The Soundtrack Of My Life – Part 5: Canadian Ladies

I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that American music dominates the world, and America is ‘the place to go’ for singing hopefuls. There have been a fair share of non-American, smash hits – The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Elton John, The Rolling Stones. Not sure if you realized, but all of the ‘exceptions’ that I mentioned all sprung put of the United Kingdom. There have a been a few megastars from other countries than these two, among them are ABBA, Shakira, Rihanna, AC/DC…but my point is that there are really NOT THAT MANY. It’s a point of pride then to be able to say, for me, that a particular artist is Canadian.

It’s nice to see that in the midst of an American-British music domination, that there are some fairly big Canadian names. Among them are Bryan Adams, Michael Buble, Justin Bieber, Our Lady Peace, Rush and Marianas Trench. But, apart from a handful of names, I think it’s fair to say that the most successful Canadian artists have been female. The two biggest-selling artist within Canada are Canadian females, and they both take the top two spots as the bestselling Canadian artists.

This is another point of pride for me. As you all know, one of my guilty pleasures is the not-so-sane and far-too-sappy Celine Dion, and there’s something really cool in being able to say that, behind only Madonna, the biggest female name in music is Canadian. She’s from a country that is often underrated, overlooked and pushed to the back burner in terms of musical and cultural trends and merits.

What a great song.

So, I figured that I would share with you some of my favourite Canadian ladies, because at least half of my personal ‘Top Ten Favourite Artists Of All Time’ are Canadian women. I may be biased, but I think the talent is exploding out of them.

And speaking of underrated, we all know Avril Lavigne, I’m sure. I remember being in Grade Four when Avril Lavigne first came out, and was the biggest thing around. Over the years, I’ve read a lot of criticism about her and her lack of singing ability or stage presence, which I always disagreed with.

Personally, I think she is one of the more talented ladies in popular music right now and, more importantly, she sounds better live than most of her contemporaries.

Now, while that wasn’t ‘live’ in the traditional sense, it’s still a pretty good version and her vocals seem pretty clear and pitch perfect to me. Without autotone, I might add.

Another lady I’m sure we all know is the successful, talented and downright gorgeous Shania Twain. Need I say more?

Perhaps I should just add that she has the biggest selling album of any female artist of all time. Her 1997 hit Come On Over has sold over 40 million copies. That’s pretty impressive. It features several #1 hits, including “Man, I Feel Like A Woman”, “Rock This Country”, “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and this next song, which is my personal favourite.

You may remember some of the staple songs of the 90s from this next incredible woman. She had massive hits with “Ironic”, “You Oughtta Know” and “Hand In My Pocket”, all part of the album Jagged Little Pill which is the second biggest selling album by a female. If you’ve been keeping track, the two biggest selling albums by female artists are both by Canadians.

And, if you at all care, Celine’s Dion Falling Into You and Let’s Talk About Love are the third and fourth bestselling albums by female artists of all time. Not to shabby for these Canadians, eh?

Anyways, I wanted to share with you my favourite Alanis song of all time, which I’m sure you’ve heard at some point in your life. It was a pretty big hit too – back in the late nineties, mind.

After all of this, I think that it’s safe to say I’m saving the best for last. While these previous ladies have all racked up their own fair share of impressive accolades, this final woman is not on the same level. Her sales are nowhere close to the massive numbers these music headliners rake in, but she is perhaps the most endearing Canadian artist out there.

You may know her songs “Insensitive” and “Good Mother”, two of my favourites. It’s a bit of a shame that she is hidden in the background, but Jann Arden is, possible, Canadian’s littlest, big treasure (if that makes sense).

I’ve seen her life a few times, and she is by far the best live performer I’ve ever seen. Apart from her insane talent, her humour is quite literally laugh out loud funny and she takes you on a roller coaster ride every concert.

Something she said really stuck in my mind. It was at one of her concerts, and she was explaining a conversation that she had with the head of a big record label based out of somewhere in the states. She was interested in expanding beyond Canadian labels, to gain more international exposure, but this record producer big-wig told Jann Arden that she “was twenty pounds away from superstardom”, and this was a primary reason as to why they did not sign her.

Apart from all the awful implications this has, and how it truly reflects our society, I can’t help but love Jann’s attitude as she said, “I should have told him: ‘Sorry, but I’m not interested in gaining any more weight’.”

I love this next song because it’s really emotional, it’s really powerful and her voice is just so damn good. She doesn’t need to hit the super nigh notes (which she can) or hold the super long notes every song (which she can, because I have a live CD she recorded that includes a version of one of her songs where she holds a 20+ second note at the end of the song – no word of a lie – which is probably the longest note I’ve ever heard held in ‘popular’, genre music). She just sings simply and humbly, but man is it good.

So, thanks for reading, and I hope that I’ve been able to introduce you to some new music artists, and also show that Canada isn’t so ‘behind the times’ and scenes as some think.

Lily Paradis, perhaps you should reference some of these facts to your professor! 😉

Till Next,

-Will

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