Top 10 Canadian Bands

A countdown of the top ten musicians or bands to come out of Canada.

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With the Canadian Thanksgiving (yes, we have our own) this weekend, what better time to reflect on some of the great musicianship that Canada has produced over the years?

The following ten bands are of various genres and are groups that I feel have made a large and positive (sorry Avril Lavigne) impact on their genre through helping define what it is and represents. That being said, the list was made in my opinion and was designed to:

1) Bring some light to often overlooked bands and artists 2) Demonstrate through example that Canada has produced some amazing talent 3) Give the community of UG a chance to complain about their favourite band not making the list

10. The Tragically Hip

This Canadian group from Kingston, Ontario was formed in 1983 and is still continuing to write and perform to this day. With over 10 albums full of great material and more than 10 Juno awards, this truly unique band has experienced a successful career and has had a large affect on the world of music both through their own music and the music they inspired others to make.

Great works of The Tragically Hip include New Orleans Is Sinking, Bobcaygeon and Wheat Kings.

09. April Wine

This classic rock group, whose name was simply derived from what the members thought were two words that sounded good together, are straight out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Forming as a local band in 1969, the group's success grew rapidly and led to frequent radio playtime and the release of over 15 studio albums. After seeing them play at a local venue, it was obvious that their music helped both influence and inspire artists all around the world.

Some of their most famous hits are Oowatanite, Drop Your Guns, and Sign Of The Gypsy Queen.

08. Anvil

Originally formed as a high school band in Toronto, Ontario, Anvil became a successful metal act releasing a total of 16 great studio albums (with a new one coming out next spring). On top of releasing a large amount of great metal, Anvil are known to have been a big influence to some of the largest and most famous metal groups out there: Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer being just a few. Through influencing some of the greats and releasing their own great music, Anvil have truly helped pave the path for metal.

You may know the band for songs like 666, March Of The Crabs or Tag Team.

07. Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Bachman-Turner Overdrive, straight from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was the product of the break-up of The Guess Who. Guitarist/vocalist Randy Bachman formed the group with bassist/vocalist Fred Turner and really took care of business (heh). Receiving four Juno awards (among other honours) and producing a ton of classic rock hits, these guys really helped shape the rock world.

Songs that they are known for include Takin' Care Of Business, Let It Ride, and You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet.

06. Joni Mitchell

Known as one of the best songwriters of all time, Joni Mitchell from Fort Macleod, Alberta not only continually shaped her own music but helped shape the music of the world around her. Initially starting off as a folk singer, guitarist, and piano player, over the years Joni Mitchell became more jazz inspired and ended up working with greats like Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, and Jaco Pastorius. Producing a ton of excellent music has earned Joni several awards (including 9 Grammy awards) and honours, and her affect on the music of the era is incredibly evident.

Joni is best known for songs like Big Yellow Taxi, Both Sides Now, and River.

05. Triumph

Hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, Triumph are one of the worlds must underrated hard rock trios. With the band releasing several albums worth of great rock that's comparable to other legends, they have certainly proved their technical proficiency as well as their great song writing and heartfelt playing skills. Guitarist Rik Emmett, widely considered one of the most skilled and versatile players to the few who know him, has influenced many great players with his incorporation of crazy rock solos, jazzy lines, and neo-classical technique into his playing style.

If you want to check out their stuff, listen to Fight The Good Fight, Blinding Light Show / Moonchild, and for a classical touch Petite Etude.

04. Oscar Peterson

Next to no jazz pianist can go through his or her life without at least hearing about Oscar Peterson. This Quebec-born man, referred to as the Maharaja of the keyboard by Duke Ellington, has truly left a mark on the history of jazz music. Releasing over 200 recordings and winning numerous awards and distinctions (including 8 Grammy awards), this jazz pianist accomplished what very few ever have for the jazz world.

A few of my personal favourite Oscar Peterson recordings include Cakewalk, You Look Good To Me, and There Will Never Be Another You.

(RIP Oscar Peterson: 1925-2007)

03. Neil Young

From Toronto, Ontario, Neil Young is known as one of the greatest songwriters and most influential musicians of his time. Before being one of the most successful solo acts out there, Neil was a co-founder of Buffalo Springfield and a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Between being inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, receiving countless awards, and releasing over 30 successful albums, Neil's talent and impression on the music world is undeniable.

Some of Neil Young's best works include Heart Of Gold, Rockin' In The Free World, and Needle And The Damage Done.

02. The Band

Always being the backup band for various artists like Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, the group decided to adopt the name The Band officially. This group, from Toronto, Ontario, has been known to be an influence to numerous acts, inspiring artists such as Eric Clapton, The Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The Band have truly helped define the musical world with their unique blend of old country and rock and roll.

Up On Cripple Creek, It Makes No Difference, and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down are all some of The Band's greatest works.

01. Justin Beiber

With a completely original and amaz Ahaha, just kidding.

01. Rush

This hard rock / progressive rock trio who's origin lies in Toronto, Ontario consists of bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart. Rush have proved themselves some of the world's best with their amazing musicianship and the unique style that they are renowned for. The band is still writing material and touring, and I can honestly say that the concert I went to was probably the best of my life. The guys have inspired countless bands in all sorts of genres, and in my opinion have proven themselves to be the best band to ever come out of Canada.

It was hard to narrow it down to three songs, but I would suggest listening to 2112, Spirit Of The Radio and YYZ.

Honourable mention goes to: The Guess Who, Burton Cummings, Loverboy, The Tragically Hip, Steppenwolf, Trooper, Protest The Hero, Today I Caught The Plague, Maynard Ferguson, Annihilator, and more.

Dishounourable mention goes to: Nickelback.

If you've got anything to say or a band that YOU think should have made the list, just leave a comment, eh?

By Ryan B.

801 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    barden1069
    camhussynec wrote: ARCADE FIRE ?!?! BLOC PARTY ?!?! TOKYO POLICE CLUB?!?! WTF!!!!
    lol wut...
    engineno9
    I can't believe so many people wonder about Billy Talent or alexisonfire... I wouldn't be caught dead blaring ther music in my truck. The only people around these parts that are fans of them are under age high school kids who don't know any better lol. Maybe it's different south of the border. Anyways, right on whoever said The Smalls. Corb Lund is the shit, and should be on any country lovers playlist.
    Eirien
    What, no Alanis Morissett?!?! No Celine Dion?!?!? No Nickelback?!?!? This is an outrage, it's a ****ing joke that you can miss 3 such legendary legends off the list. Only joking. I know how much they drag Canadia's reputation down in the musical world. But then again I could name loads more crap from over here in the UK. That's a pretty decent list. I've not heard of a lot of those bands but thanks for bringing them to my attention. I'm gonna have to listen to some more of The Tragically Hip, April Wine and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Kinda disapointed to see no mention of Devin Townsend up there, he's an incredible artist and has been involved in some great projects. Good to see Rush at number 1 though; how could it be any other way?
    StewieSwan
    Protest the Hero belongs on this list. They were just kids when they went international
    Dohidesu
    I guess I can understand Rush, simply because of how popular they are. But if there really is anything that needs to be said about Canada, it's Crystal Castles. Though they hav'nt been around long enough to have influenced much yet, I feel like they're a real Velvet Underground. They're pushing the envelope far further than I've seen any band in my lifetime. Though, initially, they failed to garner much attention in their homeland, the plucky Brits were quick to pick them up. Since then they have done nothing but amaze me more and more with everything they do. Agree or disagree, in the next decade or so I'd bet your gonna hear a lot of promising artists start referencing CC as influences.
    priestfan76
    Yoyo Of Death wrote: NO SIMPLE PLAN?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!??!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!?! thei ar like th gratest band ever! this lisy is rettrded cos its for 50 yr old retards who only know bands that noone else nows plus oscar peterson doesnt even play guitar so why is he on the list?????
    You need to get off of this site my friend. Simple Plan deserves to be nowhere near Geddy Lee ever.
    TsarBomba
    metalfanatic1 wrote: WTF! Dishonorable mention to Nickelback? When are people gonna realize that a band can RULE even if they have radio friendly songs!? Other than that tragick piece of thext and the lack of Billy Talent and Alanis Morrisette, great list.
    When are people like you going to realize that not liking certain bands =/= hating mainstream music. Alice In Chains, Rush, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus..I could keep going on. You can write radio friendly songs and still try to push some boundaries or try something new. Nickelback has none of those qualities, and that's why people hate them. Catchy music and interesting music aren't mutually exclusive.
    seemeel
    I'd swap Neil Young and The Band, but Rush is definitely Number 1, by quite a margin. The other 7 are all okay.
    Mr Pringle
    The creepshow and the flatliners are awesome canadian punk bands and should be noted for being able to make a living from the music they make, but i can respect this list.
    priestfan76
    Propagandhi needs to be there, easily one of the best Punk/ Metal bands to ever exist, and all of their lyrics are amazing.
    the_jackyl
    Any list of Canadian musicians is illegitimate if it does not include Voivod, NoMeansNo, and Devin Townsend.
    rokr258
    Eifler121 wrote: Matt Chavie wrote: WTB Protest the Hero. Who are half of these bands?! You should at least know 7 of these bands. Oscar Peterson, The Tragically Hip, and April Wine I have never heard of, but the rest are pretty famous.
    so the bands you know are the standard by which we determine what everyone else should know? *****.
    rokr258
    what about SECRET AND WHISPER?? those guys know how to write songs. their album great white whale is a ****ing masterpiece
    Eifler121
    Eirien wrote: What, no Alanis Morissett?!?! No Celine Dion?!?!? No Nickelback?!?!? This is an outrage, it's a ****ing joke that you can miss 3 such legendary legends off the list. Only joking. I know how much they drag Canadia's reputation down in the musical world. But then again I could name loads more crap from over here in the UK. That's a pretty decent list. I've not heard of a lot of those bands but thanks for bringing them to my attention. I'm gonna have to listen to some more of The Tragically Hip, April Wine and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Kinda disapointed to see no mention of Devin Townsend up there, he's an incredible artist and has been involved in some great projects. Good to see Rush at number 1 though; how could it be any other way?
    What's wrong with Alanis Morisette? I think The Guess Who definitely needs to be on that list, at least over Triumph or Anvil. Magic Power is the only song I personally like by Triumph, and Anvil wouldn't be anything without that stupid movie. American Woman, These Eyes, and No Sugar/New Mother Nature are three pretty huge songs, 3 is greater than 1 and 0. The Guess Who should be on there.
    12unknown12
    Lil Bassist wrote: Where the hell is Three Days Grace?!
    Still writing about pain since they are not, nor will ever be on this list.
    Bansaw
    daniel coogan wrote: billy talent, alexisonfire?!
    theyre good, but not as good as these bands tho
    The\m/
    I'm Reeaaallllyyy getting tired of seeing "canadian band" lists and NEVER seeing Annihilator on it. I mean srsly this band has been our answer to megadeth and metallica and they have produced great rock and metal music for like 20 years. Rush serioulsy needs to stop being at the top of the list all the time. I know it's just my opinion but seriously Rush is not even good. I can't stand to listen to even one Rush song.
    Eifler121
    PTASC3 wrote: Seriously why the hell is Protest the Hero not on this. You could also add The Holly Springs Disaster(awesome southern metalcore). All these lists are decided upon just by how big the band is. Can we just for once pay attention to the musicianship of the artist and then make a list. Honestly though im surprised they found 10 Canadian bands worth mentioning. and anyone that said The Sword should be on there, just kill yourself now, maybe then they won't release another record where every song is the same thing.
    Based on principal alone, anything that is called southern metalcore cannot be good, setting aside the fact that a Canadian band is just about as northern as possible, so your opinion doesn't count. Adding on; every genre I've ever heard with core at the end of it has sucked, with every song in that genre sounding the same; most core genre names being inter-changeable.
    rocker222
    daniel coogan wrote: billy talent, alexisonfire?!
    +1 i dont think thats they type of bands hes looking for
    Dempsey68
    UG getting desperate... top 10 canadian bands, not american or british... canadian...