Julia Michaels is attempting to complete a transition that a handful of other artists are familiar with: Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo, Jason Derulo and Ryan Tedder come to mind immediately.
The songwriter is now keeping the hits for herself, and singing them. It all started with a track that is currently climbing up the pop radio charts: “Issues.”
“The song was so personal to me,” Michaels explained to me. “It felt uncomfortable thinking that someone else was going to sing such a personal song of mine.”
So Michaels sang it and now radio stations are playing it. It’s far from the first time she’s heard her lyrics on the airwaves though; the songstress has a co-write credit on Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and has also penned tracks for Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and the aforementioned Derulo to name a few.
“Of course I had respect for them before, but now I’m like, ‘You guys are my heroes,’” Michaels said of her newer-found-respect for the artists she has worked with. “This is so different.”
In example: instead of at an event or in the studio on GRAMMY Week, there Michaels was at our backstage broadcast, granting interviews with radio stations across the globe regarding her past discography and current single. But with
“The first time I heard ‘Issues’ on the radio I bawled like a baby,’” she admitted. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is happening. It’s so crazy.’”
And if the success of her prior hits is any indication, it’s only going to get crazier.
The times’ they are-a-changin’. It used to be based on call-in requests or “call-out” research panels. Lately it’s charts populated by tweets or “Shazams.” And for Starley, it was a zero-percent skip rate on Spotify.
“It went nuts online,” Starley, surname Hope, said of her track “Call On Me.” A remix by producer Ryan Riback made its way to a playlist on the streaming service and what followed was the makings of a hit record, although some stations in the U.S. opt for the original opposed to the dance version. “It broke my career as an artist and it’s really cool.”
And interestingly enough for Starley, the newcomer has zero preference on which version people hear.
“I think it’s really good to have different versions out of something because if certain people like that dance version, that’s great,” she explained. “But if it reaches a certain other type of people with the slower version, I’m cool with that… the more, the merrier.”
Hey, the idea of a popular remix worked out well for Mike Posner, who scored a GRAMMY nomination in part to the popularity of SeeB remixing “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” from its original form. There Starley and I were, talking about this inside Staples Center during GRAMMY weekend as Posner’s track was up for “Song Of The Year.” But first things first – the singer wants to release more music.
“I’m working on an album, working on my next single,” she revealed. “I haven’t got any dates, but it’s definitely coming.”
Hopefully for Starley like “Call On Me,” her fans will be sure not to skip over it.
For day three of our broadcast with Westwood One Backstage at The 59th GRAMMYs we chatted with a bunch of current and former nominees while also speaking with a few friends-of-the-show. It was great to see Train’s Pat Monahan and Gavin DeGraw. I also interviewed Lukas Graham for the second time; the first time was at The GRAMMYs last year and now they’re up for three awards including Record and Song Of The Year, plus they’ll perform with Kelsea Ballerini. Noah Cyrus stopped by and compared me to her dad, LeAnn Rimes remembered her big GRAMMY wins from 20 years ago and Charli XCX explained how she chooses to collaborate with people before I brought up Selena Gomez to her.
So great to see a couple of current and possibly future GRAMMY nominees on my second day here in Los Angeles and our first day inside Staples Center for Westwood One’s Backstage at The GRAMMYs. I asked Mike Posner and Daya about the big day plus met Dua Lipa. Also, we chatted about a couple neighborhoods in Manhattan when “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Paige Mobley and singer/songwriter Max stopped by.
On my first day of coverage in Los Angeles for The 59th GRAMMYs, I attended The Recording Academy Producers And Engineers Wing 10th Annual event which honored 12-time GRAMMY winner Jack White. The artist’s friend Conan O’Brien was on hand and stopped to chat about his Patriots winning Super Bowl 51. I also spoke with Regina Spektor and Academy President Neil Portnow.
This is the story of a song, its GRAMMY nomination and how one small suggestion can have a ripple effect amongst multiple artists.
Yes, this is the story – as unlikely as it may seem – of Mike Posner’s “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” before the producer SeeB remixed it for pop radio’s indulgence.
The genesis of this track can be traced back to Posner’s actual trip to the Balearic Island where he took a pill in the presence of Avicii. But that experience did not immediately yield a hit record. Matter-of-fact, had it not been for a chat with popular country artist, Posner might have kept the story to himself.
That chat occurred with Jake Owen and it happened on Posner’s 26th birthday.
“Basically I played (Owen) a song, a different song, and he goes, ‘What inspired that tune?’ I said, ‘I just sort of made it up,’” Posner recalled during an interview that took place inside the Staples Center on his birthday last year, which fell on GRAMMY weekend.
“And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Well why don’t you just tell the truth?’”
Sounds easy, but it obviously is not something that any artist can do effectively. Yet that night, Posner tried. The Duke University alumnus hopped on a plane and wrote, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.”
Soon after, Posner found himself on a plane again, but this time he was sitting across from singer/songwriter Nash Overstreet. The Nashville native once shared a record label home with Posner on RCA as a member of the pop-rock group Hot Chelle Rae.
“(Posner) told me he had been hanging with Jake Owen recently,” Overstreet said via telephone from Los Angeles. “And he told me he wanted to write painfully realistic, accurate truth in to music.”
It was almost as if Owen was now speaking through Posner to other artists. The result was similar: Overstreet was inspired to write the title track from his EP, “U Don’t Get 2 Do That.” The truth in that song even resonated with Hot Chelle Rae lead singer Ryan Follese, who after hearing it advised Overstreet to keep the song for himself and release it as a single.
The Gospel of Jake Owen continued to spread. Adam Friedman is another singer and songwriter who co-wrote and/or produced five different songs on Posner’s last LP “At Night, Alone.” While in-studio to promote his forthcoming EP “Green,” I mentioned the story of “Ibiza” to Friedman – a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.
“That theme has definitely shed on to me,” Friedman noted of writing songs with authenticity, specifically when talking about his single “What If?”which he’ll perform on “The Bachelor” February 13.
“I cried… not like balled, but I got tears,” the artist admitted after finding out that Posner’s “Ibiza” snagged the major GRAMMY nod. “I was on the same freeway that I had been on going to his house to work on that album. Just knowing where he was at when I met him three years ago and where I was at and just this three year journey that I’ve taken with him. To see that he got “Song Of The Year” (nomination), which was one of his goals, and to see him reach it… it was really, really cool for me to be a part of something like that.”
In the end, three artists were affected; two charts were topped (“Ibiza” hit number one on both Billboard’s Dance and Pop Airplay tallies) and one GRAMMY nomination was received. Posner will find out Sunday night if the song takes home the Gramophone.
Singer/songwriter Adam Friedman stopped by the show to talk about his new EP ‘Green’ and the single, ‘What If?’ which he’ll be performing on “The Bachelor” February 13. Friedman also talked about his friend and collaborator Mike Posner’s GRAMMY nomination for “Song Of The Year.”
Nash Overstreet called in to the show from Los Angeles to chat about his new solo EP, ‘U Don’t Get 2 Do That.’ The Hot Chelle Rae guitarist also talked about keeping in touch with his bandmates, Mike Posner inspiring him and working with other artists like Britney Spears and Rachel Platten on different projects.
I’ve covered a litany of different media opportunities for TV show premieres and without question the experience I had in Brooklyn for the season two kick-off of Syfy’s “The Magicians” was the most unique. For the new episodes, Syfy constructed a “Hall of Magic” inside the retail center of the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg. Each room inside the hall offered something different: a library with an open bar, a room of electronics that animated as soon as you pointed towards them, a shadow wall and yes even a room where you could levitate in thin air.
After touring the hall and becoming a believer, I chatted on the red carpet with Jason Ralph, a Harlem-based actor who plays one of the leads in “The Magicians” as Quentin Coldwater.
To say I struggled with this article would be a bit of an understatement, but perhaps after I write this I’ll simply “let it go.”
Last Wednesday I found myself blinded by the lights of Times Square to cover a red carpet with “Frozen” star Idina Menzel. The songstress made a name for herself under those lights, rising to stardom thanks to her roles in the Broadway productions of “Rent” and “Wicked.” She took home a Tony Award for the latter.
Menzel returned to Gotham to promote the movie “Beaches,” a remake of the 1988 classic, which aired last Saturday night on Lifetime. The network held a screening for the film at the AMC Empire 25 Theater on 42nd Street. The reboot also starred Nia Long, who reprised the role of Hillary while Menzel took on Bette Midler’s character C.C.
When Menzel stepped on to the red carpet inside the building, she first spoke with E! News about the film and her fiancé. Lifetime’s social media crew followed up by recording a “tune-in” message from the actress. My spot on the carpet was next to theirs, but Menzel’s publicists herded the remaining members of the media in to a half-circle, where none of us would get one-on-ones and instead we’d be asking the singer questions press conference-style.
This isn’t my first rodeo so at this point I’m not the slightest bit annoyed, even after said-publicists tells us that we can only ask questions about the movie.
But we’re in New York. Menzel was born in Queens. So what was it like for her to be back in the city?
“I’m a New York girl, so it’s nice,” she responded. “I got my apartment here and there’s no food in the refrigerator. So I’m hungry but I’m happy.”
I followed up by inquiring what the first thing that came to her mind was when she returned to Broadway.
“OK, questions about the movie right here!” shouted Menzel’s publicist, who then gently scooted the singer away from me and towards the other members of the media, most of whom were probably awaiting with baited breath to ask the same, tired questions that Menzel has already answered a million times.
Here’s the ironic portion of the ordeal: Menzel is a Tony Award-winning performer who rose to prominence in part due to “Rent” and “Wicked.” In the movie that her publicist required we ask questions about, she plays Midler’s role.
Yes, Bette Midler: a Tony Award-winning actress who began her own rise to prominence thanks to roles in “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Salvation.”
Maybe the publicist missed the connection? Maybe she didn’t care? Maybe she’s never going back, because the past is in the past?
Regardless, the cold shoulder never bothered me anyways.