music videos toronto

The 5 most cliched music video locations in Toronto

Toronto is a popular locale to shoot a music video, and it's no wonder why. Our picturesque skyline, mishmash of neighbourhoods, and leagues of photogenic venues can work as the perfect backdrop for just about any artist's concept. Locals like Drake, Kardinal Offishall, and Cancer Bats are known for their hometown pride, but it's not just our own who give love to the T-Dot on celluloid - tons of international musicians flock to our fair city to make videos, drawn in part by our booming film industry and lower production costs than those in the States.

Some places in Toronto, however, are used more than others - and some seem like they're just flat-out overused altogether. Our most iconic locales, lovely as they are, have been done to death on the airwaves of MuchMusic and MTV. We've lost count of how many shoots we've heard about taking place at Polson Pier, and catching a bright red streetcar in the background of a YouTube clip is no longer the thrill it once used to be. But hey, overexposure is just a side effect of success, right?

Here are the top five most cliched music video locations in Toronto.

CN Tower
Fair enough - the defining element of our skyline is one of the most famous buildings in the world - but it's so ubiquitous that it's predictable now. Most artists feature the iconic tower's exterior, like Cancer Bats' "Bricks and Mortar" and Kardi's "The Anthem," but some get up in it to show how Torontonian they are: Drake rides the glass elevator in "Headlines," Abandon All Ships do their weird electronicore from the SkyPod in "Infamous," and The Meligrove Band and Dinosaur Bones have done live acoustic videos within its walls.

TD Centre
On the flipside, when you want a generic big-city vibe sans Toronto hallmarks, call the TD Centre. It's amazing how many clips feature these and neighbouring towers in the Financial District, particularly those from the late 90s and turn of the millennium. Esthero's "That Girl," Edwin's "Trippin'," Choclair's "Let's Ride," Chantal Kreviazuk's "Dear Life," Roni Size's "Brown Paper Bag" and Delerium's "Innocente (Falling in Love)" prominently feature the slick bundle of skyscrapers; that's enough to make a substantial nostalgia playlist. The trend has slowed of late - maybe even the music industry got sick of it.

Yonge Street
Back in the good ol' days, grungy Yonge could be counted on as the perfect setting for sleazy nightlife and misspent youth. You can see it in clips like Corey Hart's "Never Surrender," The Pursuit of Happiness' "I'm an Adult Now" and Rush's "Subdivisions." Now, it's a lot more glitzy-looking, but still just as commonplace in music videos as ever. Len (yes, they're still around) were one of the more recent to dedicate an ode to Toronto with "My Neighbourhood," with frontman Marc Costanzo performing in the Yonge-Dundas hub.

The TTC
We have such a love-hate relationship with our beleaguered transit system, but as much as we complain, we also can't help romanticize. The Shuffle Demons were unambiguous with their "Spadina Bus" tribute, but the subway seems to be the place to find love, according to Spoons "Romantic Traffic" (How do you not fall in love on those red trains?) and Melanie C's "Understand." It's also a sweet space for b-boys, as evidenced in Lights' "Toes." Basically, musicians have shown us that the TTC is great for everything except actually getting to places.

The Waterfront and Lake Ontario
Captain John's notwithstanding, our waterfront is a pretty beautiful sight. Edward Maya and Mia Martina's version of house hit "Stereo Love" features Martina sailing on the lake before a night on the town, and 50 Cent raps "God Gave Me Style" with the lake's crystal waters and Humber Bay Arch Bridge prominent in the background. On the other side of the water, The Moffatts got mopey with "Misery" on the Toronto Islands, so pretty much all vantage points have been covered throughout music-video history.


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