The top 100 Canadian songs of 2022

From mega-pop hits to hidden gems, these are the essential songs of the year.

From mega pop hits to hidden gems, these are the essential songs of the year

Photos of The Weeknd and Tate McRae overlayed on a red graphic background.
Toronto's the Weeknd and Calgary's Tate McRae released songs that were inescapable this year, and both made it to the top 10 of CBC Music's list of best songs of the year. (Getty Images, Facebook; graphic by CBC Music)

Narrowing down the year's songs to an essential 100 is no easy feat.

We are in a golden age of music, with so much opportunity to discover new artists who don't need to access the traditional channels to blow up anymore. Over the past two years, TikTok has become a juggernaut in catapulting artists like Lauren Spencer Smith into the limelight, while established names like the Weeknd, Drake, Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen are still going strong, giving us the candid R&B, hip hop and glitzy pop we've come to love from them.

From sing-along anthems to protest songs, saucy reggaeton to twangy alt-country — it's been a year of vast sonic multitudes. When determining what makes a song essential, we considered streaming numbers, radio play, artistic merit and cultural impact. These 100 songs from 2022 — with a bit of leeway for tracks released in late 2021 that didn't get to shine until the new year — are a time capsule of our current moment.

From emerging sounds shaping the future of the Canadian music landscape to tracks by heavyweights at the top of their game, 2022 was a phenomenal year of sustenance for music lovers. Dig in below. 

100. 'Put 'Em Down,' the Trade-Offs

An evocative protest song from this "Arctic soul" band from Nunavut, "Put 'Em Down" speaks to the history of colonization in the North, as singer Josh Qaumariaq explains: "Throughout the 20th century many Inuit families recall the Royal Canadian Mounted Police deliberately killing sled dogs to force Inuit into government-run settlements. 'Put 'Em Down' is about this sad story and about the effort to put us as a people down and erase our culture."

99. 'Sunsh1ne,' Lxvndr, Niimo

"Sunsh1ne" is fun and addictive, and Niimo's production gives Lxvndr an anchor to keep proving she's currently one of the East Coast's best rappers. (Songs You Need to Hear, Aug. 31)

98. 'Walk Thru Fire,' Bedouin Soundclash feat. Aimee Interrupter

A total comeback song from this long-running Canadian band that has always tapped reggae, ska and dancehall for its recognizable sound. 

97. 'Cruel Moon,' Jasmyn

"Cruel Moon" bounces across influences, beats, eras and genres like a possessed jukebox; it's weird and wonderful and wholly original. (20 albums we can't wait to hear in 2022)

96. 'Parade,' Frontperson 

All the joy and possibility that spring brings? That's the sound of Frontperson's "Parade." 

95. 'Don't be so Hard on Yourself,' Danny Michel

Michel recorded music festival audiences across the country singing along with this song and mixed the audio into the finished version, which is, as expected, an indie-rock anthem. 

94. 'Aniqsaatuinnarit II,' Terry Uyarak 

On "Aniqsaatuinnarit II," a song in memory of Uyarak's late mother, the singer layers the electric guitar on the chorus, giving it an Explosions in the Sky-style edge. (Songs You Need to Hear, June 22)

93. 'Et si Jamais,' RIP Pop Mutant

Exhilarating and gritty experimental pop, headbanging guitar licks and lively percussion make this song about the inevitability of facing the unknown come alive. 

92. 'Astum,' Zoon feat. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Zoon's songs are often full of quiet revelations, and that remains true on "Atsum." They sing, with a voice full of nostalgia and yearning overtop swirls of guitar, keys, strings, and charmingly low-key handclaps. (Songs You Need to Hear, June 22)

91. 'The Sound of Music,' Kiwi Jr.

Jangle-pop fan fiction about Julie Andrews is truly something that has never been done before, and Kiwi Jr. aces the assignment. 

90. 'Tenement Kids,' the Black Halos

A song about urban survival in Vancouver's social housing, from these legendary punks who write pop songs shredded through loud guitars and guttural vocals.

89. 'Mr. Tie,' Shawnee Kish 

A soul-smashing blues-rock middle finger to the music industry gatekeepers who spent years telling Kish to keep her true self in the closet if she wanted to succeed.

88. 'Sexo Amor Dinero,' Isabella Lovestory 

This reggaeton track is blazing hot. The hammering drums and booming bass make Lovestory's slick delivery hit even harder. (Songs You Need to Hear, Aug. 24)

87. 'Giovanni,' Bronswick 

"Giovanni" is glittering francophone electro-pop that takes listeners on a transient journey through the Italy of the singer's dreams.

86. 'Famous,' Sate

"I wanna be famous/ my name on your tongue," Sate near-snarls on this banger of a song — one that solidifies the star power the blues-rock artist has already accumulated.

85. 'Honey,' Katie Tupper 

Tupper makes neo soul shaped by her Prairie home, and on "Honey" her smooth sound, influenced by early 2000s D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, focuses on an inevitable breakup.

84. 'Te Revoir,' Waahli

Waahli brings warmth to the Canadian landscape with Haitian-infused sounds, bright lyrics about a budding romance (that blend English, French and Creole) and his rich vocals.

83. 'Just Sayin,' JayWood 

It's easy to instantly love "Just Sayin" for the big grooves and fun hooks, but JayWood really is saying something here.

82. 'Heavy,' Nuela Charles 

An inspirational anthem to remind us that hard times aren't permanent and that "nothing that's worth it is easy."

81. 'Body,' Bodysync feat. Tinashe 

Tinashe's glossy voice soars over Bodysync's onslaught of peppy, hard breaks and clipped vocals that meld into high-energy pop melodies. Insatiable dance music.

80. 'Goodbye,' Reeny Smith 

A gorgeous, soulful so-long to an ex that shimmers, shines and gets down with some surprising flourishes — like a great guitar solo and an electronic backing chorus reminiscent of robots using a vocoder.

79. 'No Dreams of Fayres,' Tallies 

Atop Alvvays-inspired jangly guitar pop, Toronto band Tallies gets personal on this standout single as singer Sarah Cogan sings about her experiences with depression.

78. 'Cut up High and Dry,' the Sadies 

Like the backdrop to a spaghetti Western, this song is a whole mood and features the Sadies at their best: banjo-forward, having fun with each other and their performance, voices blending together in warm, layered harmonies.

77. 'Pressure,' Aqyila 

On "Pressure," Aqyila toes the line between sultry R&B and upbeat pop, with honeyed harmonies and confidence-boosting lyrics that make you walk with a little more oomph in your step — a track with instant replay value. (Songs You Need to Hear, Sept. 7)

76. 'Millions,' Sylo 

"Millions" still taps into Sylo's signature smooth croon, but the acoustic soundscapes invite more intimacy than usual. (Songs You Need to Hear, April 13

75. 'Mélodie,' Mon Doux Saigneur 

Émerik St-Cyr Labbé's pleasant vocals set against '70s folk, with a sprinkle of unpolished indie production, make for an infinitely listenable experience.

74. 'Trendsetter,' Snotty Nose Rez Kids feat. DillanPonders 

It should come as no surprise that SNRK believe it's better to lead than to follow, as the duo has been paving the way for Indigenous hip hop in Canada since 2017. It's that trailblazing spirit driving this exceptionally dark trap track. 

73. 'Austin,' Georgia Harmer 

A sombre, grungy number off her debut album, Stay in Touch, "Austin" finds Harmer homesick on the road, but finding parallels and connecting deeper with her father, who was also once a touring musician. 

72. 'It's Only Dancin',' Young Guv 

Tight hooks, crunchy gear and a dive-bar beat for a song that clocks in at two minutes and change. This is perfect power pop.

71. 'Coming Back Around,' Moneyphone feat. Monsune

The Toronto duo has tapped into the zeitgeist once again: lush hedonism permeates "Coming Back Around," with a breezy house beat that keeps the doldrums at bay. (Songs You Need to Hear, Aug. 3

70. 'Shooting at the Moon,' Mariel Buckley 

Buckley captures the realities of the road from the opening notes of "Shooting at the Moon," and the music moves with an almost relentless momentum. (Summer album preview 2022)

69. 'It Takes a Thief,' Destroyer 

Perhaps the most uptempo and bright example of disco on Destroyer's Polaris Music Prize-nominated album, Labyrinthitis, "It Takes a Thief" is drenched in handclaps, string flourishes and bursts of horns. (Songs You Need to Hear, March 30)

68. 'Lights Off,' Kallitechnis, Misha, Jussi Halme 

A Technicolor club banger from one of Montreal's rising stars that evokes feelings of a hot summer night when both of you are landing back at home. Don't overthink this one.

67. 'Taurus,' Jacques Greene 

Melodic, meditative synths and vocal samples propelled by persistent drum breaks force you out of your head and into your body, as "Taurus" engulfs you entirely and doesn't let go until the final second. (Songs You Need to Hear, Jan. 19)

66. 'Somehow, Someway,' Chad Price 

A prophetic, uplifting R&B hit from the winner of CBC Music's 2022 Searchlight competition.

65. 'Half Empty,' Jully Black 

Canada's queen of R&B and soul stays at the top of her game with a throwback track about giving it your all and getting nothing back.

64. 'With You,' Mo Kenney 

This dreamy, delicate and beautiful breakup track from Mo Kenney proves why they have emerged as one of the country's finest songwriters.

63. 'Slitted Tongue,' Léonie Gray 

A throwback soul sound, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse but filtered through a Montreal lens.

62. 'Dépotoir,' Gab Bouchard 

Bouchard has a campy style of vocal delivery, and this alt-country track is a perfect medium for him to flex his brilliant lyrical storytelling skills.

61. 'Get Well,' Elissa Mielke 

Mielke is one of our best-kept secrets: this song is so stirring, her writing so prophetic and her voice so serene, it's a wonder she hasn't become a household name yet.

60. 'Don't Trip,' Aquakultre 

Comforting, effervescent, intoxicating: Aquakultre's Lance Sampson enumerates love's many attributes during this invigorating single — the ideal accompaniment (and advice) for your next springtime stroll.

59. 'Twennies,' Dragonette 

Over a glossy, synth-pop beat, Dragonette reflects on being stuck between the comfort of nostalgia and the excitement of progressing into the future.

58. 'Alone in Kenzo,' Adria Kain 

Kain has been dazzling audiences from coast to coast with her sultry vibrato, while packing the emotion to make you move — and on "Alone in Kenzo," she takes you to a late summer night in Toronto, filled with promise and connection.

57. 'Gaslight,' Softcult 

Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn explore that "sinking feeling" that comes from having one's reality distorted, with the hope that this fuzzed-out rock number can help people stuck in a toxic relationship. (Songs You Need to Hear, Jan. 12)

56. 'Fire Escape,' Dan Mangan 

A song about connection (to oneself and to others) is perfect Dan Mangan material, and he really delivered at a time when we were just figuring out how to reach each other again. (Songs You Need to Hear, July 27)

55. ​​'Cornflower Blue,' Flower Face 

A haunting lovesick teenager-type song from a new voice in melancholy bedroom pop —  one who was featured on the recent season of CBC Music's The Intro. 

54. 'Pretenders,' Stars 

Stars are never short on shimmering new romance and "Pretenders" is no different, as Amy Milan sings, "All our bets on being young forever" — and given the group's track record for penning these enduring love songs, so far, so good.

53. 'So Typically Now,' U.S. Girls 

"So Typically Now" furthers Meg Remy's anti-capitalist critiques as she scoffs at "traitors with loans" who run the show, but she's also honest in her own complicity when she admits, "I moved upstate/ so typically now," over a strutting beat and glossy disco synths. (Songs You Need to Hear, Aug. 3)

52. 'Headphones,' Banx & Ranx, Rȇve 

Two very hot Montreal acts team up on this fun, danceable, and relatable track that perfectly captures the moment, both sonically and lyrically, when you're in your music groove and someone tries to break your flow — the response is simple: "Can't talk, got a beat in my headphones!"

51. 'Outta This World,' Harrison and Tobi

Toronto producer Harrison and rapper Tobi joined forces again for this smooth-as-silk track, matching a low-key, jazzy beat with Tobi's effortless flow. (Songs You Need to Hear, March 16, 2022)

50. 'One in the Chamber,' NorthSideBenji, Unknown T 

Toronto's NorthSideBenji raps over production that expertly fuses the sounds of Toronto's eerie trap melodies with the U.K.'s aggressive drill drums. (Songs You Need to Hear, Oct. 19)

49. 'First Thing Smokin',' Loony 

Loony is a connoisseur of slow jams, and you can hear the Toronto artist's distinct affinity for smooth R&B on this track that burns in all the right ways.

48. 'Boxes,' Grae 

At the core of Grae's "Boxes" is a push-and-pull of wanting to move on, but having nostalgia constantly tug at you, all perfectly wrapped in a dreamy wash of guitar riffs and steady bass for a track that sounds like it belongs in a past era. (Songs You Need to Hear, April 6)

47. 'Mine O' Mine,' Aluna, Jayda G 

Grammy-nominated mastermind Jayda G is a pro at creating beats you can't help but groove to, and the result is pristine house production, sultry vocals and an undeniable Ibiza beach party-level of energy. (Songs You Need to Hear, May 11)

46. 'Grow up Tomorrow,' the Beaches 

What's wrong with being in a state of arrested development a little longer while everyone else around you achieves adult status? The Beaches ask this very question on their sunny, upbeat anthem co-written by Lowell. (Songs You Need to Hear, July 27)

45. 'Height of the Feeling,' Patrick Watson 

La Force and Patrick Watson's gorgeous, twining voices on "Height of the Feeling" soar as the two Montreal artists lend words to the sensation of lost love existing simultaneously with a need for connection.

44. 'Old Ways,' Swavy 

Arguably the song of the summer in the rap/hip-hop scene, "Old Ways" got a co-sign of approval from Drake. 

43. 'Gossip,' Lisa LeBlanc 

"Gossip" opens with a killer bassline and a punchy guitar riff, setting the mood for the album's title, Chiac Disco — and this song's power as a song of the summer. (Songs You Need to Hear, March 23, 2022)

42. 'The Look,' Ali Gatie feat. Kehlani 

Gatie enlisted one of the most cherished R&B singers of our day to deliver a sultry, hooky smash, and "The Look" oozes undeniable sexiness as a result.

41. 'Past Life,' Arkells and Cold War Kids 

Roll down your windows, merge onto the highway and let this '80s-inspired pop-rock anthem — and collaboration between L.A.'s Cold War Kids and Hamilton's Arkells — liberate you from the past.

40. 'Teeth Agape,' Tanya Tagaq 

Cold, brutal synths blend with Tanya Tagaq's damning lyrics in an ode to resilience on "Teeth Agape," a defiant show of force about Indigenous resistance: "Touch my children and my teeth welcome your windpipe." 

39. 'C'mon Baby, Cry,' Orville Peck 

A standout from Orville Peck's 2022 release, Bronco, "C'mon Baby, Cry" boasts what might be Peck's best vocal performance to date (just listen to that falsetto!). (Spring album 2022 guide)

38. 'Segia Dahte (Friend How Are You?),' Digawolf 

Meditative and plaintive, "Segia Dahte" is a powerhouse song, sung in Digawolf's native Tilcho language. Once the haunting chanting kicks in, it has you entirely in its thrall. 

37. 'Leave it,' Lil Silva, Charlotte Day Wilson 

A bed of retro guitar flickers beneath Day Wilson's layered vocals, dripping in golden-hour glitter the way the best Durutti Column instrumentals do. (Songs You Need to Hear, July 6)

36. 'Last One,' Savannah Ré feat. Dylan Sinclair 

Ré and Sinclair harmonize so inventively and beautifully in the second chorus, you'd think they'd been predestined to unite on this song. (Songs You Need to Hear, April 6, 2022)

35. 'Dollar Signs,' Nemahsis 

"Our struggles are concepts/ and it's dollar signs they see," Nemahsis sings on "Dollar Signs," an honest and poignant song that looks at how Muslim women, and marginalized people in general, are tokenized by a society that wants to profit off these communities under the guise of representation.

34. 'Love Me,' RealestK 

A singer-songwriter of surprising maturity with a pliable tenor voice that exceeds the genre's expectations, RealestK creates a palpable mood on "Love Me."

33. 'Billie Toppy,' Men I Trust 

Men I Trust swerve into a post-punk groove on "Billie Toppy," with its chugging bassline, sparkling synths and singer Emmanuelle Proulx's steady delivery as she sings to a partner named Billie: "Whenever you're in pain, don't turn to blame." (Songs You Need to Hear, Oct. 5)

32. 'Silver Into Rain,' Luna Li feat. Beabadoobee 

Li longs to become a better version of herself on "Silver Into Rain," but as she sings about the things holding her back, musically she's soaring to new heights with searing guitar solos that prove everything she touches doesn't turn to rain — it turns to gold.

31. 'Paper Walls,' Rezz and Metric 

"Paper Walls" isn't an outright banger, but sometimes it's important to leave space in EDM for vulnerability, too, and the result here shines new light on the flexible ranges of both Rezz and Metric. (Songs You Need to Hear, Nov. 24, 2021)

30. 'You're not Alone,' Allison Russell feat. Brandi Carlile 

Over a sparkling banjo and floating violin part, Russell and Carlile's harmonies weave seamlessly together as they remind listeners, and each other, "You're not alone." (Songs You Need to Hear, Aug. 24)

29. 'Open Arms,' Ruby Waters 

The message on this sunny track is simple: take it as it comes and go with the flow. 

28. 'Far Apart,' MorMor 

Funky bass, syncopated drums and shoegaze-y synths are layered into a muffled distortion on "Far Apart," with Seth Nyquist's resonant voice cutting through to soar above the melody. (Songs You Need to Hear, July 27)

27. 'Easy on Your Own?,' Alvvays 

The titular question isn't answered on Alvvays' hit single, but it doesn't matter: this signature guitar pop is the sound of a band at the top of its game, amplified tenfold thanks to My Bloody Valentine-levels of reverb.

26. 'I am Water,' July Talk 

When Leah Fay sings, "I am nothing/ nothingness" on "I am Water," it's not met with a sense of dread but instead a freedom that rings through every note of this infectious, celebratory track that dances in the face of despair.

25. 'Yellow,' Tegan and Sara

The only song on 2022's Crybaby that Tegan and Sara have said is about their own relationship, "Yellow" digs deep while trying to heal old wounds — all while swaying to a dreamy pop beat.

24. 'Fckn in Love,' Fefe Dobson 

A fun, romping pop jam about post-coital bliss and a heady, intoxicating, fist-pump of a song. (Songs You Need to Hear, March 9

23. 'Come With Me,' anders 

If we follow the pop strut of Juno-nominated singer anders on "Come With Me," it's to a place with endless sunny days, buoyed by a bright horn section.

22. 'Please do not Lean,' Daniel Caesar feat. BadBadNotGood 

This track finds a more matured Daniel Caesar learning to let go of a relationship, admitting that he can't be there for his partner the way that they might need — all while being musically backed by longtime collaborators BadBadNotGood. (Songs You Need to Hear, April 27)

21. 'Cherry Coke,' Ombiigizi

A beautiful song backed with a lot of meaning off Ombiigizi's 2022 Polaris Prize-shortlisted album.

20. 'Go Get It,' Dominique Fils-Aimé 

A Polaris shortlister and Juno Award winner, Fils-Aimé started the year off with an empowerment anthem that you can keep going back to when you need a lift.

19. 'Been Himma,' Dom Vallie 

It's always exhilarating to listen to a rapper who's really riding the beat, and Vallie is fully in command of the distorted, futuristic production on this self-confidence anthem. (Songs You Need to Hear, Jan. 12)

18. 'Sans Soleil,' Alexisonfire 

A beautiful, vulnerable moment on the post-hardcore band's long-awaited comeback album, 2022's Otherness, "Sans Soleil" was written by Wade MacNeil and perfectly delivered by vocalist Dallas Green, urging listeners to hang onto hope in the dark times.

17. 'C'est la vie,' Yung Gravy, bbno$, Rich Brian 

Don't read too much into this melting pot of rap, featuring Canadian bbno$, Indonesian Rich Brian and American Yung Gravy all on a song with a French title: the bottom line is it's a groove-driven bop with the typical raunch you'd expect from these three.

16. 'All Comes Crashing,' Metric 

"All Comes Crashing" is razor-sharp but also warm and heartfelt, from the swelling synths to singer Emily Haines' words, singing to a loved one that "there's no one I'd rather be lying beside when it all comes crashing." (Songs You Need to Hear, May 4)

15. 'The Loneliest Time,' Carly Rae Jepsen, Rufus Wainwright

"The Loneliest Time" finds Jepsen pairing not only feelings of love and longing with an equally powerful sonic soundscape, but also collaborating with fellow Canadian Wainwright, whose wistful crooning marries beautifully on this catchy, self-described disco power ballad. (Songs You Need to Hear, Oct 12)

14. 'Heartbeat,' Pierre Kwenders 

Kwenders' impassioned refrain is catchy enough to make anyone sing along, and against his deep, rhythmic voice is French-Senegalese singer Anaiis, whose fluttering higher register and smouldering delivery gives "Heartbeat" its soul. (Shortlist Short Cut to Pierre Kwenders' José Louis and the Paradox of Love)

13. 'Pizzazz,' Akintoye 

The Toronto rapper used TikTok to get his slick rhymes into the ears of millions, and this boisterous track is a rallying cry against debilitating doubt. (Songs You Need to Hear, Apr. 27)

12. 'Hayloft II,' Mother Mother 

A followup song that was 14 years in the making — released after the original, "Hayloft I," popped off on TikTok.

11. 'Attention,' Omah Lay feat. Justin Bieber 

On Omah Lay's Afrofusion track, Bieber sounds relaxed and right at home as he sings the opening verse and chorus over a seductive Afrobeat rhythm and gently cooing synthesizer.

10. 'RIP, Love,' Faouzia

Every moment of Faouzi's massive hit (more than 35 million streams on Spotify and 40 million plays on YouTube) feels like a revelation. Arabic vocal flourishes, tonalities and beats (influenced by the songs she listened to with her parents when she was growing up) infuse the 21-year-old Moroccan Canadian artist's pop production, and the result is a propulsive momentum that's vibrant and exciting. Then, there's Faouzia's deadpan lyrics, which find the protagonist matter-of-factly addressing an ex, reflecting how he "should've known from the moment we met/ I'd rip your heart right outta your chest." "RIP, Love" is an intoxicating dance party of a eulogy to "another man down."

9. 'W.I.T.C.H.,' Devon Cole

A song that confronts the patriarchy with a wicked acronym and a bumpin' beat? "W.I.T.C.H.," please! Cole's timely track tackles gendered violence and the #MeToo movement, and names the very thing that threatens systemic misogyny and entrenched sexists the most: a Woman In Total Control of Herself. It's a thrill to hear emerging artists rising up in this way, at this moment, and adding their voices to the feminist pop canon. 

8. 'Lullaby,' Alicia Moffet

Moffet's "Lullaby" came out in January, but its strength as a go-to kiss-off anthem has only grown. "I love the way you say my name/ you say it with so much shade/ and you walk around, nose up, looking down/ running your mouth 'cause you love how you sound," the Quebec singer croons at first over a handful of piano notes, before the beat drops and Moffet's sass shines through. It'll take weeks to get this not-so-gentle lullaby out of your head — and that choral support at the end is an unexpectedly delightful twist.

7. 'Mutual Friend,' Jessie Reyez

Honesty fuels everything Reyez does, and oftentimes the truth can sting. On "Mutual Friend," the Toronto R&B artist moves on from a breakup, relaying messages to an ex through a third party but never sugarcoating the pain this person put her through. "If you died tomorrow, I don't think I'd cry/ I gave you one too many nights," Reyez sings. "Don't care if it sound cold, it is what it is." But instead of tapping into pure anger, Reyez turns to nonchalance, performing over delicate string arrangements because, sometimes, apathy can hurt even more than straightforward rage. And no one can wield pain more masterfully than Reyez. 

6. 'Nomads,' Aysanabee

Identity and reclamation guided Aysanabee on his debut album, Watin, and closing song "Nomads" serves as the project's thesis statement. Over galloping drums and with a singular voice, Aysanabee asks and answers in kind, singing, "Grandfather/ did we flip the scripture? Grandfather/ I think we've flipped the script/ I'm sure." It's a stunning anthem from a new voice to watch this year. 

5. 'Fingers Crossed,' Lauren Spencer Smith

If you exist anywhere online, this song was ubiquitous in 2022. Catapulted to hundreds of millions of streams thanks to the ever-evolving power of TikTok, Spencer Smith's breakout single became one of the heartbreak songs of the year, charting internationally. It's simple but effective in its lyricism, as Spencer Smith reminisces about all the beautiful moments with a past love that in hindsight she realizes were lies. It's searing in its clarity and honesty, and the pathos and pain of the track — not to mention the power in Spencer Smith's voice — are even more apparent in her acoustic performance at this year's Juno Awards.

4. 'Intimidated,' Kaytranada feat. H.E.R.

Heralded as one of CBC Music's contenders for song of the summer, "Intimidated" is teeming with life. It unravels slowly, until the full force of its pull is undeniable. Over the years, Kaytranada has proven himself as a powerhouse producer, to the point that others want to emulate his style: the swing of his kick drums, the genre-less space of his production that exists somewhere between house, hip hop and old-school funk, his layered melodies that inspire warmth and loose hips. It's all present on this standout single, as H.E.R.'s shimmering vocals flow along with Kaytranada's beats in perfect synchronicity. From the chorus — "Don't overthink when you could be lovin' me" — it's an immediate earworm.

3. 'Jimmy Cooks,' Drake feat. 21 Savage

Even when Drake makes a hard left and releases a house album, as he did on Honestly, Nevermind, he still manages to squeeze in one nod to Memphis — a city near and dear to him that has significantly influenced his sound. Partnering with 21 Savage following their previous collab, "Knife Talk," the two trade bars full of name drops, references and double entendres. As Drake raps, it's a "party for my Day Ones," and as such, "Jimmy Cooks" (a reference to Drake's Degrassi character Jimmy Brooks) sees him in peak form. The back-and-forth between Drake and 21 sounds effortless, and "Jimmy Cooks" was a clear album standout that demanded more. It's no surprise the full collaborative followup, Her Loss, released just five months later, quickly became the biggest rap album of the year. It was an energetic and sonically rich project, but with lyrics that often leaned into misogynistic territory and included a controversial line seemingly directed at Megan Thee Stallion, which ultimately detracted from the album's overall strength. 

2. 'She's all I Wanna be,' Tate McRae

It makes a lot of sense that Tate McRae's "She's all I Wanna Be" started off as a ballad, as some of the singer's most successful hits have been in that form, including mega-hit "You Broke me First" and the melodramatic "Feel Like Shit." But with the help of producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Kelly Clarkson), "She's all I Wanna Be" transformed into a pop-punk anthem, a fiery track that matches McRae's seething jealousy as she worries her lover has his eyes on another girl who boasts "the perfect smile" and a "nice big house." While McRae's voice will always be at its most rousing on a ballad, the singer's recent forays into dance and rock prove that her pop prowess is adaptable in many ways. At the height of pop-punk's resurgence, McRae throws her hat in the ring with one of the year's catchiest tunes.

1. 'Sacrifice,' the Weeknd

The Weeknd has been so consistent over the past few years that the only person he's really in competition with is himself. The lead single from CBC Music's best album of the year, "Sacrifice" is kickstarted by a wicked slick bassline that pulls you into its snare. The clandestine world that the Toronto R&B legend's music has always occupied gets a rush of vibrancy, thanks to a bit of dark disco, pulsating synths and syncopated funk. Despite the club-ready energy of the track, lyrically the Weeknd is exploring his romantic dysfunctionality and inability to connect intimately, a well-trodden theme for the artist: "Every time you try to fix me/ I know you'll never find that missing piece/ when you cry and say you miss me/ I'll lie and tell you that I'll never leave," he sings. The Weeknd has always been an expert at playing with tone, and while he might be singing about the frank and unsavoury aspects of himself on "Sacrifice," the production is always so supreme, the hooks so tight, the bridges so buoyant that you can't help but sing along.


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