A new year is all about looking ahead to all the new and exciting things to come. But there should be some time put aside for looking back as well, to reflect on things big and small.
Here at CBC Music, we wanted to go back 10 years and take a look at some of the big Canadian releases celebrating an important milestone this year. 2009 was a busy year for Canadian music: there were debut releases from artists who have gone on to become global superstars, albums that went on to win big awards, and some seminal indie records that we're still in love with today.
Here are 10 albums that will turn 10 years old in 2019. Do you remember what albums you were obsessed with in 2009? Share with us @CBCMusic!
Drake, So Far Gone
In 2009, we were introduced to an up-and-coming Toronto rapper named Drake. His third mixtape and debut EP, both titled So Far Gone, included one of his earliest hits, “Best I Ever Had.” These releases may not have clocked the same record-breaking numbers that his current albums are hitting, but So Far Gone marked the beginning of a very long reign in hip-hop for Drake.
Most people will remember K’Naan’s second album, Troubadour, for its breakout hit “Wavin’ Flag,” but the album as a whole stands up as one of the Somali-Canadian rapper’s best works. Featuring guests like Mos Def, Damian Marley, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Troubadour’s worldbeat vision was boundary-pushing and ultimately earned him a Juno Award for artist of the year and a Polaris Music Prize short-list honour.
Joel Plaskett, Three
East Coast indie-rocker Joel Plaskett took the numerology behind his third solo album, Three, very seriously. Firstly, it was a triple album, packed with song titles that were words or phrases repeated three times: “Through and Through and Through,” “Shine On, Shine On, Shine On” and “Run, Run, Run,” just to name a few. Then, there was its release date, March 24, 2009 — all numbers divisible by three. The album cover showed Plaskett holding up three fingers. And, to top it all off, a pre-order of the album gave fans access to tickets to a Toronto concert for $66. It’s a bit of an extreme concept, but one that definitely paid off for an album that quickly became a CBC Music fave.
Toronto synth-pop band Metric had been around for a decade by the time it dropped its fourth studio album, Fantasies. But this was arguably the record that helped the band break through to a new audience, that graduated Metric from club rockers to a bonafide stadium act with breakout singles like “Gimme Sympathy” and “Sick Muse.” Album closer “Stadium Love” even became a sports anthem, chosen as the official song for the Toronto Blue Jays and Edmonton Oilers in the 2013/2014 seasons.
At the end of 2008, Japandroids broke up. They had recorded their debut album, Post-Nothing, and were going to release it the following year with no plans to promote it. But that all changed when the album came out and quickly caught the attention of music blogs, including Pitchfork, who truly championed the Canadian duo. The eight-track album would go on to earn a Juno Award nomination for alternative album of the year and score a spot on the Polaris Music Prize long list. And yes, Japandroids have stayed together ever since.
Peaches, I Feel Cream
On her fifth album, I Feel Cream, electro-shocker Peaches teamed up with new and old collaborators to create a collection of songs that Rolling Stone called "a refreshing breath of filthy air." With the help of Simian Mobile Disco, Digitalism, Soulwax, Shapemod and longtime friend Chilly Gonzales, I Feel Cream continued to challenge gender roles, celebrate sexuality and have fun in a way that purely adheres to Peaches' signature sound and style.
Digging Roots, We Are…
Digging Roots’ 2009 release, We Are…, is an essential album to return to if you want to explore beyond the current wave of artists advancing the Indigenous renaissance. This husband-and-wife duo’s second album, which won the 2010 Juno Award for Aboriginal album of the year, features a lot of today’s key players: Tanya Tagaq, A Tribe Called Red’s Bear Witness and Kinnie Starr, who also co-produced the album. Their music beautifully blends rock, blues, folk and hip-hop into a sound that the band lovingly calls “heartbeat music.”
Adrianne Pieczonka, Munich Radio Orchestra, Dan Ettinger, Puccini
Adrianne Pieczonka has spent much of her career performing major roles — Strauss, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini — in European opera houses, beyond the reach (and financial means) of her fans at home in Canada. So when this album of Puccini arias came out, her gleaming soprano voice was suddenly just a play button away. The beautifully polished result impressed many, and earned Pieczonka the 2010 Juno Award for best classical album vocal/choral performance as well as the Empfohlen von Klassik Award.
Tegan and Sara, Sainthood
Between 2007’s indie hit The Con and 2013’s pop breakthrough Heartthrob, it can be easy to lose sight of Tegan and Sara’s excellent 2009 album, Sainthood. This album, which acts on the sister duo’s more guitar-driven instincts, was the first album the two co-wrote. (They mostly wrote separately prior to this.) That said, there are still enough pop elements woven throughout this album that it makes perfect sense in the trajectory of Tegan and Sara’s later rise as influential pop heavyweights.
Justin Bieber, My World
Another big Canadian debut that happened in 2009 was the first EP from YouTube sensation-turned-pop star Justin Bieber. My World served some early hits such as “One Time” and “One Less Lonely Girl,” but these tracks ultimately helped set up the release of Bieber's massive debut album, My World 2.0. Still, My World is a fascinating look at the talent Bieber was being teamed up with early on thanks to the help of his manager Scooter Braun and mentor Usher: the Movement (Jesse McCartney, Lionel Richie), Tricky Stewart (Rihanna, Beyoncé), the Jackie Boyz (David Guetta, Madonna) and Benny Blanco (Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears). Fun fact: R&B star Frank Ocean even hopped on this project and is credited as a co-writer on “Bigger.”