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Searchlight 2016’s top of the pops

Nicolle Weeks

With this year's crop of Searchlight pop artists, you'd be forgiven for pressing play on these songs and mistaking them for a Top 40 radio station. Clever, catchy and easy on the ears, the songs featured in the above gallery from emerging Canadian pop artists are all extremely listenable.

This year, each category will include panel selections but you can also vote for your favourite act to help them to move on to the next round.

With more than 2,000 artists applying for the $50,000 in grand prizing this year, there's a lot of amazing new music to discover. You can watch and vote for your favourites at, and for your efforts, you will be entered in a draw to win a guitar and amp prize pack from Yamaha Music Canada, valued at approximately $1,300. We're giving out one per round for the first three rounds.

Scroll through the list below for lots of great music, and don't forget to vote for your favourites. You can vote for as many artists as you like, once per day, at

Follow me on the Twitter machine: @nikkerized or on Instagram: @cbcnicolleweeks

Who: Shyre
Song: "Sunday"

About: Montreal's Shyre makes smart pop music infused with a beautiful orchestral feel. Their Searchlight entry, "Sunday," is peppered with a great beat, features ethereal vocals and is just darned catchy. 

Who: Miss Natasha Enquist
Song: "What I Want"

About: If you're a fan of pop that's a bit further out there, give BC's Miss Natasha Enquist a try. Lady Gaga fans will enjoy her deeper vocals paired with sweet electronic beats.

Who: David in the Dark
Song: "Maisey"

About: With music that would fit nicely on your local radio station, David in the Dark's melodic rock-infused pop is a feel-good breath of fresh air. New Brunswick is all the better for this band. 

Who: David in the Dark
Song: "Maisey"

About: With music that would fit nicely on your local radio station, David in the Dark's melodic rock-infused pop is a feel-good breath of fresh air. New Brunswick is all the better for this band. 

Song: "Never Coming Home"

About: PEI's FWLR/KINLEY boasts Hey Rosetta's Kinley Dowling paired with FWLR, who makes some seriously good beats. Kinley's vocals are infectious and, layered with this electronic goodness, deadly. 

Who: Darren Frank
Song: "Hardly Make a Sound"

About: Edmonton's Darren Frank takes pop to a moody place with this track. A folkier, shoegazier kind of pop pairing mellow electric guitars with smooth vocals.

Who: PK Tessmann
Song: "Careful and Kind"

About: Tessman is no stranger to Searchlight — she made it to the top 25 in 2015. She was last year's Regional Champion in the Vancouver region. Careful and Kind is a light and airy summery song that would fit nicely into your pop playlist.

Who: Lovecoast
Song: "The Floor"

About: Danielle Sweeney's sweet but slightly gritty vocals accompanied by some '80s-influenced pop makes for a super catchy song that should be playing in the background of a makeover montage. Put Vancouver Island's Lovecoast on and do a twirl.

Who: Jasmine Kiara
Song: "Dreams"

About: With a voice that rivals Alessia Cara's, 15-year-old Toronto singer Jasmine Kiara mixes sweetness with a bit of gravity in her super listenable song Dreams.

Who: Kaylee Johnston
Song: "Let's Pretend"

About: Johnston's pop is a grown-up departure from the tracks she released but a few years ago. "I was working on an electro-pop album, but it always felt like something was missing, so I went back to the basics," she says on her CBC Music artist page. "The new album [is]… a combination of organic instruments mixed with hints of electronic sounds." We're glad to hear it.

Who: Elizabeth
Song: "All Rights & Uses"

About: Picture cruising down the highway on a summer road trip with your best friends in tow — this is the song blaring through the speakers as you speed past roadside stops. Vancouver's Elizabeth is the kind of music you want as the soundtrack to your summer.

Who: What If Elephants
Song: "Getaway"

About: Montreal's What If Elephants call their vibe an "amplified living room dance party." It's true — their sound is like a warm blanket: strangely familiar and comfortable to new ears.

Who: Lexi Strate
Song: "Diamond Eyes"

About: Vancouver's Lexi Strate has already achieved lots of career success, being featured on soundtracks of shows like Degrassi and Vanderpump Rules. Her raspy vocals coupled with seriously catchy beats would slot right into Top 40 radio without hesitation. 

Who: Sarah Bourdon
Song: "iles paradis"

About: From the moment you press play, you'll be tapping your toes to this catchy, all-encompassing track. Montreal's Sarah Bourdon's iles paradis is a great lead up to summer, so get on it.

Who: Port Cities
Song: "Back to the Bottom"

About: Need a feel-good mid-afternoon fix? Put Cape Breton's Port Cities on and get an instant jolt of sunshine straight to the brain.

Who: Honeybeard
Song: "Drive"

About: Get your ears ready for a fresh tune. This synth-laden track is all about the dirty beats and AutoTuned vocals. Honeybeard cites The Doors and Depeche Mode as influences and that delicious mix really shines through.

Who: Kristina Lao
Song: "Paint Us Beautiful"

About: Kristina Lao's classic folk-pop song swells with emotion and with the smoothness and production usually reserved for major label releases.

Who: Amelia Allen
Song: "Gotcha Now"

About: A blast from the '80s, Gotcha Now is packed with inspiration from the decade of excess. It's a big earful of catchy pop. Calgary's Amelia Allen doesn't disappoint with her Searchlight pop entry.

Who: Charlotte Winslow
Song: "Hollywood"

About: This song would fit well into the Ten Things I Hate About You soundtrack, alongside other awesome women pop-rock bands of the '90s. We love Charlotte Winslow's earnest songwriting and great vocals.

Who: Andrew Dawson
Song: "Love"

About: Andrew Dawson's synthed up dance track is bursting with danceable beats.