The 10 Best Canadian Songs of the Month: November 2020

Aside from one of the country's greatest artists being snubbed by the Grammys, it was a big month for Canadian music.

best canadian songs of the month justin bieber shawn mendes savanna re haviah mighty jimmy prime
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best canadian songs of the month justin bieber shawn mendes savanna re haviah mighty jimmy prime

The Grammy nominations came out this week and though there is some very impressive Canadian representation in the big categories of the night, there was one glaring absence: despite releasing what some have called his best work to date, The Weeknd did not receive any nominations for his '80s-influenced opus, After Hours. Since then, both The Weeknd and the chief of the Recording Academy have responded.

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” the Scarborough native tweeted after nominations were revealed. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.” Sure, there might be an element of hubris to leading outcry against your own nominations but in this case, we say it’s justified, especially considering that he had been invited to perform (weird!). In response to that, Grammy chief Harvey Mason Jr. pointed out that the Grammy nominations are determined by his peers. “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists,” he wrote. 

Seeing extremely successful artists vie for validation from institutions like the Grammys can be confusing, especially considering how often the awards miss the mark. If an album was a critical and commercial success, what more do you need? But still it’s important to understand the context for Black artists like The Weeknd, and how nominations and wins can be clear reflections of how the industry values their art. It’s a loaded conversation that we aren’t even scratching the surface of, but it’s important to note. 

Snubs aside, Canadians fared quite well in the big categories. Producer Frank Dukes was nominated for his work with Post Malone, JP Saxe snagged a Best Song nomination for his TikTok hit with real-life girlfriend Julia Michaels, Kaytranada has three nominations for his work on Bubba, including Best New Artist, and Justin Bieber got four nominations in the pop and country categories, much to his own chagrin

In addition to the Grammy nominations, this was a great month for Canadian artists, who scored the beginning to the second lockdown and the end of the year with moody and transparent tracks. Here are this month’s standouts. 

Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber, "Monster"

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Both Bieber and Mendes have graduated from teen heartthrob fame into young adult heartthrob fame. On "Monster," co-written by fellow Canadians Mustafa and Daniel Caesar, they trade verses about their relationship to perfection, and how detrimental the pressure of stardom has become. In Shawn Mendes’ new Netflix documentary Wonder, he spoke at length about his affinity for perfection and his inability to maintain it. He expounds on this in "Monster," alongside Justin Bieber, who has been in a more introspective mood since releasing "Lonely" earlier this fall. —Sumiko Wilson

DijahSB f/ Clairmont The Second, "That's Alright!"

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DijahSB enlists the help of Clairmont The Second for their Girls Give Me Anxiety standout. Achieving a percussion-driven synthesis isn’t easy, but “That’s Alright!” finds two of Toronto’s finest linking up for a fantastic combo of verses. Overtop thumping production, we find DijahSB spitting game at great cost, whereas Clairmont doubles down, rapping about the misgivings of dating. The moral of the story? Love is shaky and romantic pursuits aren’t always requited. —JJ Bottineau

Lou Phelps, "New Friends"

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Who doesn’t love a brotherly collab? For "New Friends," Montreal rapper Lou Phelps tapped his brother, the now-Grammy nominated Kaytranada, for production. Since 2018’s "Come Inside," the siblings’ innate artist-producer chemistry has been clear. Their synergistic sound still lands as Kaytranada briefly departs from his signature electronic sound, opting for a more soulful, plucked beat to underscore Phelps’ pensive track about fizzled relationships. —Sumiko Wilson

Savannah Ré, "Opia"

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Savannah Ré’s solo success has been simmering for years and with the release of her debut EP, it has finally come to a boil. The stunning debut is brief, but impactful. Her vocals are superb and the production is timely without sounding too trendy. But the most striking aspect of her album is the transparency of Ré’s lyricism. This reaches its height on the album’s penultimate and titular track, Opia. Over tender and warm string-led instrumentals, Ré confronts the possibility of rejection in love and admits her true fear: vulnerability. —Sumiko Wilson

Jimmy Prime, "Trust Nobody"

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Whenever Shiloh Dynasty is sampled, you know it’s about to get super real. Too real. Jimmy Prime proves my point, rapping poignantly on “Trust Nobody” with auto-tuned vocals slurring just enough to stir up feelings of regret and introspection. Potentially off his upcoming Blue Mercedes project, Jimbo From The You Know claims it’s “gonna be a classic.” —JJ Bottineau

Haviah Mighty, "Atlantic"

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Since her time as a member of rap supergroup The Sorority, Haviah Mighty has cemented herself as a Toronto rap standout. On her first solo release since her Polaris Prize win last year, the emcee puts her signature spitfire flow on full display over a beat that she produced herself, with the help of Mighty Prynce. "Atlantic" is a meditation on the binding, sometimes unhealthy influence of wealth and greed, likening money to rope strings. She seamlessly switches between breathless raps and a smooth, sung portion for adlibs and the bridge, showing us what we’ve been missing all year and amping her audience up for what’s to come from her. —Sumiko Wilson


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Sonically, Ashton Mills has found his niche. With anthemic arrangements layered with resounding vocals, songs like “BELLADONNA/WATERBOY” routinely captivate from this Toronto-based talent. Off his recent debut, You Watched Me Lose My Mind, Mills’ music is flawlessly texturized as lyrics of adoration ring out for whoever may choose to listen. —JJ Bottineau

DillanPonders f/ Allan Rayman, "Disturbia"

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If "Disturbia" is any indication of what’s to come on DillanPonders’ next album BECAUSE WE'RE ALIVE, then we’re excited. Dillan’s husky baritone provides perfect contrast to the levity of elusive Toronto artist Allan Rayman’s falsetto, as they go back and forth about the insufferable and suffocating cons of clout culture. —Sumiko Wilson

Mike Shabb, "Americano"

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Back in July, Mike Shabb released his fourth album Life Is Short, an excellent nine-track outing full of atmospheric hits self-described as “drill-wave.” Since then, the rapper has continued to show off his versatility with songs like “Americano”—a hard-hitting street expedient influenced by New York rap. Ironically, though, Shabb’s from Montreal, where he stays impressing listeners track after track. With his seemingly limitless array of styles, lines like “I focus on this paper like I’m poppin’ Adderalls” and “All the light-skinned rappers with dreads are my sons” kind of sound like facts. —JJ Bottineau

Yuki Dreams Again, "Too Fast"

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Yuki Dreams Again’s “Too Fast” is an audio-visual delight. Focusing on his sense of self, the Montreal artist balances dance-driven electronica with ample R&B leanings in this upbeat kaleidoscopic groove. The song's refrain verbalizes the do-or-die sentimentality of Yuki’s motivations, while the video—directed by Guillaume Landry—personifies his spirited focus effortlessly, culminating in a liberating rave in the end. —JJ Bottineau

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