Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 18, 2017

In today's wrap comes news that Canada's economy is helping boost the live music sector and Canadian musicals are enjoying the spotlight; also, WestJet finds itself in a feud with Lil Pump. Other headliners include George Michael, The Barr Brothers, Kelly Derrickson, Robin Black, Pat DiNizio, Sam Coffey and The Iron Lungs, and David Bowie.

Music Biz Headlines, Dec. 18, 2017

By Kerry Doole

O Canada: A market report

A growing economy is providing Canadian consumers with more disposable income, a proportion of which is finding its way to live entertainment –  Steve McLean, IQ

Canadian musicals are having a moment in the spotlight — and making up the rules as they go along

From Britta Johnson to Come from Away, homegrown talent is taking centre stage –  Robert Cushman,

Still saving us from tears: the inside story of Wham!'s Last Christmas

From George Michael hogging the sleigh bells in the studio to pratfalling on the snowy video set, the beloved Christmas song is testament to the late pop star’s talent – and insecurities –  Rachel Aroesti, The Guardian

WestJet brushes rapper Lil Pump's diss off its wings

His massive hit "Gucci Gang"takesaim at the Canadian airline  –  Josh O'Kane, The Globe and Mail


The 10 best Toronto albums of 2017

Our list of top local releases of the year as voted by NOW’s music critics includes Feist, Alvvays and The Weather Station  –  NOW

Music is a family affair for Montreal’s Barr Brothers

Time becomes a precious commodity once you have a family, something that Brad and Andrew Barr have discovered over their last couple of records – Mike Usinger, Georgia Straight

Voices carry 

Mo Kenney, Gabrielle Papillon and Jessie Brown make the personal the priority on the year’s best records from East Coast artists  – Tara Thorne, The Coast

Kelly Derrickson puts First Nations pride and healing into songs

The award-winning singer has her grandfather to thank for the twang in her tunes, and her heritage for the lyrical honesty in her music –  Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun

From rock 'n' roll to rocking the octagon

Robin Black's journey from rock singer to MMA fighter and analyst –  Taylor Allen, Winnipeg Sun

Retro rockers Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs make their home in sweet spot of the ’70s

Springsteen, Ramones and the Clash all in the mix for Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs. They play the Horseshoe on Dec. 29  –  Ben Rayner, Toronto Star

The 20 Best Rock Albums of 2017

The list features The National, Jay Som, Broken Social Scene, Waxahatchee, and more  – Pitchfork

We have entered the post-James Levine era

There is a lot of empty gossip in the classical music business, but abuse exists – Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette


Remembering The Smithereens' Pat DiNizio, passionate rock 'n' roll lifer

The New Jersey band's frontman died last week, at 62 and is remembered as a truly approachable star – Annie Zaleski, Billboard

Hidden gems of 2017: great albums you may have missed

From hypnotic hip-hop to Japanese psych-rock, our critics pick some albums of 2017 that deserve a wider audience –  The Guardian

David Bowie's 'Hunky Dory': How America inspired 1971 masterpiece

Inside the making of the album that Bowie said "reflected my newfound enthusiasm for this new continent that had been opened up to me"  –   Andy Greene, Rolling Stone

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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