You might have heard of Julia Michaels. She is a singer-songwriter who broke out into the music scene with her hit single ‘Issues‘ and she hasn’t looked back since then. She has written for various singers like Selena Gomez (Bad Liar), Hailee Steinfeld (Love Myself) and Justin Bieber (The Feeling) and is one of the most sought after songwriters currently in the music industry. She then went on to release her debut EP Nervous System, which was hugely successful, has toured with artists like Niall Horan and Maroon 5 and is now finally going on her solo headlining tour this year. She has collaborated with artists like Shawn Mendes and Lauv, churning out one banger after the other. Julia doesn’t stop there though, it keeps getting better. A few days ago, she released a new EP called ‘Inner Monologue, Part 1‘ and I have to say, it is the most beautiful way to kick off this new year for music.
Personally, I was very excited when she announced this. I have been a fan of hers ever since she released Issues, and that love was cemented even further when I saw her open for Niall Horan in London last year. With her second EP, Julia Michaels dives further into the grey area between logic and love, and how complicated the entire concept truly is. All the songs in this EP truly reflect that concept. With this EP, she seems to have given us a piece of her mind and what she is thinking and/or feeling – like an inner monologue, hence the title.
She isn’t shy to admit that she’s benefited from failed relationships, as demonstrated with the lyrics in the achingly sad ‘Happy’. Or that she is afraid of running into her ex post-breakup, just like the rest of us in ‘Into You’. With ‘Anxiety’ and ‘What a Time’, she has collaborated with Selena Gomez and Niall Horan respectively, and both these songs tug at your heartstrings, one beat at a time. Here is a track by track analysis of this delightfully heartbreaking EP, which will have you feeling everything and nothing by the end of it:
Anxiety (feat. Selena Gomez)
This is the lead single off the EP and it is an eerily cheery confessional. It is a deeply personal song for both the women on this track, and it’s not difficult to understand why. If you have ever wondered if there’s a song that could perfectly summarise what anxiety feels like, this is it. With lyrics like ‘I’m holding hands with my depression, and right when I think I’ve overcome it, anxiety starts kicking in to teach that shit a lesson,’ Julia doesn’t hold back on what it feels like to be struggling with mental health issues. The subject is touched on very lightly, but the significance is high. Selena Gomez chimes in with her own experience, and together, like a therapy session of sorts, they both lay it all out for the world in this cathartic pop number.
Julia has opened up that this isn’t a sad song, it is about her taking back power, in a way,
“It’s something that when you talk about it, you don’t talk about it with a smile. I guess it’s my way of trying to take my power back from anxiety. I’m like, ‘Yeah, it f**king sucks. I have it, but it’s fine’. Part of the reason it takes me so long to release music is I overthink everything and drive myself crazy. I’m beating that here too.”
‘Anxiety’ is a song that appears like an old friend, for when you feel like there is no one who can truly understand how suffocated you feel by everything around you, to help you realise that you’re not alone in this struggle.
This is one of my favourite songs in this EP. In two words, this song is a breakup ballad. It seems to be about the time period just after the breakup when you’re missing your significant other, and you’re trying not to run into them, simply because it brings back a tornado of memories. With a soothing guitar riff in the background during the chorus, complimented with Julia’s beautiful voice, this song is a perfect breakup song to listen to while you’re on a drive. With lyrics like ‘Haven’t been to my favourite restaurant in months, I can’t drive down Santa Monica without thinkin’ ’bout ya, and what you’re doin’ now’ and ‘And every time that a friend gets a text sayin’ you’re gonna be there, I just don’t go, so I don’t run right into you’, Julia perfectly captures the conflicted post-breakup emotions you feel – wanting to be as far away from the other person, while also wanting to see them again, hoping they feel the same way.
‘Into You’ is a relatable heartbreak ballad that will hit you right where it hurts, but also at the same time, calm you down with its extremely relaxing synth tunes. Definitely an instant favourite.
The title of this song is extremely misleading because this song is anything but. It is an extremely sad confessional about how Julia has benefitted from her past failed relationships as she scream-sings, ‘And sometimes I think I kill relationships for art, I start up all this shit to watch ’em fall apart, I pay my bills with it, I watch ’em fall apart, then pay the price for it’. While at the same time, it’s a cry for happiness, as she wishes that she could just be happy with someone without having to go through all this mental turmoil. That is all this track is about – her searching for inner happiness and contentment. And it makes for quite an anthem for anyone who is going through the same thing.
This song is a cute little flirty song filled with angst. There are moments when you get a little Lorde vibe in the chorus. This song is basically about meeting someone new and developing a crush on them. But its basis is still heartbreak. She has just gone through something horrible and now she’s found this new person who’s bringing back all those feelings. As is the case with every single song with this EP, all the songs are extremely well written. You can’t help but feel what Julia feels in every song she sings, even if you’ve never been through something like that. ‘Deep’ is no different. Filled with high notes and quirky beats, this song is beautiful in its own unique way.
This song gave me some slight, barely there, Billie Eilish vibes. ‘Apple’ is basically Julia envisioning her version of a perfect romance. With chill beats, stunning lyrics and a soothing voice, this song is a perfect pop tune that you can just listen to with your eyes closed as the entire story unfolds in your head. It’s the staple summertime love story. This is the only song on this 6 track EP that doesn’t necessarily focus on heartbreak. It’s a stripped down version explaining to us what Julia’s version of a beautiful love story is. And that’s all there is to it.
What a Time (feat. Niall Horan)
This is the last song and is hands down my favourite one in the EP. Ever since I saw them on tour, I’ve wanted Niall and Julia to collaborate, and with this song, they made my wish come true and boy, did they deliver. This song is a ballad reminiscing about the good times they’ve had in their old relationships. ‘What a Time’, as they so accurately put it, is how they describe these relationships. Just fond, happy memories before it all went down the drain. This song is the most calming and soothing out of them all, mostly because of the music and how well Niall and Julia’s voices blend together. With simple guitar delivery filled with a few additions here and there, ‘What a Time’ is a raw, stripped-down ballad that is perfect if you just want to reminisce about the good old days. This Inner Monologue ends on a fond yet hopeful note with ‘What a Time’ and it is the warmest, most beautiful way to bring this emotional journey to an end.
Basically, this EP is a peek into the mind of Julia Michaels and how she has come to grow as an artist and a human being. This EP will make you feel things you didn’t think you were capable of feeling. It has the ability to make you cry your eyes out, look back at some fond memories with a loving smile, and just hope and wish for true happiness in life. It is her inner monologue – her own personal story and struggles that she has treasured for so long and is now finally sharing with the world. She has reflected on some really dark and vulnerable moments of her life with ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Happy’, but at the same time, she has shown us how she has grown as a person because of these experiences. Inner Monologue Part 1 sheds a really positive light about Julia’s sense of self-worth with her knack of beautifully empowering storytelling on each track.
I can’t recommend this EP enough. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a very long time. This EP is something that will truly resonate with you and keep you longing for more. Julia Michaels has truly pulled on all stops for this one and I am extremely excited for what she brings on with the next instalment to this masterpiece. She is one of the greatest singer-songwriters in the business at the moment and it is perfectly visible in her latest musical endeavour. And something tells me she is just getting started.
Featured image credit: Rolling Stone