The Diverse Ear: Songwriters Like SZA & Julia Michaels Are Finding Their Own Voice

I’ve been listening to a lot of pop over the past few weeks. I guess that’s where my head has been. There are some up-and coming ladies, who also happen to be hit songwriters for other artists,  killing the game. Here’s a look at a few.

Julia Michaels, “Worst In Me”, Republic Records

PC: Julia Michaels

Julia Michaels shook up the music scene when her single “Issues” blazed the airways. Her sound is like a breath of fresh air to many, and it seems like she appeared out of nowhere, but that is not the case.

Michaels has been in the industry for years writing some of your favorite hits like “Sorry” by Justin Bieber and “Good For You” by Selena Gomez. She is signed to Warner Chappell in regards to her publishing, but someone saw a spark in her, and decided to sign her in regards to her artistry at Republic, and aren’t we glad they did?

Michaels just released her first label EP titled Nervous System. I had already heard two singles off of it “Issues” and “Uh-Huh” which were both amazing, so I was ready to hear more material.

First listen through, I thought it was good, but in my opinion it lacked the same fire as the singles. As always, I took another listen the next day, and had the opposite reaction, and was smitten with the project.

My favorite so far is “Worst In Me” – It’s just pure pop goodness, but what more could I expect from a platinum hit songwriter like her?

The song to me, is about being afraid of love because it seems “too good to be true.” Something that people deal with daily. The track begins with an acoustic piano, and by the end it’s fully produced, yet it maintains it’s raw emotional quality.

“But maybe it’s the worst in me/That’s bringing out the worst in you/I know we could fix these kinks/But the worst in me doesn’t want to/Work on things/But the best in me wants to love you/But the worst in me doesn’t want to”

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SZA, “Supermodel”, Top Dawg Entertainment

SZA is back with a vengeance. It has been three years since her last album Z and she has finally returned with her long awaited Ctrl.

You might have heard SZA on “Consideration”, the opening track on Rihanna’s 2016 chart-topper Anti. What you may not know is that she wrote the song.

SZA decided to focus on her own artistry in 2017, breaking in at number 3 on the US Billboard 200 charts, which is a huge accomplishment. SZA has developed a sort of underground cult following of 20 somethings, but Ctrl has really allowed her to break into the mainstream market, especially with the single “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott.

It was just announced that she had been nominated for “Best New Artist” at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards set to air August 27 on MTV.

“Supermodel” is the opening track on the album, and it is by far one of my favorites, along with “Love Galore”, and “20 Something”.

She goes about the structure of the song sort of like a freestyle, as in there is not much structure, it’s just, flowing. The majority of the song is just vocals and some type of organ. In the end and unexpected cymbal hit introduces a nice drum fill, which is rumored to be Pharell, who happened to be at the session, and told SZA that he had an idea that turned into reality.

It’s also rumored that he is featured on the track as the inaudible whisper heard in the end, but alas, these are just rumors, but knowing Pharrell it’s not too far-fetched.

The song is about the pressure that girls feel to become something that they are not to please a man. The lyrics are touching, and you can tell they come from a very personal place. SZA is very raw in this song, holding nothing back.

“Leave me lonely for prettier women/You know I need too much attention/For shit like that/You know you wrong/For shit like that/I could be your supermodel/If you believe/If you see it in me/See it in me/See it in me”

These ladies are definitely killin’ the pop game, and I’m excited to see where their careers take them.

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You can check out more of The Diverse Ear every Tuesday on The Indie Sound.




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