The secret, super-famous songwriters behind our favorite singles
Let’s get real – songs are swapped more regularly than Gushers at a 6th grade lunch table. More interesting than this fact, is finding out the famous faces behind these famous songs. How many of you knew that Jessie J wrote “Party In the USA” for Miley Cyrus? Yep, “Bang Bang” Jessie J had originally written the song for herself, but decided it wasn’t in line with her style and passed it on to Miley Cyrus. Apparently, just penning the song covered her bills for three years. There are a handful of other unexpected singer-songwriter relationships, and they’re pretty damn interesting. Here are some more to entertain you on this fine Friday:
“Manic Monday” – Bangles
Prince is no stranger to writing catchy tunes (“I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan is among one of his many credits), so it should come as no surprise to know that he wrote everyone’s favorite Monday blues anthem, “Manic Monday”. Although the song was originally intended for the band Apollonia 6, Prince pulled the song and later offered it to The Bangles. Fun Fact: Prince wrote “Manic Monday” under the pseudonym, “Christopher” — a character he played in the 1986 film, Under the Cherry Moon.
“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston
Songwriter: Dolly Parton
Even though we’ve long associated this emotional ballad with Whitney Houston, this song was originally written and performed by Dolly Parton in 1973. The song’s heartfelt sentiment was inspired by Dolly’s split from her mentor, Porter Wagoner. Fun Fact: Whitney decided to record Dolly’s song while she was shooting her 1992 film, The Bodyguard. She had previously recorded other songs for the film, but co-star Kevin Costner was the one who introduced her to Dolly’s recording. Thanks for helping Whitney make music history, Kevin.
“Black Widow” – Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
Songwriter: Katy Perry
Who better to write a song like this than Katy Perry? “Black Widow” was intended to be on Perry’s Prism album, but didn’t make it in time for the album’s release. Fun Fact: Katy’s love for Iggy is part of what made her pass “Black Widow” along to Iggy.
“Till the World Ends” – Britney Spears
Before Ke$ha was on stage performing in all her glittery glory, she was working behind the scenes as a songwriter. Along with Max Martin, Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald and Alexander Kronlund, Ke$ha wrote the synth-heavy pop anthem back in 2011. Fun Fact: This isn’t the first time Ke$ha has worked with Britney Spears. She provided background vocals her 2008 song, “Lace and Leather.”
“Respect” – Aretha Franklin
Songwriter: Otis Redding
Who knew this legendary female power anthem was written by Otis Redding? Turns out, the Otis Redding version of the song was actually about a desperate man. Fun Fact: Otis’ version tells the story of a man who will do anything for a woman, as long as he gets the said “respect” he is asking for. Aretha Franklin turned the song on its head, making it a demand for “respect” as a woman, and a feminist anthem for decades to come.
“Paul Revere” – Beastie Boys
Songwriters: Run DMC (Joseph Simmons and Daryl McDaniels)
How bout that? With the help of Rick Rubin and Beastie Boys member Adam Horovitz, Joseph Simmons and Daryl McDaniels penned the now famed “Paul Revere.” Fun Fact: The song’s concept came as an epiphany from Joseph Simmons. The Beastie Boys were waiting outside a recording studio for Run DMC when Simmons came out and started spitting the lyrics. As they say, the rest is history.
“Girlfriend” – N*Sync
Songwriter: Pharrell Williams
Before Pharrell collaborated with Justin Timberlake on “Rock Your Body” and “Like I Love You,” he was writing verses for N*Sync…and quite a few other people. Fun Fact: Pharrell’s songwriting credits include major hits like “Slave 4 U” (Britney Spears), “Hollaback Girl” (Gwen Stefani), “U Don’t Have to Call” (Usher), “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (Snoop Dogg), “Excuse Me Miss” (Jay-Z), “Southern Hospitality” (Ludacris), “Hot in Herre” (Nelly) and “Milkshake” (Kelis). Just to remind you, this does not include any of his own songs with the Neptunes and N.E.R.D. Pharrell’s a busy guy.
2. “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
Songwriter: The Dream
Who knew this single lady anthem was written by a dude? The Dream has written a lot of songs, and by a lot, I mean this entire description is a Fun Fact. Of note: Beyonce’s “Love on Top,” “XO” and “Yoncé/Partition.” Let’s not forget the hit songs he’s written for Rihanna like “Umbrella” and “Birthday Cake.”
1. “Irreplaceable” – Beyoncé
You can thank Ne-Yo for having “to the left, to the left” stuck in your head for the last nine years. Much like The Dream, Ne-Yo has penned countless hits like Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” and “Take a Bow”. He also wrote the ultimate sweet and fluffy love song, “Let Me Love You” by Mario.