She may be known as “Bubbly,” but Colbie Caillat doesn’t have to “Try” that hard to steal your heart.
The 29-year-old singer-songwriter with two Grammy Awards and more than 6 million albums sold is poised to deliver her fifth release, “Gypsy Heart,” at the end of the month. But already its first single, “Try,” has touched fans and newcomers alike with its message.
The music video for the song, about beauty standards and self-acceptance, depicts a diverse array of women including Caillat going through the makeup process in reverse. They start as perfectly coiffed and made up, and slowly through the song lose the so-called trappings of beauty, from false eyelashes to hair extensions and more until they all smile naturally into the camera. The video, which debuted two months ago, has more than 23 million views and counting.
She co-wrote the song, and a couple of others on the album, with Grammy-winning singer and producer Babyface. The idea for the video came to her immediately.
“I was inspired because it’s something I’ve always felt my entire life,” Caillat said in a phone interview with The Bee from the road in Alabama. “From elementary school on, we are all trying to figure out who we are and learn to be comfortable in our own skin. We’re doing things in hopes people will like you better.
“When I wrote this song with Babyface, I was telling him what I was going through. It is even more difficult as a woman in the entertainment industry; there is so much pressure to be polished 100 percent of the time. My instant vision for the video was the hair and makeup process.
“I always hear people comparing themselves to celebrities who look so perfect. I wanted to show them that these people do not look like this without three hours in the makeup chair. Even they aren’t really like that, so to not compare themselves to those images.”
She said response to the song from fans – even fans she didn’t expect – has been incredible.
“I’m getting reactions daily from the video and people hearing the song,” she said. “I’m hearing from women and men how it’s changed their lives and they’re feeling more comfortable in their own skin – flaws and all. The biggest surprise is men saying they cry when they see the video. It hits home for them, too.”
While “Try” is the first single from Caillat’s new release, it is not the only song from it that people may have heard. In a somewhat unusual move, Caillat released a five-song EP of “Gypsy Heart” earlier this summer. The full 12-song project will come out Sept. 30.
She said the reason for the staggered release was twofold. For one, she had been working on the record for three years and kept telling people it would be released soon. But then she’d go back into the studio and write more, so she wanted to give them something to tide them over.
The other reason was listeners’ appetites. “I think 12 songs is too many for people to listen to all at once,” she said. “You just don’t have enough time in a day. I wanted people to sit with first five songs and get to know them. And then release the rest. That was my main reason for doing it.”
The California native first broke out thanks to her MySpace page. Her popularity on the social-networking site helped get her signed on a major label, and in 2007, she hit the Billboard Top 10 with the single “Bubbly.” A year later, she followed that up with her duet “Lucky” with fellow singer-songwriter Jason Mraz.
“The way I got my start is because a friend of mine put my songs on MySpace. That’s what got me noticed by fans. Fans put my song on the radio. It’s such a crazy way of getting a career started, at the very beginning of social media,” she said. “Now there are 20 apps you have to check on every day to reach people. I like social media, you can instantly interact with your fans. But there is so much of it now.”
Also different from the early days of her career is Caillat’s stage presence. She admits to having terrible stage fright when she began and standing with her eyes closed in one spot. Now a seasoned, sunny stage presence, Caillat said she loves interacting with her audience. Her new tour features an elaborate stage with a staircase, risers and video screen backdrop.
She also is enjoying the ability to stretch herself outside of the acoustic singer-songwriter mold for which she is famous. Caillat said the remaining seven songs on “Gypsy Heart” are a healthy mix of music and styles.
“I called it ‘Gypsy Heart’ because it’s a mixture of my organic acoustic-style songs with optimistic lyrics and then a bunch of fun, uptempo, heavily produced pop songs,” she said. “I wanted to find a way for them to tie in and have a nice flow. I didn’t want a record that you could only listen to while barbecuing in the backyard or only while out dancing. I wanted it to be a record for any occasion.”