Sara Bareilles grew up in the city of Eureka in northern California where she began playing the piano at the age of 6. After graduating from Eureka High, she moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, where she studied communications and began to work on her songwriting and performing. She released several indie demo CDs before signing with Epic in 2005 and recording Little Voice. Bareilles first came to prominence when "Love Song" was featured as the free single of the week on iTunes between June 19th and 26th June 2007. People then began to check out Little Voice, which became the most downloaded album on the iTunes store between July 8th and 17th. Consequently Sara Bareilles' music went from having a relatively small following to national exposure within a very short space of time. In an interview with Songwriter Universe, Bareilles commented on the popularity of the song: "Honestly, I don't know what it is about 'Love Song' that's catching on with everyone. I think it's just a cool and sassy uptempo tune and people are ready for a female artist in that range."
Late in the process of recording Little Voice, Epic was still looking for a hit single to launch the project and it appeared to her they weren't excited about the songs she was producing. She had to learn to overcome her doubts and write music that was honest and true and not write music just to please the A&R people. The result was "Love Song," in which she proclaimed that "I'm not gonna write you a love song. 'Cause you asked for it. 'Cause you need one, you see." Bareilles explained to a local Eureka newspaper the Times-Standard December 6, 2007: "'Love Song' came out of my own frustration about trying to please somebody else with my music. I really put an unseen pressure on myself and got way too caught up in what other people wanted. That is not why I write songs."
British singer/songwriter Aqualung, whom Bareilles opened for on some tour dates in early 2007, features at the very beginning of the video for this song.
On Bareilles' MySpace page she explained that the title of the album came about from her realization that the little voice inside her is "sometimes the only one speaking the truth. This record was really about me learning to trust my own instincts, and more importantly, recognize how desperately I needed to learn to listen to myself, however inexperienced and naive I may be."
The songwriter elaborated on the background to Little Voice in her interview with Songwriter Universe: "Little Voice is a collection of songs that pretty much mean the world to me. They chronicle my life, my relationships, my basket-caseness, and my utter devotion to trying to write honest stuff down and share it. This record was really about me learning to trust my own instincts and more importantly, recognize how desperately I needed to learn to listen to myself." She added concerning her songwriting process: "The songs came in all different ways to me, either by sitting at the piano with hours of nothing to do or choosing to forget everything else to sit there and see what might happen. Every song starts with doodling, finding different chord progressions on the keys. I have hundreds of cassette tapes with little snippets of songs I collected, and generally the ones that stay in my head the longest develop into songs more quickly than the others. Usually it's music first, lyrics later. I usually don't sit down with a specific agenda. Songwriting for me is a mostly cathartic process."
In Rolling Stone
, April 3, 2008, Bareilles explained that she won a contest where the prize was CD duplication, which gave her reason to make a CD that she could then duplicate. In the same interview she said of this song: "No one was really excited about the material I turned in. 'Love Song' came on a day where I was like, 'God, just let me write something - anything - just for me. The label had no idea I was writing about them." Lisa Loeb had a similar experience with her song "I Do
This reached #1 on the Canadian Hot 100 and reached the same position on both the US Billboard Pop and Adult Contemporary charts.
It was the most played song on New Zealand radio during 2008.