iHeartRadio 150: Songs 25 to 1
In its first 150 years, Canada has created a massive — and impressive — collection of music that is distinctly its own.
From coast to coast to coast, indigenous stories set to music and traditional maritime shanties resonate as much as contemporary rock ballads and pop anthems.
From Paul Anka to Zappacosta, Canada has given the world artists as diverse as the country itself. Many have conquered the globe, others have found that success at home is enough.
It is impossible to come up with a list of only 150 memorable Canadian songs. For each one you can name, there are 10 others just as worthy.
In celebration of Canada’s 150th, iHeartRadio asked its hosts and station music directors across the nation — as well as fans — to name their top songs by Canadian artists.
The result is a genre-blurring collection of tracks. Not all of the songs on the list were written by Canadians, and not all will be familiar to everyone — but each of them has earned a place in our hearts.
Like Drake, we started from the bottom.
Click here for Songs 50 to 26
Click here for Songs 75 to 51
Click here for Songs 100 to 76
Click here for Songs 125 to 101
Click here for Songs 150 to 126
25. The Weeknd - “Can’t Feel My Face”
Released in 2015, “Can’t Feel My Face” earned two Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year. It’s been widely speculated that the song’s about cocaine — but Canadians can pretend it’s about going outside in the winter.
24. Nelly Furtado - “I’m Like a Bird”
Nelly Furtado soared with “I’m Like a Bird,” the first single from her 2000 album Whoa, Nelly!. The singer once said the song is the kind “that girls and guys sing in front of the mirror with their hairbrush.”
23. Arcade Fire - “Wake Up”
Taken from their album Funeral, this 2004 single was ranked the 25th greatest song of all time by UK music magazine NME and Rolling Stone called it one of the best songs of the 2000s.
22. K’naan - “Wavin’ Flag”
Toronto-raised artist K’naan released “Wavin’ Flag” in 2009 for his album Troubadour and watched it fly around the world. While the original referenced the struggle of refugees from his native Somali, a more upbeat version was recorded for the World Cup. In 2010, Canadian artists recorded another version as a fundraiser for Haiti. Fun fact: The song was produced by Bruno Mars.
21. The Guess Who - “American Woman”
The title track from The Guess Who’s 1970 album became one of their signature songs. Written by the band and produced by Toronto’s Jack Richardson, “American Woman” was recorded in Chicago. Burton Cummings told The Toronto Star in 2014 that when he sings “American woman, stay away from me,” he really meant “Canadian woman, I prefer you.”
20. Michael Bublé - “Home”
Michael Bublé co-wrote this song — from his 2005 album It’s Time — with Amy Foster (David Foster’s daughter) and Alan Chang. Produced by famed Canadian hitmaker Bob Rock, the song’s quite simply about a man missing his significant other.
19. Blue Rodeo - “Try”
Written by Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo’s 1987 hit “Try” appeared on the band’s debut album Outskirts. It earned the Single of the Year award at the Junos.
18. Alanis Morissette - “Ironic”
The third single from Alanis Morissette’s smash 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. Ironically, few of the examples the Ottawa singer gives in the song (rain on your wedding day, a death row pardon two minutes too late, etc.) are, in fact, ironic.
17. Harmonium - “Pour un instant”
Quebec’s Harmonium put “Pour un instant” on their 1974 self-titled debut album. Many aspiring Quebec guitarists in the ‘70s learned how to play to this song.
16. Joni Mitchell - “Big Yellow Taxi”
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” sings Canadian icon Joni Mitchell in her signature 1970 song, “Big Yellow Taxi.” Mitchell has said she wrote the environmentally-themed track during a trip to Hawaii.
15. Barenaked Ladies - “One Week”
“One Week” wasn’t BNL’s biggest hit at home in Canada but it was the band’s biggest hit internationally. The song, written by Ed Robertson, appeared on Barenaked Ladies’ 1998 album Stunt.
14. Nickelback - “How You Remind Me”
The lead single from 2001’s Silver Side Up ended up being one of the most-played songs on the radio in the first decade of the 2000s and was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys.
Nickelback told iHeartRadio:
“'How You Remind Me’ was the hallmark of international success for us, it was our handshake to the world and it changed the way we did a lot of things — the opportunities were bigger and life as we knew it changed forever. We are so thankful to the fans and to this song.”
13. Tom Cochrane - “Life is a Highway”
Manitoba-born Tom Cochrane wrote this song long before it showed up on his 1991 album Mad Mad World and watched it top the charts in Canada and reach the Top 10 south of the border. Cochrane reaped the rewards again in 2006 when Rascal Flatts recorded a cover for the Cars soundtrack.
12. The Band - “The Weight”
Released on Music from Big Pink in 1968, “The Weight” was written by Robbie Robertson and became one of The Band’s most popular songs. Over the years the song has been covered by dozens of artists.
11. Céline Dion - “My Heart Will Go On”
Released in December 1997 as the theme from Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On” was ubiquitous in 1998. The soaring ballad, which also appeared on Céline Dion’s album Let’s Talk About Love, won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and several Grammys. Near, far, wherever you are… you’ve probably sung along to this one.
10. Maestro Fresh Wes - “Let Your Backbone Slide”
This 1989 track from Toronto’s Maestro Fresh Wes (from his debut album Symphony in Effect) earned several Juno nominations and put Wes on the map as the first Canadian rapper to have a Gold record. It samples at least five songs, include Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without a Pause.”
9. Neil Young - “Heart of Gold”
Almost unbelievably, “Heart of Gold” is Neil Young’s only No. 1 hit south of the border. Included on his 1972 album Harvest, the song — recorded in Nashville — features backing vocals from James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. The song has been covered by dozens of artists over the years.
8. The Tragically Hip - “Ahead by a Century”
The first single from The Hip’s 1996 album Trouble at the Henhouse was also the band’s most successful song ever. It was the last song played at their last concert in 2016.
7. Justin Bieber - “Love Yourself”
Justin Bieber co-wrote this 2015 single with Ed Sheeran and Benny Blanco and put it on his album Purpose. A diss to a narcissistic ex, the song was a smash hit around the world and the video has been viewed an astonishing 1.2 billion times.
6. Avril Lavigne - “Complicated”
The world got to know Ontario’s Avril Lavigne thanks to this song, which was the lead single from her debut album Let Go in 2002. It won Single of the Year at the Juno Awards and was nominated for a pair of Grammys.
5. Shania Twain - “That Don’t Impress Me Much”
Shania Twain and then-husband Robert “Mutt” Lange co-wrote this song for her 1998 album Come On Over. All about self-obsessed men, the song is one of Twain’s most successful.
4. Carly Rae Jepsen - “Call Me Maybe”
If you don’t know the words to “Call Me Maybe,” you were probably born after 2012 (and probably not reading this). B.C. native Carly Rae Jepsen broke through with this catchy tune, from her EP Curiosity and debut album Kiss. Written by Jepsen and Tavish Crowe as a folk song, it was turned into pure pop with the help of Marianas Trench frontman Josh Ramsay.
3. Bryan Adams - “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”
This 1991 song gets played at a lot of weddings. Appearing on both Bryan Adams’ album Waking Up the Neighbours and on the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack, the ballad is not only the singer’s biggest song but one of the top-selling singles of all time. The story goes that Adams co-wrote “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” with Robert “Mutt” Lange in less than an hour while in London. The song won a Grammy and was nominated for an Oscar.
2. Drake ft. Majid Jordan - “Hold On We’re Going Home”
Toronto’s Drake collaborated with Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan on this track for his 2013 album Nothing Was the Same. Drake has said he wanted a song that was “timeless.”
1. Leonard Cohen - “Hallelujah”
This now-iconic song was written by Montreal’s Leonard Cohen and released on his 1984 album Various Positions. Bob Dylan was one of the first artists to perform “Hallelujah” — at a concert in Montreal in 1988 — followed by hundreds of others, most notably Jeff Buckley, k.d. lang and Rufus Wainwright. In 2009, Cohen said: “I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it.” But, three years later, he changed his tune. “On second thought no, I'm very happy that it's being sung.”