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The story behind Coeur de pirate's 'I Don't Want to Break Your Heart'

Andrea Warner

Each year, CBC Music in association with MusiCounts — the charity of the Juno Awards — launches a contest to engage music classes across the country with Canadian music. It’s called the Canadian Music Class Challenge. You can sign up for the 2017 Challenge now.

Quebec’s Béatrice Martin has been writing, performing and recording as Coeur de pirate for a decade now. A classically trained pianist, Martin was just 19 when she released her debut album in 2008 and began touring the world.

Though she sang primarily in French throughout her first few records, Martin’s music crossed over to English audiences, and she became an international indie superstar. Her thoughtfully crafted piano pop is luminous and heartfelt, but never soppy.

Instead, there’s a wonderful flinty attitude to many of her songs, an archness that works in tandem with the piano arrangements in order to subvert and surprise.

On Coeur de pirate’s most recent record, 2015’s Roses, Martin opted to write the album almost entirely in English, stepping outside her comfort zone just a little as she grappled with Roses’ epic themes: heartbreak, trauma, healing and motherhood.

Roses’ third track, “I Don’t Want to Break Your Heart,” captures a turning point in a relationship and the optimal outcome of something that can’t be saved in its current incarnation, and sometimes walking away is a sign of love — a sign that you love yourself.

"I went through things that I never talked about on my other two records,” Martin told me in an interview for Exclaim in 2015. “I was so angry and — ugh, vengeful in some ways. But I went from this very negative vision of love to a very beautiful one. You have to fight for it and you have to keep it alive and it's hard, but it's beautiful.”

“Realizing you have enough love around you, and love for yourself, to move on from whatever relationship you had before — it's important to know when it's over, and that has to come from you.”

In association with MusiCounts, CBC Music is challenging students to learn Coeur de pirate's song "I Don't Want to Break Your Heart" to enter the Canadian Music Class Challenge. (There are also 16 other songs to choose from — get the full list here.) Find out more about how to enter the 2017 Canadian Music Class Challenge here.

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Sign up now for the 2017 Canadian Music Class Challenge

Here are the songs for the Canadian Music Class Challenge 2017

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