The reason why you don’t know many Canadian artists is because most of the time, they don’t hit the American charts.
Most success in the mainstream music industry comes from American artists ranking in the American charts. Artists like Post Malone, Cardi B and Ariana Grande have been dominating this area of success in recent months. We rarely see artists from other countries drawing much success in this Top 40 demographic. Other than Drake and Justin Bieber, it’s hard to find any mainstream representation beyond American artists.
There are several Canadian artists that are seemingly underrated, including Carly Rae Jepsen, who is easily comparable to other pop divas, like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. Of course, not everyone listens to the Top 40 hits, or what’s trending on Spotify, and personally, I don’t either. Each person’s music taste differs, and I’ve curated a playlist that includes different genres.
1. “Saved by a Waif” – Alvvays
For those lovers of dreamy indie pop, this Toronto-based band released their sophomore album Antisocialites back in 2017. “Saved by a Waif” carries the catchiest of melodies and is from one of the best-constructed albums of 2017. Whether you’re in need of some breakup anthems or looking to expand your horizon outside of American indie artists, this is the band for you.
2. “Hold Me Down” – Daniel Caesar
Daniel Caesar is one of the few Canadian R&B artists that have found mainstream success in America. He was nominated for 2 Grammys this past year and his songs have hundreds of millions of streams on Spotify. Other hits like “Best Part” features H.E.R, a fellow R&B artist. Daniel Caesar proudly represents his hometown of Oshawa, Ontario and is a perfect example of a starry-eyed soul artist.
3. “Bad Ritual” – Timber Timbre
Timber Timbre is spooky, gothic and psychedelic. The band has released six albums since their beginning in 2005. Perfect for a gloomy day, or a scary one, their songs have been featured in shows like Fargo, Orange Is The New Black and Breaking Bad. Their album Creep On Creepin’ On is a personal all-time favorite. If spooky and sparkly is something you’re interested in, I would highly recommend Timber Timbre.
4. “All I Really Want” – Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill is an essential throwback album. Originally from Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario, Alanis is one of the iconic alternative rock queens of the 90s. With one of her most recognizable songs, “Ironic“, she remains one of the most influential women in the music industry and that album made a huge impact on feminism and society in the last 20 years. If you’re looking for 90s breakup nostalgia, Alanis Morissette is a must.
5. “Speaking Gently” – BADBADNOTGOOD
For my fellow jazzers out there, BadBadNotGood is a great modern example of jazz funk. Originating from Toronto, the band has released several musical collaborations including an entire album with rapper Ghostface Killah. One of their most popular songs, “WEIGHT OFF“, is off of Kaytranada‘s (who is this band? or is this a collaboration?) album which has more of an electronic jazz groove than your “traditional” jazz. Whether or not you’ve previously considered jazz a favorite genre of yours, try listening to this Canadian group to win you over to the jazz side.
6. “Moment” – The Beaches
The all-girl alternative rock group The Beaches have been making waves in Toronto’s local music scene since 2013. They recently won a Juno award for their overall contribution to Canadian music and represent the rare success of an all-girl band. Nonetheless, their newest album Late Show continues to show off mainstream rocker girls in the best way possible.
7. “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)” – Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire is another example of a Canadian band that has seemingly found success outside of Canada and into America. The indie rock band was even awarded Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2011 with The Suburbs. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Arcade Fire represent more than just their hometown but are proudly regarded as one of the best rock groups in the past decade. If you like bands like The National or Interpol, Arcade Fire is one to listen to (I mean, if you haven’t already).
8. “Pleasant Heart” – Ought
The post-punk band from Montreal reeks moody and noisy. Ought released their critically acclaimed album Room Inside the World in February 2018. They have a comparable sound to other bands like Preoccupations (they’re Canadian as well) and Iceage, but Ought carries a sound arguably different than a lot of other post-punk artists today. If you want something a bit heavier with a lot of groove, then definitely check out Ought.
9. “First Time” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen is by far one of the most underrated pop divas of the past decade. Each album she releases gets progressively better produced and melodically gives incredible 80s synth-pop vibes. She’s, unfortunately, more well known for her extremely “made for radio” singles “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You” but has more or less released some of the best recent pop albums. Albums like Emotion and its B Sides are well produced bright bubblegum pop and have some of my favorite songs including “Fever” and “Gimmie Love“. The British Columbia diva has some shiny bops and if you like other dreamy divas like Charli XCX or Marina and the Diamonds, Carly is the girl for you.
If any or all of the songs above interested you, check out the playlist here.
Photo via Flickr