It is July 1st and is the national holiday of my adoptive country, Canada. And because of this special occasion I’ve decided to create my top ten of Canadian artists I consider the best. Canada has plenty of them and some of the most iconic names in modern music such as Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and Bryan Adams to the powerful voices of Céline Dion and k.d. lang as well as some of the current global superstars like Justin Bieber and Drake. However, this is a list of my favourites:
#10 Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette was the first Canadian artist I knew and Jagged Little Pill was also one of the first CDs I owned when I was around 7. Her enraged vocals is probably what captivated me upon first listening from my dad’s mixtapes. Later in life, I would understand her lyrics; “You Learn” had been very popular in my life.
#9 The Guess Who
There is probably no other Canadian band that has produced more emblematic rock classics than The Guess Who such as “American Woman”, “No Time”, and “These Eyes”. At first I’d confuse them with The Who but their psychedelic sounds soon became part of my music library.
#8 Bachman-Turner Overdrive
I began to listen to BTO because they were the influence of many hard rock bands I was listening to when I was growing up. While I thought this was just another American band, I was surprise to find out they hailed from the small city of Winnipeg in the Canadian prairies.
This synthpop band from Toronto became part of the soundtrack of my teenage years. It was the mesmerizing vocals from Emily Haines alongside the electro-rock sounds that captivated me ever since.
#6 Our Lady Peace
As a child in the late 90s, I was hooked to any band that played on MTV’s 120 Minutes and that is how I knew of Our Lady Peace and their song “Superman’s Dead” got stuck in my head for years. Several CDs and MP3 downloads later turned Our Lady Peace into one of my favourite bands ever.
Grimes is the singer, songwriter, mixer, and producer of all of her music, and such a versatility has acknowledges her as one of the best artists of our generation. Her soprano vocals are intertwine with her futuristic sounds that results from a mix of synthpop, J-pop, indie rock, and video games music. Grimes is definitely an artist to watch for the years to come.
#4 Neil Young
I might not have a collection of Neil Young’s records but I sure have a tremendes respect from who could be one of the best rock musicians ever. “Rockin’ In the Free World” is as emblematic as “American Woman” or Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ’69”. But Young take his rockstar status to a new level by becoming a spokeperson for human rights and environmental causes.
#3 Joni Mitchell
Much like Neil Young and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Joni Mitchell is a godmother in music. Her beautiful poetic songs haunts me, and she’s served as an inspiration for many artists, of different generations, around the globe. Mitchell is also considered one of the best singer-songwriters ever. Her album Blue is an iconic piece of modern music.
#2 Arcade Fire
If there’s an emblematic Canadian band of the 21st century, Arcade Fire is king. This impressive ensemble of musicians have revolutionized the alternative music scene. In 2011 their album The Suburbs became the first independently released record to win the GRAMMY for Album of the Year. Their songs are characterized by philosophical and everyday lyrics and their music mixes indie rock with electronica and world music making it one of the most versatile bands ever.
#1 Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan is not only one of my favourite artists of all time, it is because of her I learned English therefore her music has had a great impact in my life. I don’t know if I was enchanted by her voice, attracted to her cinematographic videos or drawn by her pop/rock melodies. Truth I ended up with all of her studio albums. And as I was growing up, I began to understand the intensity of her lyrics and liked her even more. The song “Wait” from her 1993 album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is for me one of the best songs ever written.