Calvin welcomes Ingrid Michaelson

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Calvin welcomes Ingrid Michaelson

Photo by Natalie Henderson

Photo by Natalie Henderson

Photo by Natalie Henderson

Photo by Natalie Henderson

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Many American millennials who have picked up a ukulele have likely tried to learn the six chords necessary to play Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I”. It’s the most played song on her Spotify page, but it hasn’t always been Michaelson’s favorite.

Ingrid Michaelson came to Calvin on Friday for a show in the Hoogenboom gym. Grand Rapids was her second stop in a string of 35 upcoming shows on her “Hell No” Tour. During a transition in the show, Michaelson shared insight on her experience of the famously catchy “The Way I Am”: “I played it so many times, I kind of lost it, and I didn’t feel like it was mine. But now I’ve come full-circle, and I appreciate it. I’m a different person since when I wrote it.”

Michaelson is a prolific writer, and some of her most substantial songs might not be her most well-known, proving  she’s a lot more than happy lyrics and catchy tunes. Michaelson described Saturday’s setlist as “manic,” switching between sad and happy songs. However, there was a level continuity to the show. The visuals, song selection and instrumentation together produced a tender nostalgia.Her belief in the power of love and hope brought light and life to the audience as they sang along with enthusiasm and joy. On her solo songs, like “Drink You Gone,” Michaelson performed with a raw and simple beauty, as though she was working out a song in her living room at home.

You may not have recognized her in this new, pop style on her most recent record. The most popular song of that record is “Hell No.” Michaelson still retains that iconic and liltingly soothing voice, but the instrumentation on many of the songs on the new album is more synth-heavy than her early works, which are mostly grounded on acoustic guitar, piano and vocals. Although there is an element of pop sound on “It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense,” Michaelson does not stick to the standard pop topics. With her split from Greg Laswell and the passing of her mother, both in the span of two years, Michaelson investigates the more difficult things of life while still holding on to that hopeful, beautiful optimism and belief in the power of love she has consistently expressed in her music.