The sound


By Michael Swanger


Michaelson more comfortable now writing smart love songs


It is surprising to think that Ingrid Michaelson, who has a knack for writing and singing dreamy, pensive-but-poppy songs, at one time doubted whether she should be singing about such personal matters. Buoyed by the success of smart love songs like “The Way I Am” and “Maybe,” which have helped her sell more than two million digital singles and 500,000 albums, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter from New York appears to be more comfortable in her own skin as time marches on.

“I don’t worry as much anymore about sharing those feelings in songs,” said Michaelson via telephone from her apartment in Brooklyn following a morning workout at the gym. “I look forward to seeing what happens in the next chapter of my life.”

Michaelson’s career, thus far, is an interesting story. She graduated from college with a degree in musical theater, then toured the country with a theater troupe when she began writing universal relationship songs focused on self-doubt, betrayal and love. In 2007, she released “Girls and Boys,” which caught the ear of the music supervisor for “Grey’s Anatomy” and allowed Michaelson’s heart-wrenching ode to emotional paralysis “Keep Breathing” to serve as the soundtrack to that season’s finale, which was watched by more than 25 million people.

The rest, they say, is history as fans began Googling her lyrics and discovering her music. Her first big hit, platinum-selling “The Way I Am,” (a.k.a. “the sweater song”) was featured in an Old Navy commercial and propelled “Girls and Boys” into the Billboard Top 200 as the record topped the Heatseeker and Alternative New Artist Album charts. Shortly thereafter, Michaelson’s MySpace page, which she created, was registering 90,000 hits per day and she reached No. 4 on the overall iTunes chart — all unprecedented feats for an independent artist.

Since then, Michaelson has continued to chart on the Billboard Top 200 multiple times; played every major television talk show; been featured prominently in many mainstream music publications; toured with Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz; and had 10 songs featured on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Her second album, “Everybody,” released last summer, spawned the hit single “Maybe,” which was the most added single at Hot AC radio tying Madonna and Kelly Clarkson and reached No. 2 on Triple A charts. Even her song, “Little Romance,” landed on the “Sex and the City: Vol. 2” soundtrack. Not bad for someone who describes herself as “a librarian chic” and “neurotic.”

“In the beginning, when things started happening so fast in mid-2007 due to the TV exposure, I was shocked and surprised,” confessed Michaelson when asked about her recent success. “I thought it would all disappear because it happened so quickly.”

Three years later, after adjusting to success and life on the road, the fiercely independent and witty Michaelson (she’s the Tina Fey of today’s pop singers) takes things in stride and is becoming more confident in her abilities.

“I continue to be surprised by my success, but I also see how much time, work and touring goes into it,” she said. “You don’t just sit back and relax and your success comes to you.”

While Michaelson plans to spend the summer and fall touring to continue promoting “Everybody,” she is also starting to write songs for her next album, which she hopes to record early next year but has not set a deadline.

“I write songs when the moment strikes,” she said. “Some people have writing sessions and force themselves to sit down and write lyrics, but that’s never worked for me.”

Michaelson said that she is not in a hurry to write songs or predetermine what thematic direction the album might take.

“I usually write about love and relationships and bullshit like that,” she said with a laugh. “So it depends on what mood I’m in when I write songs for it. You just kind of know when it happens.” CV

Caption: Ingrid Michaelson performs Thursday, July 8 at 6 p.m. at the Simon Estes Amphitheater for Nitefall on the River. Tickets are $18 through Midwestix.



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