2015: Conquest complete
On October 10, it happened. The Weeknd ("The Hills," "Can't Feel My Face"), Justin Bieber ("What Do You Mean?") and Drake ("Hotline Bling") collectively held down the four top spots on the Billboard Hot 100, the first such instance for Canadian acts in the chart's history. What seemed like the apotheosis of Canada's American pop conquest, was really a beginning. Two months later, two more Canadians joined the Top 10: Shawn Mendes' "Always" and Alessia Cara's "Here." And Bieber snuck in two more: "Sorry" and "Love Yourself." Unlike Nickelback and Avril Lavigne at their height, this crop -- even Bieber -- are showered with positive reviews from the media. As critical year-end best-of lists pour in, Purpose, Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late and The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness have shown up frequently, alongside the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen (E MO TION), and Art Angels by Vancouver one-girl-band Claire Boucher, aka Grimes. It seems Canada won, not just by making music for popular tastes, but by making music people of all sorts and tastes seem to really like.
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Jesse Serwer is the editor of LargeUp.com, and writes about music for The Fader, Rolling Stone and other publications. As far as he can recall, this is his first article about Canada. Follow him @Jesse Serwer.