Essentially Old

Hip, but not EssentialCanadian musicians haven’t recorded anything worth commemorating since 1970. That is if you accept the Toronto Star’s list of the 10 Essentially Canadian songs published over the long weekend.

I exaggerate of course – they included Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" from 1985, but he was also listed for 1966’s "Suzanne" and I think can be fairly placed as a singer from the ‘60s. Of the 10, eight were recorded between 1962 and 1970, with 1643’s "Huron Carol" filling out the list.

So no Tragically Hip, Sloan, Rush, Barenaked Ladies, Shania Twain, Nickelback or Avril Lavigne. Nor is there anything from one of the hottest music scenes in the world, including Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Metric, Stars or Wolf Parade, to name a few.

Now I know how and why these lists are created – they get people buzzing and doing exactly what I am doing – so I feel a little bit manipulated in responding, but I couldn’t resist. The reason? It appears they just gave up on the music list, and they more or less admit it:
"The further back we went in time, the easier it was to find consensus, which probably accounts for the omission of any song written after 1985. The panellists pushed for the inclusion of songs written after that time, but there didn't seem to be any agreement about which of the more recent songs were worthy."
They couldn’t agree on one Hip song? That band in more Canadian than Stompin’ Tom, the quintessential example of ‘big in Canada, mostly unknown elsewhere.’ Their songs appear on homegrown TV shows and films, but the Star’s panel ignores them. Same would apply to Sloan.

What about the artists who made it in the U.S., which often equates to Canadian success? I may not be a fan of Bryan Adams, Shania, Nickelback or Avril, but I can’t ignore their impact, but I appear alone in that conviction. I’m not suggesting that the list be filled with contemporary artists, but I can’t believe they could create one where eight of the songs came from an eight year period.


  1. Bryan Adams? never heard him? that a one name person like Modonna or Cher?

    Nickelback? how can they be Canadian, isn't a Nickel american coin...who's on the back of the nickel anyways...hum? you mean Anvil or Advil? Anvil's fall all the time in Looney toon commercials, and advil's for headaches...both kind of similar...neither music.


    --RC of

  2. But at the same time, the average under 25 year old doesn't read the G&M religiously either.

    If they published a list that included the newest generation of Can-con, 95% of the Globe's readership would be left with a befuddled look on their faces. I do agree that omitting artists that have published/released songs after '85 is a bit extreme though. I would have at least had some Bryan Adams on there...

  3. Ah but Gingerbread, it was the Toronto Star which has to skew at least a little younger. But your point is valid. For a more interesting take on Canadian music, check out the Polaris Awards shortlist.

  4. What---no "Take Off" by Geddy Lee and the McKenzie brothers?

    What a gyp! ;-)

  5. Yeah, I would have thought the Hip or Sloan would have made it to that list.