Archive for the ‘Electronic Dance Music (EDM)’ 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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2015 was a pretty good year for music, even better for Canadian music, with Justin Bieber, Drake and The Weeknd dominating everything. As per usual, these highlights (and lowlights) are just my opinion, and have no bearing on commercial success. I also must disclaim that I haven’t listened to every single album/track that was released this year.

Best New Artist – Jamie xx

Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, mostly because Jamie xx isn’t exactly new. He’s resident DJ for incomparable indie band The xx. His beats are infectious and not your standard EDM style. This year, he decided to branch out on his own with his debut album, In Colour. And it blew everyone’s mind.

 

Worst New Artist – Shawn Mendes

I’m generally not one to pop open the haterade on young Canadian artists, but man this guy’s annoying. He’s so average, yet each one of his singles appears all over the radio. I will props him on writing (most of) his own stuff, but it’s just not that good – he’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before.

 

Best Canadian Album – The Gates by Young Empires

Okay before you all hyperventilate because Drake or The Weeknd didn’t win this, it’s because my goal is to expose you all to new music. This list would be boring if it was predictable, so this is me changing it up. This is a solid album start to finish. It’s musical, thoughtful and shows an evolution in their sound.

 

Best Soundtrack – Empire

Empire is a one of a kind TV show. Entertainment mogul Lucious Lyon and his sons taking over the music industry, whilst dealing with their family drama that goes layers deep may not sound appealing, but it is. Even if the show doesn’t interest you, the music alone is worth tuning in. The talent on this show is commendable, seeing as they all (apparently) sing their own stuff, plus it’s loaded with guest stars galore. It’s just so addictive.

 

Best Remix – “The Hills” by The Weeknd feat. Eminem

Whether you’re a fan or not, you can’t deny The Weeknd’s musical abilities. His flawless voice, its velvety smoothness is purely eargasmic. As if this track wasn’t fantastic enough,  when you add Eminem’s rhymes on it, there’s just no contest.

 

Worst Remix – “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar

It’s high time we all get over Taylor Swift. She’s becoming a little too high maintenance, what with wanting to trademark everything she touches and taking her music off streaming services because she wasn’t making enough money. So imagine my surprise, when Kendrick Lamar joined her on this petty track. I mean, come on: his album is called To Pimp a Butterfly, and he’s from  Compton! This collab is adding zero value to his street cred and makes no sense at all.

 

RIP – Scott Weiland

This was a pretty personal one for me. I spent a lot of my teenage years cozying up to Stone Temple Pilots. “Plush” is one of my all-time favourite tracks, and one of the first I learned on guitar. He also fronted supergroup Velvet Revolver. He had such a unique voice, such a presence, but also such a big drug problem. The 90s wouldn’t have been the same without him.

 

Artist who Broke the Internet – Adele

When she released “Hello”, everyone fell apart. Millions and millions of views on YouTube. TV appearances, announcing a tour, shattering so many sales records, and continuing to do so. She may not be your style, but how can you not belt along to her lyrics? It’s so therapeutic.

 

Artist You Want to Befriend – Alessia Cara

A cool 19-year-old  singer-songwriter from Brampton, ON, who got signed to Def Jam Recordings. Her big hit “Here” tells the tale of the not-so-cool high school girl who ends up at typical teen party because her friends wanted to go. It’s smart, it’s honest, it’s funny and I seriously want to hang with her.

 

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hotline Bling” by Drake

This was a no-brainer.

 

 

Best Live Show – Foo Fighters at Fenway Park

I’ll extend this out to the entire leg of their tour where Grohl had to perform while sitting on a chair/throne because he broke his leg. In spite of that, the level of performance they gave was monstrous. He didn’t get tired for one second during the near 3 hour set. No complaints, no holding back. They played the crap out of their music and it was just such a joy to be a part of it.

 

Most Disappointing Album – A Head Full of Dreams by Coldplay

It’s no secret I’ve had a volatile love/hate relationship with these guys. Their last album Ghost Stories saw them maybe turning a corner, but they’re lost for good now. It’s basically a dance/pop album which is incapable of tugging at any heartstrings – something they used to master.  Basically, Coldplay is trying to latch on to the latest EDM trend, to make their music more mainstream. They also have dancing monkeys in their video; it’s just sad now, really.

 

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Sorry” by Justin Bieber

I know, I can’t believe I’m admitting it. It’s just so darn catchy.

 

Most Underrated Artist – Lianne La Havas

Lianne dropped her second album Blood this year, and it seemed like no one noticed. She’s got a beautiful voice, full of emotion (think Lauryn Hill and India Arie put together.) Everyone needs to pay more attention to her, starting now.

Most Transformed Artist – Daniel Johns

He used to lead singer of 90s grunge band Silverchair. Heavy guitars, loud lyrics, long hair and apathy written everywhere. Now all of a sudden, Johns resurfaces as some hunky, electro-pop star, that makes his voice do things fans of Silverchair never even thought possible. See for yourselves.

Worst Break-Up – Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale

My inner 90s child’s heart broke when this news surfaced. They were supposed to be the music couple that made it all the way, the ones that lasted. They met on tour back in the 90s – she with No Doubt, he with Bush. It was so perfect in so many ways. And now it’s been ruined. As has my belief in humanity.

 

Best Summer Song – “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell

Hell is from Thunder Bay, and this track is fun, different, and makes you dance along to that country vibe. It just feels like summer.

 

Album of the Year – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by  Florence + the Machine

There’s just something about Florence’s voice, artistry and her drama. She can sing any song, and give you goosebumps doing it. Every track on this album will probably change your life somehow. It’s worth a listen.

 

Song of the Year – “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes

This track is an addiction. Gets you on a crazy high, feeds your soul, and makes you tingle all over. Brittany Howard’s vocals have so much fire in them, and once you add the funk in their music, you have sheer perfection.

Okay, so I’m aware that summer ended a few weeks ago; for me, the arrival of October marks the official demise of summer. When leaves start changing colour, when daylight savings time kicks in, when Thanksgiving happens, when pumpkin spice is on everyone’s mind. If you’re feeling nostalgic about the summer, try these on for size.

5.”Where Are Ü Now” – Skrillex and Diplo feat. Justin Bieber

Bieber’s foray into the electronic world and it wasn’t too shabby. The beats courtesy of Skrillex and Diplo have a Middle Eastern vibe. Bieber’s vocals go well with the track, and it’s a decent attempt at him trying to change his image. Most of all though, it makes you want to dance, and isn’t that what summer’s all about?

4.”Renegades” – X-Ambassadors

This song needs to be on every road trip playlist. You feel like you’re in a car, heading somewhere great on an epic adventure. Or that image may have come from the Jeep ad where this track is also featured. These rockers from NY are getting their sound out there, and even have a blind keyboard player. It’s a makes you feel like anything is possible kind of track, and comes with a solid video too.

3.”The Gates” – Young Empires

This is one of the tracks that makes you feel like dreaming a little. Sends your mind into spirals of thoughts and feelings, making you believe in the potential of what’s to come. It sounds similar to Midnight City’s “M83”, but still a force on its own. Plus they’re Canadian, so there’s that too.

2.”Lean On” – Major Lazer and DJ Snake feat. MO

We all know this is a super ultra mega hit and it’s still going strong. The combination of music, vocals and even the arrangement of the track is pretty addictive. Makes you want to feel like finding someone to lean on.

1.”2 Heads” – Coleman Hell

A bit of an underdog on this list, which is probably why it’s at the top. Hell is a singer/songwriter/producer from good old Thunder Bay (I’m not joking.) Hell turns things up a notch here, and delivers vocals full of yearning, and lyrics full of emotion. Coupled with a little banjo and this track becomes unstoppable.