Bryan Adams might describe himself as a ‘complete and utter busker,’ but not many buskers have sold over 100 million records. Not many have racked up 25 top-15 singles in Canada, four No.1s in the US, countless more internationally, 15 Grammy nominations (and 1 win), 20 Juno Awards, three Academy Awards, or a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame either. As one of the most successful Canadian artists of all time, Adams is a one-man-hit machine, with an influence that spans genres, countries, and generations. In tribute to Canada’s favorite son, here are the 10 best Bryan Adams songs of all time.
10. Cloud Number Nine
“Cloud Number Nine” was first released on “On a Day Like Today.” It was good, but not great. And then along came the dance-inspired Chicane mix. With its synths and its electronic beat, it’s the sunniest piece of pop in Adams’ arsenal.
9. When You’re Gone
Who can resist a bit of 90’s Girl Power? Not Adams, clearly. Teaming up with Melanie Chisholm (AKA Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls) might have seemed an odd decision on paper, but it paid off. Chisholm’s high northern twang plays off Adams’ gruff tenor beautifully. Combined with the bouncy guitar riffs and jaunty keyboards, the overall effect is joyously infectious – if you’re not singing along by the end, you’ve not been listening hard enough. Just don’t, whatever you do, listen to the 2005 re-release with Adams and Pamela Anderson. There’s bad, and then there’s that.
8. Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?
Bryan Adams is a man who knows how to compose a film soundtrack. We’ll come to his most popular and famous film song shortly (no prizes for guessing the name) but in the meantime, we have this delicious little ballad from 1995’s “Don Juan DeMarco” to be going on with. Named as one of the best Bryan Adams songs of all time by Return to Rock, it may have more cheese than a mousetrap, but no one does cheese quite as well as Adams, as he very ably prooves on the lushly romantic “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”
7. Can’t Stop This Thing We Started
If you’re not a fan of ’90s soft rock, “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” won’t push your buttons. If you can’t get enough of it, you’re going to love this effortlessly catchy piece of pop-rock. It had the misfortune to be released directly after “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” – obviously, it was never going to replicate the same success (what could?) but it still fared well, peaking at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, topping the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart for three weeks, and picking up two nominations at the Grammy Awards of 1992 for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, Solo. It didn’t win either, but even so, it’s still a hugely enjoyable piece of high-energy rock, with Adams delivering some of the biggest vocals and most exuberant performances of his career. Next time you throw a party, play it loud – it won’t win you any points for cool, but it will get everyone on their feet.
If you’re in the mood for a power ballad (or maybe just a little late-night karaoke), you can’t go wrong with “Heaven.” Recorded to accompany the release of the 1983 movie “A Night in Heaven,” it’s as cheesy as they come – but no less listenable because of it. It may be one of his most well-known tracks, but it’s lost none of its appeal to ubiquity.
5. I Thought I’d Seen Everything
If you needed proof that Adams had lost none of his mojo with age, check out the sublime “I Thought I’d Seen Everything.” Released in 2008, the song is a banger, taking inspiration from the pop and rock music of the 1980s to deliver an eminently listenable track with some stellar vocals from Adams.
4. The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You
Adams gets a little hot under the collar on the raunchy “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You,” and so do we. Thanks to a memorable hook, some witty lyrics, and a very steamy video, the song was a top ten hit in the UK, and even managed to pick up a Grammy Award the following year.
3. Run to You
Picked by innfinity.in as one of Adams’ best ever songs, “Run To You” showcases a darker side of the Canadian maestro. While Adams is best known for earnest, straight down the line love songs, “Run to You” focuses on infidelity. The edgy theme is accompanied by threatening drums and some frankly menacing guitar licks, taking Adams away from familiar ground in a way that’s very far from unpleasant. “Reckless,” the album the track accompanies, is widely considered to be one of Adams’ best works- considering the quality of this sullen masterpiece, it’s not hard to see why.
2. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
The obvious choice for the best Bryan Adams song of all time? ” (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” Recorded for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (a terrible movie with some great tunes), it’s managed to cling on to the UK record for most consecutive weeks at number one for the past thirty years. It’s been voted one of the most romantic songs of all time by The Herald, along with about 101 other publications. It’s sold fifteen million physical copies worldwide, and countless more digital copies. It’s been played at almost every wedding, every prom, and every engagement for three decades. In short, it’s a phenomenon, and unquestionably one of the most popular and best-selling songs of all time. So, why didn’t it get the No.1 spot on our list? Because of this next song.
1. Summer Of ‘69
Apparently, Ryan Adams became so tired of the Bryan Adam heckles during his early career, he threw a fan out of a gig for calling out for “Summer of ’69.” But while Ryan might not have appreciated Bryan, the rest of us always have, especially when he’s on as fine a form as he is on this little piece of nostalgic gold. Even if you’re a child of the 21st century, there’s something evocative about the track. With its jubilant melody and swirling guitar hooks, it reminds us of simpler times… even if those times never actually happened in the first place. At its heart, there’s a warmth and nostalgia that make it essential summer listening.