Stompin’ Tom vs. R. Kelly

A Canadian Comedy Award winner, Michael Balazo has over a decade of stand up and sketch comedy experience. TV writing credits include This Hour Has 22...

Have you ever noticed how different Canada is from America? They have a “president,” while we have “Galen Weston, Jr.” They say “ruff,” while we say “roofarini.” But perhaps the biggest difference between our two proud nations is that we had Stompin’ Tom, while America had to settle for R. Kelly. Coincidentally, both of these R&B giants figured in last week’s hottest news stories.

First up, Stompin’ Tom made a widely unpopular career move in passing away at the age of 77. (Typical Canadian troublemaker!) And on the R. Kelly front, a group of concerned American citizens is petitioning the White House to officially replace “The Star Spangled Banner” with his 2003 hit “Ignition (Remix).” It’s hardly been up a week and it already has way more signatures than my petition to replace “O Canada” with Lil’ Kim’s “How Many Licks.”

Stompin’ Tom was a Canadian icon who looked across the Great White North and saw huge piles of poetry everywhere. When I heard he’d died, I immediately thought of these moving lyrics from his “Snowmobile Song”:

In goggles, boots, and a snow proof suit,
Your sweetheart’s on your mind
Ya win the race and ya see her face and ya know that she must feel
You’ve got a real good snowmobile
You’ve got a real good snowmobile

That song got me through a lot of hard times. But Stompin’ Tom didn’t just sing about snowmobiles; like R. Kelly, he delved deep into the national libido and addressed risqué subjects that made all Canadians horny: potatoes, manure clocks, k.d. lang, and what it’s like to be in Sudbury on the weekend. With Tom, no carnal pleasure was taboo. I’m not the only one of my friends to have been conceived to a Stompin’ Tom record (Stompin’ Tom Meets Muk Tuk Annie, if I remember correctly). Just thinking about it makes me feel tingly tangly.

And now to R. Kelly. Would “Ignition” make a better national anthem than “The Star Spangled Banner”? Hell yeah. Think about it. “The Star Spangled Banner” is an atomic snoozefest. Unlike “Ignition,” it doesn’t mention an after party, no one sips coke and rum and there’s no delightful sex-car analogy in any of its four verses. Instead, the lyrics focus on the British navy’s attack on Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812, which was so long ago I GET MAD JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. In other words, “The Star Spangled Banner” is terrible baby-making music.

From what I’ve heard, America seems to have some sort of problem with violence. Not anymore, if you let R. Kelly take over the national anthem. Imagine attending a sporting event and, as the smooth sound of “Ignition” plays before a sea of billowing American flags, the entire stadium starts grinding, then making out, then boning real nice. Same goes for classroom pledges, Fourth of July celebrations, and military events. People will be too focused on getting busy to get shooty.

The winner of this week’s Culture War is… Stompin’ Tom! He proved that Canadian R&B was just as valid as the kind they make in America, and a pioneer like that deserves recognition. By pushing the envelope and daring to be himself, Stompin’ Tom did the once unthinkable: he made Canada sexy. I’d like to think he’s up in Canadian Heaven right now, just stomping all over the place and flirting with all the girls. You earned it, sir!

Image of R. Kelly from

A Canadian Comedy Award winner, Michael Balazo has over a decade of stand up and sketch comedy experience. TV writing credits include This Hour Has 22 Minutes (CBC/DHX Media), Scare Tactics (Syfy), Hot Snack Radio (Showcase), and popcultured (Comedy Network). Michael is a regular on-air contributor to Day 6 (CBC Radio/PRI) and has written sketches for BBC Radio 4's Recorded For Training Purposes. His blog Toronto Sun Cover Reviews was so popular that it inspired a cease and desist letter.