Colbie Caillat to play Sept. 16 at Belly Up Aspen
If You Go …
Who: Colbie Caillat
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Tuesday, Sept. 16, 8 p.m.
Cost: $55 GA/ $75 reserved
Tickets and more information: www.bellyupaspen.com
The age of the air-brushed female pop star with the glossy public image may be on its way out. Singer Colbie Caillat, who plays Belly Up on Tuesday, Sept. 16, is doing her part to change the game, and fans are embracing the idea.
This summer, the 29-year-old Grammy-winning, platinum-selling artist released the single “Try,” a sincere mid-tempo ballad about giving up on superficial expectations with the chorus “You don’t have to try.” It broke through the multimedia pop noise to become a hit and helped jump-start a wider cultural conversation about body image issues and empowerment for young women. A video for the song, showing Caillat and a diverse set of women wiping off their make-up, became a viral sensation this summer — tallying more than 9 million views in its first week on YouTube and 23.4 million as of Monday.
The song and video were a response to the unrealistic expectations she put on herself in the years since her breakout hit, 2007’s “Bubbly,” put her in the international spotlight.
“When I became a musician and I got signed, I guess it was just magnified,” she explained last month from a tour stop in Denver. “Being on TV all the time and at photo shoots and being around all these other musicians and celebrities — you kind of get so in the mix and you start feeling more and more pressure to be polished and not have anything wrong with you. It’s an illness. We all think in our brains that those imperfections and flaws are so noticeable that people are not going to like you because of them. I’m finally letting go of that worry.”
Caillat is touring in support of her new album, “Gypsy Heart,” set for release Sept. 30. Earlier this year, she released a surprise EP teaser titled “Gypsy Heart Side A,” with five songs from the album, including “Try.” She said she expects to play all five songs from the EP during her Aspen set, along with a few of the yet-to-be-released tracks, her hits and a “fun cover” or two.
The new album was produced by veteran R&B hit-maker Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, who Caillat said encouraged her to be herself and speak to young people about self-acceptance on “Try.”
“The more I stop trying, the less I put on makeup for everything or worried about my nails being done, then the more comfortable I started feeling about myself,” she said. “The imperfections I see in myself are slowly fading, and I don’t mind them as much anymore.”
Working with Babyface and her frequent writing partner Jason Reeeves, she crafted the message into a song that manages to avoid being a preachy moralistic anthem. With a massive fan base of young women in high school or junior high, she felt compelled to speak out in her music about the superficial pressures of society and its impact on self-esteem.
“That’s such an age when you’re struggling to know who you are,” she said. “If I could tell my younger self to try less and embrace who I was, I would have enjoyed schools and my childhood so much more.”
Beyond “Try,” the new songs show off Caillat’s genre-hopping skills, using her contralto voice in pop arrangements that incorporate elements of rock, hip-hop, country and R&B, ranging from the carefree dance track “Blaze” to the ballad “If You Love Me Let Me Go” and the up-tempo rocker “Live It Up.”
Caillat’s career has flourished, in part, by embracing collaboration. She’s sought out producers like Babyface, after working with her father — acclaimed Fleetwood Mac producer Ken Caillat — on her first four albums. Many fans first discovered her through her Grammy-winning work with Jason Mraz (“Lucky”) and Taylor Swift (“Breathe”). She’s frequently written songs with Reeves and Kara DioGuardi. In 2011, on a tour swing through Colorado, she wrote her hit “Brighter Than the Sun” with OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder.
“Every artist I’ve worked with – and every writer and producer — they all have these different techniques and we can pick those up from each other,” she explained. “It’s the best quality in a writer, when you can throw your idea out there and also be altered to fit a song appropriately and not get your feelings hurt.”
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