Known for its nightlife and its area code nickname “The 6,” Toronto, Ontario is one of Canada’s economic powerhouses. It’s one of the most urban cities in the country and home to iconic landmarks such as the CN Tower and Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition to its beautiful beaches, parks, and waterfront trails, the city is a multicultural hub with an estimated 140 languages spoken there.
If you’re moving or relocating to Toronto, you’re in for a real treat. To help you settle into your new home and learn why people are so eager to represent their city, I’ve curated a playlist of 8 songs on Spotify about Toronto and Ontario. My qualifications? I’m half Canadian, have been to Toronto, love music, and unironically listen to these songs every week.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy watching and listening to great music about a great city.
Toronto-born singer and rapper k-os delivers our playlist’s first track which embodies the essence of Toronto. Upbeat, lively, fun, and fast. In other words, this track was a Canadian radio show cash cow. If you’re curious to know what 'Crabbuckit' means, it refers to the 'Crab in the bucket'-syndrome: a phenomenon where a group of crabs is trapped in a bucket, they will pull any crab down that’s trying to escape. This paradox ensures that no one will be able to seek refuge.
It wouldn’t be a Toronto playlist without Drake. If one thing in this world is true, it’s that Drake will rep his hometown of Toronto any chance he gets. I think making a playlist of Drake songs that DON’T mention Toronto would prove to be too difficult. Of the many tracks in his discography to choose from, I selfishly picked one from my favorite album of his Views.
Although this song never mentions the city, Toronto native Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, uses it as the backdrop in the “Secrets” music video. It was filmed in the easily recognizable Toronto Reference Library, showing off its iconic curved architecture and red carpet. If you listen carefully, you’ll notice the lyrics from "Talking In Your Sleep" by the Romantics and sampling "Pale Shelter" by Tears For Fears.
Formed in Toronto, PUP is a killer Canadian punk rock band. PUP is an acronym for Pathetic Use of Potential, and DVP is an abbreviation for the Don Valley Parkway that runs through the city. This song may have the best lyric video I've ever seen. It’s chock-full of old-school video game references – see how many you can name!
Excuse me while I nerd out for a moment, as I’ve seen this band 8 or 9 times in my short lifetime. This track by the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Canadian rock band Rush is named after the airport identifier for the Toronto airport; Even the beginning cymbals are Morse code for it. Neil Peart, who I believe to be the best drummer of all time, shines in this iconic song. I proudly own a set of his drumsticks given to me by the man himself, may he rest in peace. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan and think everyone should be too.
“Down on King Street,” is the lyric that opens this catchy song by the Canadian alternative rock band The Zolas. I know I only briefly mentioned Toronto's fun nightlife, but King Street is the longstanding shopping, dining, and nightlife epicenter of the city. If you listen carefully to the lyrics through the upbeat tempo, it’s quite a poetic explanation of how it feels to have a night out.
We can’t talk about Toronto without talking about the beautiful province of Ontario. We’re slowing the playlist down as it comes to a close with Keaton Henson’s “Ontario” for an intimate look at the love for one’s home. This song feels like a nostalgic stroll down the streets you grew up on. “I'm burying me here,” is a lyric that rings softly but captures Keaton’s desire to be home, no matter how cold.
We’ll round out our playlist with a heartwarming acoustic single from Canadian singer-songwriter Jon Bryant. As urban as Toronto is, Ontario is filled with beautiful mountains and forests. This song describes traveling with no sure plan through the cold and windy backroads. As you begin to discover Toronto, ON for all it has to offer, be sure to explore the nature just beyond your reach.
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