A Historical Year in Canadian Music
By Keith Sharp
Who would have thought that when Justin Bieber’s November release `Purpose’ record converged on the Billboard charts in early November, it would join forces with The Weeknd’s `Beauty Behind The Madness’ and both Drake’s mix tape endeavours; `If You Are Reading This It’s Too Late and `Future, What A Time To Be Alive (with co-rapper Future) to provide utter domination by Canadian artists on the U.S charts.
Virtually, through the entire month of December, Canadian artists totally dominated Billboard’s Top 100 singles chart in a manner unprecedented in the history of Canadian music. At the time of writing (December 21st 2015), Canadian artists occupy seven out of the top 10 positions on the Billboard’s singles charts with Bieber occupying positions No.2 (“Sorry”) No.4 (“What Do You Mean”) and No.5 (Love Yourself), Drake takes No.3 with his “Hotline Bling” track, The Weeknd is positioned at No. 6 with “The Hills”, Shawn Mendes is cemented at No 7 with “Stitches” and Alessia Cara hold the No 8 spot with “Here”, a totally unheard of scenario where most Canadian releases struggle to even get a release in the States.
Factor in also that The Weeknd enjoyed a No 1 position with both “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” and is zeroing in on another chart topper with “Into The Night” and you have a jaw dropping impact registered by Canadian artists in 2015.
On the domestic front, both k-OS and Kardinal Offishall also registered strong critical acclaim for their respective CD releases (Kardi Gras Vol.1 The Clash and “Can’t Fly Without Gravity”) and with Halifax’s Classified about to release his new opus early in the New Year, it looks like Canadian R&B artists will continue to dominate in 2016.
But it wasn’t just R&B/Rap that registered on the national psyche this year. Country Music, New Music and even some classic rockers enjoyed their spin in the spotlight during an extremely eventful 12 months. Country Music continues to register as `the new pop music’ with the likes of Dallas Smith, Tim Hicks, Gord Bamford, Brett Kissel, Jesse Moskaluke, Autumn Hill and even newcomers such as High Valley, Cold Creek County and TwoShine Country all creating a stir at radio with solid new record releases.
No doubt, the biggest release of 2015 on the Country front was by Scotland’s Johnny Reid, who persists in claiming he is “not Country!”, but he’ll gracefully accept all his CCMA awards anyway. His `What Love Is About’ release has stormed the Country charts and his forthcoming national tour in February and March is threatening to eclipse all attendance records
Hamilton’s Arkells cemented their reputation by winning the Juno as Canada’s top group and they, along with Kingston’s Glorious Sons, Thunder Bay’s Coleman Hell, Toronto’s Young Empires, July Talk and Saskatoon’s One Bad Son head a crop of new bands registering an impact.
Following in the comeback trail established by The Tea Party, Our Lady Peace and Big Wreck in 2014, Hedley (`Hello’), Mariana’s Trench (Astoria), Finger Eleven (Five Crooked Lines) and The Sheepdogs (`Future Nostalgia’) all posted new releases to a positive response. Yet the biggest comeback of the year had to go to Vancouver’s Matthew Good whose `Chaotic Neutral’ release received rave reviews and he backed it up with a major national touring schedule that played to packed crowds.
Carly Rae Jepson’s `Emotion’ release didn’t fare as well as her previous `Kiss’ album which of course contained her global hit “Call Me Maybe” but Dallas Green was right on the money with his City And Colour record `If I Should Go Before You’ being the pick of the indie crop.
On the classic rock side of things, Nickelback’s efforts to promote their 2014 No Fixed Address release came a cropper when the band had to cancel the second part of their North American tour and all European dates when lead vocalist Chad Kroeger developed a cyst on his larynx.
Shania Twain took a break from her Las Vegas Caesar’s Palace residency to execute her “final” Rock This Country tour, releasing a best of, live cd/dvdcompilation entitled Still the One: Live from Vegas, to celebrate the tour. A new record is supposedly planned for a 2016 when she is expected to continue her residency in Las Vegas.
Randy Bachman released his `Heavy Blues’ tribute to classic 60’s blues rock with contributions for Neil Young, Peter Frampton and the late Jeff Healey while Bryan Adams’ collaboration with ELO’s Jeff Lynne and his return to writing with his old partner Jim Valance was a bit a of a disappointment as was Tom Cochrane’s country-rock `Take It Home” even though both receive critically positive reviews.
In other news, Alanis Morissette released a 20th anniversary , four disc version of her Jagged Little Pill record, Bare Naked Ladies toured North America in support of their Silverball release, Blue Rodeo released a Live at Massey Hall record and group members Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor were rewarded with Order Of Canada citations. Glass Tiger’s Alan Frew, was also in the news, surviving a stroke August 20th to release his 80290 Rewind collection of classic 80’s hits.
But the big news as 2015 wound down was speculation that Rush drummer Neal Peart was leaving the band. This controversy was sparked by comments Peart made during an interview with Drumhead magazine in which he reportedly said he was laying his drumsticks down after over 40 years behind the Rush drum kit. However, as Rush has supposedly wound down their touring activities following an extensive R40, his remarks are logical and nothing was said about him participating in a new studio release, scheduled for 2016.
On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone for their support of Music Express in 2015. Chad Maker, Kirk Comrie, Ted Van Boort, Terry Steeves and the rest of the ME team are excited by our progress in 2015, the introduction of our weekly Museletter being just one element of our continued expansion. We have a number of exciting new additions set for 2016 and we trust everyone will sign up for our Museletter and continue your support of Canada’s Music Digital Magazine.
Please note that the next Music Express Museletter will be issued on Wednesday January 7th 2016.
Season’s Greetings to you all.