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Searchlight 2016: weird, wild and wonderful

Andrea Warner

If "weird, wild and wonderful" is the keyword search of your dreams, have we got a selection of fantastic new songs for you.

More than 2,000 artists have entered this year’s edition of Searchlight, and we understand that voters might be a little overwhelmed. So we’re trying to help: we have a Searchlight recommendation engine, and we’ve parsed out one-person bands, artists under 20 and family bands.

Now we're highlighting the most unusual and/or most extraordinary songs and music videos for you. Think of it as a feast for the senses. From the dancing robot to the Day-Glo body paints, and odes to dinosaurs to declarations of platypus identity, these Searchlight artists have you covered.

In the list below, we’ve highlighted some of the strangest, most out-there Searchlight entries we’ve ever seen or heard. Click through to learn more, and cast your votes accordingly.

Don't forget to watch, share and vote here.

Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner

Who: Löbu
Song: “Bauhausian”

About: Day-Glo body paint and blacklight make everything better — particularly a music video for a Blondie-esque song like this, which combines light, airy vocals with driving, angular, guitar lines. 

Who: Chris Dmytriw
Song: “I am the Platypus”

About: This funny, lovely, heartfelt song about being different could be your new favourite family jam. Listen to “I am the Platypus” and particularly revel in the brief harmonica solo. You’ll be humming this catchy tune all day.

Who: Whitey Somers
Song: “Happy Guy”

About: There are some pretty fun, low-key special effects happening here, plus the wardrobe is the best! The sparkly suit jacket takes “diamond-encrusted” literally, and the red tie matching the red pants is a nice touch. I also think it’s when he feels the coolest, because his dancing takes on a certain attitude in his shimmy and honestly, this video fills me with joy. Plus, the song is the catchiest number you’ll ever hear about a midlife crisis and the suffocating nature of conventional measures of success. 

Who: Malahat
Song: “The Grit”

About: There are a million reasons to be thankful for this video and this song, but let’s pick the top three: the aubergine shorts and wonderful deep yoga stance of the lead guitarist; the Axl Rose-esque vocal stylings of Malahat’s lead singer; and the snow-and-frost-covered drum set because this band is so hardcore they’re playing atop a freaking mountain. 

Who: Miss Natasha Enquist
Song: “What I Want”

About: Dark, brooding, electro-pop — and accordion? Yeah, it’s not what all the cool kids are doing, but Miss Natasha Enquist makes a marvelous case for bringing back the squeezebox-style dance anthems for her modern twist on Depeche Mode meets Massive Attack.

Who: SAM
Song: “Did You Get my Letter?”

About: This definitely errs more on the side of wonderful than weird, but this short, sweet ditty is just 80 seconds long and features Vancouver singer-songwriter Kirsten Bale playing every instrument, from guitar to cowbell to recorder. The song itself is a lovely Canada Post commercial waiting to happen and would be very much at home on the Juno soundtrack aside any number of Kimya Dawson/Moldy Peaches track. 

Who: The Loop
Song: “A Prominent Nobody”

About: I always marvel at the looser, scattershot video submissions. There’s something wild and unpredictable about them. But, pro-tip: 15 microphones will very strongly pick up ice banging around inside a cup, but they won’t do much else to add to one’s song.

Who: Cud Eastbound
Song: “LostKids”

About: The vibrato and tremor, heck, even the combination of bow and banjo, this is Appalachian folk music transplanted to Dawson City, Yukon, and it’s extraordinary. The video is a curious wonder unto itself: gorgeous, wild, vulnerable, sparse.

Who: Fancy Diamonds
Song: “Rocknrollin”

About: Fancy Diamonds’ joyous send-up of “rock ’n’ roll” living is perfect: they trash a stroller, do somersaults on concrete (ouch!), and are played by marionette, Day-Glo skeletons.

Who: Leslie Rohonczy
Song: “Everyone’s Somebody’s Freak”

About: A great folk singalong waiting to happen, this is a fun celebration of what it means to be a “freak.” There’s also liberal use of the kazoo and some great lines about asserting one’s own vision and version of happiness.

Who: Unkle Adams
Song: “Original”

About: Sometimes it’s best to just watch something to fully appreciate just how gloriously unusual a video is. “I’ve been original since in my momma’s ovaries,” Unkle Adams sings at one point while wearing a chef’s hat and twirling a wooden spoon. Because why not?

Who: Xania
Song: “Dance with the Robot”

About: So fun. This video is delightfully silly, and the song’s pretty catchy. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with this robot and go to its dance party?

Who: Jay Wilson
Song: “The Dino Boogie”

About: Dinosaurs are pretty neat and Jay Wilson thinks so, too. T-Rex arms forever! Listen to "The Dino Boogie."

Who: Phineas Gauge
Song: “The Weirdness”

About: Well, if the fleeting, surprise eye contact isn’t alarming enough, then Gauge’s growly vocals should do the trick. I mean, it’s right there in the song’s title: Gauge is going for weird. Mission accomplished, friend. This is a fine contribution to Strangest Canadian Song Ever canon, and I kind of love it. Plus, the special effects in the video make for some fun, trippy moments. Listen to "The Weirdness."