The 10 Best Canadian Songs of the Month: October 2020

From The Weeknd to MorMor to Charmaine, here were this month's highlights from Canadian artists.

the weeknd charmaine bieber jneat jazz cartier
Complex Original

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the weeknd charmaine bieber jneat jazz cartier

At this point, it’s industry folklore that some of the most iconic albums of our time were created in isolation. Justin Vernon wrote and recorded Bon Iver’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago at his father’s remote hunting cabin in Wisconsin while battling mono, a liver infection, and depression. J Dilla created and recorded the beats for Donuts between dialysis and treatment for lupus and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura a.k.a. TTP, the rare blood disorder that contributed to his untimely death. In fact, 29 out of the record’s 31 tracks were recorded while he was in the hospital. 

With that said, while collaboration is a key element to creation, isolation can be a catalyst for creativity and originality. Seven months into quarantine, much of the music that is being released now was created during lockdown and is the result of isolation. Here are some of this month’s highlights from Canadian artists.

Emanuel, "Black Woman"

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In his first single since his impressive debut last summer, this month Emanuel released a timely tribute to Black women. The track opens with a Nikki Giovanni quote pulled from an iconic conversation with James Baldwin and continues into a ballad paying homage to resilience. —Sumiko Wilson

Charmaine, "Bold"

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Charmaine’s debut single is hard to ignore. The Zimbabwe-born rapper is new to Warner Music Canada’s roster and is making a bold impact with her maximalist aesthetic and ultra-confident flow. She teamed up with Toronto producers David Ariza and Juno winner Michael Lantz on a beat that will be in your head for a really long time, whether you like it or not. —Sumiko Wilson

J Neat, "Houligan Flow"

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In the best way possible, J Neat pays tribute to the late Houdini by showing out on “Houligan Flow.” As the name suggests, the Toronto artist is really rapping on this one. J Neat mixes braggadocious and introspective bars masterfully while speaking on a variety of topics. Nearly every line is a quotable. —JJ Bottineau

Oneohtrix Point Never and The Weeknd, "No Nightmares"

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The Weeknd and Oneohtrix Point Never are the perfect electronic fusion. Case in point: their track "No Nightmares," which closes the standalone "Midday Suite" on Oneohtrix Point Never’s new album Magic Oneohtrix Point Never, executive produced by The Weeknd. There is a cinematic element to the track, which is fitting considering that Oneohtrix was behind the scores for the Safdie brothers’ films Good Time and Uncut Gems. This isn’t the first time that they’ve worked together—Oneohtrix produced and wrote tracks on After Hours earlier this year—but it’s one of their best. Here’s hoping that the two continue with this creative partnership. —Sumiko Wilson

MorMor, "Don't Cry"

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When MorMor announced "Don’t Cry" on his Instagram, he said that writing the upbeat track was a way of finding comfort during the pandemic. “Working on this song brought me solace during these uncertain times and I hope that it serves you as well. We’re all in this together,” he wrote towards the end of the month. On "Don’t Cry," the genre-bending indie artist chooses optimism in the face of uncertainty. —Sumiko Wilson

Jazz Cartier, “Disclosure”

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Putting everyone on notice, Jazz Cartier returns with the release of “Disclosure.” It’s a booming reemergence that has Cartier rapping about his luxurious lifestyle while staying hush on his next move. Fortunately for us, Jazz called himself “4th Quarter Cartier” right before this song dropped—which means we might get something else before the year is out. —JJ Bottineau

Justin Nozuka and Mahalia, "No One But You"

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UK singer Mahalia blends flawlessly with Justin Nozuka’s signature airy acoustic sound on this ode to vulnerability. The duet is a departure from the folksy sound on Nozuka’s 2018 album Run To Waters, opting for a more R&B vibe. —Sumiko Wilson

Justin Bieber and Benny Blanco, “Lonely”

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Justin Bieber’s “Lonely” is a coming-of-age retrospective produced by the always-on-point Benny Blanco. It’s a poignant piano ballad honing in on Bieber’s pained relationship with fame and subsequent feelings of loneliness. The video stars fellow Canadian Jacob Tremblay as he portrays a young Bieber walking through the halls of his own alienation. —JJ Bottineau

Prado, "DRIP"

Earlier this month, Vancouver-based artist Prado released a two-track EP called STRIP, featuring the songs “STEPHEN” and “DRIP.” Not to be overshadowed by the former’s video, “DRIP” is an equal-footed energetic frenzy. Prado’s melodic boastfulness carries the track as she raps about all the things that make her stand out. —JJ Bottineau

TOBi f/ LOONY, “Silhouette”

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Interpolating “Get You” by Daniel Caesar, TOBi connects with LOONY on this standout track off his ELEMENTS Vol. 1 project. “Silhouette” finds the two artists playing with the physical, visual, and figurative ideas of a silhouette. As a motif, it works surprisingly well, as they take turns analyzing the intricacies of a relationship. —JJ Bottineau

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