It's either ironic or fortuitous that Valentine's Day falls smack in the middle of cold, dark February, as depending on your inclination, the ultimate of Hallmark holidays can either motivate you to seek much needed body heat or render you more frigid than my water pipes at -58C. Regardless of your tolerance for corporate displays of affection, VDay did inspire me to delve into the sultry world of Northern love songs from which I have emerged with this here playlist.
To compile this list, I solicited recommendations from various Northern musicians, producers, and DJs. The result? Eleven songs that will surely defrost even the most cynical of frozen hearts. Grab a lover or a suitable substitute, light a candle, and get ready to have your frostbite reversed by these artists who truly know the meaning of cold love.
Aiguuq - Etulu and Susan Peta
Nearly everyone I asked sent me this song first, and it's not hard to see why. Beyond the lilting tune and soft vocals lies a touching message. According to Andrew Morrison of The Jerry Cans, the song has "the most amazing lyrics ever. It's about how shy [Etulu] is to love [Susan], and she tells him that he should be free to love her because she is only human." Check out this version for better audio.
Suqutaunngilaq - The Jerry Cans
Speaking of The Jerry Cans, here is their take on romance. With lyrics like "If I come home and I smell, will you still be loving me? / If I can't hunt well, will you still be loving me?" set to their signature toe-tappin' style, the song perfectly represents The Cans' fun yet poignant take on Nunavut experiences. Apparently, an Elder in Pangnirtung dedicated this song to his wife of many years, an act that pleased no one more than The Cans themselves.
You and I - Agaaqtoq and Kelly Fraser
Another common recommendation - Andrew Morrison of The Jerry Cans, music producer Chris Coleman, Joshua Qaumariaq of The Trade Offs, and throat-singer Kathleen Merritt all singled out this single - You and I is not the typical Nunavut song. A duet between Agaaqtoq Eetak from Arviat, and Kelly Fraser from Sanikiluaq, the ballad has a Latin flair thanks to a Spanish guitar and maracas. My only question is, does anyone know how to tango in kamiik?
Babyga - Kelly Fraser
Kelly has a number of love songs in her repertoire (check out Qaujimaquvagit and Isuma on her album, also called Isuma), but Babyga is a standout for me. Meaning simply "my baby," the song shows the rocker's softer side, with touching lyrics like, "How about you? / Do you feel the same about me? / Are you sure? / Because I love you so much."
Uummatiga - Saali Keenan
Born in Iqaluit and raised in Nunavik, Saali currently lives in Montreal, and his songs reflect his varied upbringing. Uummatiga, meaning "my heart," was brought to my attention by two industry insiders, producer Chris Coleman and DJ Qupanuaq, who co-hosts the radio program UKIUQTAQTUQ. The unreleased song, which incorporates Saali's signature folksy-yet-guttural vocals, will be included on his upcoming album.
Moi Elsie - Elisapie
Nalligivagit also means "I love you," but Beatrice Deer's version includes one of the most underused (in my opinion) romantic instruments - the harp.
Piugavit - Calvin Pameolik
With a mix of English and Inuktitut lyrics, Calvin Pameolik's latest song is a pretty little ditty about, well, thinking someone is pretty. The song means "you're beautiful," and Calvin tweeted to me that he wrote it for "all the beautiful women." On behalf of your inspiration, Calvin, I thank you.
Nothing Bad - Scary Bear Soundtrack
This entry is a little bit different. Cambridge Bay's Scary Bear Soundtrack wrote this song in support of LGBTQ love and relationships, with haunting lyrics like, "We can’t be seen or else you might get caught." It's a moving reminder that holidays like Valentine's Day can ignore, alienate, or exclude non-heteronormative love - if it is allowed to be expressed at all.
Love Song - Kathleen Merritt and Charlotte Carleton
What a perfect way to end this playlist: a performance of the classic throat song Love Song at the summit of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The ever-talented Kathleen Merritt is re-recording this song for her upcoming album, but I doubt she can top the experience of singing atop the City of Love.
What do you think of this list of Northern love songs? Do you have any to add? Send us a tweet or leave a comment! And aakuluk to you all in advance!