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Feist's 10 best songs

Editorial Staff

It's been six (seemingly long) years since Feist put out any new music, so it's understandable if you're spending today — the release day of her fifth studio album, Pleasure — dedicated to that album. But we're here for you when you want to dive into her catalogue for the 10 best songs pre-Pleasure.

The beauty of a Feist song is that its most precious lyrical and sonic gems lie beneath the surface. From her first album, Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down), to her Hydra project, she has consistently rewarded her listeners with songs that resonate and stay with you. Feist songs are emotionally sticky and at moments healing, like a thick manuka honey.

Here are what we think are the 10 best songs of Feist’s career (so far).

10. 'It's Cool to Love Your Family' (Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down), 1999)

This single was Feist’s solo foot forward. On it, she displays the beginnings of a real singing voice and a knack for poetic lyrics. This wasn’t a hit. But like the hidden gems in her current songs, Feist’s potential sat just beneath the surface on this one.

9. 'Sea Lion Woman' (The Reminder, 2007)

Technically, this song is a cover of Nina Simone. But Simone’s version was also a cover, so we're giving her a pass.

Plus, Feist’s version bends the arrangement and instrumentation so much that the desolate feeling underpinning the original is traded for a vitality that makes Feist’s version a groover. The song takes on new life.

Feist and crew get points for their vivid imaginations on this one.

8. 'Mushaboom' (Let it Die, 2004)

With lyrics such as, “I got a man to stick it out/ make a home from rented house,” the singer-songwriter captured a common experience from an unexpected perspective. It’s what endears her to her listeners.

But not everyone was initially certain of this tune’s potential. Feist shared with us that her Broken Social Scene bandmates feared for her career when they heard her Let It Die album.

How wrong they were.

7. 'The Bad In Each Other' (Metals, 2011)

NME got it right when they said that it’s her “warmness and humanity that elevate Feist from respectability into consummate niftiness."

That humanity gets at what makes a Feist song stick: she gets to the core of human emotion in a painfully honest way. It’s impossible not to latch on to these warm yet heartbreaking lyrics: "The good man/ and good woman/ bring out the worst in the other/ the bad in each other."

Tissue, please!

6. 'I Feel It All' (The Reminder, 2007)

Feist revealed to us how she healed her bleeding vocal chords after touring in a hardcore band. Perhaps that’s why we seldom hear her shrill screams and yelps on her recordings. The closest we’’ll get to that is on “I Feel It All.” There’s a freedom in her “ha”s that has us hoping she’ll bring a bit more of that punk spirit on her next album.

5. 'How Come You Never Go There' (Metals, 2011)

Feist, unafraid to display the remains of her ripped-out heart in public. It's hard to be confessional without being complain-y, but she does it. Just read this: "We waste time on blame and weak revenge/ waste energy and projections/ we're living proof, we gotta let go/ and stop looking through the halo."

There's an honesty there that resonates. These lyrics are simply too real for an iPod commercial.

4. '1, 2, 3, 4' (The Reminder, 2007)

This sugary sweet tune not only catapulted Feist to pop stardom, it demonstrated Feist’s ability to execute a hit with the lack of self-consciousness or irony sometimes found in the indie scene. To think she had to be convinced by producer Ben Mink to keep it on the record.

3. 'A Commotion' (Metals, 2011)

The Guardian once remarked that with Feist, “There is little that panders to a mainstream audience in her songs."

She moved further away from a mainstream audience with her fourth album, Metals, keeping in her "happy accidents." The deeply unsettling “A Commotion” demonstrates this perfectly. Its gruffness — with the persistent drums, choir of barking baritones and creepy whispers — is why Feist will only ever have one foot in the commercial world.

Feist is just too raw for the commercial world.

2. 'Limit to Your Love (live remix)'

This cover sees Feist stepping out of the guitar arena and into the dubbed-out soulful one. The original and the James Blake version ooze sentimentality. This live version sounds like it’s being sung by a woman who has long moved on.

It’s also worth noting that when the remix of your own song tops the original, you know a thing or two about writing a good song.

1. 'My Moon, My Man' (The Reminder, 2007)

Feist doesn’t rely “on a modest refinement that breaks with current singer-songwriter trends that promote infinite ambition in lieu of the basics — melody, arrangement, feeling,” Pitchfork noted.

Feist and her longtime creative partner, Chilly Gonzales, made certain of that on this one. This dynamic arrangement has you hanging on, right up to the very last moment, when all you hear is the clicking of her heels and the slamming of a rusty-hinged door.

"My Moon, My Man" encompasses what has allowed Feist to reside in both the commercial and indie worlds: her songs' tension and their sweet release.