12 songs Canadians will always dance to in another country

June 22, 2018

Every Canadian who’s ever found themselves at a bar at 1 a.m. when one of these classic Canadian tunes has come on over the speakers knows there’s only one way to respond—grab your drink receptacle, turn it into an air mic, clear a table, hop on and belt it out.

These tracks are sure to get any Canadian moving, shaking, singing and maybe even getting a little misty-eyed. And they’re pretty much all songs that any Canadian wouldn’t bat an eye at if they came on the radio back at home. But put them on in a foreign country when you’re far away from friends and family and your homeland? There’s something magic there.

Wanna sing along as you read? We've got all these tunes on a special Spotify playlist. Crank it. 

1. Spirit of the West - Home for a Rest

Perhaps now a worldwide backpacker anthem, Canadians proudly claim Spirit of the West as their own and typically memorize the lyrics to Home for a Rest while waiting in line at the passport office. And no, the irony isn’t lost on us as we sing “I’ve been gone for a month and I’ve been drunk since I left” while sloshing beer all over the room as we dosey-do, breaking only to aggressively nail the air fiddle solo.

Hicanada Songs1

2. Tragically Hip - anything

Yeah anything Tragically Hip will get a response from a Canadian abroad. Maybe it’ll be dancing, but it could also be a few tears, too. Especially if it’s Bobcaygeon and you’re from Ontario, or if it’s Wheat Kings and you’re from a Prairie province, or if it’s Ahead by a Century or Grace, Too or Courage or anything else and you’re from literally anywhere and you have a heart. After frontman Gord Downie succumbed to brain cancer last year, Tragically Hip songs are basically the Canadian music fan’s version of a call to prayer. Pause, think and sing along.  

3. Tom Cochrane - Life is a Highway

This one is basically required tunage for road trips anywhere in the world. In Canada this may actually be required by law, but the fear of having to drive down a highway without this queued up means it’s already on pretty much every Canadian iPhone/iPod/music device.  

Hicanada Songs2

4. Stompin’ Tom - The Hockey Song

You’d be hard pressed to spontaneously hear this song played in a foreign bar, but leave a few Canadians in charge of the playlist and this one will likely make an appearance. Especially if it happens to be the Stanley Cup playoffs back home, which no one else will care about anywhere else in the world.

5. Bryan Adams - Summer of ‘69

Certainly a global karaoke hit by now, Summer of ‘69 holds a special place in Canadian hearts, even if most of us were far from existence back in 1969. Doesn’t matter. Those first few riffs have accompanied countless shared knowing looks followed by a seemingly choreographed dismount from bar stools, silent and determined, and a total Canuck takeover of the dancefloor, like two comrades heading into battle. It’s our patriotic duty, and we take it seriously.

Hicanada Songs11

6. Blue Rodeo - Lost Together

Perfect for a pair of travelling besties, Blue Rodeo’s timeless classic has a perfect mix of calm swaying bits and loud yelling duet bits, tied together with easy-to-follow air guitar and drum parts. Canadians live for that kind of stuff. And even though it’s probably a song about lovers, the lyrics “if we’re lost then we are lost together” is the kind of late-night best friend fodder that will have you waxing poetic about how much you mean to one another (before disagreeing about what kind of cheese to buy at the grocery store the next morning, yet again, and refusing to speak to one another for the rest of the afternoon).

7. Celine Dion - Power of Love

Ever seen a fully grown man in tattered shorts, missing a flip flop, holding a bucket full of straws on a beach in Thailand belting out “because I’m your lady!” to the moon? No? Keep travelling. That there’s a Canadian who's missing home and that’s nothing a little Celine Dion can’t help with.

Hicanada Songs4

8. Bran Van 3000 - Drinking in LA

Often thought to be lost on dusty old ‘Hits of the 90s’ CDs, Bran Van 3000’s Drinking in LA is easily revived when two or more Canadians born in the 80s convene somewhere other than home. Hi, my name is Stereo Mike. OH SNAP. This song has nothing to do with Canada (aside from being written by a Canadian group), but it’s all about being away from home, being 26 years old and drinking. That’s timeless.

9. Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night

You probably outwardly mocked his latest comeback attempt (yeah there’s been more than one), but when his magnum opus comes on, especially if you’ve got sunglasses within arm’s reach, you’re going full 80s Corey. 

Hicanada Songs6

10. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe

You thought this one (rightfully) died with the summer of 2012, but then you hear it in 2018 coming from behind the front desk at a hostel in Baden Baden, Germany, and suddenly you’re nodding along with the beat, whispering the chorus, wondering whatever became of that superstar Carly Rae and missing your friends at home like CRAZY. It’s weird, but don’t fight it.

11. Justin Bieber - Sorry

Most Canadians will deny this fact, and while few of us will proudly sing along to Bieber anywhere—home or abroad—you can bet that when it’s been four months since you’ve seen a toonie and suddenly Canada’s most adorable bad-boy export comes on the radio, singing about none other than Canada’s favourite pastime (apologizing), you’re humming along. And feeling sorry for it.

Hicanada Songs9

12. The Rankin Family - Fare Thee Well Love

A special shout out to Eastern Canadians, who probably all sing this song in the shower every single time. But hearing the stylings of this Cape Breton family band abroad is enough to spur a full-on choreographed ballet from anyone who lives east of Rimouski.

Check out the complete maple-flavoured playlist on Spotify.

You may also like to read

How to prep for summer like a sun-deprived Canadian

It’s not summer quite yet, but we’ll just fake it!
May 21, 2024

I’m a queer, femme traveller. Here’s an honest telling of how my identity affects me abroad.

Because of travel, I think more deeply now about the things that we have to do to stay safe as queer people
May 21, 2024

A backpacker's guide to the best things to see and do in Halifax this summer

Don’t skip Pizza Corner, funky neighbourhoods or eco-friendly wine!
May 21, 2024