Theme Ride Thursday: Canada Day Throwback—New Profile!

Canada Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a cycling class featuring some of the best Canadian music from the 1980s? While today you might think of contemporary Canadian superstars like Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Drake, and Shawn Mendes, or ’90s icons like Celine Dion, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, and Avril Lavigne, this year we’re throwing it back to a golden era— the ’80s!

Fern has done all the work for you with her 1980s Canadian Retro Classics profile. It’s a challenging ride with one long climb and two sets of short, high-intensity intervals. She’s also curated a bucket playlist (over 70 songs) of Canadian hits from this era if you want to switch out any of the tracks. (ICA members can find that bucket playlist at the end of this post.) You may be surprised to learn some of these popular artists are from the Great White North while others you may be discovering for the first time. 

The 1980s were a transformative decade for both music and pop culture, marked by unforgettable fashion (although some might say “forgettable”!), groundbreaking TV shows, and iconic musical hits. Let’s hop into our time machine and explore key moments in Canadian pop culture history while cycling to the best Canadian tracks of the ’80s. Canadian Pop Culture Highlights of the ’80s

Music on the Go with the Sony Walkman

In 1979, the Sony Walkman revolutionized how we listened to music, allowing us to take our favorite tunes anywhere. This profound change meant we could enjoy personalized playlists of our favorite songs on the go, boosting the popularity of the mixtape (remember spending our evenings making those, my aerobic dance instructor friends?). Whether you wanted a mix of tunes to evoke a specific emotion or to express feelings to someone special, mixtapes were the way to go. In Canada, “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy was a staple on many of these tapes, making it the perfect Friday theme song.

Working for the Weekend, Loverboy, 147 bpm, 3:41

The Birth of Music Television

MTV began broadcasting in the US on August 1, 1981, and Canada’s MuchMusic followed on August 31, 1984. These platforms reshaped youth culture and fashion, propelling artists into the limelight.

  • First music video on MTV: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles
  • First Canadian song on MTV: “Just Between You and Me” by April Wine
  • First music video on MuchMusic: “The Enemy Within” by Rush

Just Between You and Me, April Wine, 84 bpm, 3:56

The Enemy Within, Rush, 143 bpm, 4:35

Iconic Canadian TV Shows

  • Second City Television (SCTV): Canada’s answer to Saturday Night Live in the US, featuring Joe Flaherty, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and others, with musical guests like Roy Orbison, the Boomtown Rats, John Mellencamp, and the Talking Heads.
  • Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High: Pioneering teen dramas that aired in the ’80s and predated Beverly Hills 90210 and Dawson’s Creek in the US. The spinoff Degrassi: The Next Generation launched Drake’s career. The Degrassi soundtrack included “Moonlight Desires” from Gowan.

SCTV, Highschool Confidential, Rough Trade, 110 bpm, 3:27

Moonlight Desires, Gowan, 118 bpm, 4:13 

Fashion Trends

Canada was known for big hair, bright colours, and unique styles (yes, this is how we spell “color” in Canada). Athleisure wear and varsity jackets from Canadian company Roots, and the trend of wearing sunglasses at night—the ultimate in cool—thanks to Corey Hart, were iconic.

Sunglasses at Night, Corey Hart, 128 bpm, 5:21

A Peek into Teen Life in the ’80s

The Pursuit of Happiness captured the essence of being a teenager in their hit song and video “I’m an Adult Now.” 

I’m an Adult Now, The Pursuit of Happiness, 136 bpm, 4:30

Introducing the 1980s Canadian Retro Classics Class Profile

With all this nostalgia, it’s time to dive into your ’80s-themed ride. Fern Stancer has curated an incredible playlist featuring top Canadian artists from the ’80s. Get ready to pedal through this blast from the past and celebrate Canada Day in style. Happy Canada Day, eh!

Enjoy the ride and celebrate the rich musical heritage of Canada in the ’80s!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *