22 April 2024

22 April 2024 - Fine, It's Pink - Did It All for You

I've been following Romanian band Fine, It's Pink since 2013.  That's when I heard their amazing cover of Phantogram's "When I'm Small".   Now, the original of that is one of my favorite song, and I'll probably fire it up on the turntable pretty soon.  

I've written about them a few times on this blog, too, most recently in 2021.  

I write this blog to tell you about the music that I enjoy, and, well, I have discovered music thanks to this blog.  It was purely accidental that I discovered this Romanian band, over here in the States, and yet I did.  

Watching Fine, It's Pink mature as musicians - watching their original songs get more adult and more beautiful - is one of the best things I have ever experienced in writing this little blog.  Their new single, out last week, is perhaps their most mature and beautiful work to date.  The song was written by Fine, It's Pink, with Ioana Lefter writing the lyrics she is singing herself.  

I hope this is the song that breaks them out of Romania and onto the world stage, because few musicians deserve it more.  

19 April 2024

19 April 2024 - Coi Leray - Players

It's like a jungle sometimes.

It makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

No, I'm not talking about my personal struggles.   I'm talking about the Grandmaster Flash sample that the outstanding Coi Leray employs prominently through this song.

This 2022 single ended up in the Top 10, her first and at this point only trip there. It absolutely an explicit and empowering song, and I love it a lot. 

It is unusual to see a new video for a REMIX of a song, but in the case, it is appropriate, as DJ Smallz put a new spin on the song.

This remix by DJ Saige replaces the Grandmaster Flash sample with a Busta Rhymes sample.... and Mr. Rhymes himself guest stars.

18 April 2024

18 April 2024 - Sigur Rós - Hoppípolla

You know when we feature bands with non-English characters in their names, when we have to figure out the ASCII codes for writing these non-English characters, that they must be special.

Icelandic superstars Sigur Rós, described as a post-rock band (accurately) are that kind of special.  Their best known song is this one, a song with some Icelandic and some nonsense words, about childlike fun and holding onto that spirit....

,,,which is probably why the video prominently features several elderly people pulling pranks on people, including members of the band.

The song, like a lot of their music, is beautiful and different and thought-provoking.  

Of course it's a live favorite.  Why wouldn't it be?!

17 April 2024

17 April 2024 - Beyoncé - Texas Hold 'Em

For those who do not know, the former Beyoncé Knowles was raised in Houston, TX.  She was raised on country music.  She performed four times at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, an event she attended many times as a child.   She's performed COUNTRY MUSIC in the past, with the (former Dixie) Chicks and Sugarland.  Her songs have been covered by Reba and others.

So explain to me: why would anyone have any issue with her "going country" when she's performing (and she co-wrote) a really catchy country album?

I sure don't.  This song, released during the Super Bowl this year, is damn catchy.  She didn't even send the song to country radio, but it is getting significant airplay.  It's also getting significant airplay on pop radio, making it one of the more significant crossover songs of the last several years (miss me with that Jason Aldean and Morgan Wallen talk, kids).  

And yes, we hear it.  It sounds a lot like the Franklin theme song.  

16 April 2024

16 April 2024 - DRAMAS - Coma Call

Sometime soon, we are going to have a week of nothing but non-English songs.  

It was a search for those songs that led me to DRAMAS, an Austrian band that is making some of the most interesting music on the planet.  And thank Courtney for this one - she found it and introduced it to me.

Formed in 2016, they made a splash in Europe right from the get go. Viktoria Winter and Mario Wienerroither are the whole band, and they bring a lot of noise and emotion.  This song, their latest single, was inspired by old French music.... and yeah, I can hear it.  

"Coma Call" isn't going to win awards for lyrical complexity, but that's precisely the beauty of it.  It's a track that revels in pure sonic pleasure.  It's the kind of song you crank up while cruising down a nighttime highway, windows down, feeling the wind whip through your hair.

So please, enjoy my family's current earworm.

15 April 2024

15 April 2024 - Labi Siffre - I Got The...

Labi Siffre built himself a long and illustrious soul career with classic songs and great beats that live on.

This was the opening track of Siffre's 1975 album, Remember My Song.  It is probably the song for which he is best known.

However, it was never a hit song on his own.  

Nope, it was a hit because Emimen sampled it as a singificant part of his song, "My Name Is", in 1999.  Siffre was initially not allowing this song, which he wrote and performed, to be sampled, as the original Eminem track contained a lot of derrogatory language againsts women and gay people (Siffre is openly gay).  Eminem changed his lyrics and submitted a clean version, and the sample was approved.  (Eminem DID release the other version as well, as a dirty version).  

The song, however, was pretty great as is, even if it was a bit obscure.  Here.  Enjoy it.

Since then, the song is no longer obscure, even getting use in an episode of Better Call Saul.

15 April 2024 - Eminem - My Name Is

This 1999 single is likely the first thing you heard by Eminem unless you saw him as a freestyle rapper in Detroit as a kid.  

It earned Eminem his first Grammy, for best Rap Solo Performance.  Cowritten by Marshall Mathers (Eminem), Andre Young (Dr. Dre) and Labi Siffre (Labi Siffre,who was credited because of the significant sample of his song "I Got The..."), the song was meant to be humorous and light-hearted, but ended up being also pretty groundbreaking.  

That was the version that Labi Siffre approved.

He expressly did NOT approve this version, which contains some homophobic slurs - calling it "lazy writing".  But we'll talk more about that another day.

Eminem released it anyway.

Yes, of course, he did perform ths song live, like in this performance at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on the fabulous Sunset Strip.

12 April 2024

12 April 2024 - Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation

We don't have enough Elvis on this blog, right?  

Well, this song.... it wasn't a hit when Elvis recorded it in 1968.  It was a minor hit when rerecorded later that year for a TV special.... but it wasn't a hit, despite being a fun and energetic song.  Written by Mac Davis (who wrote and later rerecorded a lot of Elvis songs) and Billy Strange, it was perhaps more than people were expecting.

Here's a video of the original, from the movie Live a Little, Love a Little, where the song first appeared.

You likely know this song, but that version you just heard doesn't sound right, right?

Fast forward to 2001. The song was featured in the movie Oceans 11, and then Junkie XL remixed it.  

THIS SONG was a worldwide hit in 2002, everywhere... except the United States, where it was still a MINOR hit, but not to the level of everywhere else, where it was a top 5 hit. Even in the US, it was his first visit to the Billboard Hot 100 in twenty years.

11 April 2024

11 April 2024 - Chappell Roan - Naked in Manhattan

It was only a matter of time until I got to Oliva Rodrigo's opening act, right?

But Chappell Roan is so much more than just an opener.  She's a singer/songwriter from the middle of Missouri, who makes campy, poppy music with a drag-queen inspired aesthestic.  This song, a 2022 song that ended up on her acclaimed album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess, co-written by Chappel Roan, Daniel Nigro and Skyler Stonestreet, and its video, with all its pop culture references and over-the-top fashion is a perfect illustation of that aesthetic.  

To be sure, she is unique, and so is this song.  I'm genuinely impressed.

I could have very easily found a GUTS tour opening act performance of this song - and I did. I chose INSTEAD to share a more intimate club perforance of this song, which sounds better anyway. She engages the crowd, and they respond.  She doesn't even need a background vocalist (she supplied her own on the album anyway).   

10 April 2024

10 April 2024 - Sylvester - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

This 1978 disco classic was co-written by Sylvester and James Wirrick.  It was not more than a minor hit in the US - not nearly his biggest - and was a huge hit in Europe.

But that is only the start of the story.

The song was also a hit in discos - a club hit, as we would call it today.  It is here where his star would truly shine - and endure.  The song has been used as an anthem for LGBTQ+ pride in the years since the song was released - the magazine Time Out ranked it #8 on a list of songs to celebrate Pride all year long.  

Sylvester himself, with his androgynous looks and the fact that he was, in fact, gay, was propelled by this song into icon status within the gay communitiy, and beyond, because the man was fabulous.  Sadly, he passed away in 1988 from complications from HIV - I'm so grateful that that disease is not the killer it was in the 1980s but we still need a cure. 

We are so happy to bring you a live version of this - not every disco song has that, but Sylvester did perform live. The laser sounds in the song are replaced with horns, and my goodness, it's a fantastic sound. 

09 April 2024

9 April 2024 - Olivia Rodrigo - obsessed

I want to scream.

Olivia Rodrigo released one of my 2 or 3 favorite albums of 2023 - GUTS - in September.

Last week, she released GUTS (spilled) with five more songs.

Do I buy the new vinyl? Probably not.  But this, the first new single, is pretty spectacular.  Co-written by Rodrigo, Dan Nigro, and Annie Clark, it rocks hard and is already a top 20 hit.  Fun fact - this is the 2nd Olivia Rodrigo song on which Annie Clark is listed as a songwriter ("deja vu", which borrows heavilty from "Cruel Summer" being the first), but the first on which they truly collaborated.

Anyway, it's a banger.  Check it out.  

Even before the expanded album, the song existed - and was on some special versions of GUTS (although not the one I own, dammit).  It is included on the GUTS tour playlist.

08 April 2024

8 April 2024 - Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart (Turn Around)

Oh, come on.  You kniow we had to do this. 

This song was written and produced by Jim Steinman and was Bonnie Tyler's biggest hit by a long shot - becoming one of the hugest hits worldwide in 1983.  It is a sad song - and one that's probably going to make you cry if you are prone to that.  Originally clocking in at seven minutes, the radio version was around the four minute mark.  

The song was Grammy-nominated, and would have likely had more had it not come out the same year as Michael Jackson's Thriller album.  

Still, it's made Bonnie Tyler the name you know today.

And, oh yes, she did perform the song at the Grammys.  And it was spectacular.  Her husky voice shone strong that night.

05 April 2024

5 April 2024 - Flower Face - Cat's Cradle

I knew it was a possibility that Flower Face would come out with new music soon, and starting in late February, she started teasing a new video and a new song.  There are very few posts I would not have immeduately bumped in favor of a brand spanking new Flower Face single.   Maybe not The Beaches, but anyone else.  

I gave up waiting early and put up another of her songs for Maple Leaf March.   

Well, she would release it just after March was done.  April 4th, 9pm Eastern time.  As I am writing this post, the song has been out for less than an hour, and now I'm rescheduling my Friday post to get this out, quickly.  I just moved it to next week, so no big deal.

Seriously, she was very public on social media when she was recording her new album, and now a single is out.  It still is written and performed by Flower Face, and it still features her rich, soft voice.  It has a slightly more poppy sound - and her lyrical maturity shows through strong here.  I can't wait to hear what comes next.

I suspect this is going to be in my heavy rotation for the next several weeks.  I hope you enjoy it.  

04 April 2024

4 April 2024 - Gayle - butterflies

I seriously, SERIOUSLY debated whether this song from the Barbie movie deserved to be here - and not on Totally Covered.  

Gayle is listed as a songwriter.  She absolutely did lift the chorus from the Crazy Town song "Butterfly", The original songwriters are listed.  But what Gayle did almost could be defined more as a sample than as a cover.  

And, let's be clear. whereas the Crazy Town song is listed as one of the worst singles of all time (which means we will post about it eventually), Gayle's version absolutely slaps.  It is NOT laid back, but instead a straight-ahead hard rock song.  

Gayle has a condition called chromesthesia - in which sound invokes a color response.  We wonder what colors she sees when she performs this song.  

By the way, it's also a song that sounds absolutely terrific live.  And seems to be very pink. 

03 April 2024

3 April 2024 - Felix Cartal & Lights - Feel Less

Thanks for sticking with me through my fourth #MapleLeafMarch.  I didn't think it would last, and I didn't think it would change my musical taste forever, but both of those things happened.  

I also didn't think I'd have to push a post from March to April 2nd just to make sure it was posted in a timely manner.  For those who are regular readers of this blog, I asked a couple of days ago, "Why the hell couldn't I just move Lights?"  This is the post I was referencing.  I ended up moving it for something ELSE important.  

At this point, I know what a Lights release cycle looks like at this point.  This is the point where she ends an "era" - in this case, the "PEP" era - and spends time collaborating with other artists.

Well, in this case, it's an artist she's worked with before.  Felix Cartal is a Canadian DJ - Vancouver - who has done a LOT of great collaborations.  This is their latest one - written by Cartal and Poxleitner-Bokan (because she does have a last name) (also, Felix Cartal is a stage name - Taelor Deitcher is his real name) (how the hell is Lights NOT just a stage name but Felix IS?!) (InB4 "but she was born Valerie" - I know! I know! You do know who you are talking to here, right?) released in February - and it is, once again, phenomenal.   

Also, sorry about all the Lights recently.  But I couldn't ignore this one.

02 April 2024

2 April 2024 - Shanin Blake - Senses

Guys, we need to talk about Shanin Blake.  

Who is Shanin Blake, you ask?

Well, she's an independent musician and something of a TikTok and Instagram influencer. She's a single mom to a tween. She's kind of a hippie.  She's very comfortable with her own body, clearly.  

She also writes very positive music - borderline hippie.  And it seems like the combination of her free spirit public image, her embracement of psychedelic drugs in some of her music, and her positivity really pissed people off on Twitter X....

She's @shaninblake999 on Twitter X.

....enough to get her to join Twitter X and bring her positivity there.  

I don't understand the hate - she seems genuinely kind and goes out of her way to interact with her fans.  I love her! Her sweet spirit is absolutely infectious.  Also, proving that there's no such thing as bad publicity, the attention has hepled bring her music to a broader audience.

This song is from her 2021 album Lioness and it's a very ethereal, very light song - I'd almost say atmospheric.  

01 April 2024

1 April 2024 - Bodo Wartke ft. Marti Fischer - Barbaras Rhabarberbar

This absollutely bonkers song is based on a really long German tongue twister.  

It's about a small-town woman named Barbara who is really well known for her rhubarb cake. She opened Barbara's Rhubarb Bar, which was discovered by barbarians. They would come to be known as the rhubarb barbarians (rhubarbarians?).

We're 30 SECONDS into the song at this point.

Over the years, the barbarians mellowed.  They became, in Barbara's words, kinder, more than even Barbapapa, who, by the way, is a nice pink blob from a kid's book.


However, the barbarians were very hairy, and they grew really shaggy barbarian beards, which Barbara did not find special at all.

You have to know where this is going.

She sent them to a barbarian beard barber.  He even styled their entire barbarian heads in his barbarian beard barber shop. After they were done, the barbarians invited the barbarian beard barber to Barbara's rhubarb bar.  They drank a beer together at the bar, the rhubarb barbarians and the bearded barber, and they ate a piece of rhubarb cake without any barbarism.

These tough men became very approachable, all thanks to Barbara's rhubarb!

So, three barbarians and the bearded barber were sitting in the bar one evening having a beer.  Then, the police came, looking for the Three Barbarians and the Bearded Barber. 

1:27, we're done.

And now, you've enjoyed a delightful German tongue twister.  

31 March 2024

31 March 2024 - The Beaches - Blame Brett

Maple Leaf March ending on a Sunday is kind of a downer.  

You see, we get reduced readership on Sundays, in general.  

We don't publish on Sundays for 11 months of the year (or Saturdays, for that matter) unless there's a Special Edition need to do that.   

During March, we do.

On these weekend days, we usually feature either 1) smaller, up-and-coming artists or 2) artists we feel like we have to feature even though we don't love them.  (We do love that song, though). Also, Lights.  

This year, we had WAY too much content.  We almost doubled up on weekdays - and DID on some days.  The Beaches getting pushed to a weekend feels wrong.  

And yet, here we are. 

Why the hell couldn't I just move Lights? (Editor's note: Yeah, we did end up moving Lights to another day OUTSIDE OF MARCH because this month was THAT packed, so there's no link there!)

The Beaches are a Toronto band that have been around for a decade, and finally broke through to US alternative radio in 2023 with this absolutel banger.  As of the time I am writing this, they are nominated for two Juno Awards this year (Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year, for Blame My Ex, who absolutely is a real ex of Jordan Miller named Brett) (edit: they WON both of those Junos), but those were awarded last week as of the time you are actually reading this, so hopeful we remember to update this post. (Edit: we did but a little bit late) 

We really feel badly for relegating this absolutely great song to a weekend.  We're going to promote the hell out of this post.

But, to be fair, they really ARE up and coming.  They only just appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's show last month.... and they were spectacular.


Here is the band in Ottawa last summer, performing the hell out of this song.  They give off a Go-Go's vibe, and not Loverboy, for sure.  

We promise to post more of them on weekdays in the future.  We may not even wait until next March.

When possible, I like to include concert footage with a personal connection.  My sister went to their show in Toronto on Nov. 1, 2023 - and got footage of this song.

Wanna see it?

Wanna see the crowd go nuts?!

Here ya go.

30 March 2024

30 March 2024 - Maryze - FBP (Female Brad Pitt)

Some days, I don't want to choose.  

This is why you're getting your 2nd Maryze post within five minutes of the first.  

In this post, though, we're going to talk about this 2021 non-album single that is just a fun song about being pretty and poor. Also, it's about owning your identity and who you are - Maryze identifies themself as queer, gender-fluid and non-binary, and this video features Maryze with a lot of their friends being who they are.  Filmed in Montreal, it makes me want to go there now. 

And yes, I know.  The song is called "Female Brad Pitt" so that seems to really imply a gender.   Maryze's pronouns are she/they.  

Also, it's pronounced "mar-ize".  Now you know.

30 March 2024 - Maryze - Emo

It is always a struggle for me to choose what music to include and what to leave out every March.  It is especially hard this year, when there are so many weekend days.  

This is really the only time of year we post on Saturday and Sunday, and I try to turf lesser-known artists to those days - up and comers, if you will.  

One of those up and comers is Maryze (her real name - Maryze Bernard), based in Montreal but originally from Vancouver, who released their debut album 8 in 2022.  It took me a few listens to really get the alt-pop feel of the whole album - of which this song is an absolute centrepiece - but I'm in.  I'm all in.  

This song starts a little slow but build quickly, and the seizure warning is no joke.  Directed and concieved by Maryze themself, the video is visually appealing and draws you in.  

29 March 2024

29 March 2024 - Cœur de Pirate - Place de la République

Some artists don't release bad albums.  

It took a while for Blonde to grow on me, but it did.  Her solo catalog is eight albums deep at this point, and I'd put at least three of them in my top 20 of all time - Roses (easily top 5 and probably top 3), Perséides En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé - and the rest aren't far behind, including Blonde.

This absolutely stunning song, written by Béatrice Martin (who by now you should know is Cœur de Pirate), is the reason Blonde exists.  It is a hauntingly dense and beautiful song that she was dying to record.  Named for the plaza in Paris, it is a melancholy love song, and it sits smack dab in the middle of the album.  

Voici Cœur de Pirate interprétant la chanson en direct et en beauté à l'Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal. Est-ce une salle de concert insolite ? Bien sûr. Est-ce absolument magnifiquement réalisé ? Absolument. Ai-je utilisé Google Translate pour vous écrire ? Vous pariez que je l'ai fait.

28 March 2024

28 March 2023 - Neil Young - Rockin In The Free World

Born in Toronto, and a Canadian citizen, Neil Young is an absolute national treasure. He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982 - 7 years before today's song was released.

This song, from Young's 1989 album Freedom, is one of his biggest hits ever, being both a Canadian chart hit and a US rock radio hit.... plus MTV loved this song, which you can't say about every song and video he made. 

This song was something of a career revolution for Young, who subsequently toured to packed houses and released a live album - Weld - that was also a hit.  Written by Young, it is absolutely a song of revolution.

The song was actually on the album twice.  This acoustic version was also featured.  They're both really powerful.

Young also performed the song live on Saturday Night Live in 1989, a performance Dennis Miller called the greatest ever for the show.

This is the REHERSAL.

It was so important to include Neil Young this month, and this song specifically, I moved Lights.

27 March 2024

27 March 2024 - Loverboy - Turn Me Loose

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I spent several months in Calgary, Alberta in 2019... and visited for a day in 2022 as well.   I love the city.  It was a great place to work and live and visit, and I would gleefully return. 

Why am I spending time evangelizing Calgary?  

Because today's Wicked Guilty Pleasure hails from Calgary.  Formed in 1979, they got their start as Kiss's opening act in Vancouver.  

Seriously.  That was their first live performance.

An album followed in 1980, and their first single, released in 1981, was "Turn Me Loose".  Mike Reno really sells the song - practically begging to do it his way or no way at all.  It ended up being a Top 40 hit in the US (and a huge hit on rock radio in the States as well) and Top 10 in Canada.  It also won the 1982 Juno Award for Single of the Year. 

It would be their biggest Canadian hit (but by no means their only!), but they did a lot more in the US, where MTV embraced them.

And, yes, they are Canadian Music Hall of Famers - 2009 inductees - beating Shania Twain there by 2 years. 

And yes, they are still together - after a brief hiatus in the late 80s, they reformed in the early 90s and never looked back.

And Mike Reno is older, but still commands the stage.  That classic bassline is still there.  The classic guitar is still here, more than 40 years after its initial release.  

26 March 2024

26 March 2024 - Riit - qaumajuapik

I don't think I've ever featured an artist from Nunavut.

Hell, most of you don't know where Nunavut is.

Riit is from a town in Nunavut called Panniqtuq located on Baffin Island, which is about 45 km. south of the Arctic Circle.  For those who measure distance in screaming bald eagles instead of kilometers, that's about 28 miles.  Nunavut is a Canadian territory, formed in 1999 when the Northwest Territories were split roughly along ethnic lines.  Nunavut is primarily Inuit, who are a First Nations group that you may know by another name we're not saying.

(There are certainly Inuit outside of Nunavut, which you already know if you read Totally Covered, so, you can miss us with that).

Riit is the stage name of Rita Claire Mike-Murphy, who is a children's television show host. She hosted a show in English and Inuktitut called Anaana's Tent.  Here's the Season 1 promo in English.

And here it is in Inuktitut.

We don't make this stuff up.

In 2017, she released her debut album, and followed it in 2019 with the critically acclaimed Ataataga - a 2020 Juno Award nominee - which included the lead single "quamajaupik".  Her music is traditionally Euro-synth, except the lyrics are all in Inuktitut.  Literally translated to "you are shining", this is a love song that preserves her native First Nations language, which is exactly her intent.

As part of the release of this single, Riit also had a performance for CBC Music in which she debuted this song.....

The performance is just spectacular, and that's why we're doubling up today and not pushing Riit's Maple Leaf March debut to 2025.  

26 March 2024 - Carly Rae Jepsen - Beach House

It's funny.   We've been doing this Canadian music thing in March for four years now. 

We've now had Carly Rae Jepson posts in three of them.  The year we missed?  2022.  

This song is from Jepsen's 2022 Juno-nominated album The Loneliest Time.   

The video is absolutely hilarious, and the song is a bop (and hilarious in its own right) that should have been a hit everywhere. 

We know from past experience that Carly Rae puts on a hell of a good show.  Here she is in Montreal putting on a hell of a great performance of this banger.

25 March 2024

25 March 2024 - Charlotte Cardin - Confetti

Congratualtions to Charlotte Cardin on her multiple Juno Award wins.

I don't know as of this writing (I wrote this in February) whether she won last night or not, but, given all her nominations and critical acclaim, I'm going to bet she did.  I'll edit this post if I was wrong (but I won't be).

(Edit:24 March - she won Pop Album of the Year. and one of the major awards, Album of the Year.  She did lose Artist and Single of the Year - both to Tate McRae.

This song was nominated for Song of the Year this year (one of her six Juno nominations, including two for the album 99 Nights).  Written by Cardin, Jason Brando and Lubalin, this song is funky and has a strong R&B influence, with Cardin's husky voice carrying the track.  The song is lyrically a little depressing - reminding me a bit of "Habits (Stay High)".   

The song has been Cardin's biggest hit in Canada - her first top 10 entry - and she is absolutely an artist that deserves attention outside of Canada. 

Could Charlotte Cardin be the Canadian Taylor Swift? Who knows, but this crowd is really into her performance. 

I failed to mention earlier that Cardin is from Montreal, is of course still Canadian, and currently lives in Paris.  

I mention this because, on her 99 Nights Deluxe release, which was mostly French, she included 4 extra songs.... and really, this was just 99 Nights plus her EP,  Une semaine à Paris.

The EP was centered around a French version of this song.

By the way, I am partial to this piano version - Cardin is an accomplished pianist, and performs her own song so well in such a stripped-down fashion.

(Edit: 25 March 2024) Of course, there is the version she performed at the Juno Awards...

24 March 2024

24 March 2024 - Begonia - Marigold

Yes, Begonia is nominated at this year's Juno's (Adult Alternative Album of the Year, for Powder Blue), which are TONIGHT. 

Begonia is the stage name of Alexa Dirks, a singer/songwriter from Winnipeg, Manitoba, which, to those in the States who aren't following along this March, is in Canada.  She is unique, and flamboyant, and entertaining, and she deserves a bigger spotlight, which is why we're featuring her on a Wednesday and not a Sunday.

This song is a centerpiece of her nominated album, and was co-written by the artist with Matt Schellenberg and Matthew Peters (the three of them also produced the song).  It is a short song, sure, but also, it's a great showcase for one of the more unique voices in music today.

Begonia's songs are known to be even more epic live.  This is an in-studio live performance of this song at incredibly influential CFNY in Toronto - so maybe not so epic, but still, amazing. 

23 March 2024

23 March 2024 - Feist - Of Womankind

If you didn't know that Feist was still making music after "1 2 3 4",  you're missing out on a fabulous solo artist.  The Nova Scotia-born and Calgary-raised artist released her comeback album Multitudes, nominated for a Juno and shortlisted for the 2023 Polaris Music prize (it lost that), in 2023, and it is truly delightful.

The album documents the death of Feist's father and the adoption of her daughter - which makes for a rich tapestry of just beautiful folk-pop music.

As is typical of Feist, she puts on a hell of a live show - and in this show, she also shows the phenominal video she made for this beautiful song.

Also, this month is so packed we've got Feist on a SATURDAY!

22 March 2024

22 March 2024 - Céline Dion - Pour que tu m'aimes encore

In this week where we are posting about absolute monstrous superstars, we bring one of the biggest stars on the planet.

I mean, her name - Céline - is synonymous with her.

Who is the best selling French language artist in history? Céline Dion.

Who is the best selling Canadian artist in history?  Céline Dion.

Who is the biggest gaping hole in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame? Céline Dion.

She is the first Maple Leaf March post-ee to be a Eurovision winner - in 1988, representing Switzerland, despite being a Canadian, from Charlemagne, Quebec, just outside of Montreal.   1988 was also the year she learned how to speak English, having grown up a French speaker.  She was 20 and had been recording music for almost a decade - and music that was relatively well-known in the French-speaking world.

After she broke through in the Anglo market, she did not forget her roots.  In 1995, she released a Francophone album called D'eux in most of the world.  In the United States, it was called The French Album.  

OF COURSE the English speaking world didn't embrace the ALBUM like the French speaking world did, but it was a big hit in Europe and Canada. This was one of her best-known singles of that era - in her very distinctive style, only in French.  This particular single was actually a hit in the UK as well, making the top 10.  

It is her biggest French language hit by far.

When she performs the song live in the French-speaking world, it is like "My Heart Will Go On".  Everyone knows EVERY word.

Even during her Vegas residency, she performed the song, because of course she did.  The song is clearly very important to her, and English audiences do respond.

21 March 2024

21 March 2024 - Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Gordon Lightfoot passed away last May, and we didn't do a Special Edition post for him.  

That's because I was saving it for today.  This week, when I am posting about some of the giants of Canadian music.

Gordon Lightfoot was a goddamn Canadian treasure, and there's no fucking way we weren't putting a fitting tribute into Maple Leaf March. Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986, we aren't just saying things like this to say them.  We're saying them because he is revered to this day across Canada, and he truly spoke to life in Canada in a lot of his songs.

This song was released in 1967, having been commissioned in 1966 by the CBC to commemorate the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which is transcontinental, as part of a celebration of the Canadian Centennial.

Lightfoot's debut album was released in 1966, and he had a few top 10 hits as far back as 1962, so he was already a big enough deal to do this.  This song was also included on his 1967 album The Way I Feel, and is a huge and epic song of labor and national pride.

He re-recorded the song for his 1975 greatest hits album Gord's Gold

We could think of no greater tribute than a performance of this song from Reno, NV in the year 2000. This is one of the videos that is included as part of his official Canadian Music Hall of Fame record

Not good enough?  How about this 1972 performance from the BBC?  It's different, equally beautiful, and spreads the Canadian pride.

OK, you want peak Canadian pride.  I get it.

Here's Gordon Lightfoot performing "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" on Ottawa's Parliament Hill on the occasion of Canada's 125th birthday party. 

20 March 2024

20 March 2024 - Shania Twain - You’re Still The One

For four years, we've had this draft ready to go every March.

For four years, we've ignored Shania Twain (except for this cameo on a Anne Murray post two days into the first #MapleLeafMarch). 

Shania Twain is arguably the biggest hit singer to come out of Canada in a generation (arguable because Céline Dion is from the same generation) With over 100 million records sold, she is the biggest female country artist of all time.  Her 1997 album Come on Over is recognized as the biggest selling album by any female solo artist, ever, in any genre, and the eighth best selling by any type of musical artist, anywhere.

And yes, the best selling album by any Canadian artist.  

Shania Twain is a monstrous pop-country crossver superstar.  

This song is a huge part of all of that.  The 1997 ballad is far and away the biggest hit song she ever had - the one that truly crossed her over to a pop audience and out of her country pigeonhole.  The song, cowritten by Twain and her then-husband (more on that in a minute), producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, is a mandolin and pan flute driven track, a beautifully written love song.  It peaked at #1 on the country charts and #2 on the pop charts in the US, and was a top ten hit worldwide, including in her native Canada.  

The video was the first by a female country artist to be nominated for an MTV Video Music award - for Best Female Video in 1998 (she lost to "Ray of Light" which was admittedly a fantastic video that also won Video of the Year).  

She was, and is, a huge crossover superstar.

She, of course, became a worldwide superstar.  In this 1998 performance, the very large crowd at the Prince's Trust concert in Hyde Park knows every word.

In this acoustic performance of the song, she talks about her unlikely relationship with her husband - their 17-year age difference, their different cultural backgrounds.

Also, stick around to the end to hear Shania talk about her cleavage.


Twain divorced her husband in 2010 after reports he was having an affair with her best friend.  Her best friend's husband also divorced his wife.  That man, Frédéric Thiébaud, married Twain in 2011.  

I just love that story.  

Also in 2011, Shania was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, which she richly deserved, by her friend and fellow Canadian Bryan Adams.

Even though Robert wasn't the one for life, this song is, and she still performs it - she just doesn't mention who it's about.  In this performance from last year, she nailed it.

19 March 2024

19 March 2024 - Alanis Morissette - Reasons I Drink

It has been four years, and this is the FIRST time we're featuring Alanis Morissette in Maple Leaf March.  That's so odd to me.  

True story - I actually had an Alanis song slated for the very first day of the very first Maple Leaf March, but moved it (without regret) for a lesser known artist.  I did end up posting that song in another month. 

The lead single from her 2020 album Such Pretty Forks In The Road, the song was actually released in late 2019.  Co-written by Morissette and Michael Farrell.  It is at once a beautiful and obviously personal song about her life in the music industry - and let's be clear - she has really been working since she was single digits - so, 40 years.  

She was double digits when she got slimed, though.

It's also a really relatable song - who hasn't done something, like drinking or eating, emotionally? 

The video is simple, a support group in which Alanis is several of the participants. 

This is one of Alanis's most performed songs... and still performed, four years later.  Here she is, performing the song a few weeks ago, as a duet with Kelly Clarkson.  

The song shines most when it's just Alanis, though - like this, one of the very first public performances of the song from a 2019 performance at a Connecticut casino.

18 March 2024

18 March 2024 - Sarah McLachlan - Building A Mystery

We've mostly avoided really big international artists during the last few Marches.  This week, we're not doing that.   

We start with Nova Scotia's Sarah McLachlan - who we did feature in our first Maple Leaf March, but not since.  And what a lot of people don't really realize when thinking about McLachlan, 1) she's Canadian and 2) this was her first really big hit - her first top 20 hit in the States (peaking at #13), and her biggest hit on the Canadian pop charts - her only #1 (for eight weeks!) in her home country, but also, the biggest hit of ANY song in Canada in 1997.  

In addition to winning Sarah a Juno Award for Song of the Year - one of four she won in 1998 (Album of the Year for Surfacing, Songwriter of the Year (partly for this song), Female Vocalist of the Year) (she had previously won a Juno in 1992 for "Into The Fire") - this song won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance the same year (she also won for Best Pop Instrumental Performance the same year).

Let's remember that this 2017 Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee also brought us Lilith Fair.  She brought us a real life Sarah McLachlan School of Music - with three locations (Vancouver, Edmonton, Surrey BC).  She's truly amazing, and she shares her gifts with others so generously.

The song, written by McLachlan and Pierre Marchand, is about insecurities and building a facade.

The song holds another distinction.

When Steve Jobs intrioduced the very first iPod in 2001, what was the first song he played?

"Building A Mystery".

The song is at its most beautiful when performed just by Sarah on an acoustic guitar, as she did a few years after the song's release.....

.....and she did again in this 2019 performance (because she still performs, people).

She doesn't just perform the song acoustic, but also with a full band, like this performance from 2022.

She's even been known to perform the song with a full symphony orchestra, like this performance from 2011.

She's even been known to perform it with Shawn Colvin and Paula Cole at the 1998 Grammys.

17 March 2024

17 March 2024 - Lu Kala - Hotter Now

A 2023 Juno Award nominee for Breakthrough Artist, Lu Kala is one of the more successful Canadian aritsts in that category - even appearing on the US Billboard Hot 100 in a collaboration with Latto.

This song was a top 30 hit in Canada in 2023 - her biggest hit to date.  The Congolese-Canadian singer (born in Congo, but raised in Toronto) has a bright sound and a bright future.  Her sound is happy, a throwback to an earlier era - with a pop/R&B confidence without disrespect.  

It's only a matter of time for her.

16 March 2024

16 March 2024 - Men I Trust - Organon

Not gonna lie, but when I saw the title of this song, I thought it was a weird Kate Bush cover and was destined for the other blog.  

It's not.  Men I Trust, from Montreal, are nominated for Breakthrough Group of the Year at this year's Juno's, and their music is truly original, reminding me of the Cocteau Twins a bit.  The trio are definitely in the dream pop sphere, bringing a truly great ambient feel.  

This song opens their 2021 album, Untourable Album,  and is truly punctuated by Emmanuelle Proulx's haunting vocals.  The song was written by the band.  It is Emma levitating.

Clearly the title of their album is ironic, because they're touring.  And performing these songs live. Beautifully.  Without levitation.  Here they are opening their set with it and going right into "Serenade of Water" in Barcelona.  

15 March 2024

15 March 2024 - Jayli Wolf - Blood Orange

Honestly, I've been sitting on this song since last summer, when it was released.  It's amazing and it was really tempting to post it right away.  I held back.  

I'm glad I did.  Because today is the 1600th post on Wicked Guilty Pleasures, and there are few songs I'd rather such an odometer flip of a post would be about than this song.

The last few times I've posted about Jayli Wolf, I've very much leaned on her reliance on indigenous themes and how she's writing important music. And, let's be clear - she does - she has arguably done more for her Anishinaabe/Cree culture than anyone else in modern times - and she is making important, thought-provoking music.  

Not every great song needs to be deep and important.  "Blood Orange" is a great song that is just a great song.  It's not at all deep and important.  It's just about fruit.
“I wanted this song to boldly confront the themes of control, oppression, and societal standards, while also illuminating the courage to break free and reclaim one’s narrative,” - Jayli Wolf

No, of course it's not just about fruit.  It's a powerful song about standing up for yourself against your oppresors - whoever that may be - and claiming your own narrative. The first single from her highly personal EP God is an Endless Mirror, the whole set is introspective and filled with emotion.  She's left the city to buy and work her generations-old family farm in British Columbia, and that seems to be driving this direction in her music.

The video, written and produced by Jayli herself, has a lot going on - and yes, does feature a real blood orange (watch the upper right left corner).  

This song is also really great.  Doubtless.  

14 March 2024

14 March 2024 - Tate McRae - exes

We're posting a THIRD Tate McRae post today for two reasons.  

1) These are among the last ones we're wriitng for this month - we're full up - and we feel badly about waiting so long to post her.

2) This is post #1,599, and we like odometer flips, so you know tomorrow morning's post is going to be a banger.

It does not hurt that "exes", the follow-up to "greedy", is pretty damned catchy.

Also, this is McRae's current single, and it's pretty successful in its own right.  

McRae also performed this song at the NHL All Star Game this year.

14 March 2024 - Tate McRae - calgary


Two Tate McRae songs today.  This one isn't a single yet....

It's just another great song from Think Later that got a bit of a visualizer.

And, it's about Calgary.  C'mon, guys.  You know I love Calgary.

It's not really about Calgary.  It was co-written by McRae and is somewhat autobiographical. 

Also, there's an acoustic version of this one - from London, not Calgary, for some reason - and I really wanted to further back up my earlier claim that she can sing.  

14 March 2024 - Tate McRae - greedy

There is absolutely no way I could do a Maple Leaf March this year without including the pride of Calgary, Tate McRae, who had been up to 2023 something of a minor hit artist outside of Canada.

Then came "greedy".  This female empowerment anthem, co-written by McRae, hit #3 on the US pop charts and was a #1 hit elsewhere in the world.  It is, by far, her biggest hit, both inside and outside Canada.

By the way, this is an active hit song.  As of this publication, it's currently rising back up the Billboard charts, at #6 THIS WEEK on the US Hot 100, #5 on the Canadian Hot 100.  

The song is also a 2024 nominee for Single of the Year at the Juno Awards next weekend - one of three for which she's been nominated (Artist of the Year, Fan's Choice).  

Also, driving a Zamboni.  Iconic.  She's clearly a fan (she even wears goalie pads on the album cover). 

Think Later is the album.  We failed to mention that.  Released December 2023

 So, enjoy the song... and the Zamboni ride. 

Keeping with the hockey theme, McRae performed during the intermission at the 2024 NHL All Star Game in Toronto - including this song, of course.

It's a pretty clean performance, which we'd expect at a sporting event.

I watch a lot of live videos before I choose the ones I want to share with you - and I'm picking this Today Show performance.  Why?  It's less clean than others have been - and she can clearly sing, even without the Autotune so clearly foisted onto her.  

13 March 2024

13 March 2024 - Lightning Dust - Loaded Gun

I spend a lot of March compiling music for future Maple Leaf Marches.  Sometimes, the songs are great and will make good music for future Marches, or really, for any month of the year.  

Sometimes, I can't wait. 

And, so we are clear, I almost completely bumped Lights for this one.

I decided this was a good day to double up instead of bumping anyone.  

Amber Webber and Joshua Wells are Lightning Dust, and they are also members of another band called Black Mountain.  Hailing from Vancouver, Lightning Dust is presumably named after a character from My Little Pony... but, more importantly, they are focused on synth-pop-rock sounds that are really interesting.  

This song, a driving synth anthem, is from their 2013 album Fantasy, and it is really solid.

Despite being a side project, this duo does perform their critically acclaimed music live, and they do so with far more emotion that you might expect from a synth-pop-rock duo.

13 March 2024 - FouKi ft. P'tit Belliveau - St-Han Quinzou

We missed FouKi.  We first featured him and his collaboration with Jay Scøtt in 2022.  That Félix award-winning song ended up on my heavy rotation and was my most-listened to song on Spotify in 2022.  

It is also sung by people in my house who do not speak French.  

FouKi was also nominated for a Juno in 2022 - for Francophone Album of the Year.  He lost - and deservedly so, honestly.  Impossible à aimer was amazing.  He's nominated again this year in the same category, for Zayon, and I am boldly predicting victory.

This song, a collaboration with fellow Canadian artist P'tit Belliveau (he is a folk musician from Nova Scotia who does a fair bit of Acadian vocals), is quite energetic.  It is a party song, celebrating a popular festival day in Quebec of St. Jean Baptiste.  

Also, FouKi wearing the Nordiques sweater is straight fire. 

I actually like this better live.  You can really hear the Acadian folk that Belliveau brings to the party.  FouKi brings the Expos jersey to the party in this performance.  

12 March 2024

12 March 2024 - Lights - Savage

Well well well.

We've reached the Lights portion of the month.  

You had to know it was coming.  It's not like we've haven't had like 20 Lights posts in the last three years.  

Only a slight exaggeration.  This is the 19th since 2021.  

This single was released in advance of her 2017 album Skin&Earth, which of course came with a comic book and a post-apocalyptic video.  

As she has done several times since Siberia, Lights made an acoustic version of Skin&Earth and released it in 2019.  This was an innovative recording, with unusual recording locations. 

This is not the studio recording.  This was a live performance in Austin, TX in 2019.  

No, no, this was the "studio" recording.  I put "studio" in quotes because her "studio" was her portable rig under an umbrella sitting on the ground outside during a rainstorm.  

That's really rain you hear.  

And this kind of shows you how she did it.

11 March 2024

11 March 2024 - Rêve - Release Me

We were delighted to see that Rêve released a full album - Saturn Return - in December, and it was nominated for a couple of Juno Awards this year.  We'd be happier if she'd release it in the States.

What delights us even more is seeing more depth from someone who will, undoubtably, become a big star, even if her whole 2024 seems to be contained to Canada.  This song, from the album, was released as a short film on January 5th of this year - so, yeah, that's why there are some pauses in the song.  It's a great, deep, softer song - with some ambient beats, but not the thumping dance numbers that brought her to prominence. 

The song was co-written by Max-Antoine Gendron and Rêve, and it should be a hit everywhere, but, for now, we're going to have to be happy with Canada.  

10 March 2024

10 March 2024 - Brooke Nicholls - Enough

Brooke Nicholls is an artist... and worship leader.... from Hamilton, Ontario.

That's right.  This is church music.  Which is part of the the reason why I'm posting this on a Sunday morning.  And it's GOOD.  I don't post a lot of religious music, but I do when it's good music.  

The other part is that she's a Juno nominee this year, for Best Contemporary Christian Gospel Album of the Year, for Glory To God.   This song, which literally declares that Jesus is enough, is a centerpiece of that album, which is really good.  

09 March 2024

9 March 2024 - Softcult - Dress

According to WikiPedia, Softcult are a Canadian grunge duo from Kitchener, Ontario, and the duo are actually twin sisters.  

They are so much more than that.  They bring back the aethestic of the shoegaze movement from the early 1990s, bringing in elements of grunge.  

They're also Juno Award nominees this year, for Best Alternative Album, for their EP See You In The Dark.  This emotional song is a centerpiece of that record - the darkest and a song that has deep, dark themes but still retains a poppy feel. 

This video might be triggering, because of the flashing lights and the themes of sexual assault, which is also the subject of the song.  It was directed and edited by Mercedes Am-Horn, who also happens to be one of the twins in the band (her sister Phoenix is the other, and she produced it).  They bring an excellend DIY feeling to their music and the visual that matches it.

Of course they perform the song live, and, believe it or not, they even tour the US.  This is from a show in Dallas from last March - they built their Maple Leaf March case last year! - and you can hear the emotion a little stronger in the live version.

08 March 2024

8 March 2024 - Once A Tree - Perfection

Usually, when I double up on a day, it's the same artist - or else someone died.

No one died.  And neither 

Today, I'm doing it because I don't want to move anything else and because Once A Tree - the duo of Hayden and Jayli Wolf - released a new song today, and it's really great.  

Also, they're a Canadian act that released music in March!!!!!

So, go listen to it - on all platforms (I have it playing on Spotify here).  

8 March 2024 - Connor Price & Haviah Mighty - Trendsetter

I decided to do a double today.  Both Connor Price and Havian Mighty are Canadian rappers.  

This was originally just going to be a Connor Price post, though.  A respected actor before he got really prolific in the hip hop beats, he is nominated for three Juno Awards, including one for his album Spin The Globe.  This song is from its follow up, Spin The Globe: Season 2.  These are high concept albums - he literally spun a globe and pointed at it, collaborating with artists from whereever his finger hit.

On this song, the Toronto native must have not hit very far, because Haviah Mighty is from Brampton, Ontario.  Her 2021 mixtape Stock Exchange was a Juno winner in its own right.

Guys, that's the CN Tower in the background.  It doesn't get much more Canadian than that.  

Why yes, they HAVE performed this song live, and yes, BOTH of them. Toronto, make some NOIIIIIISE!

07 March 2024

7 March 2024 - Mother Mother - Hayloft (I and II)

So the road we took to get to posting this literally right the hell now is long.

You see, I had another Mother Mother song slated to post right now.  We will call back to this post in that post, which is fully written and probably won't see the light of day until 2026.  

As I researched that post - and this band, by the way, is from British Columbia - and realized I had so much for this March I could not fit them in until 2025 at least, I started exploring some of their other catalog.

And I found this absolute gem.  

"Hayloft" was one of Mother Mother's first singles, originally from their 2009 album O My Heart.  Written by lead vocalist Ryan Guldemond, he wrote the very "angular" melody first.  He then wrote lyrics to match them - and started with the lyric "my daddy's got a gun"..... and it takes 40 seconds to get there.  The song, about young lovers hiding in a hayloft, soon followed - and the song ends with the young lovers being caught by her daddy in the hayloft - and yes, he's got his gun.

The song ends ambiguously. Which is super frustrating.

The video is very much in the style of Franz Ferdinand or the White Stripes.  It's cool as heck.

On its initial release, it was not a big hit song.  It was still a fan favorite - and so they performed it live. This performance in 2019 is a great example of that.  The energy of the song really comes through.

However, in 2020, TikTok became a thing, and people discovered the song.  It made a lot of money.  And people wanted to hear it.So they performed it when they could.  Here is a 2021 version of the song performed acoustic.

And, this prompted the band to write a followup song, "Hayloft II", but not before renaming their biggest hit "Hayloft I" and making a new video for it.

The new video tells a less ambiguous story.

They followed it in 2022 with "Hayloft II", which is a very different song - very fuzzy, very angry, and very much tells a continuation of the story of "Hayloft" in which revenge is extracted and the hayloft is burnt to ashes. 

Now, of course, they perform BOTH songs live - although not exactly back-to-back, putting a third song - 2021's "Girl Alone" in the middle of "Hayloft I" for some reason.  Here they are performing "Hayloft I" in Chile in 2023.

Here they are performing "Hayloft II" in Europe/

And, here they are, as performed live, with all three songs in the Rolling Stone studios.

06 March 2024

6 March 2024 - Vishtèn - L'Hermite

I've literally been waiting all year to post about Vishtèn.  I discovered them last April, as part of a collaboration they did with The East Pointers.  I posted it anyway, in April, but also, I went on a discovery of their music.

What I found was a fantastic folk band from Prince Edward Island whose music was heavily rooted in Acadian traditions.  The Acadian culture is a minority primarily based in New Brunswick, whose language can only be best described as "Frenglish".  Because of this, Vishtèn is primarily seen as a Francophone group... but they are so much more than that. 

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention vocalist Pastelle LeBlanc - the primary vocalist on this song - passed away in 2022 after a battle with breast cancer.  Her voice is certainly missed, and this is a song that shows you why. 

Here is the band live in 2020 - playing a small hall in PEI - and you can see the chemistry the three had (after all, Pastelle, her partner and her sister were the band).  Their sound is both bright and folky. 

05 March 2024

5 March 2024 - Ayria - My Device

I have a confession to make.

Every once in a while around our house, my SO will lose her phone, and ask the Google Home to "Find My Device".

Every once in a while, this song plays.  It drives her nuts.

It's probably my fault.

It's probably because this song has been sitting in my drafts since last May.  

Ayria is a Toronto-based synth-pop project formed in 2003 out of the ashes of Epsilon Minus by vocalist Jennifer Parkin.  This song, released in 2005, is perhaps their best known - probably because people lose their phones.  

The song is energetic and dark and industrial and exciting - and gets better as it goes.  

So, I'm sorry, Courtney, but this song is not only good, it's Canadian.  

Why yes, electronic artists do perform live. And they're quite good.  Duel synths accompany Parkin, who has a strong stage presence.