Canadian Alessia Cara: She’s Supposed to Be “Here”

A few months ago, I wrote about Canadian dominance on the American pop charts.  The emphasis then was on pop music and veteran male artists like Drake, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd.

Since that article last September, our friends from the north have really turned up the intensity on their American chart domination.

For instance, just a few weeks ago, Canadians accounted for seven of the top ten pop songs in the U.S. for seven weeks running.  Those songs included hits by Bieber (who had and still has three in the top ten, including the top two); fellow Toronto artist Drake, whose “Hotline Bling” was robbed of the #1 spot by the Adele-Bieber blitz, but is still in the top ten; The Weeknd, who just completed an astounding 45-straight weeks in the pop top ten with his three big hits…fourth-longest streak of all time; and Shawn Mendes, whose recent top-five hit “Stitches” is still in the chart’s upper tier.

That kind of foreign-country domination on the American charts had not been experienced in decades and is second only to 1964, when British artists had eight of the top ten songs (yes, the Beatles were among them).

Now the current Canadian invasion continues into February with no end in sight.  As evidence, no fewer than six songs by Canadians have been listed in the top ten of the Hot 100 since the chart dated November 28, and no fewer than half since the October 10 chart.  That’s 17 consecutive weeks of equal or better representation by our neighbors.

And while Canadian men have more than made their presence felt during this maple-leaf-laden era, the list includes a new Canadian artist that is making her mark on the music scene as well with a top five pop hit and, get this: a #1 single on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for the past two weeks and counting.

Canadian Alessia Cara currently has the #1 song on the Billboard R&B chart with her top-five pop hit, "Here."
Canadian Alessia Cara currently has the #1 song on the Billboard R&B chart with her top-five pop hit, “Here.”

And she’s the only woman among the current crop of chart-topping artists from north of the border.

Alessia Cara (born Alessia Caracciolo) is that singer.  She’s on EP/Def Jam Records and she’s the latest blue-eyed soul singer to top the R&B singles chart.

Her big hit, “Here,” is a smoldering, mid-tempo throwback jam with “leave-me-alone-at-this-lame-ass-party” lyrics that befit the 19-year-old that Cara is, but somehow come across much more mature with her soulful delivery and clever phrasing, not to mention the music that accompanies her impressive teenage vocals.

The song has ridden the charts for six months now and, by definition, is considered a sleeper.  Released last April, “Here” only recently reached the peak positions on Mainstream radio airplay and R&B lists, after months of climbing.

By reaching #1, “Here” marks only the second time in R&B chart history that a solo Canadian woman has topped the list.  The first and only other time was 17 years ago when Deborah Cox did it with her 14-week #1 smash, ironically titled “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here.”

Deborah Cox was the first Canadian woman to top the Billboard R&B chart in 1998 with "Nobody's Supposed to be Here"
Deborah Cox was the first Canadian woman to top the Billboard R&B chart in 1998 with “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here”

And, by reaching #1, Cara’s “Here” extends another R&B chart record for Canadians, one also contributed to by both Drake and The Weeknd.  By topping this week’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart (dated February 6), Alessia Cara makes it 28 straight weeks that Canadians have ruled that list, dating back to the chart dated August 1, 2015.

Amazingly, the last time a non-Canadian artist was at #1 on the R&B chart was July 25, 2015, when “See You Again” by American rapper Wiz Khalifa (feat Charlie Puth) was on top. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…not really R&B or Hip-Hop, but that’s how Billboard is charting ’em these days, and for editorial purposes, let’s just go with it for now.)

I’d have to check, but 28 weeks may also be the longest stretch of time that Americans have been locked out of the #1 spot on the R&B chart in its six-decade history.

And considering that the top four songs on the latest R&B/Hip-Hop chart are ALL by Canadians, it doesn’t appear that the trend is going to end any time soon.  The highest ranking songs by any Americans are “Don’t” by Bryson Tiller and “Me, Myself & I” by rapper G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha, at numbers 5 and 6, respectively.

So, by topping the R&B singles charts, “Here” further expands Canadians’ recent chart invasion into crossover territory.  The Weeknd had already scaled both the pop and R&B surveys last year with his three big breakthrough singles, and Drake continued a record-breaking chart presence in 2015 on both the R&B and pop charts that few, if any, have matched.

And now it’s Alessia’s turn.

It appears Def Jam is unleashing “Wild Things” as the next single from her impressive début album, Know-It-All.  I just listened to it for the first time.  Could be another big hit for this newcomer from Brampton, Ontario.

I’d also recommend giving a listen to standout track “Four Pink Walls.”  Def Jam would be wise to follow “Wild Things” quickly with this one.

So, with a huge hit single and a top ten début album scaling both the R&B and pop charts, a follow-up single about to make impact, as well as other tracks creating even more buzz, the sky could be the limit for the latest Canadian woman to grace America’s airwaves…

…and for the continued Canadian domination of this country’s popular music scene.

I’ll keep you posted.

DJRob

To see the Djroblist of the 25 Most Impactful Canadian Musicians on the American music scene, click here.

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