The 100 tracks with the greatest impact on 2018. From homegrown talent that made waves outside of Canada to 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 'God's Plan', Alessia Cara 'Trust My Lonely', Jess Moskaluke 'Camouflage', Arkells 'Relentless' and more!
It feels almost impossible to pick the top songs of the year — how do you compare the songs you sobbed to along with the songs that set you free? — but 100 songs can certainly help define the soundtrack of 2018.
Taking radio play, streaming and cultural impact into account, these 100 songs from 2018 have either turned heads, drummed up a lot of buzz or will be important to Canada's musical landscape for decades to come — or all things at once.
Press play, above, on the stream of all 100 songs 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 Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe and Rich Terfry as they count down to midnight with this list of the 100 Canadian songs that had the greatest impact in 2018. Starting at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT).
Written by: Melody Lau, Michael Morreale, Natasha Ramoutar, Jess Huddleston and Holly Gordon.
100. “Hands High,” Ndidi O.
99. “Purgatory Cove,” Danny Michel.
98. “The Only Difference,” Beatchild and the Slakadeliqs.
97. “Do it Right,” Nuela Charles.
96. “Nan Fon Bwa,” Melissa Laveaux.
95. “Reckless Heart,” Rachel Beck.
94. “31,” Mike Edel.
93. “Battlefords,” Hawksley Workman.
92. “Just Fine,” Desiree Dawson.
91. “Cold in the Summer,” Dan Mangan.
90. “They Gutted This City,” Bedouin Soundclash.
89. “Focus,” Allie X.
88. “Head High,” Echlo.
87. “Let ‘em Talk,” Rosie and the Riveters.
86. “Joshua,” Dizzy.
85. “Mama Said,” Hey Ocean!
84. “RAYZ,” Royal Canoe.
83. “Tease,” Ralph.
82. “Wolves Don’t Live by the Rules,” Elisapie feat. Joe Grass.
81. “Way With Words,” Bahamas.
80. “The Light,” Begonia.
79. “All Over You,” Majid Jordan.
78. “Wake Up,” Fake Shark feat. Fionn.
77. “Melody Noir,” Patrick Watson.
76. “Opps,” Ebhoni.
75. “Warface,” Lowell.
74. “Rose,” Allan Rayman.
73. “Song for You,” Rhye.
72. “Spin our Wheels,” Sloan.
71. “Kids on the Run,” Kalle Mattson.
70. “Miss You,” Born Ruffians.
69. “Cecilia,” Brett Kissel.
68. “All in Your Head,” Erin Costelo.
67. “Double Shifts,” Charlotte Cardin.
66. “Heaven Only Knows,” Bob Moses.
65. “Young as we are Tonight,” Terri Clark.
64. “Roses,” Jean-Michel Blais.
63. “My Crew (Woooo),” Cadence Weapon.
62. “Broken,” Ria Mae feat. Tegan Quin.
61. “Roots,” Carmanah.
60. “Bittersweet,” Paul Brandt.
59. “Now or Never Now,” Metric.
58. “Separate Rooms,” Megan Bonnell.
57. “New Colossus,” Kaia Kater.
56. “Fascination,” the Beaches.
55. “All we can Do,” Pusher feat. Anjulie.
54. “Rose Coloured Frames,” Mariel Buckley.
53. “Heaven’s Only Wishful,” MorMor.
52. “While I was Waiting,” Jim Cuddy.
51. “Feel Like That,” Washboard Union.
50. “Truck Full of Money,” Donovan Woods.
49. “I See Gold,” Good Lovelies.
48. “Tables Have Turned,” Ralph.
47. “Everybody’s Pulling on Me,” Jann Arden.
46. “Fille de personne II,” Hubert Lenoir.
45. “Rare,” Ruth B.
44. “New Touch,” Caveboy.
43. “Walls Come Down,” Meghan Patrick.
42. “Northern Star,” Fortunate Ones.
41. “Powerless,” Classified.
40. “Before you Picked Her,” Jules.
39. “Broke boy Ambitions,” Snotty Nose Rez Kids.
38. “Make ‘em Like You,” Dallas Smith.
37. “Doubt,” Charlotte Day Wilson.
36. “This Mountain,” Faouzia.
35. “The Fool Part 1 (Get it got it Good),” Shad.
34. “Party for One,” Carly Rae Jepsen.
33. “Just Here WIth my Friends,” the Darcys feat. Leah Fay.
32. “Love the way you Are,” Yukon Blonde.
31. “Bad,” Lennon Stella.
30. “The Lucky Ones,” Logan Staats.
29. “The Worst Kind,” Tim Hicks and Lindsay Ell.
28. “California,” Charlotte Cardin.
27. “Hang Ups,” Scott Helman.
26. “Relentless,” Arkells.
25. “Girl’s Gotta Do,” Jill Barber.
24. “Somebody’s Daughter,” Tenille Townes.
23. “Troubled Mind,” Dan Mangan.
22. “No Expectations,” Bahamas.
21. “Two Punks in Love,” bulow.
20. “Growing Pains,” Alessia Cara.
19. “Body Count,” Jessie Reyez.
18. “Kiss Me,” Magic!.
17. “Love no More,” Loud Luxury and Anders.
16. “Got Your Name on It,” Jade Eagleson.
15. “Nervous,” Shawn Mendes.
14. “Premonition,” Coeur de pirate.
13. “Cautious,” Tyler Shaw.
12. “God’s Plan,” Drake.
11. “Ripple Effect,” Scott Helman.
10. “People’s Champ,” Arkells.
Who says that a political tune can’t also be a stadium dance anthem? Arkells get you on your feet by praising the everyday heroes over the occupant of the “highest office.” Musically, this song has exactly the ingredients you need to start a dance party: a crisp horn section, backup singers named the Arkettes, sugary synths and a whack of bongos. But most importantly, this single proves that Arkells had everything it took to follow up on their massively successful “Knocking at the Door.” Shortly after the release of "People's Champ," Arkells packed a stadium in Hamilton for the city’s biggest outdoor show in decades. And yes, there was serious dancing.
9. “Head Above Water,” Avril Lavigne.
It’s been five years since we heard from pop star Avril Lavigne, but this year she made her triumphant return with “Head Above Water,” one of her most personal songs ever. Detailing her fight with Lyme disease, Lavigne says that she wrote this song “during one of the scariest moments of my life.” Writing and music pulled her through the tough times, and the result may not be the pop-rock anthem that we thought we would get, but instead a ballad that is beautifully vulnerable and honest.
The single peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart, and it’s proof that her new music has given a lot of people faith and strength to face their own struggles. With a new album coming out next year, we can’t wait to see what else Lavigne has been working on.
8. “Camouflage,” Jess Moskaluke.
Off Jess Moskaluke's 2017 Juno-nominated album, Past the Past, "Camouflage" is an upbeat pop-country track true to its name: “I’ve always wanted to make music with purpose and meaning. My favourite thing about 'Camouflage' is that it’s a fun party song masking another message," Moskaluke has said about the song. The lyrics hint at that — "friends hiding the pain that I'm feeling" — but the video really hits it home.
7. “Best Part,” Daniel Caesar feat. H.E.R.
Off Caesar’s critically acclaimed debut album, Freudian, this R&B chart-topping ballad rightfully became the unofficial alternative wedding, proposal and anniversary song of 2018. Featuring American singer H.E.R., this acoustic slow-burner sets the perfect mood for the finer moments in life – which basketball great Lebron James can attest to, after having Caesar privately serenade him and his wife, Savannah, with “Best Part” on their five-year anniversary. Trading velvety verses, Caesar and H.E.R.’s subtle romance is captured in sweet sentiments: “You're the coffee that I need in the morning … if life is a movie, then you’re the best part.” While Caesar’s entire Polaris-nominated album is chock-full of gospel-infused poetry, it’s this unabashed overture that stands out as particularly timeless.
6. “Bad Habits,” Delaney Jane.
"A rush of blood to my head/ my heart beats out of my chest/ bad habits." It was nearly impossible to miss hearing these lines float ubiquitously over the radio this year, as Torontonian Delaney Jane's "Bad Habits" was a strong contender for song of the summer. It's become her first solo gold-certified record, though she has seen gold before: for her single with Tiesto, "L'amour toujours." It looks like we'll get a full-length from Jane in 2019, so prepare yourself for more earworms.
5. “Mehcinut,” Jeremy Dutcher.
The most powerful music is the kind that expresses something that needs to be said. Jeremy Dutcher’s Polaris Prize-winning debut album, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, does just that, and lead track “Mehcinut” is no exception. To hear the moving duet between Dutcher and an ancestor's voice preserved on wax cylinder is chilling and symbolic in this time of reconciliation. Dutcher blends acoustic and electric instruments and blurs genre lines in the process. He gives a compelling vocal performance that grows in intensity and strength as the song progresses. It’s a voice worth hearing, and one that clearly has so much more to say.
4. “In my Blood,” Shawn Mendes.
“In my Blood” did something that not many other Shawn Mendes songs did before: it showed us a more vulnerable, intimate side of the Canadian pop star. Opening up about his anxieties of feeling “overwhelmed and insecure” is a big move, furthering a conversation that is ongoing in the mainstream, but it can be potentially monumental to his young fans who may be scared of confronting their own anxious feelings. Paired with that are stadium-sized guitar riffs, a sound he says was inspired by a Kings of Leon concert he attended. As Mendes continues to grow and change, it’s great to see him slowly expand his sonic palette and embrace different influences. And “In my Blood” is maybe his most impressive step forward yet.
3. “Trust my Lonely,” Alessia Cara.
After what felt like three long years, Alessia Cara returned with her sophomore album, The Pains of Growing. Cara penned every song on the album, and the result is incredible vulnerability and maturity on every track. In her standout single, “Trust my Lonely,” Cara recounts the relatable tale of a toxic relationship that she needs to cut out of her life. She reinforces the importance of independence and self-love, insisting, “I gotta trust my lonely.” In a statement released on Instagram, Cara noted that the song is “both a reminder and celebration of the frequently forgotten sentiment that we’re here and we’re OK.” With such authenticity, it’s no wonder we gravitate toward Cara’s words time and time again.
2. “Pray for Me,” the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar.
The third single from Marvel's Black Panther soundtrack, "Pray for Me" perfectly accompanied the tightly coiled fight scene where Black Panther, Nakia and Okoye visit a casino in Busan, South Korea. It's not the first time the Weeknd's far-reaching falsetto and Kendrick Lamar's sharp rapping have teamed up: their first collaboration was for "Sidewalks" on the Weeknd's 2016 album, Starboy. It's a smooth give and take that really drums up the tension — in both the movie and your headphones. Lamar curated the full Black Panther soundtrack, and it's well worth a full listen.
1. “In my Feelings,” Drake.
There’s no doubt that Drake dominated 2018. The Toronto rapper’s fifth studio album, Scorpion, has broken all sorts of records, from streaming to decades-long Billboard singles records that were previously held by Michael Jackson and the Beatles. And while some may debate the merits of Scorpion as a whole, many of Drake’s singles have been surefire hits and heavy contenders for this year’s song of the summer.
One of Scorpion’s biggest successes is “In my Feelings,” but it was a special case. It’s unclear whether this song, which finds Drake pining for his former lovers, was ever a planned single or not, but when comedian Shiggy posted a video of himself dancing to the song, it sparked a viral dance challenge. Soon, everyone from Will Smith to the cast of This is Us was showing off their best moves to the tune of “In my Feelings,” and a few months later, the song was topping the Billboard charts — and Drake teamed up with Shiggy for an official music video.