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Top 10 Canadian Musical Artists

VO: Matt Campbell
Script Written by George Cimurt. In addition to exporting crude oil and maple syrup, the second-biggest country in the world has done its fair share of exporting some fantastic musical talent. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 Canadian musical artists. For this list, we’re taking a look at the best-loved and most-admired musical artists from Canada based on influence, global success and iconic status to Canadians. Special thanks to our users Jason Alberty, beatle11, AllezKingShawn888, Derek Johnson, anothernotice, thenextguy, 25billionaire, mac121mr0, rocelot7, CatcherInTheRyan, kaptnkidd4444@gmail. and Mark2112 for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Canadian Musical Artists

In addition to exporting crude oil and maple syrup, the second-biggest country in the world has done its fair share of exporting some fantastic musical talent. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Canadian musical artists.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the best-loved and most-admired musical artists from Canada based on influence, global success and iconic status to Canadians. We will not however be basing the list on commercial success, so the much loved Nickelback and Justin Bieber will not be appearing.

#10: Arcade Fire

In 2001, schoolmates Win Butler and Josh Deu decided to form a band in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and three years later, they came to the world’s attention with their commercially and critically successful debut albumFuneral. Their combination of indie rock, pop, and dance was a winning combination for most, and their 2010 album The Suburbs only heightened their fame, winning a Juno, Brit, and Grammy award. With band members skilled in instruments ranging from guitars to accordions to mandolins, and live shows that will never fail to blow your socks off, it’s no wonder why this Canadian indie rock band became a worldwide phenomenon.

#9: The Tragically Hip

Established in the early 1980’s in Kingston, Ontario, this band went from landing tiny gigs to getting discovered by the major American media company MCA. Before long, they were spouting out albums and singles, many of which became go-to hits for rock stations throughout the country. The band has seen some success outside of Canada as well, performing on SNL in 1995, performing for Queen Elizabeth in 2002, and even opening up for rock legends The Who on several US dates. However, they are known as legends in their own right in Canada, with 14 Juno Awards and nine number 1 albums.

#8: The Band

You know you’re good when Bob Dylan is wanting to work with you! Initially calling themselves Levon and the Hawks and later Canadian Squires, this group out of Toronto rose to stardom with their roots rock sound and were later immortalized after being filmed by Martin Scorsese in the legendary rockumentary “The Last Waltz”. Their contribution to music has been recognized by Rolling Stone magazine, The Canadian Musical Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their debut single “The Weight” has been called one of the greatest songs of all time.

#7: Shania Twain

While singers like k.d. lang pioneered Canadian country, it’s Twain that brought the country scene out of Canada. Raised in Timmins, Ontario in a poor household with a difficult family environment, Twain started singing in bars and pubs to help raise additional income. It wasn’t long before her powerful voice and range was noticed, and her album Come On Over introduced her on an international scale. Today, she is called “The Queen of Country Pop” and is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with numerous awards and 3 albums certified Diamond in a row.

#6: Joni Mitchell

With poetic lyrics and a musical style that embraces pop, jazz, rock, R&b, folk, and everything in between, Mitchell has been called the most important female artists and greatest songwriters of the 20th century. Getting her start in nightclubs and on the streets from Western Canada to Toronto, she began to tour in 1965 and her popularity snowballed. Although highly critical of the music industry, she has influenced and inspired countless musicians, and her 1971 album Blue has been called the 30th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone.

#5: Bryan Adams

Born in Kingston, Ontario, the boy who worked as a dishwasher to save money for a guitar rose to international stardom with his 1984 album Reckless, and only a few years later released one of the all-time best-selling singles “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. Also a social activist and a photographer, this multi-talented singer with the instantly-recognizable husky voice has been nominated for 56 Juno awards and has won dozens of others, including Oscars, Grammys, and many more.

#4: Leonard Cohen

Born in 1934 and active in around 6 decades to date, this accomplished writer, musician, and singer from Montreal, Quebec has collaborated with countless well-known musical artists and has been called one of the most fascinating and enigmatic singer/songwriters from the 1960s. Experimenting with different sounds and themes throughout his long career, his most notable and popular effort was in his 1988 album I’m Your Man, although one of his most well-known songs is the often covered “Hallelujah” from 1984. Unbelievably, his critically-acclaimed 13th album was released in 2014 after his 80th birthday.

#3: Celine Dion

Originating from Charlemagne, Quebec, the supremely talented Dion first came to fame in the 1980’s after claiming victory in Yamaha and Eurovision song contests, and it was her 1990’s English-speaking album Unisonthat brought her to North America’s attention, after she went from singing in French to English. But why stop there? One of the world’s best-selling musicians, she has also been known to sing in everything from German to Latin to Mandarin Chinese, and her vocals have graced big-budget films, like her smash single “My Heart Will Go On”, which appeared in 1997’s Titanic.

#2: Rush

It all started in August of 1968 in Toronto, Ontario. It was then that Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and John Rutsey, later replaced by Neil Peart, formed the rock band that has become the recipient of numerous awards and has been inducted into both the Canadian Music and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. Presented with 24 gold, 14 platinum, and 3 multi-platinum albums, Rush has experimented with numerous multiple styles, including reggae, hard rock, and new wave. Despite being only a trio, these Canadian rockers have an explosive sound that has remained relevant for over 4 decades, and have become a symbol of Canadian culture.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions:


Oscar Peterson

Barenaked Ladies

The Guess Who

Gordon Lightfoot

Alanis Morisette

#1: Neil Young

The uncompromisingly eclectic and experimental Young, born in Toronto, first gained recognition as a member of the band Buffalo Springfield. After a few years, he decided to embark on a solo career, releasing his first album in 1968, which proved to be the first of 35 studio albums. Called one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers, he has done everything from acoustic to electric, grunge to swing, and his intimate lyrics and unique voice captured several generations and has landed him a permanent home in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Do you agree with our list? Which Canadian musical artists do you think should’ve made our list? For more entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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