The world of pop music is vast, full of cookie-cutter music that all sounds virtually the same. In a day and age where many artists within that world don’t write their own songs, oftentimes we’ll see a track go platinum with the actual talent behind it not getting the credit they deserve. More often than not, we’ll recognize an iconic track as the property and work of the singer who made it famous, not the writer who was responsible for its creation in the first place. Of course these songwriters usually get paid a healthy sum as the power behind the thrones so-to-speak, but in the end art is all about giving credit where it’s due. In the case of these next six songs, that’s our main goal: to recognize the real talent that made the songs everyone gets stuck in their heads.
Performed by: Britney Spears
Written by: Christian Karllson and Pontus Winnberg (known as Bloodshy & Avant)
Thought by many to be the best track of Britney Spears’ long and storied career, the minds behind it were anything but your typical pop stars. As members of Miike Snow, they’ve made a name for themselves as talented songwriters and musicians, with Karllson even moving on to a successful career as one half of the EDM duo Galantis. “Toxic” went double-platinum in the United States, and since then has become the guilty pleasure track that most can agree is the most well-produced track Britney’s ever been gifted with.
Performed by: Rihanna
Written by: Sia Furler
Better known simply as Sia, in just the last year she’s blown up to international fame, now more famous for singing the songs she writes rather than passing them off to other artists. The story behind “Diamonds” is a fascinating one; the New York Times paints a picture of Sia coming into Rihanna’s studio and writing the track in just 14 minutes. Listening to original version of the track, Rihanna then sang it with such a similar inflection that Sia herself couldn’t discern it from her own voice. Incidentally, Furler also wrote the hit Beyonce single “Pretty Hurts,” after both Katy Perry and Rihanna passed on it.
3. Party in the USA
Performed by: Miley Cyrus
Written by: Jessica Cornish (Jessie J)
Jessie J’s success following the release of “Party in the USA” has been well documented, after she told Glamour UK that money earned from the track has been lucrative enough to have paid her rent for the last three years. She’s of course made a career for herself since then with hit singles like “Bang Bang” and “Domino,” each getting her the spotlight she so rightfully deserves. Since passing off the hit that made Miley famous, Cornish’s trajectory has been decidedly positive, while Cyrus has seen her public image take a hit, a stark comparison of two pop starlets each making and unmaking their careers respectively.
4. Beauty and a Beat
Performed by: Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj
Written by: Anton Zaslaski (Zedd)
Zedd may be more known for his work within the realm of electronic dance music, but he crossed the aisle briefly to gift Justin Bieber with “Beauty And A Beat.” The song was originally written for Zaslaski’s hit studio album Clarity, but didn’t in his opinion fit the tone he was trying to accomplish. With an extra track in his library, Zedd wrote a version to cater to Bieber’s vocals and officially passed it off. While Zaslaski may not have the same kind of fame as Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj, he’s still made himself into one of the premier names in all of dance music, headlining festivals around the world while hauling in millions in the meantime.
5. Till the World Ends
Performed by: Britney Spears
Written by: Kesha Sebert (Ke$ha)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hit Britney Spears track that wasn’t written by someone else, and “Till the World Ends” is no exception to that. Written by the mercurial partybot Ke$ha, it was a song that helped re-ignite Spears career during a time when it seemed to be winding down. Sebert has had no shortage of personal success in the music industry, although a stint in rehab this last year has sidetracked her somewhat. Even so, her body of work puts her on the short list of female pop singers that virtually everyone knows. Her work writing a Britney Spears track really is just icing on the cake at this point.
Performed by: Kelly Clarkson
Written by: Avril Lavigne
“Breakaway” is yet another case of a song originally intended to be performed by its writer, but ended up in the hands of someone else. Nowadays Avril Lavigne is known more for her marriage to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger than her music, but if there’s one thing she can do it’s write a catchy pop tune. The track was originally intended for Lavigne’s debut album Let Go back in 2002, but later was passed on to Kelly Clarkson as the first single off of the soundtrack to Disney’s The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. Lavigne hasn’t been heard from much musically lately, but at the very least we can credit her with something that isn’t “Sk8er Boi.”