Archive for the ‘Canadian Music’ Category

My definition of pop music will always bring me to the 90s/early 2000s. The era of boy bands and girls bands, the rise of Britney and Xtina, ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys. As a teenager, as much as you fought it, it became impossible to ignore pop music. That’s because although it was contrived, overproduced, and purposely presented with a pretty face; it was also catchy, dancy and fun. Here are some Canadian artists that shone during this global pop movement.

Sugar Jones

Points to whoever remembers this all-girl pop group, because I really had to wrack my brain. They were formed as part of a reality music show – Popstars – back in 2001. We’re talking pre-American Idol, pre-X-Factor, pre-The Voice. It’s pretty certain they were the only and most diverse all-girl Canadian pop group ever, who likely came to be because of the hype surrounding girl bands at the time. Regardless of how they were created, this single hit #1 on the Canadian charts, and their self-titled debut/only album went as far as #2 (I have no idea how.)

Prozzäk

Oh, Prozzäk. Where do I even begin? This Toronto-based duo first graced us wither their animated presence in 1998, with their triple (!) platinum album Hot Show. All their videos feature appearances by cartoon characters Simon and Milo, who take us along on their adventures. Their sound is part Eiffel 65, part Right Said Fred, with a dash of Aqua. Hot Show featured hits such as “Omobolasire,” “Sucks to be You” and this gem right here (why do I know all the lyrics?!)

The Moffatts

One of Canada’s more successful boy bands brought us their first album, platinum-selling Chapter 1: A New Beginning, in 1998, when they were merely 14/15 years old. 4 brothers (including triplets) from B.C. banded together to essentially become the Canadian equivalent of Hanson. They were squeaky clean, with their frosted tips and long hair, while they sang tracks like “Girls of my Dreams” and “Miss You Like Crazy.” In 2000, they released their also-platinum album, Submodalities, along with a new image. They grew stubble, spiked up their hair, and were full of attitude, hoping they’d prove to everyone they weren’t kids anymore. Except, they were.

McMaster & James

This dreamy Winnipeg duo of Luke McMaster and Rob James, made every teenage girl weak in the knees. There’s nothing more swoon-worthy than a couple of good looking dudes expressing their feelings about love. In an time where music videos were actually key to a band’s success, these guys knew how to seduce the camera with their bedroom eyes, leaving viewers no choice but to fall for them. After releasing their self-titled debut in 2000, they sort of disappeared musically, but not without leaving this treasure. So, thank you.

soulDecision

Vancouver-based boy group soulDecision (yup, one word) came into our lives with platinum-selling 2000’s, No One Does it Better. Apparently, there were 3 guys in the band: lead singer and total babe Trevor Guthrie; the other less attractive singer David Bowman, and the creepy sunglass-wearing keyboard player, Ken Lewko. As a boy band, they easily did well, but unlike other boy bands, they actually wrote their own songs and played their own instruments (hence, keyboard guy.) Trevor now sports a ponytail and is all about EDM, (see “This is What it Feels Like” and  “Soundwave”), however it’s unclear what happened to the other 2. Here they all are – plus Canadian rap superstar Thrust – in all their glory.

Fefe Dobson

Fefe Dobson had to be added to this list, because this Toronto-based singer is one of the few female solo pop artists during this time. Her impact on the Canadian pop scene is that much more important, even though she was more rock rebel-chic than pop princess, as evidenced on “Bye, Bye Boyfriend.” Her 2003 self-titled debut album went platinum, and she has continued to make killer track after killer track ever since – as most underrated artists do. Her most recent album, 2010’s Joy, showed a more mature, confident, and versatile performer. See below.

Wave

It pains me a little to have this Niagara Falls duo on this list, because it forces me to admit that I was obsessed with them. It also means I have to confess that a friend and I re-enacted one of their music videos as an audition tape to become MuchMusic VJs – a fact that still makes me cringe to this day. Dave Thomson and Paul Gigliotti somehow managed to steal my heart back in 2001, with their debut Nothing as it Seems. I have no explanation as to my affinity for their music, so judge all you want. But watch this too.

Sky

Sky, oh Sky. Yet another male duo, this time hailing from Montreal. My version of Sky features James Renald (the blonde guy) and Antoine Sicotte (the bald guy.) Their first album, 1999’s platinum-selling Piece of Paradise was a regular on my boombox: it was a fun, pop album, not too different from everything else happening in the pop music scene, but for some reason, it stood out. Maybe it’s because Renald looks exactly like the character “Spike” from SMG’s TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or maybe it was the video for “Some Kinda Wonderful” ; or how high pitched Renald’s voice got on “All I Want.” Or maybe, just maybe, it was this track, which hit #1 and remains such a monumental part of my high school days.

 

 

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If you grew up listening to alternative in the 90s, this will be a nice trip down memory lane. If you didn’t, here’s what you missed.

“In the Meantime” – Spacehog

There’s nothing particularly fascinating about this song: it doesn’t relate to a specific memory, there’s no outstanding hook, the guitar-playing isn’t out of this world. It just always reminds me of the 90s, so I had to include it.

“Blurry” – Puddle of Mudd

Lead singer Wes Scantlin showed even post-grunge rockers have a softer, sensitive side. It gave the band some much needed depth, and although it wasn’t their only hit in the 90s, it was definitely their best.

“Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand” – Primitive Radio Gods

The main appeal of this track was that it was just so cool: the unnecessarily long title; the almost-dance beat in the background; the random yellings of some guy. What isn’t there to love?

“Inside Out” – Eve 6

Whenever I hear this track, the only thing that pops into my head is their album cover: a large fly on the front, a heart with arrows in it on the back. I will never forget it because I bought the album based on this track alone, and stared at it endlessly, desperately seeking another likeable track. No luck there.

“Through the Looking Glass” – Stone Sour

Hard rockers getting in touch with their innermost thoughts, taking a stab at self-reflection, and discussing feelings, all through vocals full of vulnerability. It was emo, even before emo was emo.

“Curious” – Sandbox

A staple in the Canadian alternative music scene. Plus, how could you ignore the echo-y microphone effects (aka 90s autotune) and the catchy hook?

“Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” – Brand New

It’s fast, it’s slow; it’s loud and in your race, it’s quiet and mysterious. It has it all, which is why I still love this track.

“If You Could Only See” – Tonic

This is lathered in so much 90s nostalgia, I can’t even handle it.

“Freshman” – The Verve Pipe

To be fair, this entire album was pretty good, but this track really stood out. It was seriously heavy, but also seriously great. It hits deep down, no matter how many times you listen to it, no matter how long it’s been since the first time you heard it.

“Popular” – Nada Surf

It’s so high school, so 90s, and so everything.

I remember a time when the MuchMusic Video Awards (aka MMVAs) were everything. They were surrounded by so much hype, and because they shut down Queen St. and performed in parking lots, it made this awards show young, cool, and quirky. Over the years though, the intensity of the frenzy diminished, mostly because MuchMusic stopped really being about music. The MMVAs – now called iHeartRadio MMVAs – are coming up this weekend, so I thought I’d take a look at some of my favourite MuchMusic memories.

5 Intimate & Interactive

A few hours dedicated to interviewing a particular musician, and also having them perform live, while surrounded by their fans in the MuchMusic studio. VJs would take on hosting duties, and find out things like which members of the Backstreet Boys wore boxers, and which ones wore briefs. Or what was Avril Lavigne’s deal with skater boys? The performances were often more stripped-down, cozier versions of original tracks, making the musicians more accessible to fans, who also had the opportunity to engage with their idols.

 

4 Big Shiny Tunes

The be-all and end-all of compilation albums. If you didn’t own either BST1 (released in 1996) or BST2, we definitely were not friends. They had all the best rock/alternative tracks of the year. It wasn’t always the big names either; they also included the likes of Poe, Wide Mouth Mason and Placebo. I tapped out after the 2nd volume, but apparently they went all the way up to 14 (2009.) If you want to impress anyone with 90s music knowledge, check them out.

 

3 The VJs

I used to watch hours and hours of MM after school, so I felt like I personally knew all the VJs. I’m not talking about the ones that are still on TV like, Devon Soltendieck, Rick (the “temp”) Campanelli, or even Geroge Stroumboulopoulos. I’m talking about the ones that truly defined the classic MM VJ.  Like Bill Welychka. He had 90s Eddie Vedder hair (that he eventually cut, making him unrecognizable,) and wore plaid shirts. Master T: the dreadlocked rap connoisseur. Sook-Yin Lee, aka the Asian hipster, before Asian hipster was even a thing. Being a MuchMusic VJ was my dream job for a very long time. Too bad it never worked out.

 

2 Speaker’s Corner

This was such a staple of the downtown Toronto community. A video booth where you could rant and rave about whatever you wanted. You could talk, sing, scream, complain, support, encourage, whatever came to your mind, no matter your mood. It was such a Toronto thing, and the chosen ones’ videos would get broadcast on TV. More often than not, at strange hours of the day, but sometimes, in those strange hours, Speaker’s Corner was exactly what was needed.

 

1 Electric Circus

Doesn’t matter what music you were into, everyone wanted to be on Electric Circus. A full out dance party/rave in the MM studios, hosted by none other than the Monika Deol. There were so many theatrics going on, because everything was being broadcast on TV. Fluorescent make up, arms flailing with glow sticks in hand; 10″ heels, so much pleather, tube tops, and shiny silver pants. And of course the gyrations, bare midriffs, and indoor sunglasses. My favourite though, were all the fame chasers who dance so hard when the camera came near them, as though they were about to be discovered. What an iconic show.

 

Oh MuchMusic, I miss you.