Major Labels

4 Songwriters Shaping Hits In Popular Music

This post by Hypebot intern Mike Pineau (@mikejpineau).

image from For every song you hear on the radio, there is likely at least one person in the background crafting the melody, lyrics and overall sound of the song and the album it accompanies.  The artist performing the song is always a large part of the recipe, but a large number of songwriters and producers also figure into the success of any release.  Several of these individuals stick out because of their near Midas touch. 

Labels are taking notice of their skills and ear for hooks and their music is filling the airwaves and literally shaping the sound of modern music.  The vast majority of these individuals remain “behind the curtain” and make music without the bulk of the fame that the artists performing their works receive.

  1. Lukasz Gottwald
    Lukasz Gottwald – better known as Dr. Luke – is a prime example of a songwriter and producer who has more influence over pop music than most others.  His pop resume is astonishing – songs he wrote or cowrote have been taken to the top of the charts by Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Daughtry, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Flo Rida, Miley Cyrus and most notably by Katy Perry and Ke$ha.  He was named ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year for 2010 and received ten songwriting awards from ASCAP in the same ceremony.
  2. Hilary Lindsay
    The country world also has several individuals who stick out for their ability to help craft amazing songs.  Among them, Hilary Lindsay is prominent example of a modern songwriter with a considerable hit ratio.  Her biggest success has been “Jesus, Take The Wheel” which Carrie Underwood recorded and subsequently won a Grammy Award for.  She has also written and co-written hits for Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Martina McBride, Sara Evans and Miley Cyrus.
  3. Gregg Wattenberg
    In the rock world, songwriter and producer Gregg Wattenberg stands out for his ability to write songs that crossover to multiple formats while still maintaining their rocking edge.  Songs he was written or co-written have been taken to the top of the charts by Train, Daughtry, O.A.R., the Goo Goo Dolls and Five For Fighting.  This success led to Wattenberg joining rock label Wind-Up Records in 2010 as the SVP of A&R.
  4. Christopher Stewart
    Christopher “Tricky” Stewart stands out in the rhythmic world for his ability to write, produce and craft songs that not only become radio hits and big sellers, but also cultural phenomenons.  Two of his projects – Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” – are just as likely to be danced to by teenagers as adults and retirees.  Stewart has also worked to develop the career of Justin Bieber, along with producing hits for Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry, Jesse McCartney and Ciara along the way.

There are certainly many others, but these are just a few of the crop of people that are heavily influencing the sound of modern pop, country, rock and hip hop/R&B music today.  Rarely are their names heard on the radio, but their late nights and early mornings are heard in the chord progressions of the songs that fill stereos around the world.  Such a limited group seems to be contributing to a homogenized sound in mainstream music.  Without more financial resources, labels are taking less chances and these stellar songwriters – for better or for worse – will play on.

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  1. I think from an A&R standpoint the only relevant writer/producer on this list is Dr. Luke. What about Espionage? Arguably the most successful team in the past year responsible for the best selling Columbia records single in the history of the label.

  2. Hi Corey. I considered putting Espionage on this list, but I wanted to equally represent different genres of music – pop, country, rock and R&B. Espionage would have been my #2 choice for pop, but I could not ignore Dr. Luke.

  3. That is sad that the list of songwriters is so small. More importantly, it is unfortunate that these guys are the only ones who get their music showcased. Radio can choose what it wants to play and artists can choose who they want to get their material written by. There isn’t exactly a dearth of talent – just a lack of inclination to showcase it.

  4. Are you kidding? This doesn’t scratch the surface. What about real contributors over decades and such Hall of Famers as Jimmy Webb, Bobby Braddock, Marcus Hummon, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Ethan Johns, David Foster,
    Neil Young, Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson, Pat Alger,
    Don Schlitz, Jack Johnson, pleasseee………… This is just marketing, management and promotion.

  5. I am a long-time drummer/songwriter who needs advice = I have my publishing company with ASCAP “GOOD TIMES THREE” music. I am trying to promote MY originals, as well as trying to get other bands and artists original material published. I am a semi-pro having played on many projects and would appreciate any direction-advice-help on how to 1. Get my originals to name artists and 2. the best way to publish other artists material that I think is worthy. I studied at UNT jazz and mixing with Dallas producer Skip Frasee (tv/radio/ads) and write and all my demo work is myself (I play all the instruments and vocals) All genres. I want to get the best advice possible, I have some connections (Willie Nelson being one) I wrote his theme song for the Outlaw Music channel.
    My work can be found here:
    Any professional advice as how to move forward with the above details would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Steve Crabtree,

  6. hes talking about writer of popular music of NOW.
    accurate list, next writers included im sure would be people like Max Martin (Dr Luke collaborator), Ryan Tedder, and Bruno Mars.

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