Colbie Caillat is the queen of MySpace. There was no official coronation. But with more than 12 million views, 267,000 friends and a No. 5 song on Billboard's pop chart, Caillat (rhymes with "ballet") has to be the networking Web site's biggest success story for a newcomer.
A year ago, the 22-year-old acoustic-pop-soul singer was working the front desk at a tanning salon and living with her parents in Malibu, Calif. Now, she has a hit album and a headlining tour. It's all because her tune "Bubbly" popped from MySpace to No. 1 on iTunes to adult-pop radio to top-40 radio.
"I'm so excited and so proud of it," she said recently from Northhampton, Mass. "I never would have thought this song - it's pretty crazy."
When Caillat set up her MySpace site, she didn't even know how to post music: "My friend had to make the page for me and show me how to upload my songs."
Last spring, she spent four months at No. 1 on MySpace's unsigned-artist list - and even started getting recognized on the street - before landing a deal with Universal Republic. In July, she released Coco, featuring tunes she co-wrote with Jason Reeves, an Iowa City musician whom she met two years ago through her producer, Mikal Blue.
"When we first met, we had everything in common," she said of Reeves. "We like doing outdoors stuff. We're into photography. So we started hanging out every single day and writing songs together. He's pretty much the brother that I've never had. I go to Iowa [City] with him and he shows me stuff like ice skating, which I've never done. And I take him to the beach when he comes to Cali."
Caillat grew up in the music business. Her dad, Ken, co-produced Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and Tusk and went on to run his own label. Dishwalla was the band she knew best from her dad's career, but she has hung out with Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, who are good friends of her dad. After singing in school talent shows, Colbie got a guitar at age 19 and began writing songs, mostly in her parents' bathroom.
Caillat penned "Bubbly," a simple ditty about a crush, without a specific guy in mind.
"'Bubbly' was written in my bedroom," she said. "I was sitting at home. I was bored. It was raining. And all my friends wanted me to come go out with them to a club or something like that. I didn't want to. I had no motivation to. Normally, it's exciting to go out when you have a crush on someone or you like a guy. I didn't like anyone at the time, and I missed having those feelings when you like someone. And I started writing 'Bubbly.'"
After touring this past summer with the Goo Goo Dolls and Lifehouse, Caillat is headlining her own shows in clubs and theaters. Her band features guys, all singer-songwriters, whom she mostly met - where else? - on MySpace.