Why there's no winner in the best Hamilton song contest

Hamilton's best song competition took a strange twist just hours before the deadline for voting. The finalists were Junkhouse’s 90s rock anthem "Shine" and Rita Chiarelli’s ode to a maximum security prison, "These Four Walls."

The finalists were 'Shine' and 'These Four Walls'

We asked, and you've spoken - it's time for Rita Chiarelli and Junkhouse to square off in the finals of our best Hamilton song competition to crown a winner. Vote now! (Tom Wilson/Rita Chiarelli)



Earlier today we told you about evidence that our Greatest Hamilton Song Poll had been manipulated. We made several attempts to restore the poll to some normalcy.

However, it is now evident that people no longer have sufficient confidence in the integrity of the poll - which means we cannot with any certainty, declare a winner. We want to reiterate that we do not believe that anyone involved directly with the songs has played any role in the manipulation. But because of this situation, we have decided to end the competition now, without declaring a final winner.

This is not how we wanted the competition to end and we want to thank both the artists, and the many thousands of Hamilton music fans who have participated out of a love for this city's rich musical heritage.

The good news is we did get to spend a month listening to 16 of the best songs ever to come out of Hamilton and celebrate the great music our city has to offer.

Our congratulations to all the competitors and in particular to our two finalists - Rita Chiarelli, for These Four Walls, and Junkhouse for Shine for two great songs.

Rick Hughes, executive producer, CBC Hamilton

Below is a statement from Rita Chiarelli on the poll and today's developments:

Despite this unfortunate incident of voter manipulation, this CBC Hamilton song competition has been an incredible experience.

The most wonderful outcome is that many Hamiltonians and those outside our city borders have come to realize and discover the tremendous musical legacy that our great city possesses.

 While the voting manipulation that has been experienced has marred the spirit of the competition, let us remember and focus on what is truly important - music is art...it speaks to the heart and minds of its listeners as evidenced by the voter turnout. 

Two great songs made it to the finals...amongst a list of other great Hamilton songs in the running and even a much longer list of wonderful  Hamilton songs that didn't make it to the voting rounds but were certainly just as worthy. I have been overwhelmed by the support of fans, new and old.

Your enthusiasm has been an inspiration. Over and over again, you were there. Thank you again.

With much affection and respect,

Rita Chiarelli

Below is a statement from Tom Wilson of Junkhouse on the poll and today's developments:

I feel that we have been a victim of technology today. I would rather lose honestly with my fans voting with their fingers and hearts than win because of unfair circumstances. 

With respect to this contest, I appreciate the intent to honour, celebrate, and engage the community with Hamilton’s Musical Heritage. I truly believe the music that rises from Hamilton is a testament to our city and the talented men and women that we are lucky enough to call neighbours.

The Hamilton music community is a family, and the last thing anyone would want, would be to see it disrespected.

I am honoured to have such dedicated fans, but I do not support this type of conduct. So with regret, I choose to remove the song Shine from this situation entirely.

Thank you to Adam Carter for his massive contribution and to the CBC for their diligence in detecting this voting manipulation.

 Tom Wilson

It’s a bit like choosing your favourite child, but it’s time to pick Hamilton’s best song – Junkhouse’s 90s rock anthem Shine or Rita Chiarelli’s ode to a maximum security prison, These Four Walls.

With Hamilton as host city for the 2015 Juno Awards, we’re looking for the best song by a Hamilton artist, and we’re doing it with a no holds barred, single elimination, bracket-style online tournament as a celebration of the city’s thriving music scene.

It’s taken weeks of competition and thousands of votes, but you’ve spoken – and these two songs from two Juno winners stand at the top of the heap.

Now that we've reached the finals, voting time for this matchup has been extended to an entire week, and closes at midnight on March 11. Cast your vote in the poll below, and watch Wilson and Chiarelli tell the stories of these tunes in these videos:

Junkhouse: Shine

Tom Wilson wrote Shine about Hamilton – a place he calls “the land of opportunity and possibilities.”

It’s not an overt, boostery ode to the city he loves, but it’s a song about revival nonetheless – written almost two decades before it was fashionable to talk about Hamilton’s resurgence that way.

“I didn’t have to sing directly about Hamilton – I sing spiritually about Hamilton,” Wilson said.

Shine was inspired by his friend’s parents, a couple who died of cancer within just months of each other.

“That was kind of the seed – through them dying, that we all have to revive ourselves and learn how to shine in our own way,” he said. “Our lives and our spirits are snuffed out so quickly. Our time on this planet isn’t that long.”

“While we’re here, we have to inspire and engage and create possibilities for other people.”

Rita Chiarelli: These Four Walls

These Four Walls comes from Chiarelli's ambitious Music from the Big House project, a film in which she takes a pilgrimage to one of the birthplace's of the blues — Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary — once the bloodiest prison in America.

“I immediately put myself in the place of these inmates,” Chiarelli said. “I wanted to tell the story as best I could through their eyes – what they’d say to you right now if they were sitting here.”

She channels their feelings, their emotions, and their sorrow — perfectly personified by a startlingly good vocal performance. She puts herself in their headspace every time she sings it live.

“I did my best to interpret the emotions I felt when I was down there from these guys who were there.”

There you have it Hamilton — the best two songs in our competition as chosen by your votes. Now help us choose a winner in the poll above.

Here are the other great songs that were eliminated from the competition along the way:

  • Teenage Head – Let's Shake
  • Blackie and the Rodeo Kings – Lean on Your Peers
  • Junior Boys – So This is Goodbye
  • Crowbar – Oh What a Feeling
  • Caribou – Can’t do Without You
  • The Dirty Nil – F---ing Up Young
  • Jeremy Fisher – High School
  • Ian Thomas – Painted Ladies
  • Warsaw Pack – Poorboy Blues
  • Arkells – Whistleblower
  • Stan Rogers – Barrett’s Privateers
  • Jessy Lanza – Kathy Lee
  • Daniel Lanois – The Maker
  • The Forgotten Rebels – Surfin’ on Heroin


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