Since making her mainstream breakthrough in 2007 with her second studio album, Girls and Boys, Ingrid Michaelson has built a loyal fanbase with her breezy, Norah Jones-esque brand of pop. Known for her distinctive angelic vocals, echoing harmonies, and sweet melodies, her music has served as the backing to numerous TV shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, 90210, and Ugly Betty. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Ingrid Michaelson songs of all-time.
10. Winter Song
In 2008, Michaelson teamed up with her friend and fellow singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles on the song Winter Song. The song, which features on The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs, a compilation of original and standard holiday tracks performed by female singer-songwriters, might not contain a single reference to Christmas, but it still has enough of a seasonal feel for Michaelson and Bareilles to have been invited to sing it for President Obama and his family at the National Christmas Tree Lighting in 2010. Released as a single in December 2008, it was a minor hit in Canada, reaching number 91 on the Canadian Hot 100, and a major hit in Ireland, where it peaked at number 2.
Maybe, the closing track to Michaelson’s third studio album, Everybody, combines radio-ready hooks with a love story about a risky, faltering affair that could be on, or could be off, depending on where in the tale you land. A slow burner of the best kind, it delivers everything listeners want from Michaelson – gorgeous harmonies, mature lyrics, compelling instrumentation, and a sensational vocal. Released in July 2009, it reached number 9 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles Chart and number 2 on the US Adult Alternative Songs Chart.
8. Freak Show
Michaelson’s latest album, 2019’s Stranger Songs, was a triumph. Inspired by the Netflix TV series Stranger Things, it found the singer reaching out to the freaks and the geeks of the world with messages of hope and encouragement. Its opening track, Freak Show, is particularly engaging, combining layers of sparkly EDM keyboards with the compelling warmth of lyrics like “When you wake up and you’re all alone/And the bed’s too big for one/Well you’re not the only weird one here/Let me show you where I’m from.”
7. Missing You
Another gorgeous moment from Michaelson’s 2019 album Stranger Songs next, this time in the shape of Missing You. Drawing inspiration from the characters of Nancy Wheeler, Jonathan Byers and Steve Harrington from Netflix’s Stranger Things, the song is narrated from the perspective of a woman in a relationship with one person, but who secretly pines after someone else. Its layers of seductive synths, pulsating beats, and crystal clear vocals went down a storm with critics, who also praised the universal appeal of the lovesick lyrics. Released as a single in May 2019, it reached number 21 on the US Adult Top 40 chart.
6. Can’t Help Falling in Love
She might be best known for her original compositions, but Michaelson isn’t averse to turning her hand to covers from time to time either. In 2008, she turned her attention to Elvis Presley’s ever-popular Can’t Help Falling in Love. A resoundingly lovely interpretation and a definite highlight of the album Be Ok, it went down a storm with fans and critics alike, picking up nominations for the American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single and Independent Music Award for Best Song – Cover.
5. Be OK
The first single and title track from Michaelson’s third studio album Be Ok is a perfectly pitched pop tune that showcases Michaelson’s talent for elevating warm, Norah Jones-esque coffeehouse smoulderers with echoing harmonies and punctuating handclaps. The album opens with a full-throttled arrangement of the song and closes with an acoustic version, both of which are equally irresistible. Since sliding into the US Billboard Hot 100 in August 2008, it’s been used in numerous TV shows and films, including The House Bunny, The Decoy Bride, 90210, Parenthood, and Ugly Betty.
4. Girls Chase Boys
Speaking about the development of Girls Chase Boys, Michaelson has said, “Girls Chase Boys started out as a break-up song but took on a deeper meaning as I continued writing. More than just being about my experience, its focus shifted to include the idea that, no matter who or how we love, we are all the same. Girls don’t exclusively chase boys. We all know this. We all chase each other and in the end, we are all chasing after the same thing: love.” Released as the lead single from the album of the same name in February 2014, it reached number 52 on the Billboard Hot 100.
According to Michaelson, her third studio album, Everybody, compromises of “completely autobiographical snapshots of my life.” The theme is love… or more specifically, the idea that “everybody wants to be loved.” It’s a hard album not to fall in love with, with its titular track, a song All Music describes as “a campfire singalong fueled by strummed ukulele” that “could be the female answer to Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours,” proving particularly irresistible.
2. Mountain and the Sea
Another highlight from Michaelson’s third studio album, Everybody, next, this time in the shape of the irresistible Mountain and the Sea. With its anthemic, exuberant chorus and quirky, hand-clapped rhythms, it’s impossible not to be won over by.
1. The Way I Am
The first introduction most of us got to Michaelson’s talents was with her debut single, The Way I Am. A quirky, expertly crafted pop melody replete with fractured beats, handclaps, and layered harmonies, it became an instant hit, rising to number 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (Michaelson’s highest charting position to date) and number 2 on the US Adult Alternative Songs Chart. It’s since been certified platinum after selling over 1.6 million copies in the US alone.