5 Canadian Singers You May Not Know

You obviously know Michael Buble and Shania Twain and Justin Bieber and Drake, but there are a bunch of other singers from Canada who, if you’re not from here, you probably don’t know. And I don’t blame you, as even Canadians may not know some of these. I think there are some singers/bands who find enough success in their country of origin, so they focus their attention there, flying under the radar of everyone else. And that’s valid.

Nevertheless, when I was putting together my post on Canadian kids TV shows, I was thinking about other hidden gems this country has, and so this post was born. I do want to give a disclaimer that a) this is just music I personally listen to, so I’m sure there are a bunch of other worthy names out there that I’m not familiar with myself and b) these are singers that are fairly modern and active still. I could list a bunch of older 70’s/80’s Canadian music acts that people may not know either, but I wanted to keep it focused on the music I grew up with.

  1. Marianas Trench
    This is a band that’s been active for over 10 years, and they slap. It’s pop music, though there’s an aspect of theatricality to a lot of their songs, which I like. They have played outside of Canada, but most of their tours are across the country as they’re mostly well known here. Two favourites from them: ‘Beside You‘ and ‘Astoria
    Marianas Trench image.
  2. Eva Avila
    Eva won the 4th season of Canadian Idol in 2006 and then released an album, which I was gifted for Christmas by my cousin that year. I loved it, and I still listen to it. It’s kind of very mid-2000’s pop but it’s funky, and she’s such a good singer. She then released another album and an EP, but then kind of dropped off the face of the planet. Instagram tells me she’s touring around in a cover band now, so that’s good for her. If she ever does come back to solo music, I am here for it. Two favourites from her: ‘Some Kind Of Beautiful‘ and ‘Old Love Song
  3. Andrew Allen
    I was first introduced to his music because of his Christmas song, ‘I Want To Be Your Christmas‘ which is my second ever favourite Christmas song. And then I looked up his other non-holiday songs and really dug some of them. It’s a relaxed indie love song vibe, and high school me ate it up. He did release an album in 2020 but also has started a band called Via Barcelonia, and they’re more pop. Two favourites from him: ‘Where Did We Go (feat. Carly Rae Jephson)‘ and ‘Sooner
    Andrew Allen.
  4. Jesse Labelle
    I saw him perform at a small Canada Day park concert one year in high school. I had known who he was because he did have a song on the radio, but I went home and looked up his other stuff. He’s had a quiet decade, releasing an album in 2011 and then a few singles over the years, but I think he’s been mostly touring with bigger names as their opening act. He’s a country and pop mix similar to how Shania Twain is a country and pop mix, so if you dig that genre, maybe check him out. Two favourites from him: ‘Kryptonite‘ and ‘There She Goes
  5. Serena Ryder
    Honestly, my father is a bigger fan of her than I am, but I do think she’s talented and has a very unique voice that very much fits her indie music. All her songs I hear on the radio are catchy, and she seems pretty down to earth and involved in Canadian events. Two favourites from her: ‘Fall‘ and ‘Circle Of The Sun
    Serena Ryder.

I also wanted to list a few honourable mention songs from bands/singers that I’m either not too into and or have disbanded a while ago. If you knew Canadian pop music from the 2008-2010 era, you may know these.

Anyway, I hope you listened to some of these songs and are enjoying some quality Canadian content. If we’ve learned anything from Schitt’s Creek‘s Emmy sweep last month, it’s not to dismiss Canadian art.

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That’s all for now!

 

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When Or How Does A Musician Retire?

I was thinking about Madonna the other day. The radio was on and ‘Borderline’ played, which is, in my opinion, one of her best songs. Anyway, I was very much not born during her glory days, but she was still around when I was growing up. Do you remember that song ‘4 Minutes’ that she had with Justin Timberlake? That song came out in 2008 aka the year pop music peaked. That song was, again in my opinion, the last decent thing she did. All her albums and songs since have just been cringy and very auto-tuned and such a departure from her music in the 80’s. Not to mention that she’s sixty, and personally I don’t want to hear songs about a sixty year old clubbing or hooking up with people. I don’t think people my age like her new music and I don’t think people my parents’ age like it either, so I guess I’m wondering who does like it and why she’s still trying to keep her music alive in the mainstream. She’s Madonna. She has a decent legacy and she could let people live with that instead of serving up new garbage. Like are you really going to listen to this and tell me it compares to ‘Borderline’ or ‘Material Girl’?

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Obviously she likes making music still and she still sells out concerts, so I’m not trying to force someone to stop doing something they like and are good at, but she stands out to me as the only person I can think of from the 80’s who’s trying so, so desperately to remain relevant that it’s almost weird. Remember when she forced a kiss on Drake a few years ago? Weird.

I’ll admit, I have not really sat down and listened purposefully to Madonna’s music from the past decade, so maybe I’m not giving it a fair shake, but from the bits I’ve seen and heard, it’s just disappointing to me.

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See, there other less weird ways to still be musically active but without tarnishing your discography. Take Canada’s own Bryan Adams who was also thriving in the 80’s. He still tours and released an album last year, but he stays in his lane and isn’t trying to cling onto spots on the top 40’s stations. Plus and perhaps most notably, he recently wrote all the music for a Broadway musical. Yes, it was for Pretty Woman, a show we can all agree was 1000% not asked for, and yes, the show and music was apparently on the lackluster side (I’ve yet to watch/listen), but it was still a good move for him, in my opinion, where he could do something a little different and stay a little relevant in a mature way.

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Getting celebrities to write showtunes is a popular thing, and I think it’s a place where the artists of yesteryears can thrive. Many already have: Cyndi Lauper did Kinky Boots and Sting did The Last Ship and Elton John did Billy Elliot. There’s also music competition shows that need judges/mentors, music TV shows that need producing, and music foundations to be funding.

When should an older singer just take the L and retire? Or, on the flip side, when should an older singer who has stopped making new music take a chance and do something other than tour around small venues to the same aging audience? There are a lot of really talented singers and musicians from the 70’s and 80’s who are still alive and there are ways for them to do something new and make themselves known to a new generation without seeming so desperate to be the most famous.

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I’d love your thoughts on the matter. Or maybe you don’t have any because you don’t spend your free time thinking about Madonna’s recent career moves, which I suppose is valid…

That’s all for now!

 

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All I Want To Talk About Today Is The New Neon Trees Album

I was due for a post today and had one ready, but then I spent literally all day yesterday vibing to the new album from Neon Trees so this is what you’re getting from me now. I’m so sorry if you genuinely have no interest in their music, but also know that you’re wrong.

I Can Feel You Forgetting Me came out yesterday on Friday the 24th, and it’s in many ways a new vibe for the band but is still the pop/punk/alternative music I love from them. All their music over their career is just so fun and upbeat, and the songs on this album are no exception. It’s been six years since Neon Trees’ last album, Pop Psychology, so I was more than ready to hear this new stuff from them, and I was hitting play on every single they released as soon as I could.

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Honestly, I’m so hyped that there’s new music and I have no chill so here is a track by track breakdown of my thoughts on this album.

  1. ‘Nights’ – As soon as I heard the chorus to this song, I was sold. It was so infectious and it quickly became my favourite song of the bunch. Such a powerful start to the album.
  2. ‘Used To Like’ – They released this single first way back in November and it was just an instant banger. I knew just from this song that we were in for some jams.
  3. ‘Holy Ghost’ – This is just so, so, so fun! It picks up so much at the chorus. Slaps.
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  4. ‘Skeleton Boy’ – Compared to all the other songs on this album, this one’s not quite as strong and it’s probably my least favourite. Not only does it feel slower and quieter, but the chorus is a little more electronic-sounding than I prefer. That being said, it’s not a bad song at all.
  5. ‘Mess Me Up’ – It’s so nice of Neon Trees to write a song for when I start a new TV show. This is the haunting, deeper song on the album, but even it is still upbeat and catchy. It’s a lost-in-your-feels-at-2am kind of vibe.
  6. ‘Living Single’ – A fun middle of the road song. I like how it parallels the line in ‘Holy Ghost’ of “modern romance” with the mentions “modern love”.
  7. ‘Everything Is Killing Me’ – I adore the multiple singers (or is it layering? Or echo?) in this song. So groovy.
  8. ‘Going Through Something’ – This chorus is so catchy! And I feel like we’re, all to some extent, going through something, so it’s the most relatable.
  9. ‘When The Night Is Over’ – There’s a poppy, funky element in this song that makes it stand out for me. I dig it so much.
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  10. ‘New Best Friend’ – this isn’t my favourite song on the album but I think it would be the song to best enjoy live. Sing-yelling “crazy!” with a bunch of people just seems like the best time. I just love how it builds its way up to the hype.

As fun as their songs are, so many of them, especially on I Can Feel You Forgetting Me, are so honest when discussing relationships and feelings, and seriously, it had me wishing I had a broken heart so I could really feel it, ya know? Anyway, so please do yourself a favour and listen to this album. And their others as well because there is no shortage of absolute bangers from Neon Trees. You need them in your life. I don’t think ICFYFM is my favourite album from them, because Pop Psychology was it for me, but this album is overall really good and there are some songs on here that are definitely some of their all-time best.

I CAN FEEL YOU YOU FORGETTING ME album cover.

I am crossing my fingers that I won’t have to wait another six years for another album. I am also crossing my fingers than when Coronavirus clears up and live music is allowed to happen again, Neon Trees will tour and come to Toronto so I can go see them live.

If you need me, I’ll be listening to this album on repeat for the rest of my life probably the next month.

That’s all for now.

 

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The World Needs More Multi-Song Songs

In the past several years, I’ve developed a love and appreciation for the music of my parents’ youth. There’s a radio station in Toronto that plays only 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music, and I would listen to it all day while writing essays in school and while at work. I now know songs from 1983 better than I do songs from 2019, which works out great when the curling club has dances because me and the boomers just vibe to the likes of Supertramp and Phil Collins, an experience that sadly does not happen when I go to an actual club with my peers.

Anyway, obviously, popular mainstream music has changed a lot since the 80’s, and one of those changes I’ve noticed a lack of are those multi-song songs (is there a better word for it?). Like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘, a song that has stood the test of time so well everyone knows it, even the kids of today. That song has four distinct sections all in one song, and it switches so well that you’re not even bothered. It completely throws out the basic format of a song, but it works and we all accept it.

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Two other songs that are similar to this are ‘Scenes From An Italian Restaurant‘ by Billy Joel and ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light‘ by Meatloaf. Like Queen’s song, these are amazing, iconic pieces of music that should be praised.

I’m sure there are other multi-song songs out there, but I don’t know any. From 2007 to about 2015, I kept up with mainstream music a lot so I can almost confidently say there were none in that time. I recently asked my brother if he knows of any, as he knows all the artists and rappers of today, and he said “oh, yeah, ‘Sicko Mode‘” but I had him play it for me as we waited in a Burger King drive thru and it really does not change at all, so no.

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Me listening to ‘Sicko Mode’ as my brother tries to convince me he’s right

I will say that the recent exceptions are musical theater songs, but I don’t know if they count, because they’re formatted like that not as a simple artistic choice but so it can strategically be used to progress the show’s plot through song, and often the bits of song are melodies from other parts of the musical. (Fun side note: interestingly enough all three multi-song songs I’ve mentioned above have been used in musicals). I tried to find examples of some multi-song musical songs that don’t really reuse melodies but the only one I could think of was ‘The Duel‘ from Natasha, Pierre, And The Great Comet Of 1812.

In conclusion, the world needs more multi-song songs. They’re good and fun. Other than that, I don’t really have a point to this post. It’s just something I spend way too much time thinking about for no reason. And hopefully I’ve got you thinking about it now too.

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That’s all for now!

 

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I Am Begging Singers To Stop Releasing Christmas Covers

I listen to a lot of Christmas music. I love it, which should not be a surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog for a year or two. Though I can and will listen to the holiday radio stations for hours on end, there isn’t a huge variety of songs like there should be. It’s a lot of repeats, just by different singers. And that’s because every time a singer releases a Christmas album, it’s comprised of mostly classic covers, so the radio has eight different versions of ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘White Christmas’.

Singers, it’s time to stop. I am begging you to not give me another album of covers. I already know the songs, and chances are, your cover will not be as good as the original, no matter how great of a singer you are. So why don’t you instead add to the holiday by contributing a new, fun, memorable classic of your own? Make your own mark on the genre instead of getting lost in the other covers? I always love the new additions to the rotation every year, because if I’m being honest, I’m getting a little sick of some of the really really old ones that I’ve heard thousands of times.

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And you know, it’d be one thing if these singers were doing really fresh arrangements of classic songs (like Kelly Clarkson did with ‘Run Run Reindeer’ or Michael Buble did with ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’) but it’s not happening as much.

I hate to think of these Christmas albums as just a cash grab, but when they’re rather basic and not offering me a lot to get excited about…well, the proof is in the (figgy) pudding.

Here’s my proposed solution: no Christmas albums unless they’re 50% new songs. The other 50% is for covers, and I want at least 30% of that to be new arrangements. With the last 20% if they really want to give us basic covers, fine. I do understand that there’s maybe a song or two that is really meaningful, and they want to do it the way they know it. If a singer can’t commit to this format, then they shouldn’t do an album. They should release a single or two of their bland covers and admit it’s just a cash grab instead of a meaningful mark on Christmas music.

'These are my demands' Spock meme.

Overall, I’m glad that so many singers want to use their talents to make my December jams that much better, and it’s not that I don’t like covers (I mean, I watched Glee for all six years. Covers are fine.) but I feel like they’re not reaching their potential. I want the Christmas albums to shine. Thrive. Become classics for years to come. And that’s not going to happen if they’re mostly comprised of dime a dozen simple covers.

But that’s just my opinion. I’d love to know yours, even if you aren’t a Christmas music aficionado.

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That’s all for now!

 

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