It might surprise you, actually how many singers are also songwriters, and that sometimes, they don’t keep their music and lyrics to themselves. They share the love, or they’re not making an album currently, or what they’ve written doesn’t vibe with their style – or, you know, someone paid them a lot of money for it.
If you’re curious, here are 11 famous musicians who wrote giant hits for other artists.
11. Bruno Mars helped write “All I Ask” with Adele for her 2015 album, 25.
In 2016, Bruno Mars told a radio show that
“As soon as we hit a couple chords that Adele liked, we started rolling and that’s where we got that song from.
There was a moment when she was singing in the booth – and I’m not exaggerating at all – and the water was vibrating.
Like you know that scene in Jurassic Park where the water starts jiggling?
She’s got some pipes on her, and she’s just a superstar.”
10. Taylor Swift wrote “This Is What You Came For” for Calvin Harris and Rihanna
Swift has a songwriting pseudonym, Nils Sjöberg, and Calvin Harris didn’t appreciate her coming out as the writer.
“I know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy, etc., but I’m not that guy, sorry. I won’t allow it.”
I guess he didn’t like the spotlight being on her instead of him and Rhianna.
9. Harry Styles wrote “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart” for Ariana Grande’s 2014 album, My Everything.
An MTV interview revealed that Styles was “just visiting the studio” when the producers asked if he wanted to write a song for Ariana.
The two worked together for awhile, and it clicked!
“I remember when I heard it, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a really strong verse, that’s really beautiful!’ and then at the chorus I was, like, crying!
I’m really excited, obviously for his fans to hear it as well, ’cause they were very excited when they heard.”
8. Pharrell helped write “Hollaback Girl” with Gwen Stefani for her 2004 album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Stefani had the idea for the song, based on her experience in high school, but Pharrell already had it written.
“He always had this little keyboard that he writes everything on, and he programs stuff into it.
He goes, ‘This beat?’ and he played ‘Hollaback Girl.’
I was like ‘You had that in there all these hours and you never played that until now? Why didn’t you play that the first time I walked in here?!'”
7. Mariah Carey wrote Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?” for the How the Grinch Stole Christmas soundtrack in 2000.
Carey originally thought to perform herself, but a legal battle between Carey and her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola, meant Faith Hill recorded it instead.
6. Kelly Clarkson wrote “Tell Me a Lie” for One Direction’s 2011 album, Up All Night.
Clarkson talked about writing the song in 2012, saying
“Giving away my songs is not something I do lightly.
I’m very particular about that because my songs are like my babies – I’m such a writer’s snob.
But I like the story of One Direction and how they came together as a group.
They’ve worked so well in the US, as well as the UK, because people love a story.
Plus, they have this innocence about them that attracts people.'”
5. Missy Elliott wrote “My Love Is Like…Wo” for Mýa’s 2003 album, Moodring.
Elliot tweeted about the experience in 2018, saying
“I remember I had 10 shots of Patron writing the lyrics.
I played it for Mya and we was dancing ’round the studio having a ball. In this music video, SHE DID DAT.
The choreography was lit.”
4. Miguel and Justin Timberlake helped write “Rocket” with Beyoncé for her 2013 self-titled album, Beyoncé.
Beyonce revealed the songwriting assistance in her documentary.
“There was a moment in the studio where I didn’t wanna stop singing it, and I just kind of zoned out.
I don’t think I would’ve done it back then – I don’t think I would’ve been confident enough.
I wouldn’t been too afraid of what other people thought.”
3. Christina Milian wrote “Play” for Jennifer Lopez’s 2001 album, J.Lo.
Milian appeared on Talk Stoop in 2019, and recalled,
“A lot of the songs I wrote early on were songs I wrote for myself.
So for people like Jennifer Lopez, Play was a song I originally wrote for myself.
When we were in the studio and recorded it, she hadn’t added the ‘Play my motherf%cking song!’ lyric yet.
I remember I heard it on the radio, and everyone was talking about how she cursed on the song.
But I loved that she did that.”
2. Prince wrote “Manic Monday” for the Bangles’ 1986 album, Different Light.
Susanna Hoffs, the Bangles lead singer, told NPR that Prince was a fan of the band, and wrote the song before inviting them into his studio to listen to the demo.
They “hovered around the cassette machine – ’cause back then, it was tape – and they were smitten with the song. I wish I had a chance in the decades after to tell him: ‘Thank you for the song.’ It’s still fun to sing, every time.”
1. John Lennon helped write “Fame” with David Bowie for Bowie’s 1975 album, Young Americans.
Bowie told Performing Songwriter in 2003 “John and I had been talking about management, and it kind of came out of that. He was telling me, ‘You’re being shafted by your present manager,’ and that was basically the line. John was the guy who opened me up to the idea that all management is crap, and that there’s no such thing as good management in rock ‘n’ roll.”
“It was at John’s instigation that I really did without managers and started getting people in to do specific jobs for me, rather than signing myself away to one guy forever and have him take a piece of everything that I earn.”
I’m surprised by some of these, but now that you know, you can kind of hear it, right?
What’s your favorite example of this? If it’s not on the list, share it with us in the comments!