Now that 2023 has come to a close and the year-end charts have been digested, it’s time to look ahead. 2024 is already looking to be a big year for music in Canada.
Upcoming Canadian album releases include a double album from long-running pop-punk band Sum 41, a new album from long-running rock band Mother Mother that follows the huge TikTok resurgence of their older song “Hayloft,” plus new ones from well-established bands like The Strumbellas, Chromeo, off-kilter pop artist Allie X, country singer Corb Lund and more. There are also plenty of albums from up-and-coming artists to keep an eye on.
Promising B.C. rapper Boslen’s Conversations Over Dinner project is tentatively scheduled for March. Singer/poet Mustafa announced his debut album is coming this year. Montreal rapper Lou Phelps announced his forthcoming album Chélbé, executive-produced by Kaytranada. Speaking of that in-demand Montreal producer, he closed out 2023 with a pair of new solo songs following his collaborative album as Kaytraminé, which seem to signify something new on the horizon.
Indigenous hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids could have a big breakout year coming. They signed to Sony Music Canada last year and announced their major label debut will come out this summer. And after appearing on Billboard Canada’s Punjabi Wave cover, Jonita Gandhi has her first EP on 91 North Records set to release in February.
Some major tours are hitting Canada in 2024 as well.
Diljit Dosanjh is set to play the biggest Punjabi concert outside of India at Vancouver’s BC Place in April. That Vancouver venue is surprisingly the only Canadian host for the Rolling Stones’ Hackney Diamonds tour. And aside from the six dates at Toronto’s stadium Rogers Centre, Vancouver will get the only Canadian dates on Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour.
Pop-punk has reached its stadium era. Veterans Blink-182 and Green Day will both play Toronto’s Rogers Centre (home of the Blue Jays) this summer. Green Day is also joining SZA and Noah Kahan as headliners for Montreal’s biggest music festival Osheaga.
Two Canadian Cities Establish Music Strategies
Canadian cities are getting strategic when it comes to promoting and supporting their music scenes.
Following the lead of its neighbour Toronto, Kingston, Ontario is moving forward with a music strategy and establishing an official music office. The Kingston city council approved $200,000 in funding from the capital budget in a meeting just before Christmas. The funding will establish the music office and support music programming in the city for the year. The city will also hire and appoint a music officer in charge of the office.
“The strategy hopes to improve living and working conditions for musicians and industry workers while also better leveraging Kingston’s existing music scene as a piece of the city’s tourism tapestry,” reports Yahoo’s Local Journalism Initiative.
Kingston is the 12th most populous city in Ontario but has a notable music history. It’s home to Queen’s University, which has made it a popular location for student bars and student bands. It’s also famously the city that spawned The Tragically Hip, one of Canada’s most beloved bands. Establishing a music strategy codifies music as a major identity for the city and helps it market its music scene while supporting the artists and infrastructure of those who play there.
Vancouver also has a music strategy and has just appointed a music task force to help the city implement it.
A press release explains that the task force will help the City “celebrate the sound of Vancouver and the music of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.” It will also aim to attract and retain artists, businesses, tourism and events that strengthen the local economy.
The city aims to build a music sector that thrives year-round. – Richard Trapunski & Kerry Doole
Rising TikTok Star Alexander Stewart Makes His Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Debut
Canadian singer-songwriter Alexander Stewart is starting 2024 off with a bang, making his debut on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 with the explosive “i wish you cheated,” off of his new EP, if you only knew. The lovelorn single arrives on the Jan. 6 chart at No. 100 after gathering steam since Stewart’s October performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Starting off with mournful piano and Stewart’s voice, the song has a strong premise: Stewart wishes his ex had cheated on him so that he could have clarity and a simple justification for feeling angry and upset. The piano cuts out at the end of the chorus as Stewart asks: “how do I move on / when you did nothing wrong?” Then, Stewart ramps up the energy with backup vocals, dropouts and a theatricality that calls to mind Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license.”
The Toronto-born musician is now based in L.A. and has built up an impressive online fanbase, with six million followers on TikTok and 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube. He released if you only knew with entertainment company FAE, and according to a press release the initial TikTok campaign for “i wish you cheated” amassed more than 43 million views. Stewart was the second-most popular artist on TikTok in Canada in 2023, behind Lauren Spencer Smith, who charted on the Billboard Hot 100 last year with “Last Christmas.”
This is Stewart’s first time on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100, and he could be poised to climb higher if he can gather momentum as holiday music drops off the charts in the coming weeks. The top 10 of this week’s Billboard Canadian Hot 100 are all holiday songs. – Rosie Long Decter