My 15 Favourite Canadian Songs

Canada guitar
Canada guitar courtesy of Dean Guitars.

My reasons for loving Canada are endless, but one of the best reasons to love my home and native land is the music it’s given the world. Our 150th birthday inspired me to create a list of my favourite Canadian songs.

The funny thing is a lot of these songs aren’t necessarily ones we’ve “given to the world.” If you aren’t Canadian, there are a lot of songs on this list that you probably haven’t heard. But that’s another beautiful thing about being Canadian: we have things that are just ours.

You might expect to see lots of Rush and Tragically Hip on a list of great Canadian songs, but Rush makes my whole body hurt and the Hip, well, I like them but somehow never became a huge fan (although I saw them live twice and loved both shows) and they do get an honourable mention.

So here you go: 15 of my favourite songs by Canadian artists, and I made it a rule to not repeat an artist. They’re unranked because ranking was hurting my brain, and the list is filled with songs from pretty much every era of my life: my pop-lovin’ childhood in the ‘80s to my more open-minded ear of today.

  • “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams: For a while when I was 11 there was no greater song than this one. I loved Bryan Adams and wanted to be him.
  • “7/4 (Shoreline),” Broken Social Scene: The unusual 7/4 time signature is blissfully hypnotic and the easy-breezy melody is just as hypnotic, compelling you to move. Plus, we get a little Feist in the deal.
  • “Somebody Somewhere,” Platinum Blonde: It’s just oozing with ‘80s. Like so many songs from the summer of ’85, that ear-wormy chorus just takes me back to being 12 and watching a broader world open up before me.
  • “Ride Like Hell,” Big Sugar: Not one of their bigger hits, but this is one of my go-to songs whenever I need to psych myself up for something.
  • “Let Your Backbone Slide,” Maestro Fresh Wes: Yes, it’s a true Canadian hip-hop classic, but I, too, have always felt so strongly that so many suckers are my sacroiliac.
  • “Dead Disco,” Metric: I love Metric so much and they have so many great songs, so I just went with the first one I ever heard. I love that aggressive guitar part: Bah-bahna.
  • “Misogyny,” Rusty: It’s packed with loud, aggressive power-chord energy and it’s the first of three songs on this list that I’ve blogged about in the past.
  • “Money City Maniacs,” Sloan: It’s those power chords again. When your riff is featured in a beer commercial, you know it’s a classic Canadian rock riff. Honestly, with so many great Sloan songs, this was a tough call. “The Other Man,” “The Good in Everyone,” etc. But as a Coke fanatic, the mention of Coke fizz gave this one the edge.
  • “Ageless Beauty,” Stars: With all due respect to Stars, I’ve never been a big fan of any of their other songs, but I can’t get enough of the soaring melodies combined with the charging rhythm of this one.
  • “The Con,” Tegan and Sara: I remember the first time I heard this song I was driving down the 400 to a band practice. I’d never paid much attention to Tegan and Sara before this, but it was love at first listen.
  • “This Mourning,” Wide Mouth Mason: Another band I love so much it was hard to choose just one song, but I love that with this one they brought the blues to alternative rock radio. Live, Sean Verreault is an electrifying guitar player and singer – possibly the best I’ve ever seen when it comes to that combination (and I’ve seen them like six times).
  • “The River,” The Tea Party: Remember what I said about Wide Mouth Mason and Sloan and Metric? How it was impossible to choose just one. Well, The Tea Party is my favourite Canadian band, so this choice was torture. I went with the first song I ever heard and the one that evokes the most intense memories.
  • “I Heard I Had,” Dear Rouge: Just try to get that “do it” earworm out of your head. It’s such a fun, slinky, sing-along song live, too – especially the “do it” part. I’m so looking forward to what comes next from my favourite new Canadian band (and my new friends).
  • “White is Red,” Death From Above 1979: Like I said on this blog a couple years ago, this song is mine and nobody else can have it. Go away.
  • “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love,” Jane Child: Sixteen-year-old me loved the pure pop of this one-hit wonder, but also saw there was a fun little edge to it. I still love it. I see it as a gateway drug to something like “The Con.”

Honourable mentions:

  • “Why’d You Lie,” Colin James
  • “Rave On, Full On,” Sianspheric
  • “Harvest Moon,” Neil Young
  • “Fifty Mission Cap,” The Tragically Hip
  • “11:11,” Arkells
  • “Rain Will Fall,” I Mother Earth
  • “Meat Rack,” The New Meanies
  • “See the Light,” Jeff Healy
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