The 15 Best Music Videos of 2016

music-video

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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Marie-Mai’s New Anglo Track, “Almost”

Marie-Mai chillin

Marie-Mai is an adventurous one. She has hopped over the fence to do things from the other side. From back-to-back sold out shows at the Bell Centre in Montreal not too long ago, she is now performing three nights at the quaint, 1,100 capacity House of Blues Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, USA. The classic rickety venue will be shutting down in August with plans to build in its place. With Marie-Mai performing there in its final days, it will definitely be going out in a blaze of glory! In celebration, the platinum superstar has also cartwheeled over from her usual electrifying Franco rock to acoustic Anglo with new song “Almost”. She sounds just as good. We have embedded the new music video below.

Gold/Platinum Certifications June – July 2014

Certifications from 2014 -  06 - 11

For both albums and digital singles released from May 1, 2008 onwards, definitions are: Gold = 40,000 units sold, Platinum = 80,000 units sold, Double Platinum = 160,000 units, Triple Platinum = 240,000 units, etc.

M Is For Magnificent and Marie-Mai

Marie-Mai - MOn two consecutive nights last week, fans of this reigning rock queen packed Montréal’s Bell Centre to see her perform. This Canadian singer has scored two platinum albums. She has enjoyed seven Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charting songs. She performed at the Closing Ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010. She has collaborated with Simple Plan. She has won eight ADISQ Félix Awards. Released last night, her fifth studio album shot straight to number one on iTunes. And her name is Marie-Mai.

The new album is simply called M. This is energetic rock with a difference. Rather than the power coming exclusively from revved up electric guitars, the force comes from the majestic vocals, as muscular as Charles Hamelin’s thighs! The music follows the ice conduit cool of acts like Pat Benatar, Survivor, and Simple Plan, but lighting up the tracks colourfully are meticulous electronic touch ups that make the whole package sound very fresh and addictive. While Marie-Mai’s last album Miroir gave us a little bit of everything, there is more cohesion on M. At the same time, enough variety of moods exist to keep us transfixed throughout the disc. Guests on the album include Boogat and Jonas. Given the quality of the work, we would not be surprised if this became Marie-Mai’s first multiplatinum album. Below is her brand new video for track “Conscience” worth seeing for her adorable postures, facial expressions, and gestures alone! What a great performer!  iTunes

It’s Never Too Late for a Marie-Mai and Jonas Duet

Marie-Mai and JonasTo date, the year’s top Anglo hit is Magic’s “Rude” and the top Franco hit is “Jamais trop tard”. The latter debuted on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 at the stellar position of #54 and is a duet featuring two superstars, Marie-Mai and Jonas (Tomalty). Both artists have scored previous hits on the chart. Marie-Mai has recorded two platinum albums, and Jonas, known more for his Anglo works, landed a gold, JUNO-nominated album in 2004. He is now with the incredibly talented rock band Jonas and the Massive Attraction. Due to the success of the new single, a music video has been shot in classic black and white (embedded below). The song will be included on Marie-Mai’s upcoming album, MiTunes

Marie-Mai’s M Tops iTunes as a Pre-Order

Marie-Mai - MDespite all the new releases on iTunes yesterday, some from fairly high profile artists, whether foreign or domestic, it is a pre-order from a Francophone female artist that has topped the albums chart. Marie-Mai is, for lack of a better word, HOT! She’s rocking well. The Varennes, QC native has won multiple Félix Awards, landed half a dozen songs on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, and authored a pair of platinum-certified albums. We loved seeing her included as a performer at the Closing Ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. The new album, M, will be her 5th studio LP since debuting in 2004. Marie-Mai’s career was launched by her finishing among the top in the first season of Star Académie.

The upcoming album’s lead single, “Jamais trop tard”, a collaboration with Jonas, recently topped the CKOI Franco chart, and is currently sitting in the iTunes Top 10. Marie-Mai has shot a music video for track “Conscience” and will be premiering songs from the album at Montréal’s Bell Centre. To give you an idea of how big the singer has become, she will be performing twice at the venue: May 2 and 3. M will be released on May 12. You can pre-order it on iTunes. Album teaser below.

Ice Conduit to the 2013 ADISQ Gala: Pop Album of the Year Nominees

Mixmania3 by Various Artists

Mixmania 3Mixmania is a televised performance-based show where two teams of Canadian youth compete for the most talented. The girls and boys teams consist of four members each. The show has become very popular in Québec. After each season, an album featuring the young singers is released, containing mostly original compositions. This is the third various artists compilation. The songs are mainly done in dance pop style. Rather than having each track sung by a different finalist, each contains a different mix of singers, both male and female (two or more).

Nous sommes les mêmes by Marc Dupré

Marc Dupre - Nous sommes les memesMarc’s last album, 2010′s Entre deux mondes, nabbed the coveted Félix award for Pop/Rock Album of the Year. Song “Si on changeait” won a SOCAN award. The title track of this, his 4th studio album is the most successful Franco song so far in 2013, reaching #47 on the Canadian Hot 100. “Un coup sur mon coeur” has also appeared on the chart. The music here is passionate, vibrant, and fresh. Whether you are riding a bicycle in the sunset or racing down the highway in a convertible, the album contains the perfect tracks to accompany the drive.

Punkt by Pierre Lapointe

Pierre Lapointe - PunktAlma, QC’s multiple Félix winning Pierre Lapointe has scored a pair of platinum albums. This cinematic-flavoured work debuted at #1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart. Short video arcade themed sequences are interspersed like commercial breaks during a television show. For us, this album conjured images of muppets on laughing gas dancing around a letter of the alphabet, time-lapsed photography of love locks being placed on a chain-link fence near Pont des Arts in Paris, and Miss Havisham waltzing around her dilapidated mansion in her dusty wedding gown.

Miroir by Marie-Mai

Marie-Mai - MiroirUpon release, Marie-Mai’s 4th studio album topped the iTunes albums chart. Recently, it has been certified platinum. It contains her smash hits “Sans cri ni haine”, a Franco cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and “C.O.B.R.A.” both of which made the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. The album presents a thoughtful blend of Marie-Mai’s signature high-energy tunes like “Toujours là”, delicate ballads like “Différents”, heartland guitar tracks like “Je rêve de nous”, and piano-driven melodies like “Si les mots”. The English tracks were taken from 2010 recordings of an unreleased Anglo EP.

Fox by Karim Ouellet

Karim Ouellet - FoxBorn in Dakar, Senegal, Karim is currently one of the hottest new Francophone artists in the country. Off this musically and culturally rich album, “L’amour” was a charting single, scaling up to #64 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. The title track was also a big radio hit in Québec. Karim has been praised for both his guitar skills and soft, handsome voice. His music embodies a potpourri of styles—folk, soul, African pop, reggae, with even some electro beats thrown in—all bound together by his direct and chipper spirit. This music will put a smile on your face.

Ice Conduit to the 2013 ADISQ Gala: Best-Selling Album of the Year Nominees

Star Académie Noël by Various Artists

Star Academie NoelAs the title suggests, this is a Christmas album by the 14 stellar 2012 finalists of Montréal hit TV reality series Star Académie. In just 17 days, it was certified platinum. Season’s greetings classics were arranged under the artistic direction of multiplatinum recording artist Gregory Charles in a variety of genres: gospel, folk, pop, traditional vocal, AC, jazz, and blues. Hearing these holiday tunes confirms that Leclerc, Bédard, Lachance, Audet, May, Malette, Lee, Couture, Benoit, Morin, Dion, Lafond, Guerrette, and Pelletier are among the best young vocalists in the country.

Mes amours, mes amis by Paul Daraîche

Paul Daraiche - Mes Amours Mes AmisThis platinum album contains 15 sumptuous tunes of quintessential country singer Paul Daraîche, all performed in duets with some of Canada’s biggest superstars: Lynda Lemay, Daniel Lavoie, Richard Desjardins, Isabelle Boulay, Roch Voisine, Isabelle Boulay, Mario Pelchat, Yves Lambert, Édith Butler, Maxime Landry, Laurence Jalbert, Patrick Norman, Luce Dufault, Cindy Daniel, and Marc Hervieux. Onboard as well are French stars Dick Rivers and Hugues Aufray. Paul has a music career spanning 45 years and has sold 1.7 million albums. This is his 27th.

Sans Attendre by Céline Dion

Celine-Dion - Sans-attendreA triple-platinum release at home with worldwide sales in excess of 1.3 million, the most successful Canadian recording artist of all-time remains a force to be reckoned with. The album contains “Parler à mon père” which peaked at #53 on the Canadian Hot 100 and was the 77th biggest song of 2012 in France. It is a dedication to Céline’s father (and #1 fan) who passed away several years ago. The disc also has three duets: with legendary Canadian Jean-Pierre Ferland, Johnny Hallyday (best-selling French recording artist of all-time), and virtual duet with Caribbean singer Henri Salvador.

Le Québec est mort, Vive le Québec! by Loco Locass

Loco Locass -Le mémoire de Loco LocassAround since 1995, Loco Locass perform Franco rap music of a highly political nature. They are a trio with nicknames Biz, Batlam, and Chafiik augmented by several musicians. In the past, the group’s album Amour Oral was certified gold and won a pair of Félix awards. This album of theirs landed on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart at #4, was nominated for Recording Package of the Year JUNO, and funky track “Le mémoire de Loco Locass” finished in the year-end CKOI Top 50 chart. With their sophisticated brand of rap, they have been recognized for their strong compositional skills.

Miroir by Marie-Mai

Marie-Mai - MiroirUpon release, Marie-Mai’s 4th studio album topped the iTunes albums chart. Recently, it has been certified platinum. It contains her smash hits “Sans cri ni haine”, a Franco cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and “C.O.B.R.A.” both of which made the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. The album presents a thoughtful blend of Marie-Mai’s signature high-energy tunes like “Toujours là”, delicate ballads like “Différents”, heartland guitar tracks like “Je rêve de nous”, and piano-driven melodies like “Si les mots”. The English tracks were taken from 2010 recordings of an unreleased Anglo EP.

Gold/Platinum Certifications July to September 2013

Here are the latest certifications from Music Canada. Congratulations to the artists and a big thank you to Canadians for continuing to support them by buying their music.

2013 - 07 - 26

2013 - 09 - 11

Definitions

For both albums and digital singles current definitions are: Gold = 40,000 units sold. Platinum = 80,000 units sold. 2x Platinum = 160,000 units sold. 3x Platinum = 240,000 units sold. Etc. Because The Road Hammers album was released prior to May 1, 2008, its platinum certification translates to 100,000 units sold.

Canadian Music Blog’s Top 20 Song Faves of 2012, Part 2: #10 to #1

Canadian Artists

(See Part 1 – Songs #20 to #11 – which also includes eligibility rules and our selection process HERE.)

#10. “Gonna Take Some Time” by Len

Len - Gonna Take Some TimeGold-selling, JUNO-nominated Toronto band Len released an album in 2012 which was our  6th favourite of the year, It’s Easy If You Try. “It’s My Neighbourhood” was released as the album’s first single. All tracks on the album are jam-packed with sun blasts of pop splendour. We felt that the grooviest of the lot was “Gonna Take Some Time”. Len’s core members are siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo who are great at combining clever lyrics and rhymes with impressive hooks and unexpected sounds all in a rolled up wheel of spinning summertime fun like a scooter ride through a colourful urban jungle. This song has plunky guitars, a sax solo, and some cool choppy beats.

#9. “Mon Corps” by Ariane Moffatt

Ariane Moffatt - Mon CorpsHeralding her 2012 album MA, which reached #2 on the weekly Billboard album chart, this mouth-watering electronic rock number, was released at the end of 2011 peaking on the charts this year. It rivals Marianne Faithful’s “Broken English” in style and the greatest hits of Mylène Farmer in substance. Ariane Moffatt is a JUNO-winning, platinum-selling recording artist whose creative genius flows at the rate of water over Niagara Falls. The synthesizer grunts and whirrs glisten over beats as original as the concoctions of Utada Hikaru. “Mon Corps” is both ominous and playful as her vocal delivery is both matter-of-fact and teasing. Brilliant song.

#8. “I Am a Bee” by Lily C.

Lily C - I Am a BeeTo prove that mainstream popular music is not all that delighted us this year is this sweet adult contemporary number by emerging artist and Torontonian Lily C. This is delicate “happy pop” in the vein of Jewel, Darrelle London, and Liz Coyles. Off album Reaching for Sunlight, “I Am a Bee” is absolutely beautiful. Verse, chorus, and bridge are all perfect examples of song writing perfection and wing through the 4 minutes in their uniqueness and unity like, well, a bee, butterfly, and bird. Rubbery keyboard blips, driving guitar strums, solid bass, bubbly bells, and free-spirited percussion animate this ode to flight and freedom.

#7. “Riptide” by Marie-Mai

Marie-Mai - RiptideStrange that of all songs on Star Academie finalist, 6-time Félix winner, and Vancouver Olympics performer Marie-Mai’s gold-certified 4th studio album Miroir, we would choose one of the two English tracks, but this song is so good, we couldn’t resist. Marie-Mai has become so popular that two of the four Francophone hits that made the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012 were hers. Fabulous were Félix popular song of the year winner “Sans cri ni haine” (a French language cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”) and album opener “C.O.B.R.A.”. Marie-Mai co-wrote most songs on the album with the likes of Fred St- Gelais and celebrated Canadian songwriter Rob Wells. “Riptide” is the pulsating album closer which caps off a brilliant work.

#6. “Burning” (French Version) by Mia Martina

Mia Martina - BurningNew Brunswick’s JUNO-nominated Acadian singer Mia Martina sounds stunning in English but her French versions simply floor us. Kaleidoscopic “Burning”, a hot high-society style number with a sensual saxophone, made it to #25 on the Hot 100, was certified gold, and finished as the year’s 64th biggest hit. Enjoying tremendous mileage from her 2010 album Devotion, “Burning” was the third single launched of five. The album contained an English version only, the French version being released as a separate single. “Burning” was the second most successful song from the album, 2010’s “Stereo Love” with Edward Maya being the biggest hit. Straight from Mia’s classy opening vocal, the whole song shines with glory.

#5. “Put Me On” by Diamond Rings

Diamond Rings - Put Me OnYes, we do love our independent artists too. And how could you not adore a song that begins with the lyric, “Beneath the sliver of the autumn moon, between the pigeons and the northern loons”? Diamond Rings, the stage name of Toronto’s JUNO-nominated John O’Regan, released his sizzling second studio album Free Dimensional this year. It was our second favourite LP of 2012 bringing back that fabulous new wave 80s synth rock vibe with a modern spin. In “Put Me On”, edgy electric guitars (and even a mid-song solo) combine with cheeky synths and John’s baritone voice to deliver a classy contribution to the magnificent genre created by Kraftwerk and popularized by Gary Numan.

#4. “Body Work” featuring Tegan & Sara

Tegan and Sara - Body WorkAh, house music, especially while doing the laundry, never sounded so good. JUNO-nominated Calgarian twins Tegan & Sara co-wrote this killer tune with American EDM master Morgan Page and vocalized the entire track. “Body Work” wrestled its way up to #32 on the weekly Hot 100, while in Morgan’s home country, the charts were not so welcoming. With a beat that could set off an earthquake, shimmering synths that get a sloth jiving, and twin stereo voices that could turn grapefruit into honey, this piece of wizardry attracted mainstream attention to the hitherto underground duo set to release a new album in early 2013.

#3. “Break My Heart” by Victoria Duffield

Victoria Duffield - Break My HeartWe named Shut Up and Dance, debut LP from Abbotsford, BC dance pop star Victoria Duffield as album of the year. She topped the Billboard Emerging Artists chart with the album’s title track, a platinum single and 49th biggest of the year. The irresistible “Break My Heart” was the third single released from the album and scaled up the Hot 100 to #35 on the weekly Hot 100. The album is filled with gems, and this dazzling dance tune of flashy Ryan Stewart tweaks, keyboard toots, and unbreakable pop hooks was our favourite. The song is enjoyed best with its suburban neighbourhood dance invasion music video and is so energizing, it’ll have grandpa doing cartwheels.

#2. “Clone” by Metric

Metric - CloneNot an uncommon feature in motion pictures, the last time we remember a song about clones was back in the 1980s care of Alice Cooper. JUNO-winning new wave band Metric of Toronto whose members consist of three Js and an E released their fifth album this year, Synthetica, which made it to #2 on the Billboard Albums chart in June and was named by CBC’s Q as the 10th best album of the year. The song deals with the idea of making decisions based on society’s expectations (becoming a clone) or taking the road less taken. In any case, “it’s too late in the day” to change the course one set off on in the past. An extremely catchy song, with a swaggering groove, this one just compels you to keep hitting that replay button.

#1. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me MaybeWas there every any doubt? At one point, we were diggin’ “Curisoty” slightly more than the biggest international Canadian hit of the year, but our enjoyment of “Call Me Maybe” was longer lived. Before the endorsement of Justin Bieber on Twitter, before Carly Rae Jepsen was signed by Scooter Braun and company, before the song topped the charts all around the world, before it even entered the Hot 100 at home, we heard this amazing tune when it first came out on Vancouver Radio Station Virgin 953 and instantly fell in love. It was like a tiny, humble seed planted in soil with questionable fertility and did nothing but grow, albeit slowly, until shooting up into a fruit-bearing tree that spread its branches around the globe. This really was the best song released in 2012, fresh-sounding, catchy, expertly produced, and intelligently composed by an exceptionally talented singer songwriter named Carly Rae Jepsen.

Related Posts

Top 20 Song Faves of 2012, Part 1 (#20 to #11)

2012’s Song of the Year

Top 10 Music Video Faves of 2012

2012’s Music Video of the Year

Top 15 Album Faves of 2012

2012’s Album of the Year

Video of the Week: Marie-Mai’s “C.O.B.R.A.”

She was one of the top finalists of the first season of Star Academie, performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and now she has a hot new single that’s landed in the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.  Moreover, her 4th studio album, Miroir, will be released tomorrow.  Filmed under a moonlit forest, Marie-Mai’s C.O.B.R.A. involves a dance party outside a mysterious building complete with hand-held flares.  With all the smoke and mirrors, why not give in to the charm and let yourself be enchanted by the cobra?

Late 2000s Mini Profiles on Semi-Major Artists

Feist

Feist was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia but the family relocated to Regina and then Calgary. In 1991, while a teenager, she formed a punk band in Calgary. She experienced vocal cord problems in 1995 and relocated to Toronto a year later where she worked with various local indie artists. She recorded her own album on an independent label which was produced by Dan Kurtz who later created Dragonette. In 2001, with friends, she formed popular indie band Broken Social Scene. She released the acclaimed album Let It Die in 2004 and her cover of the Bee Gees “Inside and Out” was popular. She won the JUNO for Best New Artist in 2005. A remix album, Open Season, came the following year. Her big breakthrough was in 2007 when she released double-platinum The Reminder. It won the JUNO for album of the year, track “1234” song of the year, and Feist, herself, artist of the year. In all, she has won 8 JUNO awards. “1234” was the 35th most popular song of 2008. Feist released the album Metals in 2011.

Marie-Mai

Rocker Marie-Mai (Bouchard) was a finalist during the first season (2003) of Star Académie, somewhat of a French version of Canadian Idol. She grew up learning piano and developed a love and a talent for singing. Her grandmother mentored her and was the one who encouraged her to audition for the reality TV show. She released her gold debut album in 2004. She became noticed in Europe opening for Garou. Marie-Mai’s popular standing was sealed with the release of her second (gold) album, Dangereuse attraction, which won the Félix for rock album of the year. “Mentir” was nominated for the Félix song of the year, and she performed “Emmène-Moi” at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. She released her 3rd album, Version 3.0, in 2009. It was certified platinum and won her 2nd rock album of the year award. Both “C’est Moi” and “Comme Avant” (co-written by Rob Wells) were nominated for Félix awards. Marie-Mai won the Félix female artist of the year award in both 2010 and 2011. She recorded the song “Kill the Lights” with David Usher (Moist) and provided vocals for the French version of Simple Plan’s “Jet Lag”.  In 2012, she had the biggest Francophone song of the year, “Sans cri ni haine”, a French-language cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”.  It won the Song of the Year Felix.  She released album Miroir which was quickly certified gold and later platinum. Album M appeared in 2014.

State of Shock

This Vancouver hard rock band has enjoyed three songs in the year-end Top 100 singles charts: “Best I Ever Had” (#87, 2008), “Money Honey” (#67, 2008), and “Too Pretty” (#100, 2009)—all from their second (gold) album Life, Love, and Lies. State of Shock is special in that it is a gender-combo band, including both male and female members. They released their debut album in 2004 but shot to stardom with their second release. Their lead singer is Cameron Melnyk, originally from Edmonton and of Ukrainian descent. They have toured with Nickelback and Puddle of Mud. State of Shock released its third album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Romance, in 2011.

Faber Drive

This band is from Mission, B.C. and has been more successful in the singles than the albums department. Like State of Shock, they have enjoyed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts: “When I’m with You” (#83, 2008), “G-Get Up and Dance” (#48, 2009), and “Give Him Up” (#84, 2010). “Tongue Tied” was a hit in 2007. The band is named after lead singer Dave Faber and has gone through several line-up changes, the only other consistent member being Jeremy “Krikit” Liddle. They shifted from standard pop rock fare to a more synth-rock sound on their second album.

Drake

Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham is a Canadian rap artist. He became known as an actor first, however, playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. His recording career was launched when he was signed by American rapper Lil Wayne’s company. He released an EP first (in 2009) and his debut (platinum) album, Thank Me Later, was released the following year. Drake often collaborates with other artists in his recorded singles. “Headlines” is his only gold-certified single. “Best I Ever Had” made the year-end Top 100 in 2009; “Find Your Love” and “Over” did in 2010, when he won two JUNO awards, including one for best new artist. In 2011, he recorded hits with Barbados’ Rihanna and Trinidadian-American Nicki Minaj. That year he released his second full-length studio album, Take Care, with contributions by Chantal Kreviazuk, among others. Nothing Was the Same followed in 2013. Drake’s father is African American and his mother is Jewish Canadian. Drake released two albums in 2015, one a collaboration with U.S. artist Future and his own entitled If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. With album Views in 2016, track “One Dance” became his first #1 hit.

Stereos

Edmonton is not known for churning out popular rock bands. But all that changed with the advent of The Stereos who have a gold album under their belt and have managed three year-end Top 100 singles: “Summer Girl” (#35, 2009), “Throw Ya Hands Up” (#85, 2009), and “Turn It Up” (#80, 2010). The first two were double-platinum digital downloads and the latter platinum. The Stereos are led by Pat Kordyback. They formed in 2008 under the moniker Stand By Me, changed it to Turn It Up, and finally settled on The Stereos. They rose to prominence by performing on MuchMusic show disBAND and were judged by Gene Simmons of Kiss. Universal Music Canada signed them immediately. After their gold debut album in 2009, they released a second album the following year.

LIGHTS

LIGHTS is a female recording artist and synthesizer virtuoso. She was born in Timmins, Ontario but moved around during her childhood, living in Jamaica, The Philippines, and Vancouver, before settling in Toronto in her teens. In 2006, she got a job with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and composed music for television. Her talents led to a record deal with Sire / Warner Music and her song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit and the 70th biggest song of the year 2008. Before she even released her debut album, she received the JUNO award for best new artist. The Listening came out in 2009 and was certified gold. Her second album, Siberia, came out in 2011 and was certified gold in 2012. A departure from her more poppy-sounding debut, Siberia showcased a more creative electronic rock sound and drew critical acclaim. LIGHTS released her third album Little Machines in 2014 becoming her first Top 40 entry on the United States’ Billboard Albums chart.

East-Asia, Edmonton, and Americanization (2007-2009)

The most significant event that occurred in the latter years of the first decade of the new millennium was that, for the first time in music history, a Canadian of east-Asian descent scored a radio hit. Canadians of Asian descent make up over 12% of the population but have seen little representation in the music industry. Maple Ridge B.C.’s Elise Estrada, born in the Philippines, recorded the R&B hit “Unlove You” which peaked at #11 on the singles chart.

This period also witnessed the 3rd best-selling Canadian single of all-time internationally, after Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” sold 7.3 million copies worldwide.

Edmonton, which had been left off the map in terms of churning out significant recording artists, contributed two during this time: Kreesha Turner and the Stereos.

Canadian music embraced further diversity. For the first time in a while, Canada gave the world a new male teen international superstar. A couple new electronic artists achieved success. Rock trio Metric released the single “Help, I’m Alive” which peaked at #21 on the singles chart in early 2009. LIGHTS, a female singer-songwriter, won the best new artist JUNO after her electronic pop song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit. Much of this diversity, however, involved taking on American styles of music, like R&B and rap. This coincided with Billboard magazine’s taking over the Canadian singles and albums charts in 2007.

Americanization

In the late 2000s, a large portion of Canadian music began to emulate styles popular south of the border. A number of new Canadian artists began performing rap and R&B music. Relatively-speaking, such music did not sell well domestically. Most of these American-style artists arose from Toronto and were heavily promoted by Toronto-based MuchMusic. Although many of them were of Jamaican ancestry, they did not perform reggae music.

While it is true that Canadian artists like Avril Lavigne, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida were busy writing and producing songs for American idol winners like Kelly Clarkson, and, in so doing, somewhat Canadianizing American pop, the American influence on Canadian music was much more apparent.

Artists who continued to perform Canadian styles of music began shedding their Canadian pronunciation, adopting American accents. And bad grammar became trendy. By the end of the decade these tendencies had become quite standard.

We can only speculate as to the motivations behind such a trend. Perhaps with the advent of digital music and the looming threat of rampant online piracy, record labels were pushing Canadian recording artists to tailor their music and accents to American styles in order to maximize chances of being successful in the world’s largest market for music. Ironically, many of the artists who did this did not end up making names for themselves in the republic. The most successful Canadian artists during the latter years of the decade were those who made music that was very Canadian: Michael Buble, Avril Lavigne, and Nickelback. The only new artists to sell many records during this period were Feist and Justin Bieber.

2007

Although the year was heavily dominated by pop-punk superstar Avril Lavigne, the Juno gala held the following year gave all three major awards (song, album, and artist of the year) to a folk-pop singer from Amherst, N.S. called Feist. She had received some attention in 2005 for her cover of the Bee Gees’ song “Inside and Out”. Juno-winning The Reminder was certified double-platinum. Feist’s song “1234” was a Top 10 hit in Britain and the U.S. and made it to #3 at home. In the late 2000s, Feist was the most successful new artist at the Junos, winning eight of 11 nominations.

Five-piece, Vancouver-based, punky grunge band State of Shock scored a Top 10 hit called “Money Honey”. They managed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts by the end of the decade. They were one of the few male-female combo bands.

Toronto’s Jully Black also made the Top 10 with her cover of the 1960s song “Seven Day Fool”. In Québec, female rocker Anik Jean enjoyed the hit “Oh mon chéri” and Jonathan Painchaud scored with “Pousse, Pousse”. But it was rocker Marie-Mai, Star Académie finalist who shone the brightest. She won four Félix awards, released gold and platinum albums, and recorded songs with David Usher (Moist) and Simple Plan. Although she did not see any hit singles, Peterborough, Ontario’s indie folk singer Serena Ryder scored a pair of gold albums and was honoured with the JUNO for best new artist.

With the handover of the official Canadian charts going to Billboard magazine, there was no year-end chart for the year, and we do not have access to the weekly singles charts for the first half of the year. Nevertheless, we have attempted to piece together data on some of the hits this year which you can find HERE. In brief, besides the new artists mentioned above, Avril Lavigne, Nickelback / Chad Kroeger, Nelly Furtado, Finger Eleven, Michael Bublé, Bedouin Soundclash, and Céline Dion enjoyed big hits.

2008

Like R&B singer Jully Black, Toronto’s Kardinal Offishall (born Jason Harrow) is of Jamaican ancestry. His singles have done much better than his albums. This year, he scored the international hit “Dangerous” (11th biggest of 2008) with American Akon which won the Juno for song of the year. The two collaborated again in “Beautiful” and “Body Bounce” in subsequent years. In 2011, he recorded the song “Ghetto Love” with Montreal’s Karl Wolf, a rap-reggae version of Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love”. Kardinal Offishall has won 3 JUNO awards.

Edmonton-born Kreesha Turner, whose mother is Jamaican, started her career by performing 70s-style R&B and scored the Top 10 hit “Don’t Call Me Baby”. South of her, in Calgary, Andrew F became a one-hit wonder (so far) with his punky song “The End”. Marie-Pierre Arthur scored the Quebec hit “Pourquoi” as did Yann Perreau with “Beau comme on s’aime”. Gypsy jazz band The Lost Fingers, from Quebec City, scored a platinum album called Lost in the 80s.

Montreal’s pop pianist Béatrice Martin, under the stage name Coeur de Pirate, released her debut album this year. It was certified platinum and was nominated for Francophone album of the year at the JUNOs.

LIGHTS is not a band but a female singer-songwriter based in Toronto. She became one of the most successful electronic pop musicians in the late 2000s, winning the Juno award for Best New Artist. Her “Drive My Soul” was the 70th biggest song of 2008.

Vancouver’s Phillipine-born beauty contest winner Elise Estrada scored the hit “Unlove You” which finished in the Top 100 year-end chart of 2008. As far as we know, she is the first Canadian of east-Asian descent to score a hit on the radio in Canada, a remarkable achievement.

Mission, B.C.’s Faber Drive were signed onto Chad Kroeger’s label 604 Records and performed mainstream pop. “When I’m with You” made the year-end Top 100 and the following year their “Get Up and Dance” was the 48th biggest song of the year.

2009

Many new artists emerged this last year of the decade.

Lebanese-born Montrealer Karl Wolf began performing R&B and his cover of Toto’s “Africa” was the biggest song of the year by a Canadian artist, finishing the year in 9th spot.

A Canadian rapper had a huge hit south of the border. “Best I Ever Had” was the 22nd biggest song in the U.S. (79th in Canada) thanks to Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham, known simply as Drake. He started out as an actor playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation”. Drake’s father is an African American from Memphis, Tennessee, and his mother is Jewish Canadian. He started out by collaborating with American rap artists like Kanye West, Eminem, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne, signing onto the latter’s record label. Drake’s album Thank Me Later managed to go platinum in Canada.

Outselling Drake was a youngster from Stratford, ON named Justin Bieber who managed one platinum and two double-platinum albums. “One Time” and “One Less Lonely Girl” were big hits this year. He became successful by uploading videos of his songs onto Youtube. This led to a recording contract. Although primarily a pop artist, some of his songs feature rap segments from American artists.

Besides Nelly Furtado and Shawn Desman, another Portuguese-Canadian popped out of obscurity; in fact, he is Desman’s younger brother, Danny Fernandes. His “Fantasy” was a big hit this year.

Born in Scotland, naturalized Canadian soul singer Johnny Reid, despite no hit singles, put out an album that went double-platinum this year: Dance with Me. Divine Brown was yet another Toronto R&B singer to arise, though she did not score any significant hits until she teamed up with Nelly Furtado and performed “Sunglasses” (#22).

Toronto’s Suzie McNeil had entered a CBS reality show called Rock Star: INXS to find a new lead singer for the band. She was the last female singer to be eliminated from the competition, having gained by then considerable respect. She relocated to Los Angeles to develop her career. Her “Supergirl” made the year-end Top 100 this year.

Also from Toronto was Melanie Fiona, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Guyana. Her “Give It to Me Right” also made the Top 100 of 2009.

Besides Kreesha Turner, Edmonton produced the band the Stereos who scored two big hits this year: “Summer Girl” (#2) and “Throw Your Hands Up” (#3). The Stereos made a kind of music that blended all the current popular styles: grunge, dance, and rap.

Originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec, The New Cities set up base in Montréal and released their debut LP this year. Gold single “Dead End Countdown” was a big new wave hit, 69th of the year.

Links to Related Posts

Lists of Canadian Songs in the Top 100 of 2008 and 2009 in Canada are HERE.

Mini profiles on semi-major artists Feist, Marie-Mai, State of Shock, Faber Drive, Drake, The Stereos, and LIGHTS are HERE.

Major profile on Elise Estrada is HERE.

Major profile on Justin Bieber is HERE.

A list of Juno and Félix song of the year nominees and winners for the decade 2000-2009 is HERE.

A list of best-selling Canadian albums 2000-2009 is HERE.

A list of best-selling Canadian singles 2000-2009 is HERE.

Star Académie

What Canadian Idol was to English Canada, Star Académie was to French Canada. Although based in Québec, contestants could be from anywhere in Canada so long as they could sing in French. Auditions, however, were normally run only in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick. As with Canadian Idol, Star Academie began in 2003. Young people competed for the title of best singer.

Interestingly, in France the show was called by the English name Star Academy. Politics in Quebec demanded a title in French. Star Académie, however, is not grammatically correct; it should be Académie des stars.

Star Academie was hosted by chat show personality Julie Snyder. After the auditions, fourteen people were selected to compete (seven of each gender). The judges and public voted for the singers after seeing their performances. The singer with the highest votes was safe; the others were put on the line.

Like other idol shows, Star Academie drew criticism for profiteering. Production mega-corporation Quebecor heavily promoted the show to bring in large profits. As a result, artistic integrity turned into a celebrity-making machine. Voters were charged a dollar per vote.

One of the more positive aspects of the show was that it was attended by many high-profile guest performers including Lady Gaga, Bryan Adams, Céline Dion, Roger Hodgson (of Supertramp), Samantha Fox, Isabelle Boulay, Daniel Lavoie, Lara Fabian, Marjo, Beau Dommage, Roch Voisine, Gino Vannelli, Natasha St-Pier, Michel Rivard, Claude Léveillée, Daniel Boucher, and Paul Piché.

After the 2005, season, the show went on a four-year hiatus but returned again in 2009.

Many of the contestants, who did not win, released albums. Generally-speaking the contestants of Star Academy had more successful careers than those on Canadian Idol. Marie-Élaine Thibert, who did not win, has released three albums. Her debut went 3x platinum in Canada and her other two went platinum. She won the Felix for Female Artist of the Year twice. Her single “Toi l’inoubliable” was certified 6x platinum. Whereas no Canadian Idol singers won Juno awards, some of the Star Academie contestants have won Felix awards.

The Winners

2003: Wilfred Le Bouthillier from Tracadie–Sheila, NB
• Album Wilfred Le Bouthillier (self-titled) 2x platinum

2004: Stéphanie Lapointe from Brossard, QC

2005: Marc-André Fortin from Hébertville, QC

2009: Maxime Landry, Saint-Gédéon-de-Beauce, Quebec
• Album Vox Pop 2x platinum
• Song “Cache-cache” Felix Song of the Year Award
• 2010 Male Artist of the Year Felix Award

2012: Jean-Marc Couture from Val d’Amour, NB

Notable Contestants

Marie-Élaine Thibert, 2003 Season
• Single “Toi l’inoubliable” 6x Platinum
• Album Marie-Elaine Thibert (self-titled) 3x Platinum
• Album Comme Ça Platinum
• Album Un Jour Noël Platinum
• 2004 and 2005 Female Artist of the Year Felix Awards

Annie Villeneuve, 2003 Season
• Album Quand Je Ferme Les Yeux Platinum

Marie-Mai (Bouchard) , 2003 Season
• Album Version 3.0 Platinum
• 2010 Female Artist of the Year Felix Award

Annie Blanchard, 2005 Season
• Song “Évangéline” Felix Song of the Year Award