Canada, the world’s second largest country and one among the wealthiest; among the best for human development and quality of life; the most progressive and, of course, the most depressingly pale imitations of America.
And yet somehow, inexplicably, it is the ugly environmentally-conscious sister that is ever-increasingly coming to the fore. It’s the land of ice hockey and bacon and stupid accents and those block head looking people on South Park that is gradually taking over the most powerful nation on Earth.
Welcome to The United States of Canadia.
Try as they might the poor peoples of the world are increasingly being swept under its wave of power. It is everywhere they go, in the eyes and ears of everyone the meet, on every television, every computer and every goddamn tablet. Canada is the new craze. It’s a new cultural superpower. Like Tamagotchis and Beyblades. Except it’s a slightly dull country and not an insane Japanese toy.
But who is the leader of this silly-sounding horde? Who is this maple Genghis Khan?
Who else could it possibly be? Who but Bieber could cause this fever? Who else but their greatest national treasure could lead their charge? And what, you may ask as you check Twitter to make sure Canada hasn’t taken over the world, have they actually done? Ha, well, you’ll be sorry you asked. Brace yourself for the quite simply staggering list of Canadian musicians I/Wikipedia compiled.
Justin Goddamn Bieber
Those guys who did ‘American Woman’ before Lenny Kravitz made it good
Broken Social Scene
Steppenwolf(or at least the ones who did Born To Be Wild/The only ones that mattered then)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive(look them up, you’ll recognise them)
Jim Guthrie(check him out, he’s really good)
Carly Rae Jepsen(Call Me Maybe, don’t act like you don’t know the whole fucking thing. It’s inescapable lately. Like musical influenza. Or dysentery. Yeah, it’s like musical dysentery. I like the imagery that one evokes better.)
That guy from Little Shop of Horrors and stuff(he dabbled in music)
Howard Shore(Lord of the Rings soundtrack anyone?)
The Wainwright Family
The guy who discovered the Jackson 5
The Besnard Lakes
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lesbians on Ecstasy
Tokyo Police Club
Don’t act like you’re not impressed. There are some seriously heavy hitters in there. Critically and commercially. And it’s only getting worse. What do you notice there? That their stranglehold is ever tightening? That a new generation is coming to the fore on a Zerg-like scale and is becoming quite simply ludicrously ubiquitous within our society? That everything you know and love is actually fucking Canadian?!!
Seriously, I’ve reviewed/discussed what like 10 or so bands? A third of them are fucking Canadian. The two things I reviewed before The Beach Boys were Canadian. I was thinking about reviewing Owen Pallett or maybe Crystal Castles or The Weeknd next – BAM! Canadian. About 50% of my Spotify right now seems to be fucking Canadian. What the hell is going on here?!!
You’ve got the whole musical gamut up in that frozen waste, from indie deities like Arcade Fire to post-rock magicians like Godspeed to new-MJ’s like The Weeknd to emo-dance kings Crystal Castles to rock legends Neil Young to diva extroadinaire’s like Whitney and then all the way back round to galaxy-consuming megastars like Bieber. And they’re all bloody Canadian. There only is like 30 million of them, and half of them probably don’t even have electricity. They only have the cold embrace of nature. And bears. Now maths isn’t my forte but that’s like one musical maestro for, at least, every 10 people. At least.
So what the hell is behind Canada’s utter domination of our ears? Honestly? I don’t know. They just make a higher quality of sounds than us. Like the way Scandinavians make higher quality societies or Africans make higher quality runners(It’s not racist if it’s fact) or how we make higher quality exploitation. It’s just one of those things it seems.
Maybe it’s their culture; that weird mash of French, English and American sensibilities with a dash of the aforementioned Nordic progressiveness. American’s can churn out accessible, commercially huge artists with relative ease and generally have a more light palette for experimentation than those damn dirty continentals. Combine that with said continental artsy-ness and risk-taking and general ‘out-thereness’ and you may just have a pretty damn near perfect mix of the bold and the basic.
Take Arcade Fire. They can pump out the odd arena-filler like ‘Wake Up’ when they want to but can also throw in some rougher, darker stuff like ‘My Body Is A Cage’ to appeal to those who like their sounds a little less loud and a little more depressing. Sometimes they even do French. But no one really cares when they do that. That’s just showing off how avant-garde they are(like I did there, AVANT-GARDECEPTION). Only Pitchfork cares. Then there’s the fact that they can combine complex themes and imagery that is often distinctly Euro-poetry in feel with good ol’ american stuff like, well, basically the entirety of The Suburbs.
At times it just makes no sense though; they somehow get past their mess of a cultural heritage and just make good sounds. Like Radio Radio, they’re French Canadian and they therefore just shouldn’t work as a hip hop band for me. I understand every 4th word at best. Even the French people who live with me understand every fourth word at best. But they just make good sounds though, pure and simple. They somehow vastly exceed what should really be a fairly cosy niche appeal.
It’s weirdly symptomatic of all Canadian music. I mean, how does it get so big? How does it get out? Where are these big breaks coming from in this sparse, frozen tundra of a nation? They’re practically coming out of the walls when all logic says that these bands should be wasting away in bars and clubs, under heard and underappreciated because no one dare venture out into the cold to tell their buddy about this sweet new song. Not in Bear Season anyway. And it’s always Bear Season.
Internet I guess then? That’s usually it nowadays, when in doubt – internet. It’s the 21st century’s solution to every problem. It’s how Bieber Fever was first released as well. I didn’t even know they had internet up there, I assumed they communicated through some kind of maple syrup hockey connection. Or platinum-selling songs it seems.
But if it isn’t the internet that’s responsible for their inexplicable mainstream magic then what is? Maybe it’s Canada’s general crappy-ness and dullness. No, really. I mean seriously, who actively hates Canada? Who even cares about Canada? They’re just that other bit of America to most people, like Alaska but frenchier and duller. No one hates Canada the way people hate America. No one hates Canadians the way people hate Americans. You can probably go weeks without even remembering that Canada exists. But it does, in your ears. Always in your ears. Whereas some people might complain about this crappy, commercial American music no one really cares about Canadian stuff. They just buy it. Like some kind of musical invasion of the body snatchers. Which incidentally is exactly what Canada is like all the time. And you’re always Donald Sutherland.
But maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe they are all radical, hip, happening people with a freakish disposition for music. Or maybe it’s just pure coincidence, like all those years of being boring and doing nothing just kinda built up until they unleashed an endless stream of sounds we like. Because right now everyone like their sounds. Everyone. Everyone likes at least one Canadian artist. And that doesn’t look like changing and I don’t really mind. Canada makes damn good music right now and provided they keep doing that I’m willing to tolerate them and their crazy accents.