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100 best Canadian songs of 2017
By
Editorial Staff

Published

November 20, 2017

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Can one song define 2017? We don’t think so — would it be a jam? A sob-along? An instrumental? — but 100 songs can certainly soundtrack a year.

The 100 tracks with the greatest impact on 2017, from homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada, and Canadian acts that influenced their respective genres. These are the songs that turned heads, rose up the charts, and drummed up buzz at home and beyond. Singles from pop, R&B, indie, country, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, and Indigenous artists selected by the CBC Music team. Hear: Drake 'Passionfruit', Feist 'Pleasure', Jess Moskaluke 'Drive Me Away', Daniel Caesar 'We Find Love'

CBC Music’s team of producers and hosts took weeks to agree on the 100 Canadian songs that had the greatest impact in 2017. From homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada and acts that influenced their respective genres, these 100 songs are ones that turned heads, rose up the charts or drummed up buzz that you couldn’t miss.

Press play on the stream of all 100 songs above to hear Canada's best pop, rock, R&B, singer-songwriter, country and hip-hop artists. Scroll down for the full ranking.

Plus! On New Year’s Eve, join hosts Raina Douris and Odario Williams as they count down to midnight with this list of the 100 best Canadian songs of 2017. Tune in on CBC Radio One and CBC Radio 2 starting at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on Sunday, Dec. 31.

Written by: Emma Godmere, Jeanette Cabral, Andrea Warner, Jesse Kinos-Goodin, Melody Lau, Robert Rowat, Jennifer Van Evra, Reuben Maan, Rich Terfry, Raina Douris, Odario Williams, James Booth, Mary-Anne Korosi, Monika Platek, Caroline Szwed and Holly Gordon.

Editor’s note: All 100 songs were chosen from Canadian singles and albums released between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, 2017 — not including French releases, which is a task our sister site ICI Musique will be undertaking.


100. 'Wait!,' Common Deer

In many regards, 2017 was a particularly dark year, so Common Deer’s uplifting anthem about standing up and choosing a better way was a welcome rallying cry. “'Wait!' is an awakening to a social climate we didn't anticipate, a recognition that strength is in numbers and ideas only if they are inspired and connected,” said vocalist Graham McLaughlin in a release. “The song urges people to confront ignorance. We really feel like there's no time to waste."

99. 'New Touch,' Caveboy

This electric '80s throwback track has a vibrant sound that is simply addictive. The Montreal trio is a recent winner of the 2018 Allan Slaight Juno Master Class edition, and earlier this year we named them one of Montreal's 10 emerging acts to watch.


Related: Montreal: 10 emerging acts to watch


98. 'All Day All Night,' TiKA feat. HMLT

Throughout the heaviness of this year, TiKa’s early 2017 cut, “All Day All Night,” has served as a soothing balm that lifted and motivated us through what was, to some, a socially and politically exhausting time. The snapping rhythms and shimmering beat flickers forward as the Toronto artist persists and reminds us: “My sisters may just change the world in the blink of an eye.”

97. 'No Wrong,' Bahamas

This new single from Afie Jurvanen, a.k.a. Bahamas, has been out for less than a month, but we know we’ll be playing it on repeat until the new album comes out in January 2018. "Stay right here, I'll be coming home soon/ I just emptied my lungs to some empty room," Jurvanen sings, lulling us into the soft comfort of “No Wrong.” It’s been four years since Bahamas’ last album, and we are ready for it.

96. 'Gravity,' Amelia Curran

Newfoundland singer-songwriter, mental health advocate and activist Amelia Curran released her album Watershed months before the #MeToo movement swept North America, but her song “Gravity” is all about women speaking up. Underlying Curran’s powerhouse lyrics are quirky horns and biting guitar that give the track a Liz Phair- and Chrissie Hynde-style feminist rock kick.


Related: Amelia Curran | First Play Live (full session)


95. 'Hey! Ya, You,' the Elwins

With this massive jam, the Elwins are positioned to break through in 2018. This is one to turn up when it comes on the radio.

94. 'Clouds,' the Jerry Cans

The Jerry Cans' continued exploration of the wild expanse of contemporary Northern folk-pop is thrilling. Their use of throat singing is like a vocal heartbeat, and it's a beautiful foundation for "Clouds," featuring members of the Strumbellas, which is all about re-thinking our notion of home.

93. 'When the Heart Attacks,' Gabrielle Papillon

The Halifax singer-songwriter released a beautiful album of sweeping folk-pop songs this year, but her feminist anthem — produced by Neon Dreams’ Corey LaRue — stands out, with its drum drama and opening line: “Tell me a story that nobody knows/ a fable of honour/ when danger unfolds/ with a woman/ who comes to the rescue.”


Related: Gabrielle Papillon | First Play Live (full session)


92. 'Summer Summer Night,' Alan Doyle

Alan Doyle's "Summer Summer Night" was the perfect summer anthem to listen to on repeat at the bonfire. Doyle says the inspiration for the song came from his summer memories of living and partying in Newfoundland, and those carefree lyrics match the catchy chorus.

91. 'Motel Flamingo,' Madeline Merlo

The B.C. singer's newest single is upbeat, poppy country at its finest — a sunny tune with an infectious pop chorus oozing with tropical vibes.

90. 'Breathe,' Vincent

Vincent is a trap/future bass producer from Oakbank, Man., and "Breathe" is a prime example of his unique ability to blend beautiful and brutal sounds.

89. 'You Never Can Tell,' Elise Legrow

It takes a strong voice to take a beloved rock 'n' roll classic like Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" and transform it into a sweet, breezy ballad. This version by LeGrow grabs your attention and soon you'll be finding yourself crooning along to the track.

88. 'Swimming in Strange Waters,' the Wooden Sky

The anticipatory opening buzz on “Swimming in Strange Waters” is not for nothing — the full-on stadium rocker that follows spins you around and around, finally catching you in its ending refrain, “Let every living thing shine a light on every living thing.” It’s a hell of a way to open an album, and gave us a heavyweight song for 2017.

87. 'I Will Follow You,' Said the Whale

A simple guitar riff kicks off Said the Whale’s "I Will Follow You," a track that slowly builds into a multi-layered synth-pop bonbon. But it’s not all sweetness: the band adds a little bite with a few funny, and questionably rhymed, swears, including “Holy shit, it hit me like a ton of bricks” and “Holy f--k, we’re gonna need a ton of luck.”

86. 'Unglued,' Mo Kenney

Mo Kenney’s first co-production title, 2017’s The Details is a dark, often cheeky concept album to follow 2014’s Juno-nominated In My Dreams. “Unglued” sits in the middle of the album, one foot in the uncertain — “I might be losing my mind/ I may be coming unglued” — and one foot facing forward, all jangly guitars and catchy riffs.


Related: Mo Kenney | First Play Live (full session)


85. 'Crazy,' Yukon Blonde

This catchy jam from Kelowna's favourite rockers was a Radio 2 Top 20 mainstay for most of the summer, settling into the top five for several consecutive weeks. "Crazy" demands a turn up, with its sing-along chorus, rollercoaster synths and shimmy-in-your-seat beat.

84. 'Don't Talk to Me,' Cadence Weapon

The second new single this year from Toronto-based Edmonton native Cadence Weapon, “Don’t Talk to Me” is a confident, mellow track produced by FrancisGotHeat (Roy Woods, Bryson Tiller, Drake). Paired with the Kaytranada-produced “My Crew (Woooo)” released earlier this year, we can’t wait for what’s to come in 2018 with the rapper's new full-length.

83. 'Minnesota,' the Courtneys

When the Courtneys aren’t singing about aliens or referencing '90s pop culture, they use their fuzzed-out guitar rock to tackle more raw feelings of love. On “Minnesota,” a highlight off of their sophomore album, vocalist Jen Twynn Payne learns to let go of a past love, giving the melodic rush a much more cathartic sense of jubilation.

82. 'Dreamworld,' Ivory Hours

The title track off of Ivory Hours' sophomore album, "Dreamworld" is an upbeat, pop-rock single from the 2015 Searchlight contestants. Watch out for more work from them in 2018, as recent winners of the 2018 Allan Slaight Juno Master Class edition alongside Caveboy and Quake Matthews.

81. 'This Time,' Land of Talk

After a seven-year absence, Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell made a triumphant return to music this year with Life After Youth. “I don’t wanna waste it this time,” she sings on the slow-building, Sharon Van Etten-assisted centerpiece, “This Time”: a proclamation that she makes good on with her contemplative songwriting and gorgeously warm vocals.

80. 'A Lifeboat,' Kacy & Clayton

A hauntingly beautiful song from this Saskatchewan duo’s new album, The Siren’s Song, which is receiving lots of love from outside of Canada from the likes of Q Magazine, Rolling Stone and NPR.

79. 'North East South West,' Japandroids

Vancouver indie rockers Japandroids channel their inner Springsteen on this anthemic sing-along, from their latest critically acclaimed album Near to the Wild Heart of Life.

78. 'Skoden,' Snotty Nose Rez Kids feat. Beau Dick

Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a Haisla hip-hop duo made up of MCs Yung Trybez (a.k.a. Zazaxsmalis) and Young D (a.k.a. Darren Metz), and their “Skoden” jam is rapid-fire, featuring a sample from Kwakwaka’wakw artist Beau Dick. “Following in the steps of our favorite Indian Country catchphrase, ‘Skoden’ is a one-word phrase that means ‘let’s fight’,” Trybez told RPM, “and in the same light we use this to motivate our people to fight for the land. The tone is high energy and angry, born from warrior’s mentality to protect our land and rights.”

77. 'Confessions,' Quake Matthews feat. Neon Dreams

For his latest album, Celebrate the Struggle, rising East Coast hip-hop artist Quake Matthews teamed up with heavyweight producers including Grammy winner Street Runner (Eminem, Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross), Nova Scotia rapper Classified and 2oolman of A Tribe Called Red. On this melodic track, Matthews is joined by Neon Dreams, and delves into mistakes made, bridges burned, lessons learned and the power — and risk — of confessions.

76. 'Girl, It's Your Time,' Vivek Shraya

This brilliant, cabaret-style song is a hopeful, defiant anthem. But it's also a vow the artist makes to herself to never dim her own shine, and be true to herself in a world that often violently oppresses racialized, LGBTQ women.

The 100 tracks with the greatest impact on 2017, from homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada, and Canadian acts that influenced their respective genres. These are the songs that turned heads, rose up the charts, and drummed up buzz at home and beyond. Singles from pop, R&B, indie, country, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, and Indigenous artists selected by the CBC Music team. Hear: Drake 'Passionfruit', Feist 'Pleasure', Jess Moskaluke 'Drive Me Away', Daniel Caesar 'We Find Love'

75. 'Better to My Baby,' Whitney Rose

Whitney Rose is an Americana roots rocker from P.E.I. who is now based in Austin, Texas. This is a great Phil Spector-esque track that manages to sound both modern and retro, from her latest album, Rule 62.

74. 'Of Fisticuffs,' the Dears

Montreal’s the Dears deliver another solid orchestral pop-noir track from their album Times Infinity Vol. 2. You can’t help being drawn in by the dual lead male and female vocals, swirling guitars and pounding drums.

73. 'When I Learned Your Name,' Daniel Romano

There’s a playful innocence to Daniel Romano’s “When I Learned Your Name,” a toe-tapping, hand-clapping track that’s reminiscent of '70s Elvis Costello-era pop-rock. At first blush it seems like a sweet love song, but there may be far more to Maggie’s story. “‘[It] is the story of the extraordinary rendezvous between the oppressed individual and its own true character,” Romano explains. “This form — most commonly childlike and liberated — can uncover a being’s perspective of reality. We grow, sometimes rapidly, into what we never conceived ourselves to be, unhinged and stretched to the limits of our shell. This song is a musical celebration of that liberty.”

72. 'Chains,' Rose Cousins

It has been five years since East Coast songwriter Rose Cousins released her Juno-winning album We Have Made a Spark, but 2017’s Natural Conclusion was well worth the wait — and an album the veteran singer-songwriter calls “the most honest and vulnerable thing” she has made to date. Co-written in Nashville with Andrew Combs and Jeff Bowman, this gritty, blues-fuelled lead single lures listeners into a dark, devilish mire — and they may never want to return.


Related: Rose Cousins | First Play Live (full session)


71. 'Sexus Plexus Nexus,' Pierre Kwenders

Pierre Kwenders raps and sings in four languages, and his music has a pan-African sound that is hard to define: it's soul, it's African, it's jazzy; it's unique and entirely Kwenders. "Sexus Plexus Nexus" is about getting lost in love and not wanting to feel anything else, just enjoying the love.


Related: Pierre Kwenders | First Play Live (full session)


70. 'Thirteen Silver Dollars,' Colter Wall

Steve Earle, the godfather of alt-country, said it best: Colter Wall is "the best young singer-songwriter I've seen in 20 years."


Related: Colter Wall | First Play Live (full session)


69. 'Born and Raised,' Hunter Brothers

With this song, these five Saskatchewan brothers have painted a picture of what it was like for them to grow up in small-town Canada, and it clearly resonated with fans. This music video is particularly special, as it was shot on the Hunter Brothers' farm and features a benefit concert that raised more than $60,000 for local community organizations.

68. 'Breathe in Breathe Out,' the Long War

This song caught the ear of our 2017 Searchlight judges and they couldn't get it out of their heads — which is why the band won the competition. The song's catchy riff will have you listening to it on repeat, and the band's West Coast vibes really shine through in the lyrics.

67. 'Love is Love Pt. 1,' Quantum Tangle

There’s a wonderful backstory to this track. Two men from Los Angeles, one of them part Cherokee, were planning a destination wedding in Yellowknife. They wanted to get married in a place that felt timeless, safe and accepting, and imagined a pre-colonial era before authorities determined whom people could love. Wanting music that captured that mood and their deep, enduring relationship, they commissioned Juno-winning duo Quantum Tangle, who are based in Yellowknife, to write them a song. Blending old-school blues, rock and soul, this pared-down, heart-on-sleeve track is the result.

66. 'Cumbiero,' Roberto Lopez

When Roberto Lopez was a kid, he would plug his guitar directly into his parents' stereo and crank it up until he got a warm, fuzzy guitar sound. On "Cumbiero," the best song on Lopez's amazing 2017 record, he finds that warm childhood guitar groove, hugging your soul as if you were with Lopez as a kid, in that childhood home.

65. 'You're Dreaming,' Wolf Parade

Could there have been a more anticipated release to come out this year? For an album that perhaps wasn't going to happen, Montreal's Wolf Parade returned after seven years and disappointed no one.


Related: Wolf Parade | First Play Live (full session)


64. 'Money,' the Beaches

The Beaches just "need to make some money, need to make money (woo!)." What better way than to release one of the best Canadian rock songs of the year, which is equal parts Strokes and Joan Jett?

63. 'Paradise,' Terra Lightfoot

If you haven't seen Terra Lightfoot perform live, then do yerself a favour and get a ticket next time she's in town. Lightfoot is the total package: she can write a hooky tune, rip through a blistering guitar solo and sing the hell out of any song she likes. "Paradise" is one of those songs.

62. 'All Mine,' Donovan Woods

Woods leaves you as wistful as ever on "All Mine," his lone 2017 single. Of course, those handclaps and bright strums you hear appear optimistic, but with lines like, "If somebody can stand you/ love 'em for your whole life," you're reminded how Woods — one of this country's best songwriters of the moment — can hit you right in the feels.

61. 'I Don't Wanna (Love U),' Begonia

Winnipeg’s Begonia has a voice you’ll not soon forget. The powerhouse singer released her newest EP in February 2017, which closed with this jam of a heartbreaking admission: “I don't wanna love you/ I'm kicking and screaming/ nobody hears the truth/ I don't want to.”

60. 'Sabes Muy Bien,' Boogat

The first track on Boogat's new album is a joyous love song to his wife and kids, who moved with the singer to Mexico for a year to explore their roots and make San Cristobal Baile Inn. The hooky guitar lick and urgent percussion propel the tune as Boogat emphatically lists the hardships they overcame while declaring, "You know very well that I love you ... that I adore you."


Related: Boogat | First Play Live (full session)


59. 'Get What You Give,' Felix Cartal

The feel-good vibes of “Get What You Give” helped make this track — a remix/cover of the New Radicals hit from the '90s — a massive hit for this B.C.-based EDM DJ.

58. 'Play The Field,' Partner

New Brunswick rockers Partner make the kind of throwback pop-punk that soundtracked endless millennial teen memories back in the early 2000s. They've been described as "part musical act, part teenage diary, and 100 per cent queer," and their debut 2017 album, In Search of Lost Time, was easily one of the best releases of the year. "Play The Field" is a standout ode to universal teen desire that demands a sing-along (with air guitar).

57. 'Coming Down,' Once a Tree

With every passing year things seem to get speedier and more complex, and in the process, pared-down simplicity becomes all the more potent and powerful. At just two-and-a-half minutes and layered with gauzy tones and reverb-drenched vocals, Once a Tree’s “Coming Down” feels like an oasis where time, ever so briefly, stands still.

56. 'Country Made Me Do It,' Meghan Patrick

Meghan Patrick made waves at this year's CCMA Awards as she picked up the Sirius XM Rising Star Award and another for female artist of the year. This single showcases her true-to-country sound and emotional connection to the genre.

55. 'Mind Hijacker's Curse,' Chad VanGaalen

Chad VanGaalen’s strange yet wondrously detailed musical universes are an escapist’s dream. On “Mind Hijacker’s Curse,” VanGaalen takes us vacationing inside an organism’s mind using intergalactic sounds that twist and turn in surprising and fun ways, while testing the acoustics of its surroundings with his "ba-ba-ba" chorus. There’s no better place to get lost than in one of VanGaalen’s songs.

54. 'Fatal Gift,' Emily Haines

"Fatal Gift" marked the return of Emily Haines' solo project, which we last heard from 10 years ago. Stripped of the synth-pop glamour we’ve come to know her for in the band Metric, Haines' own songs are a bare-bones, direct look into her poignant songwriting, which is just as powerful here as it is in her stadium anthems.


Related: Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton | First Play Live (full session)


53. 'Drive Me Away,' Jess Moskaluke

The Saskatchewan country music singer released her country pop single in February 2017 and by May, it had reached No. 3 on the Canada Country chart, marking the first single by a solo female Canadian artist to enter the top five on country radio since 2008. There are no surprises here, as Moskaluke's vocals are enchanting.

52. 'Everything is Alright,' the Glorious Sons

Kingston rockers the Glorious Sons took a little time to themselves after a slew of top 10 radio singles, more than 200 live shows in Canada alone, and a Juno nod to boot. Lead singer Brett Emmons wanted to reflect on all that sudden attention, and penned a song about feeling isolated — and hungover. "Everything is Alright" has since taken over the airwaves as an anthemic reminder to accept who you are and what you're doing, mistakes and all.

51. 'Daydream,' Milk & Bone

Back in the shimmering heat of August, Milk & Bone released "Daydream," a glossy confectionery reverie with lush, summery harmonies. The first single from their upcoming album, this new track proved that the buzz surrounding Milk & Bone's 2015 album, Little Mourning, will only grow when the new album drops early in 2018.

The 100 tracks with the greatest impact on 2017, from homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada, and Canadian acts that influenced their respective genres. These are the songs that turned heads, rose up the charts, and drummed up buzz at home and beyond. Singles from pop, R&B, indie, country, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, and Indigenous artists selected by the CBC Music team. Hear: Drake 'Passionfruit', Feist 'Pleasure', Jess Moskaluke 'Drive Me Away', Daniel Caesar 'We Find Love'

50. 'Waiting on You,' Lindsay Ell

The Calgary-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter's powerful voice and guitar skills really shine on this track. The single is from her debut full-length album, The Project, and Ell performed it on Jimmy Kimmel Live in the summer.

49. 'Boys Like You,' Whitehorse

Whitehorse added fuel to fire on its 2017 release, Panther in the Dollhouse, delving into sexual politics. The first single, "Boys Like You," was an indictment of troll culture delivered over a scorching Radiohead-esque rock vibe that burned up the radio.


Related: Whitehorse | First Play Live (full session)


48. '13,' Allan Rayman

Allan Rayman has earned the monicker of the most mysterious man making music in Canada. We don’t know much about him, but what we do know is that this song is beat-heavy, moody, ‘80s Michael Jackson-esque — and hugely popular.


Related: Allan Rayman | First Play Live (full session)


47. 'Honor Song,' Jeremy Dutcher

This extraordinary song from Dutcher's forthcoming debut is unlike anything you've ever heard before. It combines the Toronto-based composer and singer's Wolastoq First Nation roots with beats from electronic producer BUFFLO, and a piano arrangement that races, soars and thumps through classical, jazz and pop landscapes.

46. 'Freeze Me,' Death From Above

Early 2017 saw the Canadian rockers make a surprise return with the single “Freeze Me.” Sebastian Grainger says it’s “pretty much a love song,” but with powerhouse guitars, thundering drums and an infectious piano line, this blistering track is love on turbo charge. Late 2017 was a different story, as Jesse F. Keeler denied accusations of ties to far-right political groups.

45. 'Beacon Hill,' the Rural Alberta Advantage

Feverish, hit-you-in-the-chest drumming is at the heart of most Rural Alberta Advantage songs, and this new track that the band dropped in January thrives on its trademark rhythm. One of the first songs we heard with new bandmate Robin Hatch, “Beacon Hill” builds and crashes in all the right places, and teased us for a satisfying new album that came out in fall 2017.

44. 'All Night Sedans,' Leif Vollebekk

For his Polaris shortlisted record, Twin Solitude, Leif Vollebekk changed his own rules: he let songs come to him, writing many of the tracks on this record in just one sitting. The result is a beautiful, lonely, lingering record that breaks but also warms your heart.

43. 'Damage,' PartyNextDoor feat. Halsey

Not content to put out guest verses on albums from some of the biggest artists in the industry — including Drake, Major Lazer, Calvin Harris and Zayn — the "Work" co-writer Jahron Brathwaite, a.k.a. PartyNextDoor, also proved he's perfectly comfortable front and centre. His seven-song EP, Seven Days, was made in just, yes, seven days, showing that when you're this hot, even time is on your side.

42. 'Summer Days,' Rhye

This was the first new music from Toronto's Rhye, a.k.a. singer Michael Milosh, in four years, and it's a wonder how we lasted this long without it. "Summer Days" is a gorgeous throwback to warmer, sunnier days, something we could all use right now.

41. 'Don't Choose,' dvsn

This song from the Toronto duo of Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85 is so smooth, the two can drop an Isaac Hayes samples right in the middle and it fits seamlessly.

40. 'Privilege,' Stars

The Montreal band that has been making music together for 17 years is a Canadian legend. These days, Stars are burning as brightly as ever, as proven on their most recent and eighth record, There is No Love in Fluorescent Light. Lead single "Privilege" showcases Amy Millan's perennially gorgeous vocals against a soaring backdrop of guitars and synths — now hallmarks of Stars' unforgettable sound.

39. 'Bound to You,' Jocelyn Alice

Calgary's Jocelyn Alice is no stranger to the Canadian charts: her 2015 single, "Jackpot," became a platinum-certified hit here at home, and scored massive streaming numbers in the States. Only her third-ever solo single, "Bound to You" is slick, soulful and seriously catchy — and will undoubtedly stick around on your radio dial well into the new year.

38. 'Thirty,' the Weather Station

Anyone who hears the voice of Tamara Lindeman, a.k.a. the Weather Station, knows they are experiencing something special. Joni Mitchell comparisons are natural, but the Weather Station stands on her own with a distinct point of view and modern folk sound.

37. 'Love Again,' Hedley

Multi-platinum, award-winning group Hedley released the highly anticipated first single to its 2017 album in the summer 2017, reaching nearly one million views on YouTube. Although the year is almost over, this summer hit is bound to be blaring through speakers nationwide with its catchy lyrics and beat.

36. 'Ola Volo,' Matt Mays

From Matt Mays' long-awaited 2017 LP, Once Upon a Hell of a Time, "Ola Volo" embodies what the Halifax songwriter wanted from the full album: "This is party rock for the heartbroken."


Related: Matt Mays | First Play Live (full session)


35. 'Out of the Gate,' JB the First Lady

Fiercely political but also hugely celebratory: this is the most epic song JB the First Lady's ever released, and it feels particularly powerful in the landscape of 2017. From the beat to the lyrics, this track is all about the strength, resilience and spirit of Indigenous women.

34. 'Wolf's Home,' Gord Downie

Almost any song off of Downie's posthumous farewell solo album, Introduce Yerself, could have found a place on this chart, but what makes "Wolf's Home" stand out is the rawness of Downie's upper register howl delivering this line: "I've gotten more than most and yet...." He breaks himself open one more time for his audience, and that's why the tears fill our eyes as his voice fills our hearts, all of us grappling with goodbye.

33. 'The Ave in You,' Clairmont the Second

Clairmont the Second is proving to be one of the most consistent, yet underrated, MCs coming out of Toronto. "The Ave in You" reminds us not only where he's from, but how far he's headed, with a beat that will be stuck in your head all day.

32. 'High Ticket Attractions,' the New Pornographers

Even though this song was written before Donald Trump officially won the presidency, “High Ticket Attractions” admittedly distills what Carl Newman has described as “Trump panic” into something rather upbeat, a guitar and synth-driven pop gem. It turns anxiety into action, and demands movement in a time where it can be tempting to stand still.


Related: The New Pornographers | First Play Live (full session)


31. 'Shine,' the Washboard Union

Vancouver-based band the Washboard Union won roots artist of the year at this year's CCMA Awards, and its single "Shine" certainly drew in droves of new fans. The song is a refreshing, upbeat, positive track that really showcases the band's folk roots.

30. 'You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind),' Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq

This collaboration between two generations of groundbreaking Indigenous artists thunders and pulses with vitality and life. It's a vivid and rousing activist anthem that takes its titular inspiration seriously with heart-pounding, powerful results.

29. 'Giants,' Lights

The pounding beats and anthemic hooks of “Giants” helped Canadian electro-pop queen Lights hit the charts once again. Her 2017 album, Skin&Earth, was comic book-inspired, and led directly to six issues of a comic book also titled Skin & Earth.

28. 'Fool's Paradise,' Cold Specks

The title track from Cold Specks’ 2017 album, “Fool’s Paradise” is the hauntingly sung story of Araweelo, a powerful queen from Somali folklore whom Cold Specks says she “became obsessed with.” Fool’s Paradise marks the first album where Cold Specks used her full name — Ladan Hussein — in her music, celebrating her Somali–Canadian heritage and singing in Somali on the title track: “Kala garo naftaada iyo laftaada,” she sings, which means “understand the difference between your bones and your soul.”


Related: Cold Specks | First Play Live (full session)


27. 'Kinda Complicated,' Scott Helman

The lead single from Hôtel de Ville, "Kinda Complicated" put Helman in the running for song of the summer, holding court at No. 1 on the Radio 2 Top 20 chart and charting on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.

26. 'Paradise,' Jenn Grant

Jenn Grant sounds dreamier than ever on "Paradise," the sweeping title track from her 2017 album. And it's no surprise: Grant herself told CBC Music that much of the inspiration for the record was drawn from her own vivid dreams. Hearing Grant's gorgeous voice float over synths and slow beats on "Paradise" will make you wish it could soundtrack your own sleepy explorations of the subconscious.

The 100 tracks with the greatest impact on 2017, from homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada, and Canadian acts that influenced their respective genres. These are the songs that turned heads, rose up the charts, and drummed up buzz at home and beyond. Singles from pop, R&B, indie, country, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, and Indigenous artists selected by the CBC Music team. Hear: Drake 'Passionfruit', Feist 'Pleasure', Jess Moskaluke 'Drive Me Away', Daniel Caesar 'We Find Love'

25. 'Scream,' Weaves feat. Tanya Tagaq

A self-love anthem urges listeners to embrace their own uniqueness, and that is just what Jasmyn Burke and Tanya Tagaq do on “Scream,” a cacophonous rally cry that demands us to “get up on the table and scream your name.” Burke has called the song a “3D sculpture” that sticks out on Weaves' sophomore album, Wide Open, and it’s the perfect centerpiece: an emblem of intersectional feminism that we can only hope will inspire and create more space for not just women, but women of colour to flourish.

24. 'Problems,' SonReal

The combination of thoughtful, introspective rapping with soulful, catchy beats has helped B.C-based rapper SonReal not only rack up huge numbers on YouTube and Vevo while hitting the top of the charts in Canada, but also build a big audience outside his home country's borders.

23. 'Knocking at the Door,' Arkells

It’s a well-known secret that Hamilton’s Arkells put on a killer Motown covers night, so it only seemed natural to hear the soul and gospel influences seep into their music. “Knocking at the Door” is a rich and riotous explosion of piano, horns and gospel backing singers, culminating in a climatic call-and-response. One of the best songs of the band’s career.

22. 'It Came to Me,' the Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers returned this year with the critically acclaimed record Queens of the Breakers. This first single came right out of the gate with guitar licks and a driving beat that grabbed your attention and earned the top spot on the Radio 2 Top 20 for several weeks.


Related: The Barr Brothers | First Play Live (full session)


21. 'Why We Fight,' Fast Romantics

Released on the eve of the U.S. presidential nomination, "Why we Fight" captures the zeitgeist of resistance, love in a time of war, activism — and it just rules.

20. 'Cold to the Touch,' Ralph

Ralph has quickly become a force to be reckoned with in the pop sphere. Songs like the slick synth gem “Cold to the Touch” — but, really, her entire debut EP — show off an incredible flair for spinning earworms that are on par with some of the biggest hitmakers out there right now. It’s only a matter of time before she joins those ranks.

19. 'Halfway Home,' Broken Social Scene

“Halfway Home” represents everything fans have come to know and love about the Toronto collective. As the group's first single in seven years, this track is a triumphant rush of emotions as the united choir of voices (13 members are credited on this one track), Brendan Canning’s signature bass line and a band of soaring horns converge into yet another classic Broken Social Scene anthem that easily reminded us of why we fell in love with the band 15 years ago.

18. 'Electric Love,' Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder's high-energy track, off of her May 2017 album, Utopia, was one of the biggest songs of the summer. Ryder's soulful voice bounces over this funky, almost psychedelic, beat.

17. 'In Undertow,' Alvvays

East Coast ex-pats Alvvays returned in September with their highly anticipated sophomore album, packed with even more dreamy hooks than the band's 2014 self-titled debut. Lead single "In Undertow" sweeps you off your feet in a wave of shimmering guitars that quickly make you forget you're listening to a break-up song.


Related: Molly Rankin on becoming 'a hermit' to write Alvvays' new album


16. 'Bend,' Ria Mae

With this summer release, Ria Mae gave us the resolute jam we needed, and a motto to go with it: “You can try and bend my heart but it won't break.” It’s the Halifax songwriter’s highest charting single so far, peaking at No. 6 on Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100.

15. 'Signs,' Drake

Not content to only release More Life, a 22-song “playlist,” Drake released the downtempo, dancehall-inflected “Signs” in the summer, premiering it at the Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week. If you can think of a more decadent way to claim your supremacy in the music industry, we’re all ears.

14. 'Chills,' James Barker Band

One of the best country singles of 2017, this song will be stuck in your head all day with its infectious, rocking chorus. The inspiration for the song came from a darker and more emotional place than the rest of the songs on their EP.

13. 'Friends,' Justin Bieber and BloodPop

For his first single named lead artist since 2016’s “Company,” Justin Bieber reunited with producer BloodPop to make this glossy, club-ready cogitation on post-breakup etiquette. Gone is the tropical house vibe we loved on Purpose — although “Friends” echoes “Sorry” almost chord for chord — and in its place, an on-trend electro-pop bed for Bieber’s sexy vocals to roll around on.

12. 'Reminding Me,' Shawn Hook feat. Vanessa Hudgens

Nelson, B.C., singer-songwriter Shawn Hook and actress/singer Vanessa Hudgens teamed up for this mega pop single, released on April 21, 2017. This was Hudgens' reappearance on the pop music scene after a nine-year absence, and the pop ballad debuted at No. 92 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, peaking at No. 30.

11. 'One I Want,' Majid Jordan feat. PartyNextDoor

This year, Majid Jordan proved it's still one of the most exciting voices to come out of Toronto's recent resurgence of R&B duos. On "One I Want," singer Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman have teamed up with OVO labelmate PartyNextDoor to craft a song on how lust can turn into love.

10. 'Main Girl,' Charlotte Cardin

Montreal's Charlotte Cardin has a voice that draws you in right off the top, and the beat on "Main Girl" keeps you hanging on for more. It's a sexy, strong and assertive track that is getting Cardin noticed outside of her hometown, hitting 2.3 million views on YouTube.

9. 'Everything Now,' Arcade Fire

You may have been distracted by the strange publicity machine around Arcade Fire’s newest record, but the group was feeding a hungry public. When one of the biggest bands in Canada teases new music, it’s a big deal. The standards are impossibly high, and while others may disagree, the band delivered a groovy, disco-fuelled anthem in the form of “Everything Now.”

8. 'Pleasure,' Feist

April delivered what might be Feist's greatest work to date: an intimate collection of strummed, contemplative songs that still pop and crackle with energy. The album's title track begins with Feist's warm, trademark vocals, which eventually tumble into a frenzy of voices, all looped and layered, demanding your rapt attention.

7. 'Superficial Love,' Ruth B

Edmonton's Ruth B went from Vine star to winning the Juno for breakthrough artist of the year in fewer than five years. The proof of talent is in her remix of “Superficial Love,” a rich pop song that makes you smile, and demonstrates her knack for crafting language and melody.

6. 'Cut to the Feeling,' Carly Rae Jepsen

Without a doubt, this was the feel-good song of 2017. Carly Rae Jepsen cranked out some of her best hooks since "Call Me Maybe" on this splashy summer hit that Billboard, Spin, and Nylon were quick to add to their best-of-the-year-so-far lists. "Cut to the Feeling" was written while Jepsen was working on her 2015 record, E•MO•TION, and was reportedly scrapped for being "too cinematic and theatrical." Thankfully, she offered it up to the team behind the 2017 animated film Leap!, and those catchy hooks saw the light of day — right when we needed them.

5. 'There's Nothing Holdin' me Back,' Shawn Mendes

Upon releasing “There’s Nothing Holdin’ me Back” in April, Shawn Mendes graduated from the School of Sunny Guitar Songs and began his paid internship at Arena Rock Anthems, Inc., where we’re predicting he’ll have a corner office before you can say “Something Big.” The full spectrum of Mendes’ vocals is on such fine display here — from the confiding sweetness of the verse to the full-throttle grit of the chorus — that a Super Bowl half-time invitation can’t be far off.

4. 'We Find Love,' Daniel Caesar

He says he won't let the hype get to him, but there's no denying that Daniel Caesar is the next big thing to come out of Canada. The Oshawa, Ont., native counts Stevie Wonder and Coldplay's Chris Martin among his fans, and Caesar scored even more eager listeners this year with the release of his full-length debut album, Freudian. "We Find Love" is one of the R&B singer's most gorgeous, if crushing, singles to date: with the help of a warm piano and a chorus of voices, the 22-year-old reflects on losing the girl of his dreams.

3. 'Figures' (2017 radio edit), Jessie Reyez

"Figures" is a soul-crushing ballad about having your heart shattered, but then having the strength to put it back together. Since Toronto’s Jessie Reyez premiered this song, she’s been on a straight ascent to the top, releasing one of the most anticipated debut albums of 2017. It’s an opportunity she hasn’t wasted, either, whether she’s addressing themes of self worth or, as she does on the devastating “Gatekeepers,” sexual predators in high places.

2. 'Stay,' Alessia Cara and Zedd

The Fader called it “the sneakiest hit of the summer,” but really, there was nothing surprising about the success of “Stay,” the chart-topping debut collaboration between Alessia Cara and mega-talented writer/producer Zedd. From the killer sample (the vocal melisma from Banks’s “Poltergeist”) to Cara’s now-classic “livin’ on my sofa, drinkin’ rum and cola,” to Zedd’s subtle use of vocoder in the chorus, how could this song be anything but pop perfection?

1. 'Passionfruit,' Drake

The Toronto rapper is always at his best when he finds new territory to mine as opposed to retracing old sounds and moods. On “Passionfruit,” an immediate standout on Drake’s “playlist” More Life, he may be dealing with the same relationship woes but, musically, he’s found yet another lane to dominate: a tropical pop-house vibe that spins his open-hearted emotions into a melodic dream.

The 100 tracks with the greatest impact on 2017, from homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada, and Canadian acts that influenced their respective genres. These are the songs that turned heads, rose up the charts, and drummed up buzz at home and beyond. Singles from pop, R&B, indie, country, singer-songwriter, hip-hop, and Indigenous artists selected by the CBC Music team. Hear: Drake 'Passionfruit', Feist 'Pleasure', Jess Moskaluke 'Drive Me Away', Daniel Caesar 'We Find Love'