You may recognize Julia Michaels from her breakout single “Issues,” which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, or the rock-tinged “Uh Huh,” another track included on her 2017 debut “mini-album” Nervous System. But chances are, you’ve been listening to the 26-year-old’s catchy, emotive, and often tongue-in-cheek lyricism for longer than you think.
Michaels began her music career as a songwriter, penning hits for the likes of Fifth Harmony, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. And her co-writing catalog spans a range of diverse artists and genres, from pop radio material to rugged acoustic sounds and rock.
Most recently, Michaels imparted her songwriting wisdom on the Monday (May 11) episode of NBC’s Songland, where she chose contestant Keegan Bost’s song “Glad You Came” to record.
Billboard has rounded up 12 songs you probably didn’t realize are co-written by Michaels.
1. Selena Gomez – “Bad Liar”
Michaels contributed her writing chops to Gomez’s chart-climbing “Bad Liar,” a minimal, Talking Heads-lifting track in the vein of her own single “Issues.” It wouldn’t be the first time they’d join forces in the studio — Michaels co-wrote six songs off Gomez’s Revival, including “Good For You” and “Hands To Myself,” alongside songwriting veteran Justin Tranter, as well as three cuts on Gomez’s 2020 album Rare, but more on that later.
2. Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
Yep, if you’ve ever jammed out to Bieber’s absurdly catchy Purpose smash hit “Sorry,” Michaels is the one to thank. “We thought the chances of getting on Justin’s album were so slim but we were just like ‘F–k it, let’s do it,'” writes Michaels in the track’s official annotated lyrics on Genius. “We were just trying to capture that moment in a relationship, or a particular moment in your life, where you realize you made a mistake and you’re finally ready to admit it and apologize.” It worked — “Sorry” is one of Michaels’ most successful songwriting credits to date, notching 42 weeks on the Hot 100 and peaking at No. 1.
3. Ed Sheeran – “Dive”
Michaels joined Benny Blanco to pen this rugged, guitar-led track off Ed Sheeran‘s Divide album, and her influence is clear in the track’s vulnerable, witty lyricism, as Sheeran croons about an indecisive lover.
4. Linkin Park – “Heavy”
On the rock front, Michaels had a hand in Linkin Park‘s “Heavy,” released prior to frontman Chester Bennington‘s shocking suicide in July 2017. The Kiiara-featuring track, released in February 2017, reached No. 2 on the Hot Rock Songs chart. But Michaels told Billboard she has a “hard time listening” to the track after Bennington’s passing. “He came in and was really funny and really warm, and had the biggest smile on his face,” Michaels recalled of working on “Heavy” with the cherished singer-songwriter. “He was just cracking jokes and having the best time.”
5. Gwen Stefani – “Used To Love You”
Michaels played a major role in Gwen Stefani‘s third studio album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like, co-writing a whopping 10 of the album’s 12 total songs. Among them was the album’s first official single, the emotional break-up track “Used To Love You,” which Michaels told Genius she put together after scanning Stefani’s diary for inspiration. Michaels also wrote the pop gem “Misery” for the album which, despite its title, is a bright, bubbly jam that muses on the beginnings of new love.
6. Fifth Harmony – “Miss Movin’ On”
Fifth Harmony’s debut single? Yep, Michaels’ fingerprints are all over that, too. The track, which Michaels wrote in collaboration with longtime songwriting partner Lindy Robbins, broke the Billboard Hot 100 and brought listeners some characteristically cheeky Michaels lyrics (“shake it off like an etch-a-sketch” being one). In 2016, Michaels also helped pen the group’s Fetty Wap-featuring track “All In My Head.”
7. Britney Spears feat. Tinashe – “Slumber Party”
Writing lyrics for an artist as iconic as Britney Spears is likely a bucket list item for any songwriter. Michaels checked it off with “Slumber Party,” a track she co-wrote for Spears and R&B singer-songwriter Tinashe, who is featured on the track. Released as a single off Spears’ ninth studio album Glory in 2016, the track peaked at No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs charts.
8. Kelly Clarkson – “War Paint”
Back in 2015, Michaels linked up with Kelly Clarkson to co-write her Piece By Piece track “War Paint.” And while a country-pop star might seem to stick out among the other artists in Michaels’ catalog, the track about opening up to a significant other has all the depth and pop charm of a Michaels song –– “Face to face, but miles away / Building trenches out of empty spaces / Lay here, next to me / And close the distance in between,” runs the emotive first verse.
9. Nick Jonas feat. Tove Lo – “Close”
Another of Michaels’ most successful co-writes, Nick Jonas‘ deeply personal duet “Close” with Swedish singer Tove Lo notched No. 14 on the Hot 100. Michaels also offered lyrical assistance on Jonas’ “Chainsaw,” off the same album, 2016’s Last Year Was Complicated.
10. Demi Lovato – “Fire Starter”
Let’s throw it back to the 2013 Demi track “Fire Starter.” This empowering song was one of the first songs Michaels co-wrote with notable songwriter Lindy Robbins, who helped kick-star Michaels’ career by introducing her to others in the industry. Never mind that Michaels was barely 20 years old at the time.
11. Selena Gomez – “Lose You To Love Me”
By the time Gomez released her third solo studio album Rare, she and Michaels were good friends — and frequent collaborators. Michaels boasts three co-writing credits on the Billboard 200-topping album: for “Fun,” “Look at Her Now” and the single “Lose You to Love Me” — which just so happened to become Gomez’s first Hot 100 No. 1!
12. Dua Lipa – “Pretty Please”
Once again, Michaels was recruited by a pop superstar to contribute her expertise. Co-written with Dua Lipa, Caroline Ailin and Ian Kirkpatrick, “Pretty Please” appears on Lipa’s almost universally-beloved second studio album Future Nostalgia.