Top 150 Canadian Songs Of All Time (Part 2)

Vote for the best Canadian song of all time from the top 150.

We love Canadian music. In fact, we spend a fair bit our days here at Indie88 listening to Canadian bands, working with Canadian artists, and searching for the next big Canadian thing. This is why when it came to Canada’s 150th birthday we wanted to do something special.

We the staff at Indie88 pored over hundreds of the best Canadian songs of all-time and came up with 150 from across all genres. We are handing it over to you, our readers and listeners to help us determine the greatest Canadian song of all-time. So read, listen, and select up to five songs that you would like to see in the running for the greatest Canadian cut.

Remember, it’s about having fun. The write-ups accompanying the songs were not in all cases written by the people who selected them. That’s it, get in here, vote, share, and debate!

Vote for your top five below and scroll down to read what makes each song worthy of this list.

Feist – “1234”

Good luck getting this one out of your head. The second single from Feist’s third record, The Reminder, launched the Broken Social Scene alumnus into mega stardom and landed her an iPod nano commercial. Its rollicking piano, bright horns, and irresistible vocal melody is the perfect storm for an indie-pop smash, and it still holds up. You’ll be humming it long into next week. – MW

Feist – “I Feel It All”

“I Feel It All” rambles along with a bouncy, ramshackle acoustic guitar, melodic piano, and a shuffling tambourine, as Leslie Feist admits she’ll be the one who’ll break her own heart in her rich and raspy voice. As the rhythm mostly drops away, she comes to the forefront for a gorgeous, hushed bridge that showcases how nimble she can be. – MW

Feist – “Mushaboom”

The jaunty toe-tapper “Mushaboom” was the song that introduced many people to Feist. It’s a breezy tune about small-town life (specifically the titular Nova Scotia community not too far from Leslie Feist’s birthplace of Amherst) that ticks along joyfully with a wistful vocal melody. Mushaboom also happens to be Feist’s pet name for her pubic hair: the word likely comes from the Mi’kmaq word moosaboon-elagwaak, which means, “pile of hair.” – MW

Glass Tiger – “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone”

Bryan Adams lent some backing vocals to Glass Tiger for the first single off their 1986 debut record The Thin Red Line. “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” was a major hit for the Newmarket, Ontario-born rock group, hitting No. 1 in Canada and reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. – SL

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Storm”

Montreal-based collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor are hardly a conventional outfit. Regardless, there’s no denying the beauty of “Storm,” which is effectively a movement comprised of four individual songs off their sprawling 2000 masterpiece Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. – SL

Gordon Lightfoot – “Cotton Jenny”

“Cotton Jenny” was originally recorded by Gordon Lightfoot on his 1971 album Summer Side of Life. It was later recorded by Anne Murray for her 1972 record Talk It Over in the Morning. – SL

Gordon Lightfoot – “If You Could Read My Mind”

First released Lightfoot’s 1970 album Sit Down Young Stranger, “If You Could Read My Mind” was such a success that it led to the record adopting its name shortly after the initial release. – SL

Gordon Lightfoot – “Sundown”

“Sundown,” the title track from Lightfoot’s tenth album, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. It ranks among the Canadian folk artist’s most popular songs and has been covered too many times to count, not to mention it’s been used in television shows like Blacklist and Supernatural. – SL

Gordon Lightfoot – “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

Written as a nod to the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” has been heralded as the folk singer’s greatest work by none other than the man himself. – SL

The Guess Who – “American Woman”

The title track from The Guess Who`s sixth studio album was certified gold in the U.S. It hit No. 1 in Canada and on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. “American Woman” inspired cover versions by Krokus, Butthole Surfers, and Lenny Kravitz. – SL

The Guess Who – “These Eyes”

Co-written by Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, “These Eyes” also featured backing vocal efforts from Gordon Lightfoot. It has been covered by artists ranging from Michael Bolton to Maestro, and was even sampled by noted mashup DJ Girl Talk. – SL

The Grapes of Wrath – “The Time is Here”

1989’s Now and Again was The Grapes of Wrath’s biggest commercial success, and it featured “All the Things I Wasn’t,” which stands as one of their biggest hits. Still, many fans widely consider “The Time is Here,” the record’s penultimate track as their finest work. – SL

Handsome Furs – “All We Want Baby is Everything”

As Dan Boeckner’s first big project outside of Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs—a duo with his now ex-wife Alexei Perry—conjured the indie rock heroes’ same frenetic energy along with a bigger electronic bite. “All We Want Baby is Everything” is a rise-up anthem that buzzes and vibrates as Boeckner channels Springsteen. – MW

Hayden – “Bad As they Seem”

Hayden burst on the scene with this track in 1995 and it was a revelation to many disenfranchised 90s kids who were coming down from the bombastic-ness of grunge. His monotone drawl and lo-fi folk aesthetic was the antithesis of the music of the day, and it was exactly what was needed. “Bad as they Seem” stands out as one of several noteworthy moments in his career as one of Canada’s best talents. – PM

Hayden – “Dynamite Walls”

“Dynamite Walls” starts with a pastoral, almost hypnotic vibe that conjures that feeling of escaping the city for nature, built on a dreamy chord progression and Hayden Desser’s lethargic vocal delivery. But it soon turns into something much less restrained, pumping a feral six-string solo into cymbal splashes and crunchy distortion. – MW

Hot Hot Heat – “Goodnight Goodnight”

If you gotta dance, there are much worse songs to get your groove on to than “Goodnight Goodnight,” which encapsulates the bouncy indie rock vibe that was so prominent in the mid-’00s. Steve Bays’ youthful, ‘tude-heavy vocals recall a less slurry Julian Casablancas as he sings over punchy guitar hooks about a breakup. – MW

The Inbreds – “Any Sense of Time”

The Inbreds were merely bass and drums. The duo of Mike O’Neill and drummer Dave Ullrich spun songs with undeniable hooks and great harmonies. Their sad jam single, “Any Sense of Time,” off of 1994’s Kombinator earned the band a nomination for a MuchMusic Video Award for Best Alternative Video. – SL

Jann Arden – “Insensitive”

It’s ok, we love Jann Arden too. What is not too love? Her AMAZING voice, vulnerability, humour, and flat out fantastic songs. “Insensitive” stands out in the crowd as a Canadian classic forever more, from one of our most beloved talents. – PM

Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

“The House That Heaven Built” is the definitive Japandroids song, which also makes it the definitive endless night song. If Japandroids are good at anything, it’s the ability to make you feel like you could live forever, and somehow always stay 23, and drink a thousand beers, and fall in love with everyone and everything at every moment. And do it every night. Which is a pretty special talent. Sing along. And sing loud. – MW

Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Drunk Teenagers”

Nothing quite gets at what it’s like to get trashed in high school with your pals than the Duke of Dartmouth’s “Drunk Teenagers.” From his concept record, Ashtray Rock, the song lays out a night of pre-adult debauchery on the weekend in the Halifax suburbs, nailing the feeling of being young and dumb and raising hell with lines like, “you can pick your poison—the city or the country, we just wanna make some noise.” – MW

Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Love This Town”

“Love This Town” is almost certainly the sweetest song ever written about Halifax, capturing the gorgeous, vibrant port city’s friendly nature and laid back attitude as Plaskett sings, “there’ll be drinks on the house, if your house burns down—there’s a reason why I love this town.” This tune is a bit infamous for taking a shot at a certain hippie bro haven in B.C.: “I played a show in Kelowna last year/said, ‘pick it up Joel, we’re dyin’ in here”/picture one hand clapping, then picture half that sound/there’s a reason why I hate that town.” Plaskett and Kelowna have since made up. But if you’ve ever played a show there, you know his line wasn’t off the mark. – MW

Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Through and Through and Through”

It’s not like you’ve never heard of a double record. But a triple record? That’s what Joel Plaskett did with Three in 2009. “Through & Through & Through” is one of its choicest cuts, buoyed by honking horns and the beauty backup vocals of Ana Egge and Rose Cousins, with Plaskett playing the call-and-response game with his two guests. – MW

Joel Plaskett Emergency- “True Patriot Love”

One of the tunes most cherished by Plaskett’s fans, this is certainly a love song—but it’s not necessarily about a country. Despite its rollicking nature, complete with a righteous organ and a chorus that begs to be sung along to, “True Patriot Love” is a pretty melancholy piece of work, with Plaskett mourning a lost love with some sentiments we can all relate to, like “getting into bed seemed easy enough, getting out’s a little harder to do.” Truer words ain’t never been spoken. – MW

Joni Mitchell – “A Case of You”

Joni Mitchell’s 1971 record Blue is widely regarded as one of the best albums ever. Her song “A Case of You” is believed to be one of many songs about her breakup with English singer-songwriter Graham Nash. It’s been covered by the likes of Prince, James Blake, and Sloan. – SL

Joni Mitchell – “Both Sides, Now”

One of Mitchell’s best known songs, “Both Sides, Now” has been featured in films like Love Actually. Mitchell recorded various versions of the songs over the years, and it has been recorded and/or performed by artists like Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, and Hole. – SL

Joni Mitchell – “Carey”

Another song from Blue, “Carey” is often cited as an autobiographical account of a fling with James Taylor. – SL

Joni Mitchell – “Big Yellow Taxi”

Arguably Mitchell’s most popular song, thanks in large part to covers over the years courtesy of Amy Grant, Counting Crows, and others, “Big Yellow Taxi” first appeared on her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon. – SL

July Talk – “Push and Pull”

Push and Pull can be seen as the thesis statement for one of the most interesting alternative bands in the last 5 years, Canada or otherwise. The dichotomy inherent in July Talk’s music – whether it’s the stark contrast between vocal leads, the loud-quiet dynamic, or their black and white visual aesthetic – is all present in Push and Pull. It’s a banger. – PM

Kardinal Offishall – “Dangerous ft. Akon”

With close to 100 million views on YouTube, this is one of the most popular songs in Canadian hip-hop history and it stands up today as a beyond solid track. – PM

Kim Mitchell – “Patio Lanterns”

A moderate hit on both sides of the border, Kim Mitchell struck gold with “Patio Lanterns,” which was initially a single and later released on his 1986 album Shakin’ Like a Human Being. – SL

K’Naan – Wavin flag

Few Canadian songs have seeped into the public consciousness like Waving Flag did. The song became a global smash when it was chosen as Coke’ anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song was later covered by a group of Canadian artists, including Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, and Drake, in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. – PM

K-Os – “Superstarr, Pt. Zero”

Showcasing his ability to straight up rhyme, “Superstarr, Pt. Zero” melds smooth rhythms and production. The best of K-Os right here. – PM

Land of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”

Land of Talk’s 2008 debut album was produced by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame. The record’s title track, “Some Are Lakes,” helped the Montreal-based outfit gain some traction behind its indie rock stylings and frontwoman Elizabeth Powell’s raw vocals. Powell’s influence can be heard in rising artists like Hop Along, Angel Olsen, and others. – SL

Leonard Cohen – “Hallelujah”

Often imitated, “Hallelujah” first appeared on Cohen’s 1984 record Various Positions. Renditions by John Cale, Jeff Buckley, K.D. Lang, and Rufus Wainwright, and appearances in films and shows over the years have kept the song relevant. Cohen’s version entered the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time following his death in November of 2016. – SL

Leonard Cohen – “Suzanne”

Originally a poem and first recorded as a song by Judy Collins, Cohen later released “Suzanne” as the lead single off his 1967 record Songs of Leonard Cohen. The song was inspired by Cohen’s friendship with Suzanne Verdal, a former partner of artist and sculptor Armand Vaillancourt. – SL

Loverboy – “Working for the Weekend”

One of the most celebrated songs of the 1980s, Loverboy released “Working for the Weekend” as the second single off their 1981 record Get Lucky. It climbed as high as No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been featured in various films, TV shows, and video games over the years. Comedian Will Ferrell even performed the song on Conan in 2013. – SL

Mac DeMarco – “Salad Days”

Mac DeMarco might have made a name for himself by being King Goof, but “Salad Days” is a pretty low down tune. Its dreamy haze and slinky melody matches the lethargy in Mac’s words and delivery as he laments growing older and feeling like his best days are behind him. Still, despite lines like, “oh, mama, actin’ like my life’s already over,” it’s a summery ride. – MW

Maestro Fresh Wes – “Let Your Backbone Slide”

The Godfather of Canadian hip hop had a Top 40 and U.S. Billboard hit with this 1989 banger, spitting bars with boundless energy and agility over samples from The Mohawks, James Brown, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, and Public Enemy. CBC News anchor Dwight Drummond even appears in the video as a cameraman. It’d be tough to overstate the pioneering influence Maestro Fresh Wes had with this tune, which manages to remain a timeless-sounding classic almost 30 years later. – MW

Matthew Good – “Apparitions”

There’s something about the natural quaver in Matthew Good’s inimitable voice that so easily expresses devastating sadness. “Apparitions” is one of his most stunning recorded performances, as he rises high above its dramatic, grungy guitar to deliver grand choruses that address isolation and loneliness. It’s been unavoidable on Canadian radio since the moment it was released. – MW

Matthew Good – “Everything is Automatic”

“Everything is Automatic” kicks off with a furious energy and never lets up, while Matthew Good sneers through its lyrics with a palpable anger. Anger is the central emotion at hand for a tune that lambastes consumerism with biting lines like, “Do you miss your La-Z-Boy? Do you miss your TV? Do you miss yourself?” The video, which featured billboards saying things like, “think of your future, prepare for the disaster” (sic) was nominated for Best Video at the 1998 JUNO Awards. – MW

Men Without Hats – “The Safety Dance”

Released as the second single off their 1983 record Rhythm of Youth, once “The Safety Dance” gained some momentum domestically it went on to climb the charts all over the world. – SL

Metric – “Gimme Sympathy”

Not only is “Gimme Sympathy” an dark and driving, stadium-sized indie rock single, it also brings up one of rock ‘n’ roll history’s biggest rivalries in its chorus, as Emily Haines sings, “who would you rather be, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?” It references the former’s optimistic ditty “Here Comes The Sun” in its following lines, but the title alludes to the latter’s “Gimme Sympathy,” a song that’s fraught with impending disaster. So: who would you rather be? – MW

Metric – “Help, I’m Alive”

Metric’s first massive single, “Help, I’m Alive” helped transform the band from underground darlings into an alternative rock powerhouse. Emily Haines walks a tightrope between vulnerable and powerful as she summons courage in an atmosphere of anxiety, singing, “can you hear my heart beating like a hammer?” – MW

Michie Mee & L.A. Luv – “Jamaican Funk Canadian Style”

The best song from Canada’s first successful female emcee, Michie Mee easily deserves a spot on this list. – PM

Murray McLauchlan – “Down By The Henry Moore”

“Down By The Henry Moore,” the fourth single from Murray McLauchlan’s 1984 album Sweeping the Spotlight Away, hit No. 1 on Canadian country charts. In addition to referencing the statue of its namesake, the song also contains nods to Toronto’s Kensington Market, the now defunct Silver Dollar Room, and Nathan Phillips Square. – SL

Neil Young – “Harvest Moon”

Neil Young’s breezy front-porch tune has maybe one of the most appropriate videos in music history—Neil and the band playing this swaying melody as scores of hippies and hicks and general good-timers dance around an old country bar. Pretty much all you have to know about the song is that that environment is where it’s most perfect. Find someone to slow dance with and throw it on. – MW

Neil Young – “Heart of Gold”

This seekin’ and yearnin’ song has a low down and beat vibe to it that conjures visions of a drifter goin’ down the road. It remains Neil Young’s only U.S. No. 1 single, and features backing vocals from folk royalty James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. You can hear an early version of it, before the song was ever recorded in studio, on Live at Massey Hall 1971. – MW

Neil Young – “Helpless”

There’s an infamous story that involves this gorgeous ode to a, “town in north Ontario” (actually revealed to be a “couple of towns,” including Omemee, which is considered south). When Young got up on stage at The Last Waltz to celebrate fellow (mostly) Canadian boys The Band, he had a big cocaine booger in his nostril, and his manager demanded that it be edited out with special effects if the song was to stay in the film. Joni Mitchell provides some backing vocals from backstage in the same performance. – MW

Neil Young – “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”

There’s a few reasons Neil Young is considered the Godfather of Grunge, and this track, filled out by his ferocious band, Crazy Horse, is one of those. There is a dangerous amount of crunch on the guitars here, as Young invokes the name of legendary Sex Pistols mouthpiece Johnny Rotten. Most importantly, he reminds us all of that One True Thing: “rock ‘n’ roll will never die.” – MW