len steal my sunshine

The top 10 one-hit wonder bands from Toronto

Bands from Toronto who have bestowed some truly catchy one-hit wonders upon us may not have made it all the way to the top, but at least they got their 15 minutes of fame. These songs had their glorious moment in the sun, but if you try to think of other chart-toppers by the bands that wrote them, you might be left scratching your head.

Here are my picks for the top one-hit wonder bands from Toronto.

The Pursuit of Happiness - “I’m An Adult Now”

Though this single became a hit in 1986, the outfits in this low-budget video wouldn’t be out of place today. Something about the defeatist wail of the repeated affirmation “I’m an adult now” feels especially Torontonian, even though these guys are technically from Edmonton. Ripping guitar solos, talk-singing, and ooh’s in the background.

Love Inc. - “Broken Bones”

“You’re a Superstar” might be this band’s bigger dance hit, but something about the wordiness of this anthem is captivating, the lyrics a collage of cliches and trippy imagery. The cityscape video earned the Toronto group Best Video and Best Dance Video MMVAs in 1998, and even continued to chart in the UK years after Love Inc. broke up.

Parachute Club - “Rise Up”

The repeating, two-syllable chorus of this song is likely to thank for its one-hit-wonderdom. You might even still hear it piping over the speakers browsing the grocery aisles. Apparently they had other hits, but I can’t really hum any bars of “At the Feet of the Moon” or “Love is Fire.” Bonus: the music video is basically a Toronto street party.

Choclair - “Let’s Ride”

This 1999 party starter was produced by Kardinal Offishall and features ad-libbing from Saukrates that starts off the song. From there it’s a masterful layering of a breezy backbeat with lively piano and just a little trembling flute to bring some softness to the macho track. The music video also ends with Choclair driving and riding bikes through Toronto.

Shuffle Demons - “Spadina Bus”

What could be more Toronto than a saxophone-centric eighties track that involves yelling the words “GET ON THE BUS”? Intricacies of TTC travel discussed in rap break verses backed by bare bones drumming include the desire to take the 77A instead of the 77B, digging in your pocket for change that isn’t there, and just wanting to get on the bus. 

jacksoul - “Can’t Stop”

You might not recognize this hit right away from the scratchy sampling and the first few bars of the verses, but as the chorus gets rolling you know you’re with an old familiar friend, and by the time you get to the plea “Can anybody feel me at all?” you’re singing along. The turntablist backbeat, syncopated rhythms and light vocals are pure year 2000.

Snow - “Informer”

Part of me can’t believe I was actually alive when this now somewhat cringeworthy song came out. Though the track is equal parts “wha happen?” and “psych!” I just know it’ll be running through my head at midnight, and Snow actually does display a weird level of vocal agility. Also, the video has all the girls, bottles and prison bars you could want.

Alannah Myles - “Black Velvet”

Bet you didn’t know this song had origins in Toronto the last time you sang it at karaoke. So iconic the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race once even lip synced to it, this 1989 track is inspired by black velvet paintings of Elvis. Rock ballad lyrics also written by Torontonians ooze from Myles: “the sun is settin’ like molasses in the sky.” Oof.

b4-4 - “Get Down”

Though a tinkly, poppy backing track, bright colours, and the YTV logo in the corner of the screen for the music video embedded above would suggest this song is appropriate for children, after a once-over of the lyrics it might be tough to play this around kiddos without giggling. That said, it’s as upbeat as they come with an S Club 7 vibe.

Len - “Steal My Sunshine”

Probably Toronto’s biggest claim to one-hit wonder fame charting around the world in 1999, apparently Marc Constanzo of Len was inspired to sample “More, More, More” by listening to disco music with Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene Fame. After a couple drinks, the call-and-response chorus is impossible not to scream.

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