13 Canadian party anthems that are perfect for frosh week

by Mark Teo

August 28, 2013






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Don't worry: Len made the cut.

Last week, we wrote a story about Frosh: The Album, celebrating the underrated compilation’s ability to get the party started. Because, after all, it’s nearly September—and for aspiring young academics, going back to school means busting out those little red cups, making disgusting Alcool concoctions, and power vomiting onto unsuspecting objects. Those Frosh compilations serve as wonderful backing tracks to the fun, but we have one beef with them: They’re woefully lacking in Canadian content.

So, we’ve assembled X Canadian songs that we wished appeared on Frosh: The Album. And we’ve developed a ranking system for what makes a good party tune—because a wonderful song like, say, Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” doesn’t exactly make for good party fare. Our system is based on three tenets: A song’s drunken singalong potential, its widescale recognition—Frosh tracks are meant to be singalongs, after all—and its retro factor. (See, Frosh isn’t exactly up on their new songs. We expect to see “Call Me Maybe” on one of their comps in 2030.) On that note: Bottoms up!


1. Bran Van 3000 — “Drinkin’ in L.A.”

Drunken singalong potential: B. You might know the song inside out, but your average drunkard will know precisely one singalong portion of the song: “L.A., L.A., L.A., L-L.A.”
Widescale recognition: A. While Bran Van are still alive—and have managed a decent, if under-the-radar, career—this song lives in eternal infamy thanks to its inclusion on the Big Shiny Tunes comps.
Retro factor: A. This one hits the sweet spot: It was released in 1997, but lived well through the 2000s.


2. Len — “Steal My Sunshine”

Drunken singalong potential: A. We stopped counting how many times the call-and-response chorus occurs in this song. We’ve also lost count of how many times we’ve played this song while YouTube DJing.
Widescale recognition: A. Even our pals down South knew this song: Beyond being a massive Canadian one-hit wonder, it hit the Billboard Top 10 in the U.S., as well.
Retro factor: A. Is there anything that screams disposable ’90s pop more than “Steal My Sunshine”? LFO notwithstanding, of course.


3. Men Without Hats — “The Safety Dance”

Drunken singalong potential: A. While this track isn’t effortlessly hummable, its lyrics have been hammered into our subconscious thanks to ’80s nights everywhere.
Widescale recognition: A. The song’s appeared on Glee, Family Guy, That ’70s Show, Beavis and Butthead, Biodome, and countless others. Even if you don’t know “The Safety Dance,” you know “The Safety Dance.”
Retro factor: A. With bonus points given to the song’s LARP-friendly video.


4. The Guess Who — “American Woman”

Drunken singalong potential: B. The song has an undeniable chorus, but does anyone know any lyrics beyond it? “American Woman” is more about its guitar work, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Widescale recognition: B. Everyone knows this song, but ask Kayleigh and Josh: they actually think Lenny Kravitz wrote it.
Retro factor: A. Your mom and dad were pounding body shots and slippery nipples to this song.


5. Our Lady Peace — “Superman’s Dead”

Drunken singalong potential: A. You’d have to be pretty gone if you can’t sing along to Raine Maida’s “Whyyy-eeee-aiiiieeee-aieeee-yeaaah” and “AIEEEEEEE!” in “Superman’s Dead.” Beneath it all, though, one of the finest metaphors in Canadian music—the world is undeniably a subway, no matter which way you interpret it. (We are all passengers on the same vessels, hurtling towards a common, final destination. Strangers get on and off. Things are packed, smelly, and gross, yet we’re all here for a reason—to go wherever we’re going. Yo, English majors, you know what’s up.)
Widescale recognition: C. Ask an international pal about Our Lady Peace, and they’ll probably think it’s some neon-lit cathedral in Mexico City.
Retro factor: C. OLP are still active and beloved—and accordingly, “Superman’s Dead” doesn’t feel massively dated or kitschy.


6. Barenaked Ladies — “One Week”

Drunken singalong potential: C. This is one of the reasons that the Barenaked Ladies should never, ever rap.
Widescale recognition: A. In Canada, BNL were established stars, thanks to songs like “If I Had a Million Dollars.” For the rest of the world, though, “One Week” was their crossover smash.
Retro factor: A. Thanks to their penchant for goofy, kid-friendly tracks, Stephen Page and co. have been the growing-up soundtrack to not one, but two generations.


7. Prozzak — “Sucks to be You”

Drunken singalong potential: A. Y’all, rev up your fake Eurotrash impression.
Widescale recognition: C. This technotronic ode to schadenfreude were Prozzak’s biggest song, but even then, it never reached the one-hit wonder heights of other tracks on this list.
Retro factor: A. A fictional cartoon techno duo? That’s an idea that could only fly in 1999.


8. Snow — “Informer”

Drunken singalong potential: D. Snow’s rapid-fire Scarborough patois is nearly unintelligible—even without adult beverages, it’s a tongue-twister. We’re willing to wager that the only part people sing is the part where dude’s all, “I lick your bum bum now.”
Widescale recognition: A. This is an absolute international standard for white-guy reggae.
Retro factor: A. This sounds precisely like the early ’90s, and you’d hear this at any ’90s night—Canadian or otherwise.


9. Kardinal Offishall — “Bakardi Slang”

Drunken singalong potential: A. The song specifically shouts out Bacardi. The song specifically shouts out the T-dot. It’s basically a call-to-arms Jays hat-toting Hogtown bros, who’ll challenge unsuspecting bystanders into shot-based drinking games. Gross.
Widescale recognition: D. In Canada, this was a post-“Northern Touch” smash, and guaranteed, most Torontonians know the track. But then, the rest of us mostly know Kardi for his production chops.
Retro factor: A. Slot this somewhere between Monday Night Raw-watchin’ and Choclair’s “Let’s Ride.”


10. Don Cherry and Chris Sheppard — “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Techno”

Drunken singalong potential: D. If anything, this song is an excuse for dicks to chest-bump for three minutes straight.
Widescale recognition: D. This might be Canada’s defining jock jam, but the disclaimer to this vid tells you everything you need to know about it. (That message? “Warning: The following video is really bad. Viewer discretion is advised.”)
Retro factor: A. Beyond referencing Bobby Orr and “playing the game the Canadian way,” this song hearkens back to Cherry’s heyday, a time when casual racism and sexual harassment were tolerated in most workplaces.


11. Organized Rhyme — “Check the O.R.”

Drunken singalong potential: B. This isn’t an archetypal singalong, but you know there’s some Tom Green superfans who’ve committed every lyric in “Check the O.R.” to memory.
Widescale recognition: B. Tom Green’s eventual fame helped solidify this track in Canada’s national consciousness.
Retro factor: A. Just listen to the track. It recalls a time when rap haters would assert that “you can’t spell ‘crap’ without ‘rap,'” before performing poor hip hop imitations starting with, “My name is ______, and I’m here to say…”


12. Great Big Sea — “Run Run Away”

Drunken singalong potential: A. God, it’s our token Celtic song. It’s meant to be sung along to—very, very sloppily—after like, 98 pints of Kilkenny.
Widescale recognition: A. If you’ve been to like, a Lawn Sprinkler and the Firkin or an O’Shanahan’s or a Kilted Shamrock or whatever, you’ve heard this song. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Times.
Retro factor: D. This sounds like every Irish pub from now until forever. 


13. Tal Bachman — “She’s So High”

Drunken singalong potential: A. Geez, listen to that falsetto chorus. This is a perfect album closer—it’s the Canadian equivalent of “Closing Time.”
Widescale recognition: A. Even if you’ve never heard of Tal Bachman—he’s that dude from the Bachman-Turner Overdrive, right?—you know “She’s So High.”
Retro factor: A. Doesn’t this song just feel like it should be on the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack?

Tags: Music, Cancon, Lists, News, Barenaked Ladies, bran van 3000, canrock, Chris Sheppard, Great Big Sea, kardinal offishall, Len, Organized Rhyme, Our Lady Peace, Prozzak






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