James Pavel 

20. Edwin – Alive

It should feel cheesy and contrived when experiencing “Alive.” But the way Edwin captures the very essence of existing sounds poetic and sincere. It sounds like the last words of a dying man, one who feels truly blessed to have experienced all of the world’s riches and treasures. The song climaxes multiple times, with the majestic chorus forcing even the most pessimistic man or woman to take a moment to embrace what a special sphere we somehow exist on.

19. Rush – Closer to the Heart  

It is a staple of classic rock as it snuggles in comfortably beside Cat Stevens, SuperTramp, Aerosmith etc. Rush is one of the most revered Canadian bands because there is no gray area when it comes to defining what their work consists of; it is pure rock n’ rolla from start to finish.

18. Our Lady Peace – Clumsy

At this point, OLP have an arsenal of hits to choose from, but it was the “Clumsy” album that solidified them as a Canadian hit-making machine. Clumsy explores an embarrassing habit and achieves impressive results.

17. I Mother Earth – Another Sunday

I Mother Earth is one of the defining bands of 90’s Canadian rock. Edwin’s voice is one of the most recognizable voices to grace the waves and there is no better showcase of his unique rasp than this tribute to the day rejoiced by Bible thumpers.

16 David Usher – Black, Black Heart 

This song appeared around the same time that pop music’s Usher was tearing up the charts so David Usher had to do something beautiful to be recognized. He wisely released “Black, Black Heart,” a song that beautifully samples the opera while retaining the characteristics of a coal-covered organ.

 15. Big Wreck – That Song

Many are quick to insert Big Wreck into the Nickelback/cock rock category, but not so fast roars lead singer, Ian Thornely. Big Wreck has the guitar fireworks and deafening drums synonymous with what is tragically the most popular form of rock, but “That Song,” has an unmistakable blues’ flavour that should not go unnoticed. Thornely has the voice of a Canadian Chris Cornell, and yet unfortunately manages to miraculously fly under the radar of mass music listeners.

 14. Metric – Help I’m Alive

Emily Haines is a modest-looking woman, but her voice has the sex appeal of Mila Kunis arriving at the bar in a whipped cream bikini. Haines can morph her voice into various formats, from haunting to blissful, yet always conveying a concrete message. “Help I’m Alive,” is about the existence of insecurities. Risks in life are served two-fold because not only is one stepping outside of his or her boundaries, but one also becomes acutely aware that they will be ridiculed forever if the dream never comes to fruition.

13. Matt Good – Last Parade

Matt Good has never shied away from brutal honesty, but his candid nature reveals a nasty streak in “Last Parade.” He’s over the dwelling, the insincerity and seems hell bent on insuring that the subject matter is removed from his life forever. “It feels like time to cut your brakes,” sounds as though that Good is willing to resort to sabotage if it means this pseudo-fiesta is put to an end.

12. Bran Van 3000 – Drinkin’ in L.A

The 90s was loaded with a generic Canadian rock sound that unfortunately remains prevalent today. What was so glorious about “Drinkin’ in L.A” was that it sounded borderline impossible that it was conceived in one of the 10 provinces or 3 territories of Canada. It was a stoned dedication to contemplating one’s life direction, a trippy, acid-stained quarter-life crisis that made the ridiculous rhyme scheme of “L.A., Hell Eh” sound embarrassingly fun to sing.

 11. The Barenaked Ladies – The Old Apartment

One would assume they were arrested immediately after this blatant break and enter violation, so hopefully the Ladies’ got what they were looking for. Joking aside, the idea of heading back to one’s former home is depressing because although the memories remain vivid and special, the apartment does not matter. This physical construct is oblivious and uncaring to your emotional attachment as it hosts whoever wishes to occupy its space disregarding even the most profound memories of its former and present inhabitants.

 10. Sam Roberts – Uprising Down Under

Roberts is one of the proudest Canucks in the industry, but it is his tribute to the Australian wake in “Uprising Down Under,” that qualifies as his most brilliantly-crafted piece. Roberts can afford to take such a minimalist approach despite such a grandiose theme, because his voice is as warm as the Australian sun.

 9. Kim Mitchell – Patio Lanterns 

One of my best friends is convinced that this track is about his Auntie’s patio that Kim Mitchell would frequent in the summer. Whether or not this is a wives old tale that Aunty Rogers used to tell to get a rise out of my comrade, it somehow makes the idea of “Patio Lanterns” feel even more like it could be about anyone’s Canadian backyard.

 8. Sloan – The Other Man

The act of cheating is often vilified by the victim of this dishonourable act, but rarely do we get to hear from the “other man.” Maybe the other man has no idea that he is playing second fiddle, or maybe he’s diligently looking for a promotion in order to drop the “other” from his title.

7. Bryan Adams – Heaven

Adams depiction of heaven sounds much more realistic than other descriptions from far-out religions. His version seems to be defined by his happiest state, where he’s blissfully trapped in an infinite embrace surrounded by eternal love.

6. Arcade Fire – Ready to Start

It has the intensity of a Montreal train roaring through your core. Arcade Fire have yet to make an album unequal to greatness, yet haven’t collected the praise they deserve until their latest album, “The Suburbs.” When it comes to multiple Grammys, Brit Awards and Juno’s, the Fire are announcing that they are ready to start collecting.

5. The Watchmen – All Uncovered

“All Uncovered” is Canadian grunge at its finest. It has a chorus that everyone wants to sing, but it’s so perfectly arranged, that you opt for silence for fear of butchering a highlight of the Watchmen’s career.

4. The Tragically Hip – Ahead by Century

It’s more of an analysis of youth rather than the spirit of being Canadian, yet it seems to describe a day in the sun for a typical Ontario child anyway.

3. Trooper- Here for a Good Time

Very few countries know how to party like Canadians, and Trooper celebrates this excessive beer-crushing by providing a soundtrack for drunkards across the nation. This song is over 20 years old, yet remains a summer-time staple for patios open from May to September.

 2. Tom Cochrane – Boy Inside the Man

Cochrane’s timeline of manhood remains an accurate description of the evolving male nucleus to this day. His analysis is accurate to the point that it feels as though he hasn’t been writing music all these years, but instead observing the behaviour and decisions that mark a man as he makes the transition from naive boy, to wise ol’ man.

 1. Neil Young – Heart of Gold

He went from being an awkward, young man with a gift to becoming the undisputed Godfather of rock n’ roll in this expansive nation. Young’s greatest hits could easily fill this list and it could still count as a respectable compilation, but I’ve restrained each artist to only one entry. Mining is an arduous duty, but Young converts this dirty occupation into a beautiful metaphor. Young sounds willing to work forever, if only he can be promised that his hammer will eventually strike a shiny, but rare heart of gold.