As Valentine’s Day approaches, there’s no better time than tonight to fall in love. After dark, park behind your local bowling alley with your sweetie, snuggle into the backseat of your 1985 IROC-Z and listen to these perfect hoser love songs.
This list of hits isn’t just any collection of Canadian rock, no, these are some of the best in hoser romance, ranging from the classically rockin’ to the incredibly cheesy.
Yes, buds, these are the kind of jams that FUBAR’s Terry and Deaner would play for their girlfriends, if they had them. The lyrics and choruses of these epic love ballads — so honest, Canadian, and true — are the type that the Trailer Park Boys would tattoo as full back pieces. It’s no secret how much Ricky loves RUSH, the prog-rock hoser supremes of Canadian music history, and the songs on this list are head-over-heels slap-shots that are guaranteed to score.
If there was any time in Canadian rock music that was overwhelmingly over-the-top, it was the late ’70s and early ’80s, and its stylistic followers. Nothing describes the electric high of love like guitar-heavy classics, so pull on your toque, make yourself a coffee sandwich, and feel the eternal burn of the 10 best hoser love songs.
54-40 – “I Go Blind”
This 1986 hit by Vancouver Island alt-rockers 54-40 described both the utter confusion and the sheer ecstasy of falling in love, an experience that’s as debilitating (“Something in me just won’t give it a chance”) as it is euphoric (“I wanna get higher and higher”). It was such an apt description that 10 years later, Hootie & The Blowfish covered the song for the Friends soundtrack, which got the song on the Billboard charts and will forever remind us of Ross and Rachel.
April Wine – “I’m On Fire For You, Baby”
Just one of the many April Wine hoser anthems, “I’m On Fire For You, Baby” was a 1974 single from Nova Scotia’s definitive hoser smooth-rock band, with a special placement in a romantic scene between Ricky and Lucy in 2006’s Trailer Park Boys: The Movie. Other fondu-hot April Wine ballads include “Tonight is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love” and “I Wouldn’t Want to Lose Your Love,” from the kings of long song titles. You can’t mince words when it comes to the heart.
Gowan – “Moonlight Desires”
Sure, this song is partly about becoming a werewolf and thus featured on the soundtrack of 2014 Canadian indie horror film WolfCop, but it’s also about how love turns you into a raging maniacal beast full of ravishing desires: “Stir my soul and whet my hunger.” But for additional high-quality hosiery, “Moonlight Desires” was covered by Toronto’s 1980s-style metal band Cauldron just a few years ago, taking Gowan’s classic to a greasier leather-jacket level. Either way, you’ll howl.
Mac DeMarco – “My Kind of Woman”
Falling outside of the classic rock timeframe, Mac DeMarco‘s “My Kind of Woman” is one of the best hoser love songs of this generation. From his 2013 Polaris Prize-shortlisted album 2, a Canadian glam-rock classic, this tune offers a persistent melody that captures the mental anguish of obsessive-compulsive longing, tempered only by DeMarco’s soft vocals: “I’m down on my hands and knees / Begging you please, baby / Show me your world.”
The Guess Who – “These Eyes”
One of the most popular Canadian songs of all time, noted for its piano chord escalation and the pained singing of Burton Cummings, “These Eyes” first appeared on The Guess Who’s 1969 album, Wheatfield Soul, and landed the Winnipeg band its first deal with RCA, leading to a huge international career. Since then, it’s been covered by Gowan, Michael Bolton and more, and has appeared on countless American film and television soundtracks. It is definitive of the era.
B.A. Johnston – “I Love It When You Dress Up”
This is a love song for the contemporary deep-frying, Tim Hortons-loving hoser, offering equal parts confusion and gratitude when a living person who could love such a slob as B.A. Johnston. “I Love It When You Dress Up” appears on the Hamilton, Ontario song-and-dance man’s 2005 album My Heart is a Blinking Nintendo (the title track of which is a much more depressing skid song, as far as man-boy skids go). The acoustic pop-punk jam is a sight-gag when played live: “There are stains on my shirt / And I am not even wearing a shirt.”
Loverboy – “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”
It’s hard to choose the best Loverboy love song because each one is such a compendium of thick Calgarian cream-cheese fully packed with ejaculation metaphors. 1985’s “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” is Loverboy’s version of “Love Gun” (à la KISS) and it doesn’t underestimate the power of sexual innuendo: “Ready (ready!) / Aim (aim) / Fire!” and “Turn that dial, all the way / Shoot me like a rocket into space.” Along with 1980’s “Turn Me Loose”, Loverboy is kinda gross?
Dan Hill – “Sometimes When We Touch”
This is one of the most overwrought performance pieces of the 1970s, and therefore one of the most popular. “Sometimes When We Touch” was written by Toronto’s Dan Hill (brother of author Lawrence Hill), then covered by Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Barry Manilow, Donny Osmond, and other masters of adult-contemporary ballads. The weird part is the violent undercurrent, “At times I’d like to break you,” but then the chorus returns to an adult man sobbing into the arms of his lover. I wonder how many millennials were conceived to this song in a Legion bathroom.
Neil Young – “A Man Needs a Maid”
No hoser love song list could be complete without 1970s Neil Young, the Albertan singer-songwriter whose 1972 album Harvest contained one of the most haunting and disturbing contemplations of love ever recorded. “A Man Needs a Maid” has always been critiqued as misogynistic, which Young has always denied. Instead, the drawn-out insecurities of a young man afraid of love is powerful. Would it be better to not love than to risk the loss of consuming passion? Ay, that’s the hose.
Sloan – “In the Mood”
For the FUBAR film soundtrack in 2002, Halifax-Toronto’s Sloan covered RUSH’s 1974 mating call “In the Mood”, making this a double-hoser love song of epic proportions. Sloan has always been indebted to the classic rock of the 1970s, especially on songs written by Patrick Pentland, and RUSH is Canada’s hoser headquarters. There is no one as Canadian and as cool as Geddy fucking Lee. The union of these two bands on this hoser-movie track is true rockin’ romance.