Is EDM still an exotic genre—one that programmers are still grappling with? Or has it long taken over mainstream top 40, one superstar producer at a time? Folk/acoustic product may make a surprise showing. Piano ballads may pile up. Turbo-pop is still the mortar, and it's less "pop" all the time. As is the case in so many ways, the distinction between what's on top 40 and what remains underground is not sonic, but a function of what has been worked to top 40. 

In Canada, the distinctions are even less clear, particularly because dance acts and producers have contributed significantly to stations' 35%-40% Canadian Content requirements for several years. Deadmau5 is a vaguely familiar name outside EDM circles here. But his "Ghosts N Stuff" was a Canadian top 40 hit four years ago. Armin van Buuren's "This Is What It Feels Like" hasn't yet spread beyond a handful of dance stations and mix-show airplay in the United States. (It was just serviced to top 40 this week.) In Canada, it's a fast-moving top 10 hit at top 40 radio.

In the United States, Martin Solveig & Dragonette's "Hello" mostly disappeared after its chart run. In Dragonette's home country, it's still a staple. At this writing, I'm wrapping up a week in Canada, and I've heard it daily. It's typical of the particularly kinetic top 40 radio in Vancouver where I've spent the past few days flitting among established top 40 CFBT (the Beat), relative newcomer CFUN (Sonic) and the current leader of the three, CKZZ (Virgin Radio 95.3).

Virgin is nominally adult top 40 and if you scan its playlist, you'll find Michael Bublé and Phillip Phillips. It's more recurrent-based than the two CHRs, with a top spin around 60 times a week. Its music monitor, (below) reads more like hot AC, but if you spend your time punching across the three stations, it feels texturally similar to its rivals, particularly because of the Canadian dance music aspect.

The Beat, which evolved from urban a decade ago, has a strong retro component—more Destiny's Child and TLC than you'd hear on a comparable station. In the United States, Mariah Carey is back on top 40, thanks to her own record and the current Ariana Grande hit. The Beat was already playing "We Belong Together" and "Always Be My Baby." The Beat's top spin is 76 times a week. 

Sonic, launched during the top 40 expansion of recent years, is closest to the latest round of U.S. top 40s with a top spin of 106 times a week—something that was once unimaginable in Canadian radio. But it does something that I haven't heard enough of on U.S. radio, aggressively promoting "new music discovery" whenever it stages a new title. 

To be fair, I did, eventually, hit the moment where all three stations were in piano ballads, but by then, I was practically back to the airport. The best non-American hit on the radio was Tegan & Sara's power ballad, "I Was a Fool," earning them their second column mention in three weeks, but there was also "What I Wouldn't Do," Serena Ryder's second uptempo hit, and, most surprisingly, Daniel Powter's "Moves Like Jagger"-like change-up, "Crazy All My Life."

Here are the three top 40s at 2 p.m., Friday, May 10:

CFUN (Sonic 104.9)

P!nk feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me a Reason"

Kardinal Offishall feat. Karl Wolf, "Turn It Up"

Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch, "Sweet Nothing"

Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"

Deadmau5 feat. Chris James, "The Veldt"

Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, "Low"

Martin Soleig & Dragonette, "Hello"

Maroon 5, "Love Somebody:

Marianas Trench, "Stutter" 

Rihanna feat. David Guetta, "Right Now"

Serena Ryder, "What I Wouldn't Do"

Gym Class Heroes, "Ass Back Home"

CFBT (94.5 the Beat)

Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, "Stay"

K'Naan feat. Adam Levine, "Bang Bang"

Calvin Harris feat. Elle Goulding, "I Need Your Love"

Katy Perry, "Firework"

Celeb feat. K.T., "Second Chances"

Final State, "Make Up Your Mind”

R. Kelly, "Ignition"

Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX, "I Love It"

Ian Carey feat. Rosette & Timbaland, "Amnesia"

Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"

Eleven Past One, "The World Is Ours"

Bruno Mars, "When I Was Your Man"

Sunloverz feat. Rosette, "Fire"

Ariana Grande feat. Mac Miller, "The Way"      


CKZZ (Virgin 95.3)

Fun. feat. Janelle Monáe, "We Are Young"

JoJo, "Too Little Too Late"

Walk off the Earth, "Red Hands"

Longo & Wainright, "One Life Stand"

Avril Lavigne, "Complicated"

Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, "Get Lucky"

Kelly Clarkson, "Because of You"

Armin van Buuren feat. Trevor Guthrie, "This Is What It Feels Like”

Katy Perry, "Wide Awake"

Kaskade & Deadmau5, "Move for Me"

Shawn Hook, "So Close"

Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"

Hedley, "For the Nights I Can't Remember"