• Hina Janjua

Julia Michaels goes on journey of self-discovery and obsession in 'Not in Chronological Order'

“Michaels’ pivot from songwriter to artist is an interesting transition to witness as her sound continues to develop and change with each song she puts out.”

Singer-songwriter Julia Michaels has returned to the pop scene with her first full-length studio album, Not in Chronological Order. For years, Michaels has been the genius behind multiple top tracks from artists like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. She has operated behind the scenes and lined up countless hits for other singers. Michaels’ pivot from songwriter to artist is an interesting transition to witness as her sound continues to develop and change with each song she puts out. While Michaels’ vocal style is unique to her, there is no typical sound associated with her singer persona. Michaels' most recognizable track is undoubtedly her debut single, “Issues,” an upbeat song with lyrics that explored the ugly side of a relationship, jealousy, judgment, and so on.

Not in Chronological Order follows the same perspective as “Issues” in terms of exploring some of the least talked about, but very real aspects of being in a relationship. In her album, Michaels is very open about the inner workings of her relationship with JP Saxe, who inspired quite a few songs on the album. This kind of vulnerability is often what pushes Michaels’ artistic direction with her songs and is something her fans value in her art. In some tracks, Michaels uses her impeccable lyricism to amplify emotions felt in her relationships. “All Your Exes” leads listeners through a journey of jealousy, one that is surprisingly dark and possessive. “I want to live in a world where all your exes are dead,” carries on through the chorus of the song, stressing Michaels’ point about wanting to be the only person in her partner's life and her wish to not learn about the previous partners they have had. On the other hand, “History” delves into learning everything about your partner, from their third-grade teacher’s name to if they ever miss their ex. Michaels holds an impeccable ability to contrast lyrics perfectly in her tracks and take listeners through different parts of her relationships.

The pop space is no stranger to Michaels’ as a majority of her songwriting portfolio is filled with pop hits. Interestingly, Not in Chronological Order contains only a handful of pop songs, with a majority of the rest of the album exploring acoustic sounds and ballads. “Little Did I Know” is a slow, piano track that perfectly reflects the progression of any relationship, from a starting point as strangers to reaching a point where they are the only person you confide in. “Orange Magic” and “Pessimist” both contain pop soundtracks but are in a similar vein to “Issues” with addicting beats complimented by Michaels’ singing style. Overall, this is a good album, but nothing we haven’t heard from her before. Michaels has yet to see the same success she saw with “Issues” but after spending years writing songs for other artists, it’s understandable that she will go through multiple evolutions with her music before landing in the right space.


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