrics must harbour socio-political rants. If they do not, he will criticize the singer for “having nothing significant to say”. Again, he is ignorant of the fact that when rock began in the ’50s with Berry, Boone, Haley, Anka, and Presley, these singers did not gripe about undemocratic drafts into the armed forces and shootings of protesters on university campuses. They sang about love, romance, heartbreak—the same themes that modern singers like Avril Lavigne sing about today. Another key identifier that our music reviewer is a has-been of hippie-dom is that he seems to think that real rock music is led by male vocalists. I question the sexual orientation of such male journalists if they find themselves more attracted to male voices.
It comes as no surprise then that a female singer-songwriter who uses the acoustic piano as her instrument of choice and sings about personal tales of friendship, the pangs of missing someone, and emotional struggles of making it through the day is going to have such critics peeing their pants.
From the very center of Canada, a childhood prodigy was destined to blast through the stereotypes of rock that had gelled in the 60s. And it all began when she was hit by a motorcyclist in Italy. From that moment, she knew she had a mission. After two double-platinum albums and three top 10 hit singles, Winnipegger Chantal Kreviazuk released her (gold) album Ghost Stories in 2006. The opening track, which incidentally never became a big hit single, is our 3rd favourite song of all-time by a Canadian artist. It’s called “Ghosts of You“.
We were occupied
I never had to go outside
I was your alibi
We were planning our escape
We stayed up all night
With Lucy and the diamond sky
Drank cheap red wine
And talked ourselves to sleep
Please don’t go
These ghosts of you
The only thing that help get me through the day
Baby please don’t go
‘Cause I love you
You’re the only one that will stay the same
We could laugh out loud
And sing until the sun came out
We took a secret vow that we would never change
You always loved to dance
I wish we had another chance
To go back in time and do it all again
I don’t want to live forever
But if we could be together
Then I wouldn’t mind infinity
I don’t want to live forever
Oh but I can still remember
No I wouldn’t mind infinity
Born: 1974, Winnipeg
• Juno Award for Female Artist of the Year, 2000
• Juno Award for Best Pop Album, 2000 (Colour Moving and Still)
• Co-written songs for some of the world’s best-selling artists
• Contributed songs to several motion picture soundtracks
Studio Albums and Singles
1996: Under These Rocks and Stones
• 2x Platinum
• Singles: “God Made Me” (#9 WP; #77 YE), “Surrounded” (#9 WP), “Wayne” (#20 WP), “Believer” (#31 WP), “Hands” (#26 WP)
1999: Colour Moving and Still
• 2x Platinum
• Juno Award for Best Pop Album of the Year
• Singles: “Before You” (#2 WP; #71 YE), “Dear Life” (#14 WP), “Souls”, “Far Away”
2002: What If It All Means Something
• Singles: “In This Life”, “Time”, “Julia”, “What If It All Means Something”, “Weight of the World”
2006: Ghost Stories
• Singles: “Ghosts of You”, “Wonderful”, (SOCAN Award), “All I Can Do” (Juno-Nominated)
2009: Plain Jane
• Singles: “Invincible”, “The Way”, “Ordinary People”
• “Leaving on a Jet Plane” from the Armageddon soundtrack
• “Feels Like Home” for the “Dawson Creek” TV Series and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days soundtrack
• “In My Life” from the Providence soundtrack
• “This Year” from the Serendipity soundtrack
• “Leading Me Home” from the Men with Brooms soundtrack
• “Another Small Adventure” from the Stuart Little 2 soundtrack
• “Redemption Song” from the Peace Songs compilation
• “O Holy Night” (duet with Avril Lavigne) from Maybe This Christmas Too?
• “These Days” from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants soundtrack
• “I Want You to Know” from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants soundtrack
• “Lebo’s River – A Tribute” (with Raine Maida) on Help!: A Day in the Life
• “Can’t Make it Good” (with Raine Maida) theme song to Century Hotel
• “Time” was used in the credits of the movie Uptown Girls
• “I Do Believe”
• “Wild Horses”
• “In Waskada Somewhere” on the Great Canadian Song Quest compilation
• “Cruel One” bonus track on Alex Band’s album We’ve All Been There
Songs Co-Written for Other Artists
• Six songs on Avril Lavigne’s Under My Skin album, including “He Wasn’t”
• “Rich Girl” (Gwen Stefani)
• “Where Is Your Heart” (Kelly Clarkson)
• “Walk Away” (Kelly Clarkson)
• “One Minute” (Kelly Clarkson)
• “13 Days” (Marion Raven)
• “Revolution” (The Veronicas)
• “Meant to Fly” (Eva Avila)
• “You Got to Me” (Rex Goudie)
• “Hanging On” (Cheyenne Kimball)
• “Mr. Beautiful” (Cheyenne Kimball)
• “Gardenia” (Mandy Moore)
• “Outside of You” (Hilary Duff)
• “The Look” (Luigi Masi)
• “Fake It” (Luigi Masi)
• “Permanent” (David Cook)
• “Unapologize” (Carrie Underwood)
• “Daydream” (Miranda Cosgrove)
• “Wonder Woman” (Namie Amuro)
In 1977, somewhere in Winnipeg, Carol and John Kreviazuk were astonished when they witnessed their three year old daughter, Chantal, begin playing the piano simply from observing her older brothers perform. She was a prodigy. They signed her up for formal lessons expecting her to become a classical pianist. But she developed a love for pop and music composition, attending the Balmoral Hall School for Girls.
By the time she enrolled in the English Literature program at the University of Manitoba, she was writing commercial jingles and performing in lounges. A head-on collision with a motorcycle in Italy resulted in her reassessing her pursuits while recovering in hospital. It was time to get serious about her career as a pop singer-songwriter.
Honeymooners frontman Chris Burke-Gaffney agreed to manage her and helped co-write and record her demos. Sony’s Michael Roth offered her a one million dollar contract for two albums. The resulting album, Under These Rocks and Stones, spawned five hit singles, including two Top Tens, and eventually sold 200,000 copies. Fifty thousand were sold over the 1997 Christmas season alone. “Surrounded”, which peaked at number 9 on the national RPM charts, was an emotionally power-packed piano ballad about a friend who had committed suicide. Kreviazuk’s success made her immediately sought out by American chat show host Conan O’Brien and secured her a spot in Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair music festival.
Around this time, Chantal embarked on a romantic journey with Our Lady Peace’s Michael “Raine” Maida whom she had met at a Pearl Jam concert in Toronto. The two married in 1999, sealing a musical partnership.
In 1998, she covered John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” which was featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon. Her masterwork came the following year. Colour Moving and Still won for her a Female Artist of the Year Juno and nabbed the award for Best Pop Album. “Before You” peaked at number two on the charts. The album was certified double platinum.
What If It All Means Something came in 2002. Chantal performed “In This Life” on the American “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”. She released Ghost Stories after the birth of two sons. “All I Can Do” was nominated for the coveted Song of the Year Juno. A greatest hits compilation Since We Met: The Best of 1996-2006 appeared in 2008. Plain Jane followed in 2009.
Chantal Kreviazuk has been sought out by the industry due to her catchy songs and skills of composition. This has resulted in a large number of her songs being featured in motion pictures and their soundtracks. Many of these were works outside of her album tracks. She has also been high in demand to co-write songs for other artists, including some of the biggest names in the industry: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani, and Hillary Duff to name a few. Kelly Clarkson’s international hit “Walk Away” was co-written by Kreviazuk. Chantal and her family’s moving to Los Angeles has helped facilitate these two lines of work. She also owns a home in Toronto.
Chantal’s performance of Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home” has been very popular. It was featured in the TV Series “Dawson Creek” as well as the How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days soundtrack. The song is also showcased in a video montage of scenes from The Notebook, a film starring Canadian actors Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, put together by Monique. The Youtube music video has drawn nearly five million views. For your convenience we’ve embedded it below.
Copyright 2011 by the Canadian Music Blog
Canadian music showed no signs of slowing down through the remainder of the decade. What was unique about the late-90s was that, Canadian artists began to branch out and conquer other genres of music. Pop and rock had been championed by a plethora of Canadians as had folk; it was time to show that we could produce a superstar in other fields of music.
Although Canada had always done well in the country music scene, ever since Wilf Carter appeared in the 1930s, it was time for a Canadian superstar to churn out three double-diamond albums in a row, a feat completely unprecedented. Her catchy music appealed to children, teenagers, young adults, older adults, and even seniors. It was so irresistible that a few of her songs crossed over onto the pop charts. One was the third biggest song of 1998 in the United States. She teamed up with musical genius “Mutt” Lange, who had worked with Bryan Adams, and married him. Her name was Shania Twain.
So-called R&B had always been a genre that appealed more to the populace south of the border. But a Torontonian fell in love with it and decided to make a career out of performing these kinds of songs. She never became a big name in Canada, but, in 1998, her song “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” was a million-seller in the U.S., peaking at #2 on the pop charts and topping their R&B charts for 14 consecutive weeks, smashing all records. Her name was Deborah Cox. She scored a big hit in Canada later on in 2009; “Beautiful U R” was 39th of the year.
The late-90s also saw the rise of the biggest-selling female jazz artist in the world, a Canadian. Most jazz artists could never hope to sell as many records as pop or country artists but Diana Krall sold 15 million worldwide. Eight of her albums debuted at the top of the Billboard jazz albums charts, six of them being certified multi-platinum at home.
Another genre conquered was Celtic / New Age, thanks to harp-player Loreena McKennitt and her hauntingly beautiful voice. Her three albums released in the 90s all went 3-4x platinum and in 1997 she scored a Top 10 hit on the pop charts.
Canadians were not satisfied with their newfound success in France which began not with Celine Dion but with Roch Voisine. Two more superstars arose to score diamond albums in the land of the Eiffel Tower. The first was roots rocker Isabelle Boulay. The second was to become the second best-selling Canadian artist in France (after Celine Dion). He was born in Sherbrooke and is known for his throaty singing style. He currently holds the SNEP record for the most weeks at number one. His name is Garou.
Toronto’s Our Lady Peace, thanks to a diamond album, was the hottest new band to emerge. Frontman and primary songwriter Raine Maida formed a musical family by marrying Chantal Kreviazuk, a former childhood prodigy, who, herself, became one of the most cherished singer-songwriters in the country.
Many new artists arose this year. The biggest song of the year, as mentioned previously, was Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”. Second to that was Our Lady Peace’s “Clumsy” which appeared on the year-end chart at #14. Another new band to emerge was St. John’s folky Great Big Sea. Their song “When I’m Up” appeared in the year-end chart at #62. They managed a pair of platinum and of multi-platinum albums and scored a few more hits. The Philosopher Kings were another semi-major act, their first big song being “I Am the Man”. Band members met while in high school in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill. They scored a couple more Top 10 hits the following year. Saskatoon’s bluesy Wide Mouth Mason scored their biggest hit “Midnight Rain” (#56 YE). Another band from Saskatchewan had a hit this year. Age of Electric’s “Remote Control” finished as the 71st biggest hit of the year. Toronto’s Big Sugar added a dash of reggae to their music and had their first hit single “If I Had My Way”. Fellow locals I Mother Earth scored their biggest hit, “Raspberry” which pushed sales of their album to double-platinum status. Vancouver’s Econoline Crush attained one-hit wonder class with “All That You Are”.
Isabelle Boulay, from the town of Sainte-Félicité, on the north shore of the Gaspé peninsula, scored her first hit,” Je t’oublierai, je t’oublierai” off her debut album. Although she’d been around since 1993, Nanaimo, BC’s Diana Krall made it to the big leagues when her album Love Scenes, released this year, attained double-platinum status, a difficult feat in the realm of jazz. Chantal Kreviazuk scored her first hit “God Made Me”, the 77th biggest song of the year. Halifax’s fusion artist Holly Cole made a name for herself with “I’ve Just Seen a Face”. Another Holly (McNarland) emerged from The Pas, Manitoba and gave us the hit “Numb”. Later she collaborated with the likes of Matthew Good and The Tea Party.
The biggest name in male soloists was Sherbrooke’s Garou, a stage name that is a combination of his surname Garand and the French expression loup-garou, which means werewolf. He was discovered by Luc Plamondon while performing in a local bar and subsequently drafted to play in Notre-Dame de Paris. The song “Belle” from the musical, sung by himself, Canada’s Daniel Lavoie, and France’s Patrick Fiori, became the third best-selling single of all-time in France (after two novelty songs). In 2000, Garou released his debut album Seul, certified diamond in France, and one of the biggest-selling French-language albums in history worldwide. He eventually became the best-selling Canadian artist in France after Celine Dion.
Bruno Pelletier was another new name this year. He was born in Charlesbourg, a suburb of Quebec City. His debut had come in 1992 but, with the 1997 single “Aime”, saw his first Felix-nominated song of the year. The only other male artist to have a big hit this year was Men Without Hats’ Ivan whose song “Open Your Eyes” made the year-end Top 100 chart.
Big hits this year included Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the number one movie of all-time (at the time) Titanic. Bryan Adams had two chart-toppers: “On a Day Like Today” and “Back to You”. Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U” was a number one single as well. In the United States, the two biggest songs of the year were “Too Close” by Next and “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy & Monica respectively. In third place was a song called “You’re Still the One” by a Canadian country artist from Windsor, Ontario, named Shania Twain. She achieved the unimaginable: three consecutive studio albums were certified double-diamond in Canada (2 million copies sold).
Manitoban Celtic new ager, master of voice, piano, accordion, and harp, Loreena McKennitt, had been around since the mid-80s, scored a quadruple-platinum album in 1991, called The Visit, and had her first big hit, “The Mummers’ Dance”, on the pop singles chart this year.
Montreal’s Éric Lapointe scored his first Felix-nominated song of the year, “Rien à regretter”. According to some sources, he had as many as 30 songs that topped the charts on various radio stations and singles charts in Quebec.
Toronto’s dance band Love Inc. scored a couple of hits this year: “Broken Bones” #31 and “You’re a Supertar” #13. A few years later they were discovered by Britain and both songs became Top 10 hits there. There are some who credit their debut with being the only dance album created in Canada to attain platinum status.
On a side-note, a dance version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” was performed by the international group Stars on 54 and was featured in the Mike Myers’ film Studio 54. It peaked at #3 on the charts.
The three biggest Canadian songs of the year came via new artists. While the Americans were taken by Toronto’s Deborah Cox who supplied the 9th biggest song of the year in the U.S., Montreal pop duo Sky scored the first of three number one singles called “Love Song”, the 6th biggest song of the year. In eighth place was Randy Bachman’s son Tal with the song “She’s So High”. And at 15th spot was the Toronto one-hit wonder group Len (“Steal My Sunshine”).
Besides Sky and Len, there were a number of new bands this year. Bluesy La Chicane debuted and scored the hit “Calvaire”. The Moffatts were four brothers who had grown up in various locales in B.C. They relocated to Nashville in the U.S. and released their first (country) album. Later they switched to pop and scored their first hit “Misery”. Montreal’s Les Respectables came out with “Amalgame”. Dance trio The Boomtang Boys scored the hit “Squeeze Toy”. Toronto’s dance group Temperance had the hit “If You Don’t Know” and 2 rude had “Thinkin’ about You”
Mario Pelchat, from Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC, won the Felix award for song of the year with “Je ne t’aime plus”. Francophone Italian-Canadian Nicola Ciccone appeared this year with the song “Le menteur”. Dance artist Joee scored the hit “Arriba”, the 51st biggest song of the year. Martin Deschamps saw his first hit—”Quand?” He took on the role of lead singer for the reunited Offenbach.
There were no new significant female soloists this year.
Coming up are lists of big songs and albums from the late-90s; a list of Juno and Felix song nominees and winners; mini-profiles on semi-major artists La Chicane, Nicola Ciccone, Holly Cole, Great Big Sea, The Moffatts, Mario Pelchat, Bruno Pelletier, The Philosopher Kings, and Sky; and feature profiles on major artists Isabelle Boulay, Garou, Diana Krall, Chantal Kreviazuk, Éric Lapointe, Loreena McKennitt, Our Lady Peace, and Shania Twain.