New Releases Oct 27: Downie, TOAD, Wanting

This week sees at least 26 Canadian artist LPs and 5 EPs bringing our year-to-date totals to 597 LPs and 113 EPs. Before we get to the new discs, there are a couple of newsworthy items to talk about.

Drake Does Not Submit to the Grammys

Drake stirred things up in some media circles recently because he did not submit his album More Life for consideration to the U.S. Grammy Awards. The diamond recording artist also did not submit any tracks from the album. More Life debuted at #1 on the official charts and has gone double platinum spawning four Top 10 hits: “Passionfruit”, “Portland”, “Blem”, and “Fake Love”. Nominations for the flagship U.S. music awards gala will be announced November 28. The rapper from Toronto has won three Grammys to date, and did not attend this year’s show despite winning two. His PR folks haven’t offered comment. It remains to be seen whether the album will be submitted to the JUNOs.

Kristina Maria Explains Her Absence

Highly successful, JUNO nominated Ottawan dance pop star Kristina Maria has been largely absent from social media over the past few years, and fans have been worried, including us. Kristina’s debut album Tell the World spawned an incredible 6 charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100; five of which made the Top 40, and three of which went gold. Maria finally spilled the beans on what has happened in a recent post. We quote it below.

I feel like I’ve been hiding from you guys, and it’s not what I wanted to do, I promise. I spent that last 2 years working on my new album and I had to walk away from the project because somethings weren’t feeling right. I’m not going to go into detail but I left my label to pursue music independently, well at least for now. I’ll be forever thankful for everything my previous label has done but my focus needs to be on me giving my fans 100% of who I am. I’ve hyped you guys up and then left you out in the dark and it hurts me to not be able to share what I’ve worked so hard on. I’m starting over from the ground up and to all my fans that stuck around, honestly I owe you the world!! I’m not going to rush a release or make any promises, all I can say for now is thank you.

New Releases: What’s Hot

His final album, a sensitive double disc effort, is a beauty. Gord Downie‘s Introduce Yerself tops iTunes as fans across the country mourn the Kingstoner’s passing from glioblastoma.

JUNO winning Delta, BC rock band Theory of a Deadman gives us a Wake Up Call on the new album sitting comfortably in the iTunes Top 10.

Toronto R&B duo Majid Jordan examines The Space Between. Between what, we do not know. The album is very impressive, rich and catchy with downtempo grooves and perky beats.

New Releases: What’s Cool

Some of you may remember Pembroke, Ontario’s Blinker the Star‘s nifty brand of alternative rock in the 90s. Well, guess what, the band is still active, presenting fresh album 8 of Hearts which is a treat.

Vancouver based Wanting serves up her third album with the Nettwerk Music Group, LLL, which stands for Love, Loss, Latitude. One of the finest songwriters in the land, Wanting provides a neapolitan flavour disc of singer-songwriter, pop, and adult contemporary.

Toronto jazz group Turboprop wants to Rev things up, and does just that. Ernesto Cervini recruits expert players Tara Davidson, Joel Frahm, William Carn, Adrean Farrugia, and Dan Loomis on this great disc.

Saskatoon double JUNO nominated group The Deep Dark Woods is never short of ideas. Yarrow continues the creative journey in the realm of picturesque alternative folk.

There are a couple of Children’s albums out this week. Three-time JUNO winner Jack Grunsky outdoes himself on the highly engaging Theatro Muppiloo which is super fun for folks of all ages.

Finally, those who dig alternative modern rock will find plenty of savoury treats on Le trésor des bas fonds from Nico Lelièvre.

Lexi Strate

Western Canadian award-winning pop artist Lexi Strate has released brand new single “Going Going Gone” complete with a VHS-themed music video which we embed below. After that, find the above albums plus plenty more in a table of new releases.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE ORIGIN
…Rocheuses Arthur L’aventurier Children’s QC
Winnowing Bird City Folk ON
8 of Hearts Blinker The Star Alt Rock ON
Influence Brain Size 61 Punk Rock QC
Transistor The Brood Alt NS
Apollo Les Chercheurs d’or S-S QC
Gaspericana Dans l’Shed Roots QC
High Times Dan Talevski Pop ON
Yarrow The Deep Dark Woods Alt Folk SK
Introduce Yerself Gord Downie Alt ON
Theatro Muppiloo Jack Grunsky Children’s ON
Post Meridiem Jasper Sloan Yip S-S BC
Cabanon Jean-Marc Couture Rock NB
Priere Kaas Sky Yassong Reggae QC
Working Man’s Blues Kat Goldman S-S ON
Requiem Kristina & A. Stanké World QC
The Space Between Majid Jordan R&B ON
Les Monsieurs Les Monsieurs Rock QC
Le trésor des bas fonds Nico Lelièvre Alt Rock QC
This Trip Petra Glynt Alt QC
Wake Up Call Theory of a Deadman Rock BC
Rev Turboprop Jazz ON
Fifteen Wailin’ Jennys Folk MB
LLL Wanting Pop BC
A Stare Ajar Whimm Punk ON
De Cienfuegos a Montreal Yordan Martinez World QC
Zero (EP) Runaway Angel Country ON
Do You (EP) Pony Alt Rock ON
On a Chain (EP) Heavy Hearts Alt Rock ON
Songs for Georgia (EP) Dan Davidson Country AB
All In (EP) Clay Ravens Folk Rock BC
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Headlines and Footdots: January 23, 2017

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January 29 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles is the time and place of the 62nd annual all-star game of the National Hockey League. The event starts 12:30 p.m. pacific time. The Canadian national anthem will be performed by Carly Rae Jepsen. Her American sisters Fifth (now down to four) Harmony will handle the U.S. anthem. Nick Jonas will perform during the game’s second intermission. During the weekend’s festivities, Robin Thicke will honour his Canadian father Alan Thicke who passed away recently.

The February 4th Saturday Night Live show will be hosted by Hollywood actress Kristen Stewart (Panic Room, Into The Wild, Twilight) and the musical guest will be Alessia Cara who responded to the announcement by saying, “my head is spinning”.

Disney adapted Beauty and the Beast into an animated feature film in 1991, and Céline Dion teamed up with Peabo Bryson to sing its theme song. It was included on her second Anglo album (self-titled) in 1992 and won the Single of the Year JUNO award in 1993. Fast-forwarding to the present, 2017, Disney has decided to give the film a live action treatment, and Céline has been recruited to contribute a new song on the soundtrack which will be titled “How Does a Moment Last Forever”.

Music industry veteran Randy Lennox has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award which has been given out annually since 1984. The award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the development of the Canadian music industry. Randy was president and CEO of the country’s biggest record label, Universal Music Canada. In his role, he helped launch the careers of such artists as Hedley, Shawn Mendes, Drake, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, The Tragically Hip, and The Weeknd. Lennox is now president of content and broadcasting at Bell Media. In such a role, he acts as a key contributor to the production work of CTV, the JUNO Awards, the MMVAs, and Canada’s Walk of Fame. He also sits on the board of governors for Massey Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, and the culture advisory board for Ontario. Randy co-produced 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games anthem “I Believe” as well as charity single “Wavin’ Flag” which raised over $2 million for disaster relief in Haiti.

jb-eckl-everywhere-at-onceIt has taken awhile but now Saskatoon singer, songwriter, and guitarist JB Eckl will be releasing his formal debut album, Everywhere at Once. In the 1990s, JB hooked up with Latin pop producer KC Porter in Los Angeles and went on tour as a supporting guitarist with 70s funk band War. He contributed to Carlos Santana’s blockbuster 1999 album Supernatural and 2002’s Shaman. He also worked with Santana on the soundtrack for film Girlfight. Recently, JB co-wrote the theme song of Sully starring Tom Hanks. JB’s solo album Everywhere at Once is scheduled for release on February 20. Of the album he says, “It represents the exact opposite of our current media circus: an album of deeply personal songs crafted over a long period of time, an inner soundtrack for the soul as we struggle to become our higher selves. It’s organic, it’s a little electronic, it’s full of textures, tones, guitars and grooves…”

It has been a while since we’ve heard new music from Kristina Maria. She announced today that she is offering a private listening session of her upcoming new songs in Montreal, February 12 from 2-5 p.m. The presentation will be followed by a meet and greet.

Country star MacKenzie Porter has been busy with acting duties in TV series Travellers. But somehow, she has found time to make new music. Today, she announced she is cutting a new record. The Port’s debut album appeared in 2014. She has scored four Top 40 hits on the country charts to date.

Finally, Coeur de Pirate has released a new, fantasy-themed music video for track “Undone” off her acclaimed album Roses which we embed below.

Vito Luprano On Why He Chose to Manage Kristina Maria

Vito Luprano and Kristina Maria1Vito Luprano, former Senior VP of A&R for Sony Music, was a key figure behind Céline Dion’s rise to international superstardom. After deciding to take a break from the music business and concentrate on raising his family, he heard a voice that would bring him back into the game. That voice belonged to Ottawa’s Kristina Maria. After launching her first album, scoring three gold singles, charting six on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, and receiving a JUNO nomination, Kristina and manager Vito are working on her followup. In the process, they are looking into breaking out in the British market.

Because it contains the fascinating and often humorous story, we have embedded a recent interview with “Uncle” Vito (as we like to think of him because of his huge contribution to building the Canadian music industry). In it he talks about how he came out of semi-retirement to work with Kristina. We glean insights from him as well. Vito likes the concept of building a team who work well together to surround, foster, and raise up a singing star. Wonderful, very capable man.

Ice Conduit to the 2013 JUNOs: POP ALBUM Nominees

2013 JUNO Pop Album Nominees

Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen - Kiss (Standard)Mission, BC’s pop princess is up for five JUNO awards this year, adding to her two nominations from 2010. Kiss is her second full-length album, the first being Tug of War. In-between the two, she released her EP Curiosity. Kiss was named by Allmusic.com as 2012’s tenth best album in the world and has achieved gold certification in Canada. It contains the best-selling Canadian single of all-time domestically, “Call Me Maybe” (7x platinum), a re-mix of her Top 20 gold hit “Curiosity”, Top 40 collaboration with Justin Bieber, “Beautiful”, Top 30 hit “This Kiss”, and her current charting single “Tonight I’m Getting Over You”.

Kiss on iTunes     Carly Rae Jepsen’s Website

Believe by Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber - BelieveStratford, Ontario’s Justin Bieber has won 3 JUNOs thus far including one for Pop Album of the Year in 2011 (for My World 2.0). Believe was the world’s best-selling album from a Canadian artist in 2012 and a double-platinum release at home. It debuted at #1 in 30 countries and sold 57,000 copies domestically in its first week of release. Bieber has sold a million records in Canada so far. Believe spawned five Top 20 hit singles: “Boyfriend” (#1), “Die in Your Arms” (#14), “All Around the World” (#10), “As Long as You Love Me” (#9), and “Beauty and a Beat” (#4).

Believe on iTunes     Justin Bieber’s Website

Tell the World by Kristina Maria

Kristina Maria - Tell the WorldOttawa’s, Kristina Maria so impressed Céline Dion’s producer Vito Luprano, he came out of retirement to help her launch her career. She was featured on CBC’s The National and released her debut album last year co-writing songs with big names around the world. Tell the World contains three gold singles: “Let’s Play”, “Our Song Comes On”, and “Co-Pilot” as well as her current smash, “Karma”. This is Kristina’s first JUNO nomination, and she has also received Canadian Radio Music Award nominations including SOCAN Song of the Year for her hit single “Let’s Play”.

Tell the World on iTunes     Kristina Maria’s Website

The Spirit Indestructible by Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado - The Spirit IndestructibleThis was one of the most anticipated releases of the year, as Victoria, BC’s multi-platinum songstress Nelly Furtado has already snatched up 10 JUNO awards. As well, she was the only Canadian artist through the first decade of the new millennium to win a BRIT award. She has also won Grammy awards (U.S.) and has a star on our Walk of Fame. The Spirit Indestructible, her 5th studio album, continues her legacy of creating culturally rich fusion pop and spawned her Top 30 hit “Big Hoops” after her internationally successful collaboration with K’Naan (“Is Anybody Out There”).

The Spirit Indestructible on iTunes     Nelly Furtado’s Website

Shut Up and Dance by Victoria Duffield

Victoria Duffield - Shut Up and Dance Album CoverThe Canadian Music Blog chose this as 2012’s Album of the Year and is the teen star’s first full-length album. She is from Abbotsford, BC. Besides a successful recording artist, Victoria is also a superb dancer and actress. She appeared on YTV’s The Next Star, was signed to Warner Music, teamed up with hit-maker Ryan Stewart, and released platinum single “Shut Up and Dance”. She topped the Billboard Year-End Emerging Canadian Artists Chart for 2012. “Feel” and “Break My Heart” were Top 40 hits, and the album contains her collaboration with Cody Simpson, “They Don’t Know About Us”. This is Victoria’s first JUNO nomination. She is also up for three Canadian Radio Music Awards.

Shut Up and Dance on iTunes     Victoria Duffield’s Website

“Karma” by Kristina Maria

Ottawa’s Kristina Maria is doing very well.  Her dubut album Tell the World has thus far spawned four Top 40 hits, three of which have gone GOLD.  It’s no wonder then that the album has been nominated for a JUNO award.  A music video for Kristina’s lastest single “Karma” was released recently and reveals some funky goings on at the office when karma is let loose.  It’s a blast.  Check it out.

Tell the World / “Karma” on iTunes     Kristina Maria Official Website

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 15 Album Faves of 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen - CuriosityIt is rare to find an honest year-end “best” album list. There are vested interests and kickbacks involved in those published by both online and print media. Individual people tend to be biased in favour of certain genres of music, musical instruments used, or types of artists (e.g. bands over solo artists) rendering their lists narrow. Blogs tend to discriminate against albums from popular artists because they use these lists to promote the obscure ones rather than simply state a true list of their favourites.  In compiling our list, we did not care about the genre or style of music or the relative popularity of the artist. We simply listened to all 700 or so of the Canadian albums that were released in 2012. If the album held our attention throughout, and we found ourselves enjoying song after song, we shortlisted it. At the end of the year, we listened to the shortlisted albums several times and ranked them. Below is a list of the top 15 albums from the list, our 15 favourite Canadian albums of 2012.

What About EPs?

It is difficult to compare an EP to an LP as it contains only 3 to 6 songs. (An EP is considered a work that lasts a maximum length 25 minutes). We are thus not including EPs in this list. We would like to state, however, that of all Canadian EPs released in 2012, our favourite was Carly Rae Jepsen’s Curiosity.

#15. Albatross by Big Wreck

Big Wreck - AlbatrossLike any genre of music, heavy metal can be enjoyable provided the front man can actually sing and the musical composition is inspired. Ian Thornley and Big Wreck deliver on both counts in the Canadian-American hybrid band’s first album in 11 years. This album gets your heart pumping, adrenaline flowing, and energizes you enough to clear snow from a football field in Quebec City in the time it takes it to dissolve on a Vancouver street corner. The music is like a diesel-powered snowblower ploughing through the snow and transforms at times into a melodic ice-dancing Zamboni. Albatross peaked at #5 on the Billboard Albums chart, won 2 CASBY awards, and spawned two hit singles, the title track and “Wolves”. Just make sure that when you do your head-bangin’ you’ve got a toque on, eh.

#14. Two by Jesse Labelle

Jesse Labelle - TwoPacked chock-full of the passion and intensity that made Corey Hart and Zappacosta such a joy to listen to a generation ago, the second album from Toronto’s Jesse Labelle is a beautiful tribute to romance—both lyrically and musically—under the expert production of Thomas “Tawgs” Salter. The album opens gently with the gorgeous piano ballad “Won’t Let You Down” and then moves into hit single territory (“Heartbreak Coverup” had a run on the Hot 100). “One Last Night” pokes fun at the supposed end of days from the Mayan calendar. The exciting drum pounding in “Straight Lines” moved us, the captivating wall of sound on “Moment That We Stop” impressed us, feeling the music itself pleading in “Tell the World” inspired us, and the playful swagger of “Something to Feel” charmed us. Jesse lets loose on “Magic Words”, gets theatrical on “Kryptonite”, sweet on “Lifetimes”, and rocks out on album closer “Pause”. Simply put, there is not a weak track on Two.

#13. Red Magic by Beat Market

Beat Market - Red MagicFor those of you wondering whether Canada has more to offer in the realm of instrumental EDM (that’s electronic dance music) than deadmau5, look no further than this brand new duo from Montréal: Louis-Joseph Cliche and Maxime Bellavance who go by the name Beat Market. They released an EP earlier this year before launching their self-produced debut LP, Red Magic. Making ample use of analogue synthesizers, the album showcases a more complex and sophisticated sound than many of the other acts out there. And yes, this album just may make your foot start tapping annoying the sleepoholics in the apartment below you, and when you, yourself, hit the sack with these vibes in your head, dreams of hangin’ at a video game arcade in Tokyo with some bubble tea in hand may just happen. Red Magic is the perfect party album and no doubt one of the strongest releases of the year in any musical genre, a very impressive piece of work.

#12. Tell the World by Kristina Maria

Kristina Maria - Tell the WorldDo tell the world that Kristina Maria is an exceptional singer, so much so in fact that she brought Sony Music Senior Vice President Vito Luprano, a key figure behind Celine Dion’s rise to superstardom, out of retirement. After CRMA nominations, SOCAN awards, a feature on CBC’s The National, and 3 gold hit singles (“Let’s Play” was the 64th biggest song of 2011), she released her debut LP, Tell the World, which has thus far spawned an additional 2 charting singles. This fantastic dance pop album from the Ottawa native is jam-packed with instant classics from the beautiful power ballad “It’s All Games” to the bright lights and fun of “Up and Up” and the ground-shaking, sky-scraping anthem, “We Belong Together”.

#11. Le Treizieme Etage by Louis-Jean Cormier

Louis-Jean Cormier - Le Treizieme Etage“And now for something completely different,” our 11th favourite Canadian album of 2012 is the first solo release from Louis-Jean Cormier, front man of Polaris Prize winning indie band from Montréal, Karkwa. Le treizieme etage is melancholy, reflective, introspective, and at times psychedelic, centered on acoustic guitar with some electric jolts and electronic ambiance to make the listener feel as if he is waddling through dust on the dark side of the moon. Of all artists, the album reminds us, believe it or not, of Radiohead, not in sound waveforms but in the mood it elicits. Cormier’s singing style of half-whispered determined calm is a perfect match for the soft strums of the guitar that seem to come at you as if from the no-zone space of the thirteenth floor. This is a stunning piece of work.

#10. Voyageur by Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards VoyageurFive JUNO nominations for this Ottawan and counting. Like Ron Sexsmith, singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards likes to combine musical genres that do not fit into any of the radio formats of the current time. The album is a voyage to a world where folk, country, and rock collide and combine. The result is a sound that has a universal appeal. Although the album did not contribute any hit singles, it is a joy to listen to from the percolating opener “Empty Threat”, to “Change the Sheets”, which she performed on American chat show Late Night with David Letterman, to the concluding haunts of “Middle of the Road”. The album itself, her fourth, made it to #2 on the Billboard Album chart, her highest chart peak to date.

#9. Self by Stef Lang

Stef Lang - SelfAfter an EP earlier this year (Fighting Mirrors) that contained radio hit “Paper Doll”, Stef Lang, who comes from the town that invented nanaimo bars (Ladysmith, BC), reflected on what was to be her next move besides being featured in two tracks off Delerium’s album Music Box Opera. She decided not to opt for a mainstream radio style preferring to craft the kind of music that met with her own taste. The result was Self, her second LP. Talk about a true independent trooper, Stef wrote, played, recorded, engineered and produced the album all by herself. If commercial tunes are like slices of bread, Self is like a gourmet sandwich. She has taken the basic elements and created something even more wholesome and savoury. The album opens with Stef on her signature blood-stained acoustic guitar in “Brick Wall” and the music grows into a graceful current of subtle, melancholy R&B accented with some perky funk and urban rhythms, particularly in such beautiful tracks as “Castle in the Cloud”, “For a Minute There”, and “DNA”.

#8. Travelling Love by Elisapie

Elisapie - Travelling LoveHailing from the remote town of Salluit in northern Quebec, JUNO-award winning, trilingual Elisapie released her sophomore work this year, Travelling Love, a folky pop/rock effort. It opens with a tour de force pulsating electro-pop ice-breaker, “The Beat”, followed by fabulous “The Love You Gave”. The disc includes “It’s All Your Fault”, a tribute to Leonard Cohen of whom Elisapie is a huge admirer. Elisapie delivers a hauntingly gorgeous ballad about her hometown that makes you yearn to fly up there. And if the album closer fails to rouse your spirits, then you ought to get them checked by your local soul doctor. Of its many strengths, one of the biggest reasons why this is such a stunning album is that, on all levels, the music on Travelling Love is unpredictable. You anticipate things will go one way, and they take an unexpected turn to something more exciting, all carried by a sweet voice and a perfectly balanced wall of sound.

#7. MA by Ariane Moffatt

Ariane Moffatt - MAEvery album that Ariane Moffatt has released has nabbed the Felix for pop/rock album of the year, moreover one of them won a JUNO award. With several gold and platinum certifications under her belt, she decided to release a bilingual album, MA. Being a fan of Metric, she went for an electronic rock sound on this one with such sweeping electronic landscapes combined with the original beats of the likes of Utada Hikaru. But all in all it showcases the unique, creative genius of Ariane Moffatt. MA shot up to #2 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart after lead single “Mon Corps” smoked up the charts in Quebec. CBC’s Q Radio named this as one of the 20 best albums in the world of 2012. We heartily agree.

#6. It’s Easy If You Try by Len

Len - It's Easy If You TryToronto’s Len (siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo) is best known for its international hit “Steal My Sunshine” back in 1999 and have been called one-hit wonders. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that; Pink Floyd were one-hit wonders … well, almost (I think “Money” made the Top 40). Len received 3 JUNO nominations, one of them being for Best Alternative Album. In 2012, they released brand new album It’s Easy If You Try. This is an incredibly good pop album that is full of summertime fun; in fact, we think track “Gonna Take Some Time” easily rivals their big hit as an instant classic. This is definitely the kind of album you’d find playing at Austin Powers’ pad in swinging London. With more surprises and pop hooks than imaginable, this album is simply a blast.

#5. Bells & Whistles by Steph MacPherson

Steph Macpherson - Bells and WhistlesSteph is a Canadian whose roots lie in the land of the kiwi. Her style could perhaps be described as an added touch of Loreena McKennitt to Kathleen Edwards. This year she released her debut LP Bells & Whistles under Cordova Bay Records capturing the essence of her beautiful, crisp, clear voice over gorgeous piano and guitar melodies of both rousing joy and soothing reflection. The album commences with the title track that warns us there are such potholes along life’s journey that we could see all the way to China through the asphalt. If you finally make it past that song after hitting the replay button multiple times, you will find little gems along the way to the album concluder, “Open Book”, a breathtaking piano ballad that will leave you mesmerized.

#4. 20/20 by Saga

207763EREP_SAGA-20-20_Stecktasche_RZ.inddProgressive rock is still going strong in the Great White North, yet it is really the veterans of the genre who can’t be beat. JUNO-winning, platinum-selling Saga has continued to make records for 35 years! The sophisticated sound of classics “Wind Him Up” and “On the Loose” of yesteryear won devoted followers all the way over in Germany; in fact, 2012’s 20/20, one of the best albums the band has ever recorded, entered the charts at #13 in that country. Saga is the greatest contribution to Canadian culture that Oakville, Ontario has ever made. Ten glorious tracks of brilliant song writing, pulsating keyboards, mid-pitched reverberating electric guitars, base quakes, and theatrical vocals are everything we could ask for.

#3. TRST by Trust

Trust - TrstToronto band Austra’s Maya Postepski met Robert Alfons in 2009, and they experienced musical chemistry. They began writing songs and formed the band Trust the following year. EP Candy Walls was released in 2011 and generated enough excitement to draw the interest of Arts & Crafts Records who released the band’s debut LP in February 2012, a work entitled TRST. Their sound is dark and atmospheric, dreamy and hypnotic, sombre and intense, with sparkles of space dust from some eerie planet on a collision course with Earth. This is gothic electronic rock at its very best with synth grunts, blips, and pulses, and melodies taking on unexpected twists and turns on a joy ride to the edge of the unknown. It is the sort of record you would hear playing at a trendy clothing shop on Robson Street in Vancouver where customers with spiked hair sift through a rack of rayon shirts with metal clasps. Listening to it gives the feeling of entering a castle complete with torches and neon lights, a dungeon containing a flying saucer, and a secret chamber occupied by ghosts and a stargate.

#2. Free Dimensional by Diamond Rings

Diamond Rings - Free DimensionalDiamond Rings is a solo artist from Toronto named John O’Regan. His debut album earned him a JUNO nomination for New Artist of the Year and enabled him to open for Robyn. For his second album, he recruited producer Damian Taylor who has worked with Bjork and The Killers. For those of you who grew up in the early 80s and are pining for some new music that echoes those new wave synths of Blancmange, Simple Minds, and The Spoons, look no further than Free Dimensional. “I’m Just Me” is the first single, the music video showcasing his glittery space cadet wardrobe, square, diamond-themed shades, Bowie haircut, dry ice, green laser beams, and black lights. But his flashy stage persona and signature baritone voice is not all that is to be admired. The music on this album is a big move forward from his last work; in fact, it is so good, we found only one Canadian album released in 2012 that we liked better. Oh, yes, and we’re hoping he’ll do “Put Me On” as a duet with LIGHTS on keytar.

#1. Shut Up and Dance by Victoria Duffield

Victoria Duffield - Shut Up and Dance Album CoverAbbotsford, British Columbia’s Victoria Duffield, A+ student, actor, professional dancer, singer, and composer has more talent in her 17-year-old frame than most people accumulate in a lifetime. Single “Shut Up and Dance”, 49th biggest song of the year and platinum certified, heralded an album bearing the same name spawning an additional two Top 40 singles (so far) and includes a collaboration with Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson. The album is short: eight tracks with a run time of 28 minutes, most being co-written with hit-maker Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Suzie McNeil). All tracks on this gem succeed to levels rivalling anything Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, or The Pet Shop Boys have concocted in their respective terms of reign over the airwaves. It has taken a long time for Canadian music to branch out into the dance genre, and this has finally been perfected on such a brilliant work as this. Moreover, big on melody and sophistication, it remains purified from the watering down urban, repetitive, and oversimplified styles that have saturated the market south of the border, coming at them and the rest of the world like a breath of fresh air.  We are not surprised at all that Victoria Duffield topped the Billboard Year-End Emerging Canadian Artists Chart.

As 2012 was the year that saw malicious contempt towards the young, we are pleased that our choice happens to counter this. The Canadian Music Blog is proud to declare Victoria Duffield’s Shut Up and Dance as 2012’s Album of the Year.

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 10 Music Video Faves of 2012

We are counting down our favourite music videos of 2012. Regardless of when the song came out, to be eligible, the MV had to have been released within 2012. In assembling our list, we were not concerned with how much we liked the song, simply with the video itself. If low on the violence, raunchiness, and expletive side, while beautiful to look at, clever, creative and original, had great wardrobe choices, some breathtaking cinematography, or a stellar message, the music video had a good chance of making our list. Here we go…

#10. “Love Again” by Kreesha Turner

Kreesha Turner - Love Again

Edmonton’s Kreesha Turner takes a journey through an iron gate and folding / pop out staircase from what looks like a video game or Fifth Element style Egyptian stone temple into an abandoned warehouse converted to a dance studio. She is greeted by a legion of hoodie-clad dancers atop blocks of stone. Turner dazzles throughout the video with a number of sleek black outfits and greets the viewers with bright-eyed sincere and confident gazes. Keep an eye out for the chandelier-lit, smash-through ceiling elevator with a nod to Charlie and Chocolate Factory. This is such a gorgeous video, it received a big thumbs up from Nelly Furtado. Watch…

#9. “Feel” by Victoria Duffield

Victoria Duffield - Feel

Speaking of dancing, few can outdo Abbotsford, BC’s teen pop princess Victoria Duffield. The video begins with Victoria knocking on a formidable-looking door at a teal and vermillion wall. She enters a room with a propeller-bladed metal wall fan and lights resembling Luke Skywalker’s light saber. With her copper-coloured hair slapping through the air, she releases bursts of high energy power dancing. She proceeds with her crew through various rooms in the building all lit by lamps of various colours. In the words of Chekov, “(Sigh), I vas never zat young.” The whole video is like a fountain of youth. Watch…

#8. “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Walk off the Earth

Walk Off the Earth - Somebody That I Used to Know

We are not sure if Walk off the Earth are members of the Flat Earth Society, but they grabbed a novelty song from around the globe and turned it into one of the cleverest music videos of the year – five musicians cover Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” while simultaneously playing a lone guitar. Big beardie and crew taught us that you do not necessarily need a big budget and elaborate set to create an enjoyable video, just some clever ideas, skill, and talent. To date, the video has been watched on YouTube over 140 million times. Let us hope for Sarah’s sake that the men showered before they crowded her on the chesterfield, eh. Watch…

#7. “Co-Pilot” by Kristina Maria

Kristina Maria - Co-Pilot

Think about a Stress Centre and most of us would name the airport: lost luggage, long queues, jet lag, delays, taserings, getting accosted by Customs, the fear of flying, watching your new laptop get fingered by the drooling security dudes, and having your belt buckle set off the alarms. In 2012, Ottawa’s Kristina Maria came to the rescue, relieving all those pent up stresses from all of our bad experiences, by dancing up the airport with a multiethnic squadron of dancers. The video begins with a headphoned girl chuckin’ and jivin’. A security guard approaches her, and we think he is going to tell her to settle down. But unexpected twists happen and before you know it pilots and flight attendants join in the fun. Corneille adds some fabulous French for a true Canadian bilingual treat. Watch…

#6. “Le jour se lève” by Garou

Garou - Le jour se leve

This was a #1 Hit for Esther Galil in September 1971; it topped the charts in France for 4 weeks. Canadian soul singer Garou, off his bilingual album Rhythm and Blues, interprets it brilliantly. The mood the video sets is a perfect complement to the music. Looking like it comes out of an Orson Wells film, it is shot beautifully with gorgeous lighting and shadows in a night of fog, alleys, lamp posts, pool hall, and a dimly lit jazz club with a wooden revolving door. A mysterious motorcycle woman brushes shoulders with Garou on the sidewalk, and she drops something. He assumes it is a wallet, stoops down to pick it up, and finds a surprise. Watch…

#5. “I’m Just Me” by Diamond Rings

Diamond Rings - I'm Just Me

We haven’t seen a video this cool since John Foxx’s “No One Driving”. Another John (O’Regan), as Diamond Rings, fills an ominous void formed when the visionary electronic rock artists of the early 80s retired from the scene and left us surrounded by 1990s skaters in crotch-drop pants and 2000s heavily-tattooed yoga pants lovers. John reminds us why new wave fashion rocked. He combs his platinum blonde hair upwards, dons a silver space cadet uniform, holds a tennis ball with flashing lights, shows off glow-in-the-dark nail polish, slowly rotates his head adorned with diamond-themed shades, all amidst a stage set of TV screens, dry ice, and fanned out green laser beams. Watch…

#4. “Burning” by Mia Martina

Mia Martina - Burning

Mia Martina is one of the few artists who can and does release both English and French versions of her songs, a true Canadian trooper. “Burning” offers crisp, clean, images of a high society evening in an intricately decorated indoor space graced with the presence of human flame throwers and a sax player dancing within a kaleidoscope of showering sparks of light. Mythic oil, red candles, framed mirror, a pair of sparkly shoes, gold evening gown, lots of jewellery, with ribbon rhythm dancing complete with confetti are everything a party-goer needs. You can tell a music video is good when you turn the sound off and your eyes are still glued to the screen. This is one of them. Watch: English Version French Version

#3. “Beauty and a Beat” by Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber - Beauty and a Beat

This video broke a VEVO record, racking up the most views ever in a 24-hour period with 10.6 million. Filmed in a clever way with a smiling Justin apparently pulling the camera while walking backwards and turning around, it was filmed at Raging Waters Theme Park in San Dimas, California, USA. The video shows an assortment of acrobatic dancers in and around swimming pools of various shapes and splash dancing in an ankle-high wade pool. Flashing coloured lights abound amidst the plants and straw covered bamboo bridges, the video being filmed after dusk. And for the grand finale, the Biebs comes down a water slide into a pool of a cheering crowd in broad daylight. Watch…

#2. “Missing You” / “Tu me manques” by Mia Martina

Mia Martina - Missing You

The French and English music videos for the song are slightly different. In either case, the intense images match the yearning music. The MV opens with a view overlooking a town by the sea (we’re guessing Dubrovnik, Croatia), and we find Mia in a breezy room with a rotary telephone. She emerges, and we see some intricate Spanish architecture and streets of Madrid before she takes a drive in the countryside in a classy white car with a backdrop of copper-stained rock. We then see Mia in a green evening gown surrounded by Greek pillars and a marble staircase. It all wraps up with time-lapsed photography of night traffic. Mia states this will be the final MV release from her Devotion album. We can’t wait for her next album release. Watch: English Version French Version

#1. “Wonder Woman” by Elise Estrada

Elise Estrada - Wonder Woman

When the tragedy of a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Todd, harrassed and bullied into suicide, struck Metro Vancouver, making news around the world, Elise Estrada wrote a song called “Wonder Woman”, its music video put together with tremendous expertise. It contains snippets of Amanda’s life growing up, intermixed with Elise walking through beautiful parks and streets, the ground covered with dying autumn leaves. It opens with a young boy clinging to a fence saying that bullying needs to stop and shows scenes from candlelight vigils held in the city to honour Amanda Todd’s memory. Elise is also shown behind a window in a café, the panes of glass streaked with tears of teeming rain. The video also includes photos sent in by various people touched by the song holding placards of messages.  All proceeds raised by the song are going to the Amanda Todd Foundation dedicated to the elimination of bullying as well as suicide prevention.

The powerful message this video presents, the expertise in putting it together, and the gorgeous cinematography all combine to deliver the best music video of 2012. The Canadian Music Blog declares Elise Estrada’s “Wonder Woman” 2012′s Music Video of the Year. Watch…

Tell the World that Kristina Maria is Releasing an Album!

Her voice is so amazing that it brought a former senior vice president of Sony Music out of retirement, one of the key figures in Céline Dion’s rise to superstardom. She scored a Top 20 radio hit that was the 64th biggest song in Canada last year. Sales of her digital singles have surpassed 100,000. She has been nominated for 3 Canadian Radio Music Awards including SOCAN Song of the Year. And her name is Kristina Maria.

The Canadian Music Blog is thrilled to announce the release of the Ottawa native’s debut album on April 10th.

Tell the World will include 14 tracks, 11 of which were co-written by Kristina. The songs have been recorded in studios in Montréal, Los Angeles, Miami, and Sweden over the past year and a half. A team of some of the industry’s biggest names has co-written and produced the tracks: Vito Luprano (Céline Dion), Kristian Lundin (The Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync), Andreas Carlsson (Katy Perry, Clay Aiken), Anders Bagge (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez), Peer Astrom (Enrique Iglesias, Lara Fabian, Ace of Base), Josh Alexander (Leona Lewis), and JC Chasez (Girls Aloud, Basement Jaxx).

The album will include her smash hits “Let’s Play”, “Co-Pilot”, and “Our Song Comes On”. You can listen to samples of the tracks HERE.

It is rare for a recording artist to be both an exceptional singer and songwriter. Kristina Maria is one of those rare jewels. She makes us proud to be Canadian.

Check out Kristina Maria’s brand new Website

You can watch her music videos on her YouTube page.

If you like Kristina Maria, don’t forget to…

Follow Kristina Maria on Twitter

Like Kristina Maria on Facebook

Download Kristina Maria’s previous singles / remixes on iTunes 

“Co-Pilot”, Kristina Maria

Looks like many new videos are coming out.  Hot off the press is Kristina Maria’s Top 30 hit “Co-Pilot” which features Corneille.  Corneille was born in Germany to Rwandan parents and holds a Canadian passport.  He sings in English and French. 

Adding some French words, phrases, or verses to Canadian English songs is the right way to go; this is the future of Canadian music. The ethnic diversity shown is this video is wonderful and a true reflection of the real Canada.

“Our Song Comes On”, Kristina Maria

One of Canada’s finest new recording artists has just launched a brand new single. Ottawa’s Kristina Maria has recently been nominated for 3 Canadian Radio Music Awards, including SOCAN Song of the Year for “Let’s Play”, a top 20 hit last year and our 2nd favourite 2011 single from a Canadian artist. Kristina is churning out some smokin’ hot dance tunes that are as addictive as maple-dip doughnuts. She is not just a fabulous singer–one of the best in the country–but a gifted songwriter. Her new single is called “Our Song Comes On”. You can give it a listen HERE. A piece of advice: wear a toque while listening to it, because, when it gets stuck in your head, it’s so good it deserves to be kept warm, eh.

Update:  The song is now available for download on iTunes.

Canadian Radio Music Award Nominations, 2012

For those of you having trouble waiting for the JUNO nominations next month, a nice prelude to them (especially in terms of new artists) are the Canadian Radio Music Awards. The CRMAs are holding their 15th annual gala luncheon, this year at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto on March 23. The awards look at first-time top-charting Canadian artists, with the exception of the Fans Choice Award and SOCAN award. The categories are based on the different radio “formats”. In spite of the advent of digital music, the radio is still the biggest confirmation for a new artist and the first major milestone on the road to superstardom. It is possibly the most exciting aspect of a recording artist’s career to hear, for the first time, his or her song being played on the radio. The nominations for the 2012 gala are as follows:

CRMA 2012 NOMINEES

ROCK
BLEEKER RIDGE – SMALL TOWN DEAD
JONAS & THE MASSIVE ATTRACTION – BIG SLICE
THE REASON – THE LONGEST HIGHWAY HOME
THE SHEEPDOGS – I DON’T KNOW
USS – N/A OK

CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio)
ALYSSA REID – ALONE AGAIN
ANJULIE – BRAND NEW CHICK
MARTIN SOLVEIG & DRAGONETTE – HELLO
RAGHAV – FIRE
THESE KIDS WEAR CROWNS – JUMPSTART

DANCE / URBAN / RHYTHMIC
DEADMAU5 – SOFI NEEDS A LADDER
KRISTINA MARIA – LET’S PLAY
MARTIN SOLVEIG & DRAGONETTE – HELLO
MIA MARTINA – LATIN MOON
SUNLOVERZ FEAT. ROSETTE – FIRE

HOT AC (Adult Contemporary)
ALYSSA REID – ALONE AGAIN
KRISTINA MARIA – LET’S PLAY
MARTIN SOLVEIG & DRAGONETTE – HELLO
NEVEREST – ABOUT US
RAGHAV – FIRE

MAINSTREAM AC (Adult Contemporary)
ALYSSA REID – ALONE AGAIN
JESSE LABELLE – EASIER
JUSTIN NOZUKA – HEARTLESS
MARTIN SOLVEIG & DRAGONETTE – HELLO
NEVEREST – ABOUT US

COUNTRY
GOMIE – EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT
KIRA ISABELLA – LOVE ME LIKE THAT
MARLEE SCOTT – BEAUTIFUL MAYBE
RYAN LAIRD – I’M YOUR MAN
THE STELLAS – PERFECT

FANS CHOICE
ALYSSA REID – ALONE AGAIN
FEFE DOBSON – STUTTERING
HEDLEY – INVINCIBLE
JRDN – LIKE MAGIC
SHAWN DESMAN – ELECTRIC

SOCAN SONG OF THE YEAR
ALONE AGAIN
Songwriters: Alyssa Reid / Jamie Appleby / Raynford Humphrey / Thomas Kelly / Billy Steinberg
Recorded by: Alyssa Reid
HELLO
Songwriters: Martin Solveig / Martina Sorbara
Recorded by: Martin Solveig & Dragonette
JET LAG
Songwriters: Pierre Bouvier / Chuck Comeau / Beatrice Martin / Ryan Petersen / Nolan Sipe
Recorded by: Simple Plan
LET’S PLAY
Songwriters: Kristina Maria / Negin Djafari / Kristian Lundin
Recorded by: Kristina Maria
STUTTERING
Songwriters: Fefe Dobson / Claude Kelly / Michael Mentore / Jonathan Rotem
Recorded by: Fefe Dobson

UPDATEFind the winners HERE.

2011 in Music

In the Autumn, I was walking along in the Collingwood neighbourhood of Vancouver. A young Chinese-Canadian woman beside me suddenly gasped and pointed to a street lined with trees. The sky was completely blue. The sight of the leaves glistening in the sun was spectacular. They were green, chartreuse, yellow, orange, vermillion, red, burgundy, and purple. The year 2011 in sound was similar to that sight; there was a diversity of musical styles being created. Moreover, there were a number of new faces this year, and Canadian artists of Asian descent are on the rise which is very encouraging. Is Canada going to take on a leadership role in the western world in this regard?

Canadians of West Asian descent who enjoyed hits this year included Kristina Maria. Her “Let’s Play” was the 64th biggest song of the year. Karl Wolf is another name. This year he teamed up with Kardinal Offishall in the song “Ghetto Love” which was 67th.

A Canadian of South Asian heritage was Anjulie whose parents immigrated from Guyana, South America. “Brand New Chick” was a platinum single and the 52nd most popular song of the year. Raghav’s “Fire” went gold and was 94th.

Another positive element of 2011 was a burgeoning of Canadian dance music, a genre the output of which has seen Canada historically lag behind other countries. We are becoming masters of the genre, and artists like Dragonette, Deadmau5, Kristina Maria, Mia Martina, and Alfa Rococo are spinning some delicious tunes that make sitting still impossible.

Interestingly, the biggest albums of the year were Christmas albums: Michael Bublé’s jazzy Christmas (7x Platinum) and Justin Bieber’s R&B-ish Under the Mistletoe (3x Platinum). This was true both domestically and internationally. Besides those two, the other best-selling Canadian albums globally were rapper Drake’s Take Care, Avril Lavigne’s pop-oriented Goodbye Lullaby, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never: the Remixes, and Nickelback’s heavy metal release Here and Now

The most successful Canadian artist internationally in terms of a hit single was Avril Lavigne whose “What the Hell” was the highest-charting Canadian single. This includes the world’s three largest markets for music: the United States, Japan (where it was 10th of the year), and Britain. In the world’s most populous nation, China, it was 11th. It was also the most successful Canadian single in Australia. Domestically, there was much more going on in terms of hit singles.

International Success of Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” in 2011:

Year-End Chart Weekly Chart Peak Rank Among Canadian Singles
Canada 63 6
U.K. n/a 16 1
U.S. 62 1
Japan 10 1
China 11 1
Australia 48 1

 Top Singles of the Year

The highest charting song entirely by a Canadian artist was the aforementioned “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne, which peaked at #8 on the weekly singles chart and was the 63rd biggest song of 2011. “Hello”, a collaborative effort by Toronto synth-pop group Dragonette and Martin Solveig of Paris, France, enjoyed the highest position partially by a Canadian artist on the Top 100 singles of 2011 (#11) and was the most successful in terms of sales, achieving double-platinum digital download status.

The biggest song of 2011 entirely by a Canadian artist was “Alone Again” by Alyssa Reid (#24). This was a reworking of Heart’s song “Alone”. In terms of an original song entirely by a Canadian performer, honours would go to Fefe Dobson for her “Stutterin'” which was the 45th biggest song of the year.

Simple Plan’s “Jet Lag”, which featured U.K. singer Natasha Bedingfield, was 37th and was certified platinum. They also recorded a French version of the song which featured Québec’s Marie-Mai. Romanian Edward Maya’s song “Stereo Love”, which featured New Brunswick’s Mia Martina, was 34th. And Barbados’ Rihanna was at #32 with “What’s My Name” a song that featured Drake.

Other platinum digital downloads besides those mentioned above were “Brand New Chick” by Guyanese-Canadian Anjulie, “Electric” by Portuguese-Canadian Shawn Desman, Hedley’s “Invincible”, Nickelback’s “When We Stand Together”, and Marianas Trench’s “Haven’t Had Enough”.

Only 2 songs involving Canadian artists made the Top 10 on the British weekly charts this year, both being collaborations between Drake and Rihanna: “What’s My Name” (#1) and “Take Care” (#9). The most successful song entirely by a Canadian artist in the U.K. was “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne (#16).

Things were similar south of the border. “What’s My Name” was the 20th biggest song of the year in the United States. Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” was the most successful song there that was not a collaboration between a Canadian and an international artist. It was 62nd of the year.

The biggest Canadian song in Japan the world’s 2nd largest market for music after the U.S. – was Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” which was the 10th most popular song of the year there.

According to Montreal’s CKOI FM 96.9, the five most popular Francophone songs of the year were as follows:

1. Vincent Vallières’ “On va s’aimer encore” (#4)
2. Marie-Mai’s “Comme avant” (#15)
3. William Deslauriers’ “Je ve mon verre” (#35)
4. Clément Jacques’ “Ariane” (#37)
5. David Jalbert’s “P’tit homme” (#43)

Ten songs were nominated for single of the year at the Félix gala held in October. These are listed below with the winner being Vincent Vallières’ “On va s’aimer encore”.

10 Felix-Nominated Songs

“Météore”, Alfa Rococo
“Fruits défendus”, Brigitte Boisjoli
“J’taime pas, j’t’adore”, Nicola Ciccone
“Près de toi”, Martin Deschamps
“Jusqu’au bout”, Éric Lapointe
“Elle s’appelait Serge”, Les Trois Accords
“Comme avant”, Marie-Mai
“Toujours de nous”, Mario Pelchat
“Je repars”, David Usher, Marie-Mai
“On va s’aimer encore”, Vincent Vallières

The biggest song of the year in Canada this year was from Britain’s Adele—”Rolling in the Deep”.

It will be interesting to see what the JUNO awards in April next year will award in terms of singles, given that there are so many collaborations with foreign artists, covers, and partial covers.

Below is a table of the most successful singles in 2011, all having at least one of the following characteristics:

a) Was on the Billboard Canadian Top 100 singles of 2011 chart
b) Peaked in the Top 20 on the weekly Billboard Canadian Hot 100 singles chart during 2011
c) Was awarded gold / platinum certification (singles on the Top 100 of 2010 or that peaked on the weekly charts of 2010 receiving certification this year are not included)

Note: Most of the Top 20 songs that did not make the Top 100 of 2011 appeared late in the year and will most likely appear on the Top 100 of 2012 chart next year. Foreign artists (with whom Canadians collaborated) are in blue.

2011 Singles Comprehensive Chart

Song Artist 2011 WP C
Hello Martin Solveig, Dragonette 11 8 2xP
Alone Again Alyssa Reid 24 11 G
What’s My Name? Rihanna, Drake 32 5
Stereo Love Edward Maya, Mia Martina 34
Jet Lag Simple Plan 37 11 P
Stutterin’ Fefe Dobson 45 10 P
Brand New Chick Anjulie 52 16 P
Electric Shawn Desman 59 P
What the Hell Avril Lavigne 63 8
Let’s Play Kristina Maria 64 19 G
Ghetto Love Karl Wolf, Kardinall Offishall 67 20 G
Invincible Hedley 69 9 2xP
Latin Moon Mia Martina 74 G
Can’t Breathe Fefe Dobson 76 19 G
Like Magic JRDN 80 G
Haven’t Had Enough Marianas Trench 81 9 P
About Us Neverest 89 G
Moment 4 Life Nicki Minaj, Drake 92
Fire Raghav 94 G
I Wanna Dance w/ Somebody These Kids Wear Crowns 95 G
She’s Dope Down with Webster 100 18 P
Mistletoe Justin Bieber 9 G
When We Stand Together Nickelback 10 P
Shut Up and Dance Victoria Duffield 12 P
Today is Your Day Shania Twain 14
One Life Hedley 16 P
She Will Lil Wayne, Drake 16
Headlines Drake 18 P
Pray (For LJ) Pardon My Striptease 20
Hit Me Up Danny Fernandes ft. Josh Ramsay and Belly 22 P
Famous Audio Playground G
Co-Pilot Kristina Maria G
123 Craig Smart G
Lullaby Nickelback G
Whatta Night Ricky J. G

Top Albums of the Year

There were an astounding number of albums released this year. With a sharp decline in record sales over the past few years, it is a huge honour just to score a gold album these days, something that was pretty much guaranteed for an album with a radio hit in years past. By the end of the year, 8 albums released in 2011 received gold certifications, 2 platinum, and 3 multi-platinum.

The most successful albums of the year by Canadian artists were Christmas albums. Michael Bublé’s Christmas was certified 7x platinum and Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe 3x platinum. Nickelback’s Here and Now was a double-platinum release. The best-selling Francophone album was Maxime Landry’s L’avenir entre nous (platinum). At the October Félix gala, most popular album accolades went to Ginette Reno for La musique en moi. Hedley’s Storms was certified platinum at the end of the year.

All albums mentioned above (with the exception of L’avenir entre nous) made it to #1 on the weekly albums chart. Additionally were City and Colour’s Little Hell, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never: the Remixes, and Drake’s Take Care.

The biggest album of the year in Canada was 21 by Britain’s Adele which was certified diamond, the first studio album to do so since Céline Dion’s These Are Special Times 4 years ago.

Below is a table of all albums released in 2011 with at least one of the following characteristics:

a) Was awarded gold / platinum certification
b) Was on the Billboard Canadian Top 50 albums of 2011 chart
c) Peaked in the Top 5 on the Billboard Canadian weekly albums chart during 2011

We will continue updating new levels of certification for these 2011 albums through 2012.

2011 Albums Comprehensive Chart

Album Artist C 2011 WP
Christmas Michael Buble 8xP 16 1
Under the Mistletoe Justin Bieber 3xP 36 1
Here and Now Nickelback 2xP 1
Little Hell City and Colour P 40 1
Storms Hedley P 2
Metals Feist P 2
L’avenir entre nous Maxime Landry P
Mixmania2 (Various Artists) G 46 4
L’existoire Richard Desjardins G 49 2
Better Be Home Soon George Canyon G
Undercover Me 2 Jann Arden G
Dans le silence de la nuit André Gagnon G
Ever After Marianas Trench P
Noel Nadja G
The Truth Is… Theory of a Deadman G
C’est un monde Fred Pellerin G
A Napoli Marc Hervieux G
La vie a deux Jean-Francois Breau & Marie-Eve Janvier G
Les grands espaces Isabelle Boulay G
La musique en moi Ginette Reno P 26 1
Never Say Never: The Remixes Justin Bieber 33 1
Americana II Roch Voisine 44 3
Take Care Drake  2xP 1
Seul au piano Pierre La Pointe 2
Goodbye Lullaby Avril Lavigne 2
Get Your Heart On Simple Plan 2
The Truth Is… Theory of a Deadman 2
Siberia Lights  G 3
Collider Sam Roberts Band 3
Michigan Left Arkells 5
Blonde Coeur de Pirate 5
Que Du Vent Les Cowboys Fringants 5
Je Suis Marie-Elaine Thibert 5
Lights of Endangered Matthew Good 5
Everything’s Going My Way Nadja 5

New Artists in 2011

Though a song by Toronto’s Neverest barely scraped into the Top 30 on the weekly charts, its long stay, helped by a popular music video, pushed it into the year-end Top 100; “About Us” was 89th of the year. JRDN is Ralph Jordan Croucher who grew up in both Halifax and Toronto. His “Like Magic” was the 80th biggest song of the year. Like The Stereos, Chilliwack, BC’s These Kids Wear Crowns were discovered on MuchMusic’s “disBand” program. Their cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” was 95th of the year.

Another Chilliwack rock band, Pardon My Striptease, made it to #20 with their song “Pray (For LJ)” about lead singer Andrew Putt’s one-year-old daughter who was in the hospital battling brain cancer. The band challenged Nickelback to match donations to the Children’s Hospital if their song surpassed Nickelback’s “When We Stand Together” on the iTunes chart. Nickelback announced it would honour the challenge and would donate $50,000 to the hospital.

What follows are mini-profiles on the biggest newcomers of 2011.

Anjulie

We have completed a major profile on Anjulie which is HERE.

Brigitte Boisjoli

Beautiful Brigitte is from Drummondville, QC and, in 2009, she finished 3rd in reality television series Star Académie, the same year that Maxime Landry won the singing competition. She led a very athletic life, participating, among other sports, in bungee jumping, parachuting, and kickboxing. As a teen, she participated in musicals. After her success in Star Academy, she released her debut album in 2011, Fruits defendus. Her work was recognized by the Felix awards as she was nominated in several categories. She ended up winning Best New Artist of the Year. Brigitte released a Patsy Cline tribute album in 2015 which went gold.

Victoria Duffield

This diligent and multi-talented singer from Abbotsford, BC was a finalist on the third season of talent search YTV program The Next Star. By the age of seven, she was singing and dancing in local competitions. She began an acting career appearing in such shows as Cold Squad, Smallville, and Supernatural. After her success in The Next Star, Ryan Stewart (who has worked with Carly Rae Jepsen and Suzie McNeil) co-wrote the song “Shut Up and Dance” with her. It was picked up by radio stations across the country at the end of 2011 and climbed up to #12 on the weekly singles chart going platinum. A version with an added French part featuring Lukay was released in Quebec.  Victoria released her debut album in 2012 named after her Platinum single.  Tracks “Feel” and “Break My Heart” both made the Top 40 on the Canadian Hot 100. In 2014, Victoria released her second album, Accelerate and went on tour with The Backstreet Boys.

Kristina Maria

We have completed a major profile on Kristina Maria which is HERE.

Mia Martina

From a small village of 500 people—Saint Ignace, NB—arose one Mia Martina who, after relocating to Ottawa for university, was discovered and asked to sing backup for Danny Fernandes and Belly. She released a dance remix of Edward Maya’s “Stereo Love”, featuring her vocal, a Top 10 hit in Canada at the end of 2010. It finished as the 34th biggest song of 2011. Her own song, “Latin Moon” which was released in both official languages finished the year in 74th place. “Burning” peaked at #25 on the Hot 100 and was the 64th biggest song of 2012. Her debut album was entitled Devotion. Mia’s bilingual song “Danse” went gold in 2014. She released her second album, self-titled, in 2015. It spawned the Top 40 hit “Beast”.

Alyssa Reid

The 24th biggest song of 2011 was brought to us by Alyssa Reid. Born in Edmonton and now living in Brampton, Ontario, she was a finalist on the first season of talent search YTV program The Next Star just as the aforementioned Victoria Duffield. Her “Alone Again” was a reworking of Heart’s song “Alone” (which has also been covered by Céline Dion) with added lyrics and a rap segment by P. Reign, a Guyanese-Canadian from the Toronto area. “Alone Again” peaked at #11 on the weekly singles chart and was certified gold. Her debut album, released in June, is entitled The Game.  “Alone Again” made it to #2 on the British charts in 2012. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” became a Top 40 single in 2013. Alyssa released album Phoenix in 2015 showcasing a more acoustic singer-songwriter style.

JUNO Awards

The JUNO Awards for 2011 music were held in Ottawa on the weekend of March 31, 2012.  Blue Rodeo was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame.  Album of the Year was awarded to Michael Buble and Single of the Year to The Sheepdogs.  For a full list of nominees, click on the following links:  JUNOs Part 1  JUNOs Part 2.

Related Posts

Canadian Music Blog’s Album of the Year 2011

Canadian Music Blog’s Song of the Year 2011

Mini-Profiles on Artists Whose Popularity Intensified in 2011

(Includes Vincent Vallières, Fred Pellerin, Nadja, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dragonette, Richard Desjardins, Coeur de Pirate, City and Colour, and George Canyon)

Felix Awards:   Nominees   Winners Part 1   Winners Part 2

Kristina Maria

Born: 1989, Ottawa
Debut: 2011
Genre: Dance

Canadians of west Asian descent have always done well. Our very first rock and roll international superstar had such a heritage. It was a Canadian of west Asian ancestry who co-wrote one of the biggest songs of all-time (The Archies’ “Sugar Sugar”) in addition to having his own hits. But it has been awhile since those magical times. Not to worry, as, in 2011, the magic returned.

From the nation’s capital, where Paul Anka emerged back in the 50s, the 9-month-old daughter of Lebanese-born parents began humming along to Arabic songs right on key. When she was a child, she fell in love with The Bodyguard soundtrack and Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love album. Inspired by her cousin Rene Chalhoub’s success as a singer in Lebanon, Kristina Maria joined her elementary school’s choir, composing her first song in Grade 3. She began writing poems and setting them to music. By Grades 5 and 6, she was already recording demos in studios.

Kristina began performing at fairs and exhibitions and took formal lessons at the Ottawa Music Conservatory. While in junior high school, her vocal coach assembled a group of eight girls as “The Showstoppers” to sing The Supremes and ABBA songs at theme parks in Florida, USA. She performed at Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios. While in Florida, she made some friends, one of whom owned a recording studio and she was invited to record some more demos. Things began to fall into place.

In the summer of 2009, Maria was contacted by Italian-born, Montreal-raised music executive Vito Luprano, one of the key players in Céline Dion’s works. He had listened to some of Maria’s demos and was impressed. She was invited to Montreal where she sang a successful audition before Vito who became her manager.

At the end of 2010, Maria recorded a slick dance song and a music video was made. In 2011, the song was picked up by Top 40 radio stations across the country and it climbed up the Canadian Hot 100 Singles Chart breaking into the Top 20. The song was “Let’s Play“. It was the 64th biggest song of the year. In May, Maria went on tour to promote her songs and released her debut album Tell the World in 2012 a number of tracks charting on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 and, to date, three of them attaining gold status. In 2014, Kristina began releasing new singles. “Move Like a Soldier” peaked at #22 on the Hot 100.

Kristina Maria - Tell the World

Singles:

•  “Let’s Play” #19, 64th of 2011, GOLD

•  “Co-Pilot” #26, GOLD

•  “Our Song Comes On” #23, 100th of 2012, GOLD

•  “Animal” #97

•  “Karma” #41

•  “Move Like a Soldier” #22

Kristina Maria Official Website

Kristina Maria Interview  

Major Profiles on Canadian Recording Artists of Asian Descent

We are pleased to make the following announcement.

In keeping with our policy of giving priority to Canadian recording artists of Asian descent, we will be putting major profiles of Raghav, Kristina Maria, Anjulie, and Elise Estrada up on the site.

Normally, we reserve major profiles for superstars like Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, and Alanis Morissette. To help break the racist mold of a blacks-and-whites-only club in the West, however, we are making this move.

Let us know if there are any other Canadian artists of Asian descent you would like us to profile. The only requirement we ask is that the artist has had a Top 40 radio hit single in Canada.

Additionally, we will be bumping up Susan Aglukark, the world’s most successful Inuk recordnig artist, from a mini profile to major profile.

ATF Tunes: We can find a game where no one has to lose

Dance music has always been very popular in Canada but there had not been a large output of successful dance tunes from Canadian artists over the years. Part of the problem may have had to do with a lack of Canadian music producers and engineers who were specialists of the genre. Things began to change, however, and Asian-Canadian artists are leading the way, one of them being a brand new singer from the capital, named Kristina Maria. Her raunchy, playful, fun song “Let’s Play” was a Top 20 hit across the country in 2011 and it has managed to land among our all-time favourite songs by Canadian artists.

Lyrics

There’s so much that we can do
Have a play date in my room
And the rest is up to you baby
We can dress up if you like
What’s your flavour, what’s your type
Come on over for the night
I’ll bring your fantasies to life

[Chorus:]
Let’s play
I’ll let you wrestle me
You can win
All day
I’ll show you what it means
To fool around
You’ll see
How much you want it now
Just come out
And play

Baby if I tie you up
It doesn’t mean I’ll tie you down
I just like to play it rough, baby
And if you want to bring a friend
He’s more than welcome to join in
We’ll have triple times the fun
Yeah, this night has just begun

[Chorus]

OOOOOh, Let’s Play
I can show you all the toys that you might like
My way
This Barbie’s got nothing on me tonight
Let’s play
And anything you want
We’ll make up our own rules
All day
We can find a game
Where no one has to lose

[Chorus]

Summary

Song: “Let’s Play”
Album: Tell the World
Year: 2011
Artist: Kristina Maria
Origin: Ottawa

More songs…