Most people are familiar with mental health as a topic nowaday: Mental illness has never been so widely spoken about, and as stigmas fade, more people are opening up about their struggles with mental illness. That said, it is still not a popular topic in music — at least not on Top 40 radio, and not in a literal manner. Thankfully, that’s about to change: In “Anxiety,” pop artists Julia Michaels and Selena Gomez take a simple approach to mental health, going to the very basics with no metaphors and no fancy words. They explain, in an unadorned fashion, what anxiety feels like in the most mundane situations.

The opening song off Julia Michaels’ sophomore EP Inner Monologue, Pt. 1 (released January 25, 2019 via Republic Records), “Anxiety” captures a nuanced and complicated topic with poetic grace and musical suave. A somber song dressed in cool garbs, “Anxiety” comes off as light but not lighthearted: It starts in a pure manner with sampled vocals and an acoustic guitar, which then make way for Michaels’ intimate lilt and conversational tone.

Through uncomplicated melodies and honest lyrical simplicity, the singer portrays a day-to-day situation, and how mental health disrupts it. She opens up in the pre-chorus, taking a more intimate approach and talking about the non-so-tangible side of anxiety and depression.

The chorus is the culmination of her confessions. Michaels delves into her frustrations, how she feels misunderstood and hopeless. Her singing is tinged with a slight hue of desperation and restlessness.

Selena Gomez takes over in the second verse, continuing the narrative in an even more speech-like tone, which lets vulnerability shine through. Tastefully word painting, she sings about fear in a fragile fashionds

 – Alicia Bugallo, Atwood Magazine

Read more: Today’s Song: Julia Michaels & Selena Gomez Open Up A Conversation About Mental Health With Anxiety 

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