Playlist of the Month: Canadians We’re Thankful For

Our neighbor to the north. Our frigid-weather friends. The land of maple and honey. Ladies and gentlemen, today is all about Canada. Or more specifically, Canadian Thanksgiving.

Like most things, Thanksgiving is a situation where Canada looked at what the U.S. had done, considered it carefully, then did it more rationally and logically. An earlier Thanksgiving means that you don’t have to travel in a snowstorm, that you can play that post-dinner football game without your fingers turning blue, and that you have an entire extra month-and-a-half between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So today, when Canadians give thanks, we give thanks for Canadians.

Traci’s Picks

Nelly Furtado – Say It Right

Important: where is Nelly Furtado? In Canada? Am I missing something? I know she had a kid but like, that was a while ago, right? Am I just not hearing her new stuff? IS SHE JUST LIKE A BIRD AND JUST WANTED TO FLY AWAY?? Well she needs to come back and make more songs like Say It Right, because this song was my JAM  back in ’06.

soulDecision – Ooh It’s Kinda Crazy

If you’re not Canadian or a die hard TRL teenybopper like I was, you might not know who soulDecision was. The band made of boys (*not a boy band) had a – you guessed it – soul sound to their music, and it was more along that genre, despite the fact they were white dudes from Vancouver. Not gonna lie, I sometimes listen to this song and their other hit Faded, because I think they’re just that good.

Drake – Find Your Love

Ah, Aubrey. From wheelchair-bound Degrassi star to hip-hop superstar, you have done your country proud, sir. Can’t say the same for other current popular artists *cough*bieber*cough. It’s hard for people to take you seriously if they know you as the disabled kid from the most famous Canadian teen drama, so props to Drake for proving to everyone that a half-Jewish kid from Toronto can make it.

The Weeknd – Wicked Games

I had always categorized The Weeknd as an R&B singer, but according to Wikipedia, he’s a “PBR&B” artist, which is a term coined by music journalists to describe a new subgenre of R&B that uses more synth and indie beach rock sounds. Also, PBR stands for what you think it does – Pabst Blue Ribbon. Aka the beer of hipsters. Aka PBR&B is slang for hipster R&B (think Frank Ocean, Theophilus London, Jhene Aiko, Miguel, etc.). I’m learning so much! Anyways, it doesn’t matter what genre The Weeknd is, he is dope and has great music, including this song that sounds incredibly sexy but I’m pretty sure it has to do with drugs.

Robin Sparkles & Jessica Glitter – The Beaver Song

Let’s Go To The Mall? Played out. Sandcastles in the Sand? Overrated. The Beaver Song is where it’s at. You guys watched Space Teens as a kid, right? Starring Robin Sparkles, Jessica Glitter, and Canada’s favourite dad Alan Thicke? Of course you did. And what is better than a song aboot friendship? Absolutely nothing.

Molly’s Picks

Barenaked Ladies – Jane

In the 90s, BNL was a big favorite in our hometown – probably because we were right across the lake from Toronto.  I pondered over which BNL song would be the most Canadian, and settled on the one named after a girl named after a Toronto intersection. You can also listen to If I Had A Million Dollars, because they say “chesterfield.”

Alanis Morissette – Head Over Feet

I really could have kept going with the 90s artists: Bryan Adams, Sarah McLaughlin, Crash Test Dummies. The 90s, with all of their flannel, outdoor activewear, and left-leaning social policies, were probably the U.S.A.’s most Canadian decade, so this comes as no surprise. We really fell head over feet for you, Canada, didn’t we?

Neil Young – Rockin’ In The Free World

The freest world of all? Why, that would be Canada, of course.

Tegan And Sara – Back In Your Head

When I lived 10 minutes from the Canadian border, I never  knew when I was listening to Canadian radio and when I was listening to American radio. But years later I’ve learned that some albums I thought were ubiquitous – like The Con – were only all over the Canadian airwaves.  I’m still thankful for these Canadians, because a few of their tracks are on rotation at my gym and it’s some of the only good music they play.

Zit Remedy – Everybody Wants Something

Degrassi is a Canadian treasure. This song is not.

Canada Can Keep The Following Artists:

Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, Nickleback, Celine Dion, Sarah McLaughlin.

But thanks for these guys:

Joni Mitchell, deadmau5, Gordon Lightfoot, I guess Shania Twain. In exchange for your troubles, you can have this fine piece of Canadian art by my small nephew. The tests haven’t come back, but I’m pretty sure this kid came out Canadian.

Degrassi TNG: Where Are They Now

Yes, I was too old to watch Degrassi, probably. I really don’t care. First of all, we all know I love age-inappropriate television. Second, Degrassi got away with stuff in a teen series that network TV wasn’t at the time, so it wasn’t entirely awful.

So, yes, I watched it, and now I wonder where the actors are. Not those actors from the later seasons when it got all weird and none of the original crew was there. And NOT the first 80s-90s incarnation of Degrassi. Since I watch stuff for people younger than me, and I was like 5 when that was on, by my calculations that means I was probably watching whatever babies are into. I don’t know. Those fish things that clip onto a crib, or the inside of a uterus, probably.

Anyway. Degrassi. Names link to twitter account, where available. Here we go:

Aubrey Graham – Jimmy

Then.

Now.

It took like a year for me to refer to Aubrey Graham as “Drake” instead of “Wheelchair Jimmy.” It took another two for me to stop telling people that I liked him as far back as when he was “Walking Jimmy.” At that point, I’d realized that probably wasn’t anything to be proud of.

So, where is Jimmy now? Drake. He’s Drake. We all know who Drake is, presumably. Let’s move on.

Cassie Steele – Manny Santos

Then.

Now.

Remember when Manny got all “badass” a few seasons in? She was like 13… in Canada… in the early 2000s… so badass basically meant hoop earrings and Juicy sweatsuits. Remember when Manny got an abortion that one time and The N didn’t air the episode at first? In like 2004? I do. Since Degrassi, Cassie has appeared in My Babysitter’s a Vampire (a TV movie that was a parody of Twilight)  and The L.A. Complex. I never saw that, but wish I had because Jewel Staite was in it. That will be significant to the two of you who remember Space Cases from ‘90s Nickelodeon. Cassie released an e.p. in 2012.

Alex Steele – Angie Jeremiah

Then.

Now.

OK, during season like 22 of Degrassi: TNG, little Angie showed up as an entirely new character. Apparently Degrassi is like the Law & Order of Toronto, that way.

Ryan Cooley – J.T. Yorke

Then. RIP, those stupid button-up shirts with flames on the bottom.

Now.

I just learned that the character of J.T. was stabbed to death at one point since I stopped watching the show. So, R.I.P James Tiberius, I guess. That baby he had during that stupid plotline with Liberty will never know him. Well, not that he would have, anyway.

Ryan has appeared in a few tv series since Degrassi, all probably Canadian.  Per twitter, he has some kind of job where he works in an office. He bills himself as a tech enthusiast, so I’m guessing something with computers or, like, robots. He apparently studied theater in college, and was on a YouTube series last year.

Miriam McDonald – Emma Nelson

Then.

Now.

Miriam has appeared on a few TV series since leaving Degrassi, including Orphan Black, which is one of our favs! Wikipedia calls her an “occasional dancer,” which presumably means something a little more than dancing around her kitchen, and a little less than appearing on the now-defunct SYTYCD: Canada. She put a yoga vid on Twitter lately, if you like yoga, Twitter, or Miriam McDonald.

Jake Epstein – Craig

Then.

Now.

So Craig is like… kiiiiind of a smokeshow now, right? Just getting that out of the way. He was in My Babysitter’s A Vampire with Cassie Steele, as well as Paradise Falls, which you’re more likely to have seen. Jake appeared in the national tour of American Idiot – national meaning United States ( in Canada, touring — like burying the dead and collecting maple syrup — has to occur after things start to thaw, which is why there aren’t so many tours there). Jake has had an active theater career in Ontario, and hit Broadway for the first time last year as an understudy for the title character in Spider-man. In an upcoming Broadway musical, he’ll be playing Carole King’s husband. Like, Carole King as a character, not Carole King as an actress.

Sarah Barrable-Tishaur – Liberty VanZandt

Then.

Now.

Sarah’s linkdin page is crazy. Good crazy. She has done a lot of legit stuff since DeGrassi, don’t get me wrong. She went to Concordia university and did stuff during her college career other than watching a lot of daytime TV, which is already impressive to me. She worked as a media consultant for a school, and as a Senior Graphic Designer at Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. Right now she’s a freelance Communications Consultant and Media Content Developer. And there, in the middle of all of that good stuff, is “Lead Actor, Liberty Van Zandt at Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Coolest employment history footnote ever. I mean I think my most interesting one is “hostess in a bird costume.”

Don’t even get me started on Liberty’s pregnancy.

Shane Kippel – Spinner Mason

Then.

Now??

Shane was on Degrassi for nine years. Nine. YEARS. So, he hasn’t done too much since then, bcause he’s only been off of the show for like 2 years. Evidently Shane was on Combat Hopsital, and plays drums for a Toronto-based band called Dear Love.

Lauren Collins – Paige Mikalchuk

Then.

Now. Y’all can just scroll up to this picture for the Adamo Ruggiero “now,” too. Sorry, spoiler.

Remember that talent show where Paige rewrote her song at the last minute to be about that time she got date-raped? That was some pretty heavy stuff for a tween series. Good job, Canada. Say what you will about me watching Degrassi when I was already like 17, Paige had a serious character arc. Plus, she was in a Degrassi parody video, so I’ve decided that Lauren is my dream Degrassi bestie. Lauren was in Charlie Bartlett and a Disney Channel Original about Sharpay. She hosts an MTV series called “1 Girl 5 Gays,” which I immediately disapprove of because that title reminds me of “2 Girls 1 Cup” and I’d rather not even know what that means, much less think about it.

Adamo Ruggiero – Marco Del Rossi

Then.

Marco was in a “gay-themed Christmas flick” called – wait for it – Make The Yuletide Gay. And you KNOW the producers went back and forth on that title and something with donning “gay apparel” for weeks. It was NOT gay-themed Christmas porn, which the title made me worry about a little. I guess people liked it, because a sequel is forthcoming.

Stacey Farber – Ellie Nash

Then.

Now.

You remember Elllie because she was badass, albeit in a more goth/alternative way than Manny. In early 2000s Canada, that mostly meant that she dressed like Avril Lavigne. Ellie was troubled, and in the early 2000s the big plotline for troubled youths was cutting (today it’s cyberbullying; in the 90s it was probably eating disorders, in the 80s it was getting offered drugs that looked kind of like candy,  and in the 70s, divorced parents. Nobody had problems before the 70s). After Degrassi, Stacey held a Teen Vogue internship and went to The New School to study creative writing. She appeared on 18 to Life (a CBC series) a few years ago.  In my googling, I found that circa 2008 all these kids on Yahoo answers were asking if Stacey was pregnant. I feel like she was always really tiny thought? But also I stopped watching Degrassi when I went to college in like 2004, so maybe. She DID tweet that article by that woman who doesn’t want her daughter to be nice, but I think I might have tweeted that too. Fun fact: Farber was on the shortlist to play Juno, but that other tiny Canadian actress got it instead.

Daniel Clark – Sean Cameron

Then.

Now.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that most of the Degrassi guys have coalesced into one brown-haired Canadian boy in my memory. Sean was the brown-haired Canadian boy who was the “bad boy,” according to Wikipedia, but wasn’t that Spinner?

It looks like Daniel has taken a break from professional acting since Degrassi. He started a not-for-profit called Brightline Education, which is something about teenagers and the environment. Daniel graduated with honors from NYU, majoring in Political Communications. He is now working for ABC News.

Ephraim Ellis – Rick Murray

Then.

Now.

You know what they say about homicidal teens on television: it’s always the one who seems like they’d probably do that, really. Ephraim has developed a long list of tv credits since Degrassi, notable because it is entirely made up of Canadian series I haven’t heard of before.