Updated: Jul 8, 2020
#12 - ALANNIS MORISSETTE
Jagged Little Pill rocketed Alannis to fame UP here in Canada and throughout the world way back in 1995 when I was in Grade 7, and all the cool kids, especially the local scooter and skateboard gangs, had that album on repeat. It seemed to capture the angst, insecurity, and overriding fear of life in a way that made us all feel like we were a little bit older than we were, and perhaps justified the way we viewed the world. I don’t know what Alannis is up to these days, but because that first album was such an iconic part of my earlier years, I thought I’d start things off with her in the #12 spot.
#11 - LEONARD COHEN
If you don’t know who Leonard Cohen is, you’re probably 12 years old or under, but the man is an absolute legend. He gave us ‘The Hallelujah’ which is arguably the most covered song of all time, so much so that Leonard had to publicly ask people to stop covering it. Now I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about him as a person and I only know a couple of his songs, but one fine evening a couple summers ago when I was playin darts with a few of my buds, someone threw on a Leonard Cohen song called ‘You Want It Darker’, and my goodness gracious, if you have not heard that song, go and listen to it right noq. It is the most impressive vocal recording I have ever heard. I mean the man’s voice could replace the rocket engines on the Space Shuttle, he is absolutely incredible, go listen to it and wait for when he says ‘Hineni, hineni I'm ready, my lord.'
#10 - TOM COCHRANE
That’s right, the ‘Life Is a Highway Man’ himself. Other classic hits include 'Sinkin’ Like a Sunset', 'The Big League' and 'No Regrets', but the main reason I have Tomothy on my list is because no matter what kind of mood I’m in, and I mean I could’ve just had every single Nickelback fan write me an angry email or found out that Oilers didn’t make the playoffs, but no matter what, when Tom’s song ‘Life Is a Highway’ comes on, I am INSTANTLY in the greatest mood of my life. There’s somethin' about that song that just makes me wanna hop in my truck, head out on the highway with the windows down, hit the gas and leave all my worries behind.
OK GUESS WHO’S #9?
See what I did there? My dad always used to use that joke on me but Yes, THE GUESS WHO! I grew up drywallin’ with my dad on the evenings and weekends and we’d always have the classic rock station playin, and whenever a Guess Who song would come one, he said ‘Hey Clark! Guess Who plays this song?! And I’d say something wrong like ‘I don’t know, April Wine?’ and he’d say “No! I just told you! Guess Who plays this song!’ and I’d feel like an idiot for fallin’ for it once again…. But The Guess Who gave us classics like ‘These Eyes, Laughin, She’s Come Undone, American Woman and so many more and they were a very big part of my growin up years so that’s why they’re here at #9.
OK movin onto #8! - OUR LADY PEACE
Now some of you older folk might not recognize this band, and especially the Bieber generation (Hey there Justin), but for all those people in between the young and the old, if you didn’t have an Our Lady Peace CD in your CD binder back in the day, it practically doubled as a Canadian passport and that is a fact. Well maybe not, but you get the point. Our Lady Peace burst onto the scene back when I was in grade 8 with their album Clumsy and I’ve been hooked ever since. For guitars and drums and hooks and angsty vocals that provided most of the summer soundtrack of my teenage years, Our Lady Peace grabs my #8 spot.
#7 on the list - THE TRAGICALLY HIP
Gordon Downie left this world way too soon, but when he did, he and the Tragically Hip left behind some of Canada’s greatest music. My brother was a big fan and I could always hear them playin' through his bedroom door or when we were drivin’ in his car, and the first album of theirs I really dived into was Trouble in the Henhouse. Since then I grown to love so many of their songs as have the majority of Canadians both young AND old, and for that reason they are sitting here at #7.
#6 - BOB AND DOUG MACKENIZE and GEDDY LEE
10 bucks is 10 bucks am I right? The famous pairing of Bob and Doug MacKenzie as the Hoser brothers from the Great White North have brought joy and laughter to all us Canadians for over 4 decades now. While not technically musicians or a band, they did have two hits on their comedy album that have stood the test of time. The first being their parody of the Christmas Classic, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, and the second, their timeless Canadian Classic and my son’s favourite song, ‘Take Off! To the Great White North’ - featuring Geddy Lee from RUSH. With a musical hook that could catch a sleeping Blue Whale, the comedic geniuses of Rick Morranis and Dave Thomas, and Geddy Lee’s infamous vocals, ‘Take Off!’ will go down in my books as the greatest Canadian song ever recorded.
How about #5? - SARAH McLACHLAN
You simply cannot have a list of influential Canadian musicians without Sarah. The voice of a soft and gentle angel who can write songs and play the piano like…. well, a soft and gentle angel, Sarah McLachlan has been helpin’ couples everywhere fall in love since the early 90’s and I first found her music on a mix tape (that’s a custom made playlist on a cassette for you younger folk) that my brother’s future wife made for him, and I used to rewind that tape all night long and listen to the same Sara McLachlan songs on repeat as I dreamt of marryin' whichever lucky lady I happened to fond of at the time. And lest we forget her Christmas Albums, which have become as standard a Christmas item as the Christmas Tree itself.
Merry Christmas Sarah :)
#4! - THE ONE AND ONLY MISS CELINE DION
With a voice so powerful that it can shake a foot of freshly fallen snow clean off a Honda from 150 yards, My Heart Will ALWAYS Go On for Celine, as she has provided my wife and I some of our most cherished road trip memories. I don’t believe we’ve been in the car for more than an hour and NOT sang our voices hoarse to a bare minimum of 3 Classic Celine songs. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, Because You Loved Me, All By Myself, The Power of Love, To Love You More, Celine is the QUEEN of not only powerful love ballads, but also the often over looked and under utilized musical super weapon, the key change. Just when you think you couldn’t love your significant other any more, Celine goes and proves you wrong with those mighty and timeless key changes. Thank you Celine.
Woah now - the top 3! Alright clinching the bronze medal on my list is Canada’s most awarded Male Country Singer of All time...
#3 - PAUL BRANDT
Anytime I listen to a Paul Brandt song, I either want drive off into the sunset, forgive someone I shoulda forgave a long time ago, or just live my life better in a general kind of way. A rare combination of incredible musical talent AND kindness, Paul is known all over the country for being Mr Nice Guy, and having hung out with the man many times myself, I can attest to his reputation. Using his platform for far more than just fame and music, Paul and his wife, Liz, founded Not in My City, an organization meant to raise awareness and bring together groups already working to fight human trade. Oh and I’m pretty sure anytime ANYONE drives into Alberta, they’re either listening to or singing ‘Alberta Bound’ at the top of their lungs.
Okey Dokey - #2! Mr. MARC MARTEL
Without a doubt, Marc is the most gifted male vocalist on the planet - period. I’d even go so far as to say he’s a better singer than Freddie Mercury, who vocally he is often compared to. So much so, that Marc was even tapped to provide many of Freddie’s vocals in the recent Oscar Award Winning Movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. With a vocal range that few can challenge, Marc’s voice can quietly move you to tears with a soothing quality that only candles and baby seals can match, or he can make you jump out of your seat and make you think you actually know how to sing along to your favourite rock songs. His cover of Tom Waits ‘Take It With Me’ is the most beautiful song I have ever heard, hands down, and it moves me to tears every time I hear it. And speaking of tears, any man that is capable of making Celine Dion cry in a good way is clearly doing something right. Oh and if you haven’t watched his one take performance of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' on youtube, do yourself a favour and go check it out. He not only sings it better than anyone ever has, he also manages to somehow play the piano at the exact same time. Which is NUTS.
Alright! We are down to the #1 spot on the list of my favourite Canadian Musicians.
And the #1 spot goes to - No not Nickelback, though I am getting to know their fans quite well - No the #1 spot goes to the CANADIAN LEGEND.....
#1 - BRYAN ADAMS!!!
I don’t know if there is a musician out there who has as many hits as Bryan Adams. Let’s just list a few classics, shall we? Heaven, Cuts Like a Knife, Run To You, Summer of ‘69, Do I Have To Say the Words?, Please Forgive Me, Cloud #9, It’s Only Love, Have You Ever Really Loved Woman?, When You Love Someone, Straight From the Heart, Somebody, Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, 18 Till I Die, I’m Ready, Heat of the Night, and of course, one of the greatest love songs of all time and the only thing that made listening to Kevin Costner’s American accent in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves worthwhile, the classic of all classics - Everything I Do, I Do It For You…. My goodness gracious, no one can make you fall in love, break-up, forget about the whole thing and rebound as quickly as Bryan Adams. No one can make you live your life like you only had tonight - like Bryan Adams. And no one can make you lift up your shirt off and flash him at a concert to try and get on stage and sing a duet with him like I did that one time because my wife thought it would be funny - like Bryan Adams. - He was and remains to this day a hugely gigantic part of my musical life, and for that, I tip my toque to you Mr. Adams.
And I tip my toque to everyone on this list! Music is the icing on the cake of life, and Up Here in Canada, we have some of the best musicians in the world that are kind enough to share either songs with us.
What do you think of my list? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments section and remember to keep things classy down there.
Until next time, you stay beauty Canada!
Oh and here's the video countdown if you want to watch it!!