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Essential Wild Strawberries: The Top 10 Best Tracks

We rank the Canadian pop-rock duo's greatest songs, from deep album cuts to their biggest singles

Canadian pop-rock duo Ken and Roberta Harrison are getting ready to release a new album this year, and what better time than now to take a look back at their impressive catalogue of hits and deep album cuts.

With over eight full-length albums and numerous singles and tracks for other artists, it was tough to whittle down a list of the best Wild Strawberries songs to just 10 tracks. We hope you’ll mostly agree with our choices, but if you don’t, keep in mind that beyond our top 10 are many, many more Strawberries songs worth biting into.

10 “Crying Shame”

from 1994’s Bet You Think I’m Lonely

The band’s very first single initially found success in a 1988 Toronto radio contest, but the 1993 version is the definitive mix. The 60s soul-rock flavoured song showcases their ear for hooks and trademark use of the abstract in their lyrics (“Don’t give me your hand / As an alibi / You call me misery / I call you civilized”). This re-recorded version peaked at #23 on RPM Canadian radio airplay charts.

9 “32”

from 1998’s Quiver

After earning a Gold record for their sunny 1996 album Heroine, the band’s sound took a darker, tougher-sounding turn with their follow-up. During the three-year recording process, Ken’s mother continued to decline from advanced Alzheimer’s and the focus on impressionist, notional lyrics is especially pronounced on Quiver. The album track “32” crystallizes Ken’s melancholy on the record and contains Quiver‘s most memorable chorus.

8 “I Don’t Wanna Stop” (Molella Remix)

from ATB’s 2003 single

German DJ ATB and Wild Strawberries’ long-time collaboration in the 2000’s — ATB produces, Ken writes and Roberta sings — are arguably the most fruitful creative periods for both artists. “I Don’t Wanna Stop” was the first single from ATB’s Addicted To Music album, but in the original mix, Roberta’s vocals are pitched down from E-flat to D-minor. The Molella remix retains the original, brighter vocals and is much better for it. In 2005, the band released a pop-rock version, but the heart and soul of “I Don’t Wanna Stop” is as a hands-in-the-air dance anthem. Sometimes heartbreak is best worked out on the dancefloor.

7 “Bet You Think I’m Lonely”

from 1994’s Bet You Think I’m Lonely

The title track from the Strawberries’ third independently-released album defined the group as national pop hitmakers — “Bet You Think I’m Lonely” hit the Canadian Top 40 radio airplay charts, peaking at #24. The retro-flavoured vibe and irresistible chorus (“I bet you think I’m lonely / I bet you think I’m crying all the time / Pity always said she’d be your bride”) make this song a continual fan favourite.

6 “I Don’t Want To Think About It”

from 1996’s Heroine

The band’s biggest single was their first hit as part of a corporate label, having signed with Vancouver-based Nettwerk in 1995. “I Don’t Want To Think About It” hit #9 on the Canadian radio airplay charts and was their first departure into a harder rock sound. If you look closely at the music video and you can see labelmate Sarah McLachlan playing guitar in the background. The band would participate in the first three years of McLachlan’s Lilith Fair festival.

5 “Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe”

from 1994’s Bet You Think I’m Lonely

The band’s second significant radio single established Ken and Roberta as rising pop stars. The track picked up significant airplay in Toronto, even before it was released on an independently-released EP. The 60s doo-wop stylings and Booker T-referencing pop track is a sublime throwback that represents the best of their Bet You Think I’m Lonely era.

4 “No Way To Break My Heart”

from 2005’s Deformative Years

Initially titled “Break My Heart,” a downtempo dance version of this song was first released on a 2003 ATB album. The track never became an official single, so they re-recorded the song as Wild Strawberries and fashioned it into a rock production. It’s even stronger than the original incarnation, and proves that great songwriting is undeniable, no matter how it is produced.

3 “Hold You”

from ATB’s 2001 album Dedicated

ATB and Wild Strawberries’ second single together became a European club hit and a top 20 hit in Germany, Hungary and Romania. “Hold You” contains the one of the group’s greatest hooks, with Roberta’s vocals repeating “I don’t want to hold you / I don’t want to hold you down,” which works on both levels as a simple refrain for the clubs and clever wordplay that’s neither a rejection or a full embrace.

2 “Let U Go” (ATB Remix)

from ATB’s 2001 album Dedicated

Initially titled “Wrong To Let You Go,” the Strawberries’ former label, Nettwerk, didn’t think the song was a hit and allowed them to take the song with them when they left the label. Ken and Roberta decided to submit the song as a one-off track for Warner Canada’s Women & Songs compilation. It took off unexpectedly and became a top 10 radio hit in Canada. Following the song’s Canadian success, a Warner executive forwarded the track to ATB for remixing and he fell in love with the song. He asked to release his remix under his own name and it became a #34 hit hit in the UK. The Wild Strawberries began their multi-year collaboration with ATB in earnest from that point on.

1 “Heroine”

from 1996’s Heroine

Dreamy and sublime, the title track from their best-selling 1996 record, remains a pop classic. The song quietly begins with an intake of breath and bursts into its full production. Surrounding Roberta’s heartfelt vocals are a pulsating bass line, sounding like a rapid heartbeat, along with gentle, but insistent guitars. During a 1996 interview, Roberta told Popjournalism that the song was born out of wordplay and wanting to reinvigorate the word “heroine,” which she felt has been out of use. As usual for Wild Strawberries, the lyrics are open to wide interpretation but the overall tone is romantic. The best phrase is near the end, combined with Roberta’s almost-whispered delivery: “Memory’s a silent second take / She will drink the poison if you put it in your cup / She will touch your eyes and never stop.”

Listen to our Essential Wild Strawberries Spotify playlist

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