"Brave" is a song by American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, taken from her fourth studio album, The Blessed Unrest (2013). The song was written by Bareilles and Jack Antonoff from the band fun., as the singer was inspired from the struggles that a close friend dealt with in regard to coming out as gay. Bareilles requested Mark Endert to produce it with the explicit goal of radio airplay. "Brave" was released worldwide through digital download on April 23, 2013 as the lead single from the album, through Epic Records.
"Brave" received positive reviews from music critics, with one writing that Bareilles channels singers like Fiona Apple and Florence Welch. Some critics also compared pop singer Katy Perry's single "Roar" to the song. "Brave" became Bareilles' third top 40 hit in the United States, peaking at #23, while reaching the top 3 in Australia (#3), her highest charting single in the country to date, and also reaching the top five in New Zealand (#4), #26 in South Korea, #58 in Canada and #88 in Japan. The song was covered by Lea Michele and Naya Rivera on the 97th episode of the musical series Glee, which aired on February 25, 2014. It was featured in a commercial for the Nokia Lumia 1020 and has continued to be used in adverts for Lumia devices.
The accompanying music video was directed by actress Rashida Jones, and features Bareilles singing intertwined with clips of people dancing in various public places such as a shopping mall, a gym, a library and a bus stop. The singer also performed "Brave" during several live appearances, including at The Today Show and at The Voice. This song was also nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Despite its international success, in the United Kingdom "Brave" was released in March 2014, nearly a year after it was first exposed.
"Brave" was written by Bareilles and Jack Antonoff from the band fun. in 2011. Antonoff described the song "as a real civil rights anthem at a time when there are no civil rights anthems and there's a giant need for civil rights anthems." Bareilles also discussed the song in many interviews, revealing that she thinks "there's so much honor and integrity and beauty in being able to be who you are, [and] it's important to be brave because by doing that you also give others permission to do the same." SiriusXM station The Pulse premiered the single on April 17, 2013. It was released for digital download as the lead single from Bareilles' fourth studio album, The Blessed Unrest, on April 22, 2013 through Epic Records.
"Brave" is a power pop song written in the key of B♭ major and with a moderate tempo of 92 beats per minute. During the "commanding chorus" as described by Jason Lipshutz of Billboard, Bareilles encourages her friend to talk, singing, "Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, honestly I want to see you be brave." The singer revealed she was inspired to write the song from the struggles that a close friend dealt with in regard to coming out. Bareilles requested Mark Endert to produce "Brave" with the explicit goal of radio airplay, saying, "I want my songs to be played on the radio. But I don't need a radio hit so bad that I'm willing to do anything for it."
"Brave" garnered mostly positive reviews from music critics, with an Entertainment Weekly reviewer writing that Bareilles channels singers like Fiona Apple and Florence Welch. Jenna Hally Rubenstein of MTV wrote that "[Brave] marks the beginning of a new sound for Sara. As opposed to her previous subdued, organically slow ballads, 'Brave' is Sara's most mainstream, pop radio-friendly effort to date."
Vox contributor Julianne Hilmes thought the song has "a classic Sara Bareilles style to it. The moral of this song: speak up!" Jon Caramanica of The New York Times gave "Brave" a mixed review, considering it a "booming and jangly [song] that announce in scale what Ms. Bareilles's sweet and sometimes nervy voice doesn't always do on its own."
On August 10, 2013, Katy Perry released her single "Roar". Shortly after the release, many accused Perry of copying "Brave." When Bareilles was asked about the controversy between the two songs, she responded: "Katy's a friend of mine and we've known each other a really long time," and was upset that there was a "negative spin on two artists that are choosing to share positive messages." She also mentioned she had known about "Roar" before its release and stated "If I'm not mad I don't know why anybody else is upset."
In response to the accusations, "Roar" co-producer/co-writer Dr. Luke tweeted on August 14, 2013: "Roar was written and recorded before Brave came out." In direct response to the attention "Brave" received as a result of the plagiarism accusations, Epic Records decided to promote "Brave" to the mainstream pop radio format. Perry and Bareilles performed "Roar" along with Bonnie McKee, Ellie Goulding, Kacey Musgraves, and duo Tegan and Sara at the We Can Survive: Music for Life on October 23, 2013.
In the week ending May 5, 2013, "Brave" debuted at number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 20 on Hot Digital Songs component chart, with 76,000 downloads sold. Nine weeks later, the song jumped from number 70 to number 66, with sales up by 80%. In December 2013, it reached a new peak at number 26, becoming her third top 40 hit in the US following "Love Song" and "King of Anything". In February 2014, buoyed by sales and airplay after Bareilles' appearance at the Grammy Awards, "Brave" hit a new chart peak, moving up to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song reached its million sales mark in the US in November 2013, and its second million by April 2014. It managed to stay on the Billboard Hot 100 for 42 weeks.
The song also charted in Canada, where it peaked at number 58, and in South Korea, at number 26. It charted at 88 on the Japan Hot 100.
In Oceania, the song was a success. On February 3, 2014, "Brave" debuted at #15 on the New Zealand Singles Chart, over 9 months after its international release. The next week, the song reached the top ten, and sat at #8 for two consecutive weeks. It became Bareillies' second top ten in that country, and her first in almost six years after "Love Song" peaked at #7 in March 2008. Then, on February 24, 2014 "Brave" rose to #7, and was certified Gold. This equaled the peak position of "Love Song". On March 3, 2014 it dropped to number 9, but the next week re-bounded and jumped into the top 5, where it currently sits at #4, and thus becoming her biggest hit in New Zealand. Similarly, the song debuted at #40 in Australia on February 10, and climbed to #17 the following week. It has now risen to #3, and is only her second song to chart there, with "Love Song" having peaked at #4 in July 2008. "Brave" is her highest charting song in Australia.
Since its release to contemporary hit radio, "Brave" has been peaked at number 2, underneath Katy Perry's "Roar".
On April 17, 2013, a lyric video for "Brave" was released through Bareilles' Vevo account. The video was directed by NBC's Parks and Recreation actress Rashida Jones. When asked how did both end up working together, Bareilles said it "happened organically, which is something I've learned is really important to me in terms of my creative endeavors. ... I loved working with Rashida; I thought she was magical. She was so brilliant and creative and visionary and such an awesome person on top of it. I'd like to work with more women like that." The music video was filmed in Los Angeles, and premiered May 14, 2013. It features Bareilles singing intertwined with clips of people dancing in various public places such as a shopping mall, a gym, a library and a bus stop.
On April 23, 2013, Bareilles was interviewed and performed in SiriusXM's The Pulse studios. On April 25, 2013, she performed the song on The Today Show. On April 29, 2013, the singer performed "Brave" and "Uncharted" on AXS Live. On February 23, 2014, Bareilles performed "Brave" at the White House before Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.
As part of NBC's TODAY's Shine a Light series, Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper recorded a mashup of "Brave" and "True Colors" with to raise awareness and money for children battling cancer. As of October 2014, the project raised over $300,000 for Paediatric Cancer and donations continue to grow.Digital download
- "Brave" – 3:39