Let’s pour out a cold tall glass of maple syrup for all the Canadian bands that at one point were poised to be superstars, but have since faded from our collective skies. Here’s a pretty thorough list of one-time hitmakers from this great country.
They’re not actually “forgotten”. In fact most of these bands are still household names, but strictly in a nostalgic sense. They had solid careers and didn’t vanish so much as they grew irrelevant and broke up or went on indefinite hiatuses.
Wha Happened?: A Chad Kroeger approved Nickelclone, they scored a few big radio hits when “active rock” was still a thing. They had another hit in “Taking my Life Away”, but then were relegated to strictly hard rock charts as that scene took a back seat to indie alt. Lead singer Dallas Smith is a country singer now. Fellow Kroeger lumps Theory of a Deadman are still going and surprisingly popular.
Wha Happened?: There just wasn’t enough setting Furtado apart from all the other starlets vying for the spotlight, even with her complete reinvention. She tried to make yet another comeback with the song “Hoops” a few years back to no luck. She probably still has a lot of money.
The Big Songs: “Strange Disease”, “Sucks to Be You”
The Big Years: 1999-2000
Wha Happened?: Canada’s Gorillaz?? No, not quite as artisan. More like Canada’s Jem & The Holograms. They were all the rage for a year and a bit, then went away, then came back super serious and majorly depressed in 2006, then went away again. The two guys are still in the music industry, and recently did a reunion show.
Wha Happened?: Jumped around from genre to genre, scored big in 2001, then sporadically appeared a few times in the 2000s. I think the last I heard of her was around 2011. Not sure if she still does music.
Wha Happened?: Edwin left I Mother Earth and did a few slightly less angry albums, sometimes going as “Edwin & The Pressure”. He also bartended in Toronto for a while. Not sure which career he is focusing on at the moment.
Wha Happened?: They are still around, surprisingly, given lead singer Care Failure’s antics. They’ve honed their sound to be a little more electronic but can still be played in tattoo and leather shops around town.
The Big Songs: “You Don’t Know What It’s Like”, “All That You Are”
The Big Years: 1997- 2001
Wha Happened?: After a slew of smaller radio singles, they broke through with their two big hits listed above. Then they went quiet around 2002. Lead singer Trevor Hurst released a solo album, the band re-appeared in 2008 with a new album, then quiet again.
The Big Songs: “When the Night Hears My Song”, “Walls Fall Down”
The Big Years: 2005, 2008
Wha Happened?: ??? It’s a mystery. They had regular airplay, a stable of singles, and then singer Jay Malinowski did some solo stuff and the band abruptly stopped after 2010. It’s a shame because they were the right fit for today’s scene and could have done some interesting work if they’d branched out their sound.
The Sound: Sadcore alternative feat. guest singers
The Big Songs: “The Grace”
The Big Years: 2006
Wha Happened?: Main guy Daniel Victor is incredibly lazy and just sits around complaining on Twitter all the time. He also kind of lost the plot on the most recent record in 2011, with like 2 guest singers for the whole record. Dude, the entire conceit of your project was to have a different well-known singer on each track.
The Sound: Alterna-punk The Big Songs: “Settle”, “Cubically Contained” The Big Years: Late 90’s – 2002 Wha Happened?: Probably doing reunion shows here and there. Lead singer Hugh Dillon is also an actor as seen on Blue Flashlight or whatever the Canadian cop show was called.
These bands are really a product of their time. They had big hits, maybe even two or three from their big album. They may have even had follow-up hits from an album a few years later, but those were usually forgettable efforts only played on the radio as contractually obligated CANCON filler. Some of them are actually still active, but far from the public eye.
Wha Happened?: To be fair, people who knew about these guys have probably not forgotten them and their aggressively boring songs. If you were to convert boredom into an audible sound, it would be this guy’s voice. Fortunately they were relegated to one-hit wonder status and Barenaked Ladies took up the mantle of quirky alternative Canadian band.
Wha Happened?: They had to change their name, the albums got progressively more and more boring and now lead singer Todd Clark is getting royalties from writing the song in the Good Life Fitness commercials.
Wha Happened?: Joel Plaskett is a name that every Canadian has heard. He has played everywhere and has been around since Confederation. He is known by all and yet……what is he known for? I know he plays Canada Day concerts every year but I don’t know any of his songs or what he looks like. I just know that I am supposed to know who he is.
Wha Happened?: Technically she’s still a household name in indie households (apartments in Kensington or The Annex) but iPod commercials (and iPods) are a thing of the past and her drab 2012 album didn’t retain any followers gained from the 2007 hit single.
The Big Songs: “Bye Bye Boyfriend”, “Take Me Away”
The Big Years: 2003
Wha Happened?: Didn’t really build a big enough fanbase in the rock world, faded out for a while before re-emerging as a popstar. Now is available for any events MuchMusic needs talent for. “Oh shoot do we have anyone for New Year’s Eve?” “Just call FeFe and Shawn Desman!”
These artists are perhaps the best representatives of what this list is all about. They were legitimately big solely in one year, hyped by media outlets as the “next big thing”. They had one big album, and usually just one big song- but it was a song that everyone knew. They were ready to take on the world…and then they didn’t. They’re still remembered, but not by many. Until you play that one big song of theirs, and then everyone’s like “OH THOSE GUYS”.
Wha Happened?: Honestly, it was surprising that they gained any traction at all. They arrived a year after nu metal was dead and buried and yet had a pretty big radio hit. There was another album in 2007, then the singer left the group and side projects ensued.
Wha Happened?: Canada’s Silverchair, the young prodigies had a few more minor hits after “Mistake” but the rock star life was not for them. The lead singer, whom everyone seemed to know at one point in their life, is now working as a technician for Bell.
The Sound: generic-way-past-due-date alternative rock
The Big Songs: “All We Want”
The Big Years: 2009
Wha Happened?: What happened was they didn’t show up to an interview I was doing with them so I don’t care what they did after 2009.
These artists didn’t really make it. They were about to! They were on the cusp of success, and it eluded them just by a little bit. They may have charted on regional charts, but for various reasons they missed out on the bigger scene and are now just footnotes in Canadian music history.
Wha Happened?: A big fuss was made over the fact that they were signed to 604 records but DID NOT sound like Nickelback. It was basically their elevator pitch. But then they just didn’t make any more music so…ok?
Wha Happened?: They were supposed to be the next big thing, everyone was going nuts for them!! Then they released like ten horrible albums in a row. Not even kidding. But they are still together, making music for CBC Channel 8.
Wha Happened?: Unfortunately the demand for Insane Clown Posse style groups isn’t as strong here in Canada so this menacing, spooky rap group didn’t last very long. A side project called Dead Celebrity Status didn’t do well either. Shoulda slapped on the face paint and moved south.
Wha Happened?: Too late for the 80’s, too early for the 80’s revival, Robin Black and pals wanted to be famous really really bad but it just didn’t work out. He’s an MMA commentator now though, so good for him.
Wha Happened?: JJ kept doing cover songs on Instagram instead of working on new music.
These guys aren’t even footnotes. They’re blips. For some, that’s a pity, as they could have been great. For others, it’s a bullet we dodged collectively. Whatever their talent level, these bands are legitimately forgotten by nearly everyone in the world, including the bands themselves.
Wha Happened?: Andrew Franks managed to game the system and had his rich parents bankroll his reckless whining on iTunes, causing him to enter the top 10 songs chart. Then real people actually heard the music and abandoned him quickly. Now plays in a less-sad band called The Ashley Hundred.
Wha Happened?: Finding their material on the internet was hard enough, as they are incredibly obscure. I have no idea what happened to them but I can only assume they didn’t make it through the great rap-rock extinction event of 2004.
Wha Happened?: I’ll tell you what happened. They were pimped mercilessly on the radio by DJ Barry Taylor for months and failed to catch on because people just. didn’t. like. them. Fortunately we never had to hear them after that.