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Ah, Canadian music; is there anything better? For us Canadians, we consider it a big deal when one of our own breaks through the glass ceiling and finds themselves playing alongside some of the greats.
Generally, our homegrown musicians can be underrated compared to the American and European artists, and once they reach a certain point, people find it shocking when they discover they hail from the land of hockey and maple syrup.
We have compiled a list (in no particular order) of some of our great Canadian bands and musicians who have gained huge success both at home and around the globe.
One of the industry's most recognizable voices, and at times called the Canadian Bob Dylan, Neil Young has blazed a trail for Canadian musicians since the early 70’s with his poetic, impactful and ever so catchy music. Neil Young is a legend and his music is his legacy. We Canadians could not be more honoured to call him one of us, and the feeling seems to be mutual as many of his top hits have been inspired by our beautiful country.
Tegan and Sara
This Alberta sibling duo has been conquering charts since the mid 90’s, and in recent years have accelerated their career with smash hit after smash hit. Their Alt-Pop sound has crawled into the back of many minds and their catchy hooks have made it damn near impossible to get one of their songs out of your head once it’s there.
An Ontario rock band with one of the most unforgettable sounds, the group's superior musicianship has gained them international success and their tenacity has kept them in our musical library since the late 60’s. Equipped with one of the world's best drummers and lyricist Neil Peart, and bassist, keyboardist and lead singer, Geddy Lee, Rush have all the talent needed to create the kind of extraterrestrial rock and roll that make Canadians proud to call them ours.
A woman who is a role model to Canadian females all over the country, our own 70’s flower child Joni Mitchell has no doubt created music that helped to shape the singer/songwriter movement. Her song “Big Yellow Taxi” became an anthem for those who wanted to help change the world, and spoke truthfully about the darker side of life, love and our planet.
An artist that has been blowing up since his first breakthrough in the industry, Drake has been doing Canada proud since his early days on Degrassi, and since then his talent and ear for music has carried him to the top. For the past decade, Drake has always been an easily recognized name in the game, whether he is singing, rapping and producing his own tracks or appearing on others, it’s very rare to scroll through the top charting tracks without seeing his name.
Canada’s own crooner, the man with a voice as smooth as butter and as sweet as honey, Michael Bublé is a gift. With strong jazz undertones and Sinatra influence, Bublé has been breaking hearts and topping charts for many years now with a wide variety of covers and his own pop-fusion tracks. Keeping the sweet melodies and vocal stylings of crooners past alive, Michael Bublé is a true treasure and Canada marks the X on the map of where he can be found.
A man with a haunting voice, poetic lyrics that touch your soul and an expansive career, the late, great Leonard Cohen is a Canadian icon. His 50-year career may have started later for him than most, but with it came some of the most meaningful music, including the anthemic, dark and beautiful song “Hallelujah”. We lost Cohen in early November of 2016, he was 82, but his music is always with us.
The top-selling female country artist in music history, and a creator of numerous multi-platinum records, Shania Twain is a Canadian force to be reckoned with. Known for her empowering music that seamlessly blends pop-country, rock and mainstream genres together, Twain became a country icon in the late 90’s and is still adored today.
A Canadian icon, known for her beautiful romantic ballads, including the theme song for hit motion picture Titanic, Céline Dion is a true treasure. She has represented our country well since the 80's and has even held a headlining spot in Las Vegas, a position that goes only the most legendary stars.
A decorated music veteran and humanitarian, Tom Cochrane is one of few Canadian artists to reach diamond status. His album Mad Mad World is one of the highest selling records in Canadian music history and his song “Life is a Highway” is universally loved. To make things even better, he now has his own highway in Manitoba, is still selling out shows and sounds just as good as he ever has.
Another artist from Quebec, Sam Roberts has been creating sweet music since the early 2000’s. His songs like “Brother Down”, “Where Have All The Good People Gone” and “Canadian Dream” have become signature staples on Canadian's mixtapes and playlists for many generations. His soft rock vibes are the perfect match for a day of cruising, whether it is through the Rockies or the prairies.
You can't think Canadian music and not have this international pop star come to mind. Getting his start as a young teen in Ontario through Youtube, Bieber is the original internet sensation. Growing up in the spotlight, Biebs has been a poster child for Canadian music. Since his early days, and now more than ever, Canadians could not be more proud of the immensely talented artist he has become.
The Tragically Hip
This band has been, and always will be, a gift from our home and native land. Blues Rock at its finest, this group of Ontario musicians have continuously topped charts in Canada since their establishment in 1983. In recent years they have become known for bringing fans together in a patriotic way to salute them as frontman Gord Downie toured during his treatment for severe brain cancer. Nothing bands a group of Canadians together faster than the opening chords of a Tragically Hip song.
Queen of 90's angst, Alanis Morissette gained international success for her album, Jagged Little Pill. A multi-talented instrumentalist, a poetic songwriter and all around game changer, Alanis Morissette is still making waves in the alt-rock universe.
When you think Canadian born and bred musician, you think Bryan Adams. Himself and his biggest hits have become household names, and let’s be honest, almost everyone knows the words to “Summer of 69’”. His music was the soundtrack of many people’s teenhood throughout the different generations. This year, he is even stepping it up a notch as he is hosting the 42nd Juno awards.
Canada is the birth place of so many talented artists and we could talk all day about each of them, and for time's sake we left it at 15, but here are some honourable mentions.
Arcade Fire, Barenaked Ladies, Our Lady Peace, The Weeknd, Avril Lavigne, Nickleback, Mac Demarco, Sarah McLachlan, and Anne Murray.
Who is your favourite Canadian musician or band?