Since releasing her major-label debut in 2007, Sara Bareilles’ career has gone from strength to strength. Recognized for her exceptional songwriting talents and unique brand of piano-based pop-soul, she’s one of the rare artists who’s enjoyed critical and commercial success in equal measure. To date, she’s sold over a million albums and nine million singles in the US alone, while also earning nominations for eight Grammy, three Primetime Emmy, and two Tony Awards. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Sara Bareilles songs of all time.
Uncharted was released as the second single from Bareilles’ third studio album, Kaleidoscope Heart. Bareilles has since said the song ended her writer’s block and proved the starting point for the album. “I was worrying [to a friend] about how I was never going to be able to write another song, and I was starting a lot of songs but I couldn’t finish any of them,” she told Billboard. “I was really worried about stepping into the unknown and I didn’t know what to expect the second time around… and that afternoon, I sat down and wrote ‘Uncharted.'” Boosted by a music video that started a score of big names like Adam Levine, Josh Groban, Pharrell Williams, Ben Folds, Ryan Tedder, Vanessa Carlton, and Tegan and Sara, the song soared to number 17 on the US Adult Top 40.
9. She Used to Be Mine
Described by theodysseyonline.com as a song that explores what it’s like to lose sight of yourself, She Used to Be Mine was written by Bareilles for the musical stage production of the 2007 movie, Waitress. A wispy, nostalgic number that’s as powerful as it is gentle, it reached number 26 on the US Adult Top 40 on its release in September 2015.
8. I Choose You
A mid-tempo indie-pop ballad that perfectly captures the feeling of falling in love, I Choose You is, as csmonitor.com says, the kind of song that could “make anyone’s irritating day better.” Released in January 2014, it reached the top 20 on both the US Billboard Adult Top 40 and Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, and peaked at number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. Bottle It Up
Bareilles wrote Bottle It Up just before signing to Epic Records in 2002. Speaking to the Minneapolis Star Tribune about her inspiration, she revealed, “Before I had a record deal, I wrote that song about what it would be like to have a record deal, and the struggles of how do you become an artist who feels like they haven’t quote/unquote ‘sold out,’ and how do you stay true to your art and figure out how to make a living from it… The chorus says it all: ‘I do it for love.’ Music – and particularly songwriting – for me is such a passion, it’s a very sacred thing.” After finally releasing it on March 10, 2008, as the second single from her 2007 album, Little Voice, it reached the top 40 on both the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 and Billboard Adult Top 40 charts.
6. Gonna Get Over You
Gonna Get Over You was released as the final single from Bareilles’ 2010 album, Kaleidoscope Heart. A definite highlight of the album, it received praise from critics for its luscious harmonies and huge hooks. Helped along by a video directed by Jonah Hill in which Bareilles rocks out in a leather jacket in a supermarket, the song was a hit, peaking at number 27 on the US Adult Top 40 chart.
5. King of Anything
Bareilles wrote King of Anything as a response to feeling fed up with being offered unsolicited advice. “It felt empowering to turn that frustration into music, especially a song that doesn’t even sound angry. That’s sort of what ‘Love Song’ was as well. Apparently, I don’t get over things very quickly,” she said. As it turns out, a bit of frustration goes down incredibly well in the charts: released in May 2010, the song debuted at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 (her highest debut on the chart to date) before climbing to number 32. It also managed to pick up a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
4. Love Song
Love Song, Bareilles’ debut single, was released in June 2007 as the lead single from the album, Little Voice. It immediately picked up rave reviews from critics and major attention from music fans, who sent it to number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, number four on the UK Singles Chart, and number one on the Canadian Hot 100, the US Mainstream Top 40, Hot Adult Pop Songs and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts. It rounded off its success with Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
3. Chasing the Sun
With breathtaking lyricism, a soaring chorus, wonderful vocals, and an immersive storyline, Chasing the Sun easily ranks as one of Bareilles’ most beautiful and underrated gems. During an interview with the New York Daily News, Bareilles revealed that she was inspired to write the song after an artist friend of hers from Brooklyn wrote her an email encouraging her to take a look at the cemetery. “He said the tombstones look like little brothers of the skyscrapers. The image was so strong, I built the whole song around it,” she explained.
Bareilles wrote Gravity after her “first real heartbreak” in the hope that she’d be able to help people going through the same experience. A melodic, introspective ballad, it showcases her knack for songcraft and flawless ability to convey an emotion. Released as the third single from her major-label debut Little Voice in February 2009, it failed to make much of an impression on the charts, but has since become one of her most popular songs with fans.
In at number one on our list of the 10 best Sara Bareilles songs of all time is Brave. Released as the second single from her fourth studio album The Blessed Unrest, the song was inspired by the struggles one of Bareilles’ close friends went through when they came out as gay. Its message resonated strongly with fans, resulting in one of Bareilles’ biggest chart successes to date. It’s since become a hugely popular staple at concerts.