Canada Listens 2021: Day 4 highlights
5 celebrity panelists debate the question: what one album does Canada need to hear?
It's our final day here at Canada Listens, CBC Music's great music debate hosted by Saroja Coelho.
Our panel of celebrity Canadians debated the lyrical impact of each of our remaining albums yesterday, in their quest to find the one album that Canada needs to hear.
Three albums have been eliminated. There are two titles left.
Only one can win. Which will it be?
Today we were down to the final two contenders: Illuminations by Buffy Sainte-Marie, championed by Carolyn Taylor, and Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 by Kardinal Offishall, championed by Kathleen Newman-Bremang. It was up to them to convince fellow panellists and free agents Andrew Phung, Alicia Elliott and Miguel Rivas that their album was the one Canada needs to hear.
Each of the remaining panellists were asked to pick some stand-out songs from their competing albums, so that the group could do some closer listening. Before playing "The Angel" from Illuminations, Taylor said, "For me personally, death has come into my life in the past couple of years with loved ones and I do think there's something so incredibly beautiful about Buffy as she channels the angel, who is basically telling you ... to release your pain, release your troubles, release your bonds, even, and the vows that you've taken, and fly away."
"Something that frustrates me about mainstream Euro-centric culture is that we don't really have ways to talk about death in ways that really allow you to feel grief," said Elliott, after listening to the track. "Songs like 'The Angel' are a form of catharsis that we need and those are the places where we look when the culture that we live in doesn't give us what we need. We look to songs like this to give us that emotional outlet. It's a beautiful song."
It was then Newman-Bremang's turn to queue up a track from her album pick and she chose "Ol' Time Killin'," explaining, "Every MC on this track is just murdering their flow. I've heard this song a million times and it just never gets old."
"It's just so Kardi," she added. "It is just so authentically himself. He's not trying to sound American. He's not trying to sound like anyone else. He's just Kardinal."
After hearing the song, Rivas weighed in, saying, "As a testament to Kathleen's argument over these four days, I'm really thinking of this album as a success story now. It's interesting trying to frame it in the idea of the album that Canada needs to hear, because the path that this album set out was followed, and what it laid out as a framework for other rappers and hip-hop artists to do, they did. They went and did it. Toronto artists have come to dominate the dominant genre that has taken over pop music."
After the panellists heard a couple more songs from each album, the remaining two album defenders were given a chance to make a final argument.
She's been creating music all this time, through being blacklisted, through everything. She just keeps tapping into the truth, tapping into the source.- Carolyn Taylor on Buffy Sainte-Marie
"I am so proud to be from the place that Kardinal Offishall calls home because we get to be the city and the country that he reps so hard, so brilliantly and so beautifully," said Newman-Bremang. "We've been talking about messages and music and how groundbreaking albums can be. This album is revolutionary because we wouldn't have so much of the music we have today, but I also don't think that I would be here."
Taylor closed her argument by praising Sainte-Marie as an artist. "This is the year she's turned 80 years old. She's been creating music all this time, through being blacklisted, through everything. She just keeps tapping into the truth, tapping into the source. This is an album you haven't heard. The critics said it was one of the top 100 albums that set the world on fire while no one was listening. Well, the world indeed is on fire right now and it is time for us to listen."
Thus ended the first ever Canada Listens debate.
The Canada Listens 2021 champions and their chosen albums are:
- Actor, improviser and comedian Andrew Phung of Kim's Convenience champions Joyful Rebellion by k-os.
- Award-winning writer and author Alicia Elliott champions The Con by Tegan and Sara
- Writer, podcaster and Refinery29 senior editor Kathleen Newman-Bremang champions Quest For Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1 by Kardinal Offishall.
- Comedian, actor and The Beaverton co-anchor Miguel Rivas champions Freudian by Daniel Caesar.
- Actor and comedian Carolyn Taylor of Baroness Von Sketch champions Illuminations by Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Here's how you can tune in to Canada Listens 2021:
Online: If you missed today's debate, you can stream it on demand at CBC Listen.