So it’s the 150th birthday of my birthplace!! And being the Molson drinking, maple syrup eating, beaver petting, moose riding, all year winter trekking, hockey watching, and music loving proud Canadian I am, I figured it was only right to compile a list of the top 50 Canadian songs of all time. I was going to go with 150, but that just seemed like overkill and I’m not celebrating 4th of July after all! And yes there’s a bias, it’s my list after all! And I don’t give a damn bout no CRTC rules, 1 Canadian involved is good enough for me!!
I know. I know. Many of you will look at this list and immediately see holes and omissions. You might even see the replaceable entries and shake your head at some of the chosen ones. And that’s a good thing! The more I missed is the more great talent that the country of the maple leaf has. This list is compiled of childhood memories, listening to CKLN on Saturdays 1-4, watching Much Music every chance I got. From Michael Williams jerry curl to Sook Yin Lee’s uncanny hosting. The list comes from music charts and awards, from Junos to Grammies to MVAs. This list comes from being a fan of local artists that made noise not only in their city or province but beyond borders, in and outside of North America. It comes from research, reminders from friends, questions on social media, and a lot of YouTube watching! Ultimately this is a list of classics, and I don’t use that word lightly. These songs stand the test of time, no matter if it was made in the 60s or 80s or 2000s, if you play them today, they will take you back to the day it was released.
So here goes folks!!! In no particular order! No long descriptions or explanation. Read the list, look them up, and listen!! Some goodies and oldies and a few of the new. But before we start, it’s only right that I give you a good old EH!!
- Deborah Cox – “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here”
- Barenaked Ladies – “Jane”
- Michie Mee & L.A. Luv – “Jamaican Funk Canadian Style” While Maestro is considered the Godfather of Canadian Hip Hop, Michie was the Godmother and arguably more revered by true hip hop fans. The fact that she was working with the legendary KRS-One the start of her career doesn’t hurt. If you want to know just how much impact this song had on us as kids, just go listen to Drake’s 2016 release More Life, and you will hear Jamaican patois and Canadian English mixed effortlessly. Michee did that decades ago.
- Melanie Fiona – “It Kills Me”
- Bran Van 3000 – “Drinking In L.A”
- Nickelback – “How you Remind Me”
- Bryan Adams – “Everything I do”
- Nelly Furtado – “I’m Like A Bird”
- Sarah McLachlan – “Good Enough”
- Dream Warrior – “My Definition of A Boombastic Jazz Style”
- Kardinal Offishall – “BaKardi Slang”
- The Tragically Hip – “Courage”
- Gowan – “Criminal Minds”
- Corey Hart – “Sunglasses at Night”
- The Weeknd – “High for This”
- K’Naan – “Wavin’ Flag”
- K-Os – “Man I Used To Be”
- Bruce Cockburn – “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”
- Kardinal Offishall – “Ol’ Time Killing
- Feist – “1,2,3,4”
- Drake – “One Dance”
- Anne Murray – “You Needed Me”
- Saukrates – “Father Time”
- The Guess Who – “American Woman” Let me just put it like this, If you don’t know this song, you probably have never watched a movie or television in your life!! I’ve heard this in many soundtracks and commercials over the years. Shamefully I didn’t even know this song was by Canadian artists until maybe 5 or 6 years ago! Maybe because it’s called American Woman lol. But there is no denying that guitar solo by Randy Bachman and the raspy voice of lead singer Burton Cummings brings you right back to the 70s.
- Choclair – “Flagrant”
- Alanis Morrisette – “Ironic”
- Bare Naked Ladies – “If I Won a Million Dollars”
- Alanis Morissette – “You Oughta Know”
- Tamia – “stranger In My House”
- Drake – “Started From the Bottom”
- Rascalz feat. Kardinal, Choclair, Checkmate, Thrust – “Northern Touch” After many stagnant years post Maestro and his “Backbone” success, this song was the theme music to a new generation’s coming out party. Armed with of the leaders in Canadian hip hop, Rascalz made so much noise, that some believe the beat was stolen by another legend south of the border, in that same year.
- Ghetto Concept – “EZ on tha Motion”
- Nelly Furtado – “Say it Right”
- Nelly Furtado – “Promiscuous”
- Platinum Blonde – “Crying Over You”
- Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe”
- Bryan Adams – “Summer of 69”
- Glenn Lewis – “Don’t you Forget It”
- Celine Dion – “My Heart Will Go On” I am a Canadian of Jamaican descent, in both countries Celine is like royalty! I still don’t quite understand the love affair that a country several thousand miles from the great white north has for our songstress, but that’s the impact she has, globally. To this day you will hear this song beating through speakers in any given dancehall party. Who would’ve thought huh?
- Shania Twain – “From This Moment”
- K.D. Lang – “Constant Craving”
- Alannah Myles – “Black Velvet”
- Sarah McLachlan – “In the Arms of an Angel”
- Saukrates – “Father Time”
- Snow – “Informa”
- Glass Tiger – “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” This song reminds me of summer vacations, bike rides to Becker’s for popsicles and Degrassi Junior High episodes. One of the songs that sticks out in the hair band era. And a Grammy nomination doesn’t hurt either.
- The Guess Who – “These Eyes”
- Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
- Celine Dion – “Power of Love”
- Maestro Fresh Wes – “Let Your Backbone Slide”
- Honorable Mentions: Saukrates – “Action”, Platinum Blonde – “Doesn’t Really Matter”, Drake – “Best I Ever Had”, Wio K – “Sunlight”, Andreena Mills – “You and Tomorrow”, K-OS – “Man I Used To Be”, Maestro Fresh Wes –“Conductin’ Things”, Snow ft. Beenie Man, Terry Fabolous etc – “Anything for You” (remix), Jon Whedon -“Log Drivers Waltz”, Zit Remedy – “Everybody Wants Something” lol
Hopefully you’ll look all of these songs up and give them a listen. Even more hopeful that it fills you with the same pride, it has given to me!! GO CANADA!!
– SLANG HUGH
Slang Hugh can be found on instagram at @slanghugh