Exclaim!'s Top 10 Canadian Music Videos

2015 in Lists

BY Sarah Murphy and Alex Hudson Published Dec 15, 2015

In 2015, Canadian musicians dominated the international pop charts, delivering plenty of inescapably memorable earworms and serving up some star-studded visual clips to match. There were Hollywood features from the likes of Tom Hanks, meme-generating Internet phenomena, and wonderfully whimsical animated numbers from up-and-coming artists.
What better way to showcase the diversity and daring artistic ambitions of our homegrown talent than through the power of a short, sweet and unforgettable music video? Below, check out our top 10 picks for the clips that stood out this year and will leave lasting impressions on us far into the future.

To see more of Exclaim!'s Best of 2015 lists, head here.

Top 10 Canadian Music Videos:

10. Etiquette
"Attention Seeker"
(Directed by Ghostprom and Trevor Blumas)

Etiquette's clip for "Attention Seeker" sets a steamy mood, showing a young couple getting frisky in the backseat of a car. The whole thing is illuminated by a hazy red glow, adding an aura of mystery to synth-pop tune, which arrives courtesy of the latest musical project of Julie Fader and Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh.

We also see an older man — presumably the father of one of the young lovers — driving around town. The sexiness takes an unexpectedly dark turn in the final moments, when the older gentleman discovers the couple, and directors Ghostprom and Trevor Blumas close it out with a twist ending that we definitely didn't see coming.
Alex Hudson

9. Harrison
"How Can It Be" (ft. Maddee)
(Directed by Maxime Lamontagne)

Here's a modern story if there ever was one. The clip for Harrison's mellow synth-pop tune "How Can It Be" depicts a text message conversation between a couple named Matthew and Katy, and we get a voyeuristic glimpse into the implosion of their relationship. Matthew tries to reason with his former love, but things keep on getting worse for the poor guy, and his calls go unanswered while Katy has a simultaneous chat with her new beau.
The whole thing is filmed with a portrait aspect ratio, which really drives home the cellphone theme, exploring the possibilities of form emphasizing content. Maybe for Harrison's next video, director Maxime Lamontagne could show us Matthew trying his luck on Tinder?
Alex Hudson
8. PUP
"Dark Days"
(Directed by Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux and Chandler Levack)

Still ploughing ahead on the strength of their 2013 self-titled debut LP, PUP stayed on our radar in 2015 thanks to the delivery of their "Dark Days" video. The skillfully animated clip follows our punk rock protagonists through the titular trying times on the road, and while it may be a cartoon, it's far from cute, opting instead to showcase the grittier side of life as a touring musician.
Filled with scenes of driving, puking, playing, driving, selling merch, sleeping on floors and more driving, the lack of live-action makes the harsh realities of the rock'n'roll lifestyle a little easier to digest.
Sarah Murphy
7. Hollerado
"German Bees" (ft. D-Sisive and Swiss Chris)
(Directed by Brendan McCarney)

Director Brendan McCarney really put Hollerado through some punishment in this clip for "German Bees," the indie rock band's electro-rap collaboration with D-Sisive and Swiss Chris. In it, the Hollerado guys are blindfolded and wear all white while getting pelted with a merciless barrage of paint, confetti, streamers, sports balls, eggs and even fireworks.
The guys spend the whole time cowering and attempting to protect their nether regions. We would feel sorry for them, but they signed up for it, so we're laughing instead.
Alex Hudson
6. Fast Romantics
(Directed by Matthew Angus)

These days, it's all too easy for a band to repurpose a dance routine from an old movie and turn it into an uninspired music video. Fast Romantics, on the other hand, gave this concept an inventive twist: director Matthew Angus inserted footage of the band into Fred Astaire's famous ceiling dance in the 1951 film Royal Wedding.
The band appear to be performing their soaring power pop tune in the same room in which Astaire is dancing up the walls and onto the ceiling, so that the surreal scene perfectly reflects the excitement of new love.
Alex Hudson

5. Braids
(Directed by Kevan Funk)

The message behind Braids' "Miniskirt" is about as forceful as they come, but the visual accompaniment takes things a bit further, exploring more metaphorical realms. Frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston stars in the clip as multiple characters, all challenging accepted notions of how a woman should look, dress and behave.
Also at play is the concept of humanity's relationship with nature; shots of both the great outdoors and an artificial greenhouse lend extra beauty and power to an already beautiful and powerful song.
Sarah Murphy
4. Carly Rae Jepsen
"I Really Like You"
(Directed by Peter Glanz)

As a song, Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" doesn't quite evoke the giddy romance of past hit "Call Me Maybe," but the video perfectly captures the music's ebullient spirit by showing Hollywood star Tom Hanks having the best day ever as he prances through the streets, doles out high fives at random, has an emoji-filled text conversation with Jepsen and caps it all off with a synchronized dance routine. We really, really, really, really, really, really like this video.
Alex Hudson
3. Kalle Mattson
(Directed by Philip Sportel)

Be warned: Watching Kalle Mattson's video for "Avalanche," a charming tribute to some of Mattson's favourite records, will quickly turn into a battle between eager indie rock nerds to see who can identify the source material first.
Thirty-five iconic album covers are recreated in the clever clip, paying homage to Wilco, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols and the Velvet Underground — and that's just in the first 10 seconds.
Sarah Murphy
2. Grimes
"Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream"
(Directed by Grimes)

Grimes' music videos are always a wild visual trip: Longtime readers will remember that she topped our videos list in both 2012 and 2014, and her clips are always filled with outlandish costumes and gloriously baffling scenes.
Her seven-minute double-sized clip for the Art Angels tracks "Flesh Without Blood" and "Life in the Vivid Dream" doesn't disappoint: It's an Alice in Wonderland-style mind-fuck in which songwriter Claire Boucher and her buddies dance around a lavish estate before our star ends up bathed in gruesome-looking blood. The clip is even crazier and more colourful than the pop-friendly music, which is saying something.
Alex Hudson
1. Drake
"Hotline Bling"
(Directed by Director X)

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Drake must be flattered as fuck. The "Hotline Bling" video turned Toronto's most valuable export into a living, breathing, turtleneck-wearing, neon-lit meme, spawning parodies from Tom Mulcair, Donald Trump and more than 2,000 UBC students.
Do we ever need to see another remake? No. "What if it features Adele," you say? No. Will we ever be able to look away while Drake cha-chas in his Timbs, though? Absolutely not.
Sarah Murphy

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