Top 10 Harlequin Songs

Harlequin Songs

Feature Photo: dwphotos / Shutterstock

Our Top 10 list of Harlequin Songs features ten of the group’s most popular songs coming from the Canadian rock band’s impressive discographic portfolio. Speaking as a fan who also happens to be Canadian, Harlequin was among my personal favorites as a teenager growing up in the 1980s. Since first coming together as a band in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1975, Harlequin was among the key influencers as Canadian contributors to one of the music industry’s most popular genres, namely, rock n’ roll.

The Road to Success

The original roster of Harlequin began with vocalist George Belanger, drummer David Budzak, keyboardist Gary Golden, bassist Ralph James, and guitarist Glen Willows. Originally hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Harlequin headed over to Toronto, Ontario to perform at various gigs before they were discovered by a team of producers who would help them land a recording contract with Epic Records. In 1979, Harlequin its first studio album, Victim of a Song. This production met with enough success to earn the album a gold certification with Music Canada. This was followed by the 1980 release of Love Crimes, Harlequin’s second studio album that met with even greater success as it became certified platinum. In 1982, it was One False Move and it was also commercially successful as it became certified gold. The popularity of Harlequin was especially high among Western Canadians. In 2006, it was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Change of Direction

The first three albums had Jack Douglas as their producer. 1984’s Harlequin had Alfie Agius take over this role but the momentum the group enjoyed came to an abrupt halt. Unlike the first three albums, this one fell short of capitalizing on Harlequin’s popularity while it was at its peak. After this, the band members took a break before releasing a Greatest Hits album in 1986. It included one new track, “(It’s) No Mystery.” The song was written by David Bendeth and Red Rider’s Tom Cochrane. It was also during this time the lineup of Harlequin changed. George Belanger was still the lead vocalist but now the lineup behind the song’s recording had Randy Booth on bass, Randy Heibert as the guitarist, Brad Meadmore as the drummer, and Igmar Munsch as keyboardist.

After this, Belanger was the only mainstay while the rest of the Harlequin’s roster changed frequently. It wouldn’t be until 2004 that Harlequin would release another studio album, Harlequin II would be the first, then followed by Waking the Jester in 2007. In 2009, On/Q was the band’s first live album release. No additional recordings from Harlequin have been made since then but Belanger and his bandmates still continue to perform, primarily entertaining the Canadian audience with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Top 10 Harlequin Songs

#10 – Shine On

“Shine On” was the first single Harlequin released since 1986’s “It’s No Mystery.” From the 2007 album, Waking the Jester, the song failed to make an appearance on any of the official music charts but won over a fan base who looked upon this song as an inspirational favorite. If you’re looking for a good road trip song, this would be it as George Belanger sings his appreciation for music and all the wonderful flavors it comes in.

#9 – Rise

In 2007, Harlequin released their final studio album to date, Waking the Jester. “Rise” became the final single the group released as recording artists but it failed to make an impression on any of the official music charts. This song of encouragement was a hit among the fans who found it to be a great source of inspiration to rise up and take on whatever challenges are staring them in the face. What makes this song great falls more in the message as it’s beautifully carried out by George Belanger’s role as lead vocalist. The performance is great as one of those songs worth listening to as you embark on whatever challenges your new day has in front of you.

#8 – Survive

“Survive” was the debut single released by Harlequin from the group’s first studio album, Victim of a Song. On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number eighty-seven. The song starts with David Budzak’s drum performance before George Belanger sings about the importance of finding a way to “Survive” whatever life wants to hurl at us. Especially among Western Canadians, “Survive” was an inspirational song to get through the day and was played often on radio stations spanning from the provinces of British Columbia to Manitoba.

#7 – It’s No Mystery

In 1986, “It’s No Mystery” was released as Harlequin’s final single that would make an appearance on the Canadian Singles Chart. It peaked as high as number ninety-two. It came from the group’s Greatest Hits album as the only original content on a recording that was otherwise loaded with Harlequin’s best songs to date. Backed by a new lineup, George Belanger once again demonstrated why he earned a loyal fan following as Harlequin’s lead vocalist. In the song, he addressed his love interest there were some issues going on in their relationship that needed attention. As far as he was concerned, there was a no-brainer solution to resolve the problem. It was a matter of the love interest opening up and letting him into her life the way he had done the same for her.

#6 – Take This Heart

“Take This Heart” was a single by Harlequin which was released in 1984. On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number sixty-four. George Belanger demonstrated why he was the true gem behind Harlequin and how he played a key role in the group’s success. The majority of Harlequin’s music featured heavier-hitting material while “Take This Heart” was performed with a smoother musical style. It was a contrast to the group’s previous material but it still worked as a favorite among fans who’ll argue Harlequin was one of the most overlooked rock bands in Canadian history.

#5 – You Are the Light

Released in 1980, “You are the Light” was a single from Harlequin’s debut album, Victim of a Song. On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number seventy-eight. Although the chart rank doesn’t show it, this became one of Harlequin’s beloved favorites. Among Western Canadians, this song received considerable airplay while Eastern Canada was still latched to groups like Red Rider and Trooper. “You are the Light” was a song that made reference to a special someone who made such a profound impact on George Belanger as a lyricist that she was seen as angelic.

#4 – Thinking of You

“Thinking of You” charted as high as number forty-four on the Canadian Singles Chart after it was released as a single in 1981. It was the second hit from the album, Love Crimes. Although it didn’t perform quite as well on the music charts as “Innocence,” it still holds its place as an all-time fan favorite, at least in Canada. “Thinking of You” became one of Harlequin’s biggest hits, especially among the romantics who saw this as a catchy love song. As a song, it was a stark contrast to “Innocence” as George Belanger sang about how his love interest made such a positive impact on him.

#3 – Superstitious Feeling

Released in 1982 as a single, “Superstitious Feeling” came from Harlequin’s third studio album, One False Move. On the Canadian Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number twenty-nine. The opening keyboards of this song already put the listener into a trance, so to speak, before breaking into one of the catchiest songs ever to come from Harlequin’s tracklist. If you’re in the mood for a song that taps into paranoia and superstitions, “Superstitious Feeling” would be it.

#2 – I Did it for Love

On the Canadian Singles Chart, “I Did it for Love” became Harlequin’s highest-charted single as a Canadian rock band. This came from the group’s third studio album, One False Move. Released in 1982, it quickly became a favorite as George Belanger pleaded in the song all of his actions were done out of love. The song was performed as if Harlequin was taken to court, having to explain why it committed the crimes of passion it did. The riffs, combined with Belanger’s lyrics, made this one of Harlequin’s signature songs that has lasted the test of time as an all-time fan favorite.

#1 – Innocence

“Innocence” charted as high as number twenty-nine on the Canadian Singles Chart after it was released as a single in 1980. It played an instrumental role in Love Crimes becoming certified platinum by Music Canada. This synth-heavy classic became one of Harlequin’s signature songs that would cement the group as an all-time favorite among the fans. In the lyrics, George Belanger addressed his love interest as a man betrayed by someone whom he thought took their romance as seriously as he did. The moment the start of this song begins, Harlequin’s live audience literally goes wild as this was the song that would get the crowd revved up every single time. “Innocence” is one of the heaviest-hitting songs Harlequin performed and remains on top as a classic rock favorite, at least among Canadians.

Top 10 Harlequin Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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