HomeMusicMusic Cities USA Goes Canadian: Vancouver

Music Cities USA Goes Canadian: Vancouver

erin petrie‘s column takes a special trip to our neighbors to the north to find out more about a city that recently made the news for less-than-admirable reasons but has a rich musical history …

Vancouver, British Columbia is a coastal city not far from the U.S. border, flanked by the gorgeous rising peaks of the North Shore Mountains and nicknamed Hollywood North because it’s such a popular site for film and TV production. Most recently, it has became a news sensation as the home to angry hockey fans (or anarchists, depending on who you ask) who rioted after their beloved Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins.

Crazy hockey fans aside, what you may not know about Vancouver is that has a special place in adult contemporary music history. Prominent chart toppers and radio staples from the last 40 years have all called Vancouver home at some point.

Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson moved around with their father, a Marine, before settling in the Seattle area. But it was a few hours — and a whole country — away their band Heart formed and founds its initial success. Ann initially moved to Vancouver to be close to her boyfriend and then Heart guitarist (and later sound engineer) Mike Fisher, a Vietnam War draft dodger. They recorded their debut album Dreamboat Annie in 1975 and released it in their adopted country. It was only after the album — which included some of their most famous songs: “Crazy On You” and “Magic Man” — sold well in Canada that it was released in the United States. They adapted well to the excess of the 1980s, dropping their hard rock sound for a more mainstream arena rock sound and giant hairdos (see: “Alone” music video). Their 1985 “comeback” album brought them some of their biggest chartoppers and most well known songs: “These Dreams,” “What About Love” and “Alone.”

Heart — “Crazy On You”

Heart, “Alone”

In 1983, a young man by the name of Bryan Adams released his third and breakthrough album Cuts Like A Knife, which launched him from Vancouver obscurity to worldwide fame. He was an unlikely rock star, the unassuming son of an English diplomat, tame compared to many of his counterparts with his boy-next-door charm and clean-cut good looks. Nevertheless, Adams’s next album, Reckless, solidified his spot in rock history with ’80s pop classics like “Run to You,” “Somebody,” “Heaven” and “Summer Of ’69.” But he prolonged his successful career well into the 1990s by bringing his earnest voice to countless love ballads and movie soundtracks (like Don Juan DeMarco, Three Musketeers and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, the last of which earned him a Grammy for “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You”. These days, Adams is focusing on his charitable foundation, photography and fatherhood — the 51-year-old’s first child Mirabella Bunny was born in April 2011 and named for the Easter Bunny (true story: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20487522,00.html).

Bryan Adams — “Run To You”

Sarah McLachlan rose to prominence in the 1990s on the strength of her sweet voice and soft rock capabilities but admirably became a leader of sorts for the decade’s plethora of funky female acts. McLachlan was born in Nova Scotia but switched coasts to start her music career. She dominated the charts with top ten hit after top ten hit: “Angel,” “Sweet Surrender,” “Adia,” “Building A Mystery,” “I Will Remember You.” At the height of her success, she found herself unhappy with the concert promoters that wouldn’t book back-to-back female acts and founded the all-female Lilith Fair. The multi-city tour was wildy successful and showcased the awesome breadth of female performers: Tracy Chapman, Fiona Apple, Lisa Loeb, Suzanne Vega, Lauryn Hill and a long, long list of impressive names played the tour from 1997-99.

Sarah McLachlan — “Sweet Surrender”

Currently, Vancouver’s hottest export is a man who sounds and dresses like the legendary Frank Sinatra. Michael Buble has blown up the charts with several albums worth of Rat Pack standards, jazzy song covers and adult contemporary radio-ready originals. Despite Buble’s polished looked and long, impressive list of professional accomplishments (Grammy winner, performed on Saturday Night Live and at the Olympics), his beginnings are those of a much more humble kind: As a child, Michael dreamed of playing hockey with the Canucks and spent hours memorizing his grandfather’s jazz and swing records. As a teen, he spent long summers working on a commercial fishing boat with his father, a salmon fisherman. When he decided to pursue singing professionally, for nearly a decade he put in time singing anywhere they’d let him, whether it was gracing the gaudy stages of cruise ships or at a bar that let him perform because his plumber grandfather offered to fix their toilets in exchange.

Michael Buble — “Haven’t Met You Yet”

Other Claims to Fame:

*Vancouver is a hot spot for producing Canto-pop stars. After a huge influx of immigrants from Hong Kong moved into the area in the 1990s in anticipation of the transfer from the United Kingdom to China, their children grew up and moved on to gain fame in their native land, singing a genre of Chinese pop music, sung in Cantonese and influenced by western styles of music like jazz, rock and R&B.

*Loverboy, of “Working for the Weekend” fame, called Vancouver home for a long time. They released a string of hit records in the early 80s but are best known these days for their overplayed ode to the work week’s end.

Vancouver’s Indie Credibility: The New Pornographers consist of a collection of established Vancouver-based indie rockers that, combined, have perfected power pop. Together, the group has put out five albums of upbeat, catchy, quirky songs that have instantly become indie classics. Long-time musicians Carl Newman and Dan Bejar pen the tunes and share vocal duties with Neko Case, their alternative country guest vocalist from Tacoma, Wash. Case lived in Vancouver while attending school until she got send back to the States when her student visa expired — but not before hooking up with the New Pornographers and recording several songs for their first album, Mass Romantic. Her unique voice gives the Pornographers’ songs an extra kick of sweetness and sass.

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Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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