Music

Charlotte Cardin in 11 songs

A look back at the Montreal musician's most essential songs ahead of the 2024 Juno Awards.

A look back at the Montreal musician's most essential songs ahead of the 2024 Juno Awards

Musician Charlotte Cardin poses with her hand up against her face.
Montreal musician Charlotte Cardin has earned 8 Juno Award nominations and has won 4. This year, Cardin is up for 6 awards, bringing her total up to 14 nominations. (Charlotte Cardin/Facebook; graphic by CBC)

Charlotte Cardin has undoubtedly become one of Canada's biggest pop acts.

After a brief career modelling as a teenager, the Montreal artist got her big break in 2013 when she became a finalist on the first season of La Voix, the French-Canadian version of the hit American series The Voice. Averaging around two million viewers every week, the show made Cardin a star overnight, but she was acutely aware of the separation between being on a singing competition and actually making it in the music industry.

"There's a lot of judgment from people," she told Exclaim! in 2016. "When you're on a show like that, a lot of people assume you got it very easily. They think you haven't worked for what you have, so you have to prove to them that you're here for a reason, not just because you were lucky enough to end up on a reality show in front of millions of people."

And that's exactly what Cardin did: the singer-songwriter has worked tirelessly to prove herself, resulting in three EPs and two full-length albums over the past nine years. With each release, Cardin's audience has grown bigger and bigger, and her bonafides have piled up with 14 Juno nominations and four wins, as well as a 2021 Polaris Music Prize longlist nomination for her debut album, Phoenix.

This year, Cardin leads the Juno nominations with six nods including artist of the year, single of the year (for her smash hit "Confetti") and album of the year (for 99 Nights). Ahead of this year's Juno Awards on March 24, where Cardin is scheduled to perform, CBC Music wanted to take a look back at Cardin's successful career so far.

Below are 11 essential tracks — for longtime fans and newcomers alike — that illustrate the hard work and undeniable talent that has transformed Cardin into one of the most successful acts in the country. 


'Big Boy' (2015)

Cardin's debut single, "Big Boy," is a great example of how much drama she can infuse into a song. She takes her time with each line, drawing out every ounce of anguish and desire in her own words as she illustrates the complicated relationship she's found herself in. Like a heartbroken lounge singer slumped over a piano, Cardin's delivery at times conjures the spirit of Amy Winehouse, proving that the then-newcomer had a lot of potential right out of the gate. — Melody Lau

'Like it Doesn't Hurt' feat. Nate Husser (2016)

"Like it Doesn't Hurt" became the breakout hit from Cardin's debut EP, Big Boy, a year after the title track was released. Teaming up with rapper, labelmate and fellow Montrealer Nate Husser gave Cardin a foil for her melodrama, structuring the hypnotic, bass-heavy song mainly around a single chorus before Husser's verse cuts in, their characters' destructive relationship laid bare. Cardin was just at the beginning of her career when "Like it Doesn't Hurt" dropped, but she already knew exactly how to pull her listeners closer as she slowly drew out the song's most memorable lines: "I've been around/ your body upside down/ but I can't touch you/ in any f--kin' way." — Holly Gordon

'Faufile' (2016)

Cardin can wrap her voice around most genres — her work has included pop, electronic, R&B and jazz — but one of her best-flexed songwriting muscles is the pop ballad. "Faufile," one of two French songs off the francophone's debut EP, is an emotional unraveling atop simple piano, as Cardin sings of someone sneaking ("tu te faufiles") past her defences. Whether you understand the lyrics or not, Cardin is an expert at spooling emotion one verse at a time, and "Faufile" is a heartbreaker. It was nominated for a SOCAN Songwriting Prize in 2017, making Cardin the first artist to ever be nominated in both the French and English categories. — HG

'Main Girl' (2017)

"Main Girl" is the title track off Cardin's 2017 EP, and it helped garner the singer-songwriter her first Juno Award nominations: for songwriter of the year, and breakthrough artist of the year. Cardin leans on her trademark piano to open the song, but cracks it open with percussion and ominous bass, mirroring the intense emotion of a song centred on the other woman — who now knows she'll never be the main girl in this relationship. After a finger-snapping bridge, there's a tone change: Cardin realizes she's better off without a guy who downgrades her to No. 2. (The accompanying music video, filmed in Iceland, is a stunning pairing for the song.) — HG

'How You Remind Me,' Nickelback cover (2019)

When Cardin got her start on La Voix, she won over the judges and fans with covers of Amy Winehouse and Marie-Pierre Arthur, and she's continued to put her own spin on other artists' songs over the years. Her versions of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Radiohead's "Creep" have earned millions of views on YouTube, and in 2019 she stopped by CBC Music to perform a gorgeously moody rendition of Nickelback's "How You Remind Me," a track that she defended to naysayers of the Alberta band, noting: "It's a super, super catchy song."  — ML

'Anyone Who Loves Me' (2021) 

On Phoenix, an album full of big pop moments, "Anyone Who Loves Me" is a refreshing change of pace, a subdued ballad that rings with searing truths. Cardin told CBC Music that the song is about how being a woman "comes with a lot of injustice, a lot of expectations from other people, a lot of pressure, a lot of judgment." She's reached a point where she's unwilling to stomach it anymore, pushing back at all the confines that women are expected to fall into. The pristine clarity of her voice with the simple piano brings the weight of the lyrics to the forefront: "We're not your fancy dolls/ you better set us free, or else we'll f--k you up." — Kelsey Adams

'Passive Aggressive' (2021)

Cardin's voice rings out bright and clear as a bell from the very beginning of "Passive Aggressive," hooking listeners immediately: "Hallelujah, baby/ we're no longer together," she sings, jumping directly into the song's theme. On each verse, Cardin sings joyfully about freeing herself from a toxic relationship. It's this elation at being liberated that carries the song's infectious chorus and elevates its sleek harmonies, showing that she can concoct a soaring pop hit that effortlessly combines authenticity with a splash of cheekiness. — Natalie Harmsen

'Meaningless' (2021) 

"Meaningless" is a powerhouse of a song. It's no wonder it won single of the year at the 2022 Juno Awards: its pull is undeniable from the first note. Here, Cardin is at her most freewheeling and self-destructive, her voice frenetic and fractured, mirroring the emotional state of a volatile breakup. The song begins delicate and hesitant, but switches gears when the driving bass line kicks in and Cardin's voice rises and rises, hitting an earth-shattering high note on the first line of the chorus. She's an expert at unearthing the unsavoury and shameful things that can be hard to own up to, like admitting she'd rather be mistreated than find someone new to love: "I'm tired of good boys sleepin' on my chest/ you wanna rip my heart out, baby, be my guest." — KA

'Confetti' (2023)

Cardin always finds a way to put a dark spin on a pop anthem. On "Confetti," her inner monologue twists and turns as she grapples with being an introvert in the limelight. "I always feel alone in a crowded place," she sings, in a hushed verse that rolls into an equally low-key but catchy chorus. Even with its morbid refrains ("I feel like a zombie, I'll die at the party"), "Confetti" offers a deeply relatable feeling, which has clearly resonated with many fellow introverts as it has quickly become one of the biggest hits of Cardin's career so far. The track is up for three Juno Awards this year: single of the year, songwriter of the year for Cardin and producer of the year for Jason Brando, Lubalin, Mathieu Sénéchal and Sam Avant. — ML

'Next to You' (2023)

An expert balladeer, Cardin pushes herself to new heights with a stunning vocal performance on one of her most personal songs. Her vocal control is impressive, as she pulls back on the pre-chorus to let the tension build before letting it rip: "I can't be those things next to you," she sings, letting a tidal wave of passion flood out. The track, co-written with Patrick Watson, weaves together sweeping violins and diaristic songwriting for a glowing masterclass in musical vulnerability. — NH

'Feel Good' (2023)

Cardin's songwriting usually excels when she goes deep, into the vulnerable pits of her soul, but with "Feel Good" she taps into a more playful, cheeky side of herself. The sensuous and lush synth-pop track is all about a lover Cardin is magnetically drawn to, with a groove that induces a lustful frenzy as she swings back and forth from English to French: "You make me feel nice/ frissons every time/ j'y ai pensé mille fois/ if you want me, dis-le-moi." The pleading in her voice as she sings "You make me feel good" tells us that she's seeking pleasure above all else, and her lover is definitely up to the challenge. — KA


Host Nelly Furtado is bringing the party to the 2024 Juno Awards on Sunday, March 24, at 8 p.m ET. Tune in on CBC-TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and CBC Listen, and stream globally on cbcmusic.ca/junos.

A designed graphic with turquoise background and the words "Join host Nelly Furtado at the Junos live Sunday, March 24, 8 p.m. ET" with a photo of Nelly holding a Juno.

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