Recommended Music

China Asked for a Playlist of Canadian Music. Here’s What I Gave Them.

A weird thing is happening in China. After decades of refusing to pay for things like CDs (not to mention aiding and abetting rampant copyright infringement by supporting the biggest counterfeit and bootleg market in the world), the country’s music fans seem to be willing to pay for streaming. The ability to conveniently access millions of songs on demand is stomping out piracy in a country known for ripoffs.

Eric de Fontenay runs a project called Canadian Sounds in China which maintains some playlists on a couple of streaming sites. (Here’s an example of the kind of stuff they post.) He asked me to put together a collection of Canadian music for sites like Netease Music and QQMusic.

Easy, I thought. But once I started, I realized how difficult this task was. How do you sum of the musical personality of an entire country in just 40 songs? And how deep should I go? I mean, we gotta consider the audience and their knowledge of us, right? Even after spending a couple of hours on this thing, I still wasn’t sure whether I got it correct.

Turns out it was pretty popular. On Netease, it ended up with 1,800 followers and 250,000 plays. Nice to see Canadian music traveling well, innit?

Here’s my full list:

Here’s my list:


  1. Neil Young, Old Man
  2. Rush, Tom Sawyer
  3. Guess Who, American Woman
  4. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Takin’ Care of Business
  5. Bryan Adams, Summer of 69
  6. Shania Twain, Man! I Feel Like a Woman
  7. Tom Cochrane, Life is a Highway
  8. Nickeback, Photograph
  9. Robbie Robertson, Somewhere Down the Crazy River
  10. Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind
  11. Joni Mitchell, Free Man in Paris
  12. Teenage Head, Let’s Shake
  13. Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah
  14. Kd lang, Constant Craving
  15. Ian and Sylvia, Four Song Winds

Indie Artists:

  1. Broken Social Scene, 7/4 (Shoreline)
  2. Cowboy Junkies, Misguided Angel
  3. City and Colour, The Girl
  4. Feist, 1234
  5. Metric, Breathing Underwater
  6. A Tribe Called Red, Electric Pow Wow Drum
  7. Dan Mangan
  8. Arcade Fire, Reflektor
  9. Karkwa, Marie tu pleures
  10. Japandroids, House That Heaven Built

And the rest…

  1. Tragically Hip, 50 Mission Cap
  2. Sam Roberts, We’re All in This Together
  3. Spirit of the West, Home for a Rest
  4. The Weeknd, Can’t Feel My Face
  5. Justin Bieber, Sorry
  6. Drake,
  7. Carly Rae Jepson, Call Me Maybe
  8. Drake, Hotline Bling
  9. Celine Dion, My Heart Will Go On
  10. Sarah McLachlan, Into the Fire

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38403 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

8 thoughts on “China Asked for a Playlist of Canadian Music. Here’s What I Gave Them.

  • If making a Canadian playlist, there’s some additional required entries:

    1.) New Orleans Is Sinking (Killer Whale Tank Live Mix) – The Tragically Hip
    2.) The Hockey Song – Stompin Tom Connors
    3.) If I Had A Million Dollars – Bare Naked Ladies
    4.) Possession – Sarah McLachlan
    5.) Shades Of Gray – Amanda Marshall
    6.) Love Is – Alana Miles
    7.) Temptation – The Tea Party
    8.) Wash Your Face In My Sink – Dream Warriors
    9.) Naveed – Our Lady Peace
    10.) Try – Blue Rodeo
    11.) Underwhelmed – Sloan
    12.) Fat Lip – Sum 41
    13.) Smile And Wave – Headstones

    • Underwhelmed is a terrible English lesson!

  • Which Dan Mangan track… and really? 2 Drake songs? C’mon Alan, you can do better than that. 😉

    • Again, I only had 40 songs to describe the history of Canadian musical to a non-English speaking nation of 1.4 billion. You have to take the audience into consideration. One way is to focus on the artists who have given Canada global recognition. Take credit for our best and brightest, you know?

  • Out On A Limb – Eye Eye
    The Perfectionist – Saga
    We Can Walk – Plasterscene Replicas
    Hangin High & Dry – Brighton Rock
    Stand Tall – Killer Dwarfs
    One O Clock Tomorrow – FM
    Masterstroke – Bootsauce

    • House Of Love – Barney Bentall
      Spaceship Superstar – Prism
      Country Road – Maynard Ferguson
      A Funny Place – Mitsou
      Flesh Under Skin – National Velvet
      Happy Now I Know – Breeding Ground
      Innocence – Harlequin
      Moments Like This – Aerial

  • I’d love to see a Patrick Watson tune on that list. Take a pick, any pick!



Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.