Julia Michaels’ EP Inner Monologue Part 1 voices her honest thoughts while maintaining relatability


The purpose of music is to elicit a feeling, a response in some way. No matter your experience with music or with the writing process with it, conveying feelings that others can identify with its definitely not an easy thing.

So when I say that Inner Monologue Part 1 by Julia Michaels was able to put into words everything that elapses in the inner-workings of my brain, it is not a paradox.

A year ago, if you had asked me if I liked the “Issues” singer, I would tell you she had some witty lyrics, but also some that sounded how cardboard looks. Yet, somehow, Michaels’s EP was able to erase all previous connotations with her music and reinvent herself inside my head.

She did not change anything about herself to become a singer/songwriter I enjoyed listening to, but rather created an approach to music that is harder to come by nowadays. While many songs that are “honest” may play on the radio, they all have the same fabricated feel, as if they’ve been manufactured by a dozen individuals in the name of pseudo-authentic sound.

But with Michaels, her music is genuine without a doubt and can be felt throughout her heartfelt lyrics and heart-wrenching tone.

If there was any doubt of authenticity, in an interview with Billboard magazine, she mentions the inspiration for this EP saying, “I decided to call it Inner Monologue because these are things that I think and feel on a daily basis… So it’s like my deepest thoughts and feelings that I just want to let out into the universe and not keep inside.”

The two songs I identified most with are her songs “Anxiety” and “Happy.” She talks about the struggles that many leave in the shadows far too often in an attempt to silence the inner thoughts. However, Michaels decides to voice these thoughts rather than hush them, her booming tone conveying these feelings flawlessly.

In “Anxiety,” featuring Selena Gomez, she discusses the stresses and sadness that often ensue when dealing with feelings that no one else knows how to relate to, which in turn, leads them to make statements that are more insulting than comforting.

With the hook of her chorus “But all my friends, they don’t know what it’s like, what it’s like / They don’t understand why I can’t sleep through the night / I’ve been told that I could take something to fix it / Damn, I wish it, I wish it was that simple, ah” she effortlessly voices what so many have failed to: the feeling of being misunderstood when all you need is someone who can relate to what you’re experiencing.

In the same interview, Michaels says the inspiration to produce this song came from the desire to publicize the feeling of being alone because so many people “suppress it because they think it’s a taboo thing to talk about.”

I occasionally am skeptical of the true motives of artists producing these type of songs based around the mental illnesses that people often struggle with, and I worry that it is simply to gain attention from the media or to ride waves that others have already created.

Blackbear produced a song with the same title, but instead of discussing the issue with the intention to admit that it is a struggle but it is acceptable nonetheless, he uses it as a gag for clicks. He claims, “When you’re not here with me, I get anxiety.” Although I am not discrediting his feelings, the way he approached the issue was more of one with flamboyance and an excuse to use the term any way he sees fit, subsequently lessening the true effects of mental illness.

Back to Michaels, who produced not just a single song about the deep depths of mental illness, but the entire EP holds the feel of reading someone’s diary with the blatantly honest lyrics that are also evident in her previously mentioned song, “Happy.” In the song, Michaels expresses the feeling far too many people can identify with, stating, “I just want to be happy.” With a deceivingly upbeat tune and a powerful voice to match, it is not one someone might automatically assume has the characteristics of a melancholic meaning, and yet, it does.

By disguising a deeper, darker meaning with the loud backtrack, it simulates more of an anthem than a tragic tune. One might listen to the song and agree while she belts out the chorus, screaming right along with her. Michaels also replicated how often thoughts are shouted over by the loudness of life, and what is truly being stated is overlooked.

Bringing back her typical love-sick songs featured on her previous album, “Deep,” demonstrates the diversity of Michaels, starting off slow with a jumbled voice, only gaining power and tempo as the song progresses.

“Into You” tells the story of common post-breakup-worries of running into an ex but does so in a unique way. Michaels sings that she would rather skip birthday parties, going out, or visiting with friends to keep from accidentally bumping into this bygone lover, something that, once again, many have probably found themselves doing.

“What A Time,” featuring Niall Horan, is the only song that slows the EP down at the very end, and with that being said, Michaels may have left the best for last. She tells the tale of a wayward lover, bringing up nostalgic feelings of the innocence of the beginning of a relationship, remembering how “I think of the night in the park, it was getting dark / And we stayed up for hours / What a time, what a time, what a time.” However, she quickly contrasts this in the climax of the song, turning “what a time” into “what a lie,” simulating how rapidly loving relationships can turn toxic.

Finally, “Apple,” is one of the unfairly overlooked songs on the EP. But with that being said, it also took some time to adjust to. Starting with a ukulele and lyrics that manage to mimic the movement of swinging, she once again changes her tune into a deeper, richer tune, just to turn back to ukulele on the chorus. The song uses metaphors to tell the story of longing for a love, and with a song titled “Apple,” it is not hard to make the connections to the story of  Adam and Eve from the Bible, having a Paradise Lost feel.

I don’t know what I was expecting from Michaels, but it was nothing compared to what I received. Michaels was able to completely change my opinion of her, leaving me replaying her songs every day until they have worn a crevice in my mind, and yet, I am still not tired of them. With honest and relatable lyrics and sad songs that are more similar to anthems, Michaels has achieved the perfect balance between speaking her mind and remaining relatable.

Of all of the albums I’ve heard this year, this is the one I am more concerned about forgetting rather than it becoming so familiar that I’m sick of it.