Subcategories. .We take longer to get to the future than anywhere else in America. It includes singer-songwriters that can also be found in the parent category, or in diffusing subcategories of the parent. "Politics or social commentary don't inspire me. Whether it's a fleet, planning guitar tune like "Sitting Still" or a luminous ballad like "Nightswimming" or a loopy left-field pop smash like "Stand" the songwriting credit on a golden-era R.E.M. A collegiate creative writing student who played covers in bar bands and briefly held a job writing pop song knockoffs in the Brill Building era, Reed drew inspiration both from literature (Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, William Burroughs' Naked Lunch) and his own life — for example, the fellow Warhol collaborators that informed quintessential Reed character studies like "Candy Says" and "Walk on the Wild Side." I go into something minute, then look at it, then go back into it. They first hit it big in the Seventies with "Your Song," a tune that Taupin now calls "one of the most naïve and childish lyrics in the entire repertoire of music." During Motown's mid-Sixties golden age, Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier were the label's songwriting and production dream team. Besides their own hits (including a string of six consecutive Number Ones), the brothers wrote the title song for Grease, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream," Barbra Streisand's "Guilty," and Destiny's Child's "Emotion." songs. Why She’s Dope: Stefani Germanotta usually turns heads with her flamboyant sense of style, so much so that people may overlook her lyrical prowess. Leiber, who grew up in Baltimore, and Stoller, who was from Long Island, met in Los Angeles in 1950. "We were kind of like the interpreters of what he had to say. ", John Lennon's command of songwriting was both absolute and radically original: that was clear from his earliest collaborations with Paul McCartney, which revolutionized not just music, but the world. Why He’s Dope: Although he is a vocalist, rapper and songwriter, his latter talent is what garners the most attention. "My talent is more than just sexual songs," said the only man who wrote for the Notorious B.I.G. Prince's own comments on his craft are even more impressionistic. "It was for me a prophetic utterance. Yet there's a reason Frank Ocean, Vampire Weekend, Gillian Welch, Mark Ronson, Regina Spektor, Gnarls Barkley, the Punch Brothers and others cover their compositions: because the best —from the acoustic ballad "Fake Plastic Trees" to the digital kaleidoscope of "Everything in Its Right Place" — are indelible. It's possible that no blues writer other than Robert Johnson had had as profound an impact on the development of rock music: Mick Jagger acquired his strut from "Little Red Rooster," which the Stones faithfully covered in 1964; the Doors did a leering L.A. version of "Back Door Man" on their 1967 debut; and Led Zeppelin belatedly admitted the debt "Whole Lotta Love" owed to Dixon's "You Need Love" and "Bring It on Home" when they settled a copyright dispute in the Eighties. Let's get real.' Jackson's collaborators and co-writers marvel at the way his dance-floor classics sprang full-formed from their creator's head. Best Known For: “It Kills Me,” “4 AM,” “Wrong Side of a Love Song” As Mills said in 2008, "we gradually shape each other's songs into R.E.M. "I couldn't write the 'Darling, you left alone and blue' or 'I'm drunk in this bar and crying' [songs]— I just didn't get it," he once said. "Had it all in his head; harmony and everything. Following a series of early rock masterpieces like 1978's searing This Year's Model and 1980's soul-informed tour de force Get Happy!, Costello delivered an album of pure country with 1981's Almost Blue and then hit another highpoint with the Tin Pan Alley subtlety of 1982's Imperial Bedroom. "He showed his pain, but in the end he wanted to make people feel good. The Canadian singer worked with a diverse group of songwriters and producers including The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Pop & Oak, Chuck Harmony, Claude Kelly, Polow Da Don and The Stereotypes. The quintessential New York singer-songwriter, he switches between styles effortlessly with as much attention to rhythm as melody, a rare quality among artists who came of age in the folk era. His songs were concise and mythic, celebrating uniquely American freedoms – fast cars in "Maybellene," class mobility in "No Money Down," the country itself in "Back in the U.S.A." – or protesting their denial in coded race parables like "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and "Promised Land," which he wrote while in jail inspired by the freedom marches, consulting an almanac for the route. Madonna has enlisted numerous collaborators en route to selling more than 300 million albums — she started working with longtime writing partner Patrick Leonard after he brought her "Live to Tell" in 1986, and from Shep Pettibone and William Orbit in the Nineties through Diplo, Avicii and Kanye West on 2015's Rebel Heart, she's worked successfully with producers across many genres. ", "My only weapon is my pen/And the frame of mind I'm in," Sly Stone muttered on "Poet," his clearest public statement on the art of songwriting. When Elvis Presley recorded one of his songs, the result was 1956's epochal "Don't Be Cruel," which was simultaneously Number One on the pop, R&B and country charts. Why She’s Dope: Kara DioGuardi had all of 2006 rocking to the ridiculously catchy “Beep” by the Pussycat Dolls. Best Known For: “Diamond Girl,” “How It Was Supposed to Be,” Cassie’s “Me & U” ", At a time when most songwriters were still talking about love and heartbreak, Curtis Mayfield was penning sweet, subtle Civil Rights epistles like 1964's "Keep on Pushing" and 1965's "People Get Ready" (the latter a favorite of Martin Luther King). Then Dylan began to climb the charts on his own with music that turned pop into prophecy: "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "Like a Rolling Stone," "Positively Fourth Street," "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35." Best Known For: “Pyramids,” "Thinking About You,” Beyoncé’s "I Miss You,” "The nature of my music has to do with dealing with very fundamental things by depicting my own experience," he told Rolling Stone in 1976. Leonard Cohen was a dark Canadian eminence among the pantheon of singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties. Working with pop-savvy producer Sean "Puffy" Combs, Biggie raised his game throughout his brief career —from the social realism of "Things Done Changed" to the euphoric rags-to-riches celebration "Juicy" to effortlessly virtuosic performances like "Hypnotize" and "Ten Crack Commandments," both from his 1997 swan song Life After Death. "To me, Hank Williams is still the best songwriter," Bob Dylan said in 1991. They worked on Bey’s “Irreplaceable” and “Broken Hearted Girl” then on a large number of Rihanna’s hits like “Unfaithful,” “Rude Boy” and her newest single, “Diamonds.” StarGate were named 2009 ASCAP Pop Songwriters of the Year. In addition to all her own stereotype-bending material, the spunky pop star has written for other genre heavyweights like Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls, Fergie, New Kids on the Block and Jennifer Lopez. But they would never have gone anywhere if Pete Townshend hadn't developed into an endlessly innovative songwriter. Hynde's lyrics proved even more influential, articulating a complex female toughness that wasn't just a sexy pose, inspiring guitar-slinging women and self-directed pop stars like Madonna, who said, "It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man's world. "In other words, it was classic psychedelic thinking in the sense that you didn't take no — or yes — for an answer, instead tunneling down a little bit to see what else might be there beyond the binary." "I learned through Jackson's ceiling and my floor how to write songs," Glenn Frey recalled of a period when he lived in an apartment one floor above Browne, "elbow grease, time, thought, persistence.". The romantic album highlights the best moments of being in love — and could even serve as a guide on how to add a little spice to a longterm relationship. In 2008, the versatile songwriter earned a fair share of songwriting awards, including one for Gwen Stefani's “Sweet Escape.”, Bruno Mars That, Michael said, was the only way he could write: "If I sat down at a piano, if I sat here and played some chords. Goffin, meanwhile, supplied the lyrics for a string of hits including Diana Ross's "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)," Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You," and Gladys Knight and the Pips' "I've Got to Use My Imagination." . Why She’s Dope: Conspiracy theorists may balk at Beyoncé’s inclusion, claiming she doesn’t write her own material. I'm Comin'" and other classic duets. "If George had had his own group and was writing his own songs back then, he'd have been probably just as big as anybody," his fellow Wilbury Bob Dylan said. The pair's songs usually emerged from improvisatory writing sessions that began with just a handful of Leiber's lyrics. "I really didn't think my songs were any different than what Willie [Nelson\ was writing.". "They wanted surf music, surf music, surf music," he said in 2011. But he become the American punk-rock poet laureate of the Eighties, reeling off shabbily rousing underdog anthems like "I Will Dare" and "Bastards of Young," as well as beautifully afflicted songs like "Swinging Party" and "Here Comes a Regular." "It was like that [with Kanye].". "Even as a kid, I always wanted the most words to rhyme," Eminem told Rolling Stone. "There are some ingredients we share," Toussaint once said of New Orleans' unique mix of rhythmic and melodic traditions. "Walter would listen to what I had and come up with some kind of narrative structure. Married songwriting partnerships are hardly rare, but few husband-and-wife teams explored the dynamics of monogamy with the depth and insight of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. But then, banging on her acoustic guitar in startling ways or playing modernist melodies at the piano, she unfurled starkly personal lyrics that pushed beyond "confessional" songwriting towards an almost confrontational intimacy and rawness. Despite his enormous reputation among other songwriters, he remains a relatively obscure figure in pop history. As his friend and former guitarist Danny Kortchmar has said, "They're like Christmas carols. "You wave your hand and they scatter like crows," he sang in his rusted plow-blade voice to a Brooklyn girl about her suitors. Berry was a Muddy Waters fan who quickly learned the power of his own boundary-crossing "songs of novelties and feelings of fun and frolic" when he transformed a country song, "Ida Red," into his first single, "Maybellene," a Top Five pop hit. Their breakthrough was the 1966 Ray Charles party classic "Let's Go Get Stoned," but once the duo went to work at Motown, romantic love became their sole topic. In songs like "You're Breaking My Heart" (". That technique has helped him develop an unrivaled gift for matching a lyric and a mood with a particular singer, especially a particular female singer. And alone among his peers Dylan's creativity was ceaseless –2000's Love and Theft returned him to a snarling sound that rivaled his electric youth, marking a renaissance that continues unabated. "They were searchers — Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, James Brown. We asked MusicRadar users to nominate the greatest rock and pop songwriters of all time and then put these nominations to the vote. In 1967, a clever record company executive paired lyricist Bernie Taupin and a young piano player named Reginald Kenneth Dwight. No one except Dylan has embraced the endless highway with more artistic success — as explained by Nelson in "On the Road Again," a Top 20 Grammy-winning hit in 1980 — and his studio career is just as endless, ranging from Texas swing to reggae to standards with strings. But it all builds off his songs, which transform funk, soul, pop and rock into a sound all his own. ", "The words just came tumbling out of me," Petty said of "American Girl," his greatest song and first hit single. At 80, he's still our greatest living late-night poet. Best Known For: N’Sync’s “Gone”; “SexyBack,” “Cry Me A River” In the early 2010s, the British boy and girl bands, The Wanted, One Direction, and Little Mix have experienced worldwide success, charting highly in Britain as well as North America. Try 50 years. "I'm a rock & roller," he recently told Rolling Stone. And sometimes –"Start Me Up," "Rip This Joint" – they just kicked the doors in and burned the house down. ", The Who had a one-of-a-kind drummer, a brilliant bassist, a towering singer — and their songs featured some pretty impressive guitar playing too. Cooke's determination to win over mainstream white audiences led him to expand his range as a writer, and he proved equally adept with the starry-eyed pop romance of "Cupid," the urbane dance floor workout "Twistin' the Night Away" even the subtle social commentary of "Chain Gang." "He felt everything he wanted to feel, and he would use us to 'write it down,'" says Bootsy Collins, Brown's bassist in the early Seventies. Channel 7 (Formerly 7 Aurelius) First are the meaty, hooky melodies, dating back to early Diamond sing-alongs like "Cherry, Cherry" and "Sweet Caroline" and extending into later, more brooding angst-a-thons like "I Am. I'm doing good.". The team fell apart once Hayes became a hot buttered soul star in his own right, but they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame together in 2005, three years before Hayes' death. StarGate But the music was pure delight: melodies that let vocalists' power and move gracefully through them, neatly cross-stitched into an array of instrumental hooks and forceful dance rhythms. November 27, 2012 - 6:11 pm Whether he's operating on a large scale summing up our shared national commitments in 1973's "American Tune," or writing a finely wrought personal reflection on lost love like 1986's "Graceland," the same wit and literary detail come through. Why She’s Dope: The R&B crooner has taken pages out of her diary to write about the roller-coasting feelings of love, infidelity, heartbreak and sacrifice that are found in her songs "Foolish," "Rain On Me" and "The Way That I Love You.". "It's the way I like art. Uncut’s 50 best singer-songwriter albums. Combined with melodies that can be jubilant, funky or simply gorgeous, Wonder's songs are so enduring that they've been covered by everyone from Sinatra to the Backstreet Boys. Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, For the full playlist with all 100 songwriters visit. I can't. "They were doing things nobody was doing," Bob Dylan once remembered of a drive through Colorado when the Beatles ruled the radio. I have always trusted its purity, and I always will. "We didn't used to write one, we used to write a batch at a time — like gumbo. After his exposure to Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge and copious amounts of psychedelics, Clinton's pop-wise sense of puns and wordplay helped drive home his interstellar philosophizing. A gender-bending poet who kicked open the door for punk while retaining a faith in rock's Sixties idealism, she drew on her love of Dylan, garage rock and French symbolist poetry (as well guitarist Lenny Kaye's encyclopedic knowledge) to rewrite rock history in her own image. . 1 Billboard Dance hits. Costello's two-dozen or so best songs — "Beyond Believe," Radio, Radio," "New Lace Sleeves," "Watching the Detectives," "Oliver's Army" among them — make all those densely packed images and subtle wordplay roll by with almost Beatles-esque precision. Sean Garrett They can feed off a partnership, and that keeps people entertained. Late in the Sixties, Dozier and the Holland brothers left Motown and launched a few record labels of their own; although many of the hits that followed for the likes of Freda Payne and the Honey Cone were credited to "Edythe Wayne," there was no mistaking the H-D-H sound. Best Known For: Pussycat Dolls’ “Beep,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away,” Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl” He'd accommodate the line — metrically, rhythmically." "Neil doesn't turn corners," Crazy Horse guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro once said. ", "When you're going 80 miles an hour down the freeway you're not necessarily going to notice irony," Randy Newman has said. A Number One pop and country hit for Jeannie C. Riley in 1968, it freed Hall to record his own work, which included songs about burying a man who owed him 40 dollars, mourning the death of the local hero who taught him how to drink and play guitar, and "Trip to Hyden," a journalistic tale of a drive to the scene of a mining disaster that was part Woody Guthrie, part Studs Turkel. And so he did. ", Jerome Felder was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who'd been on crutches since he'd contracted polio at age six. Berns, who suffered from chronic health problems since childhood, died of a heart attack in 1967 at 38. The Bee Gees' earliest hits ("New York Mining Disaster 1941," "To Love Somebody") were melancholy psychedelia, and their first U.S. He wrote for Mario, Beyonce, Usher, Natasha Bedingfield, Pleasure P, Dirty Money and more, with some standout songs being Keri’s “Energy,” Bey’s “Sweet Dreams” and Diddy and Co.’s “Hello Good Morning” to name a few. Robinson was an elegant, delicate singer and poetic writer whose songs brought new levels of nuance to the Top 40. The duo charted deep space — inner and outer—on early collaborations like "Dark Star." With a pointed ear toward tracks for the dance floor, the Georgia-born songwriter/producer/singer has composed pop and R&B hits whose lyrics linger on your mind for days. "It can sometimes be stupidly literal." Mann and Weil met in 1960 at the song-publishing company Aldon Music, married in 1961 and have been living and working together ever since. Between 1962 and 1971, Warwick charted with dozens of Bacharach/David songs like "I Say a Little Prayer," "Walk on By" and "Anyone Who Had a Heart." Johnson made it personal, walking side by side with Satan in "Me and the Devil Blues," rewriting the Book of Revelations as a diary entry in "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day," looking for shelter from the storm in "Hell Hound on My Trail" and enacting his own crucifixion in "Cross Road Blues." Thus began the symbiotic relationship that produced a string of sophisticated, acerbic songs that still felt at home amidst the laidback mood of Seventies FM radio — hits like "Do It Again," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Peg." And voila: there they are. After working as a producer at Atlantic Records, he established his own labels Bang and Shout, where he collaborated closely with Van Morrison (most famously on the singer's biggest hit, "Brown Eyed Girl") and wrote "Piece of My Heart," which was covered by Big Brother and the Holding Company. song always read "Berry, Mills, Buck, Stipe." 13 min read. Well, what a decade it's been! After becoming disillusioned with commercial pop following the success of his 1967 hit "Brown Eyed Girl," he went into a brief period of down-and-out seclusion, emerging the following year with his greatest statement, Astral Weeks, singing "poetry and mythical musings channeled from my imagination" over meditative backing that wove folk, jazz, blues and soul. .my heart." Only Van can make a Romantic incantation like "if I ventured in the slipstream/Between the viaducts of your dream" roll out as smooth as Tupelo honey. Why He’s Dope: John Legend has a penchant for performing swoon-worthy singles time and time again, many of which are all his own. Rate your favorite albums to have your say in this list of the top user rated albums. All three began their careers as singers, but when they started working together behind the scenes, they made magic. "I wanted to release music that let people know he was more than just a gang­sta rapper," Combs said later. "The truth sustains. Prev Page 1 of 57 Next Prev Page 1 of 57 Next (Image credit: Steve Azzara/Corbis) Nick Ashford/Valerie Simpson. When it comes to artists themselves moonlighting as auteurs, there’ve been heated debates over what constitutes “songwriting.” Only those present in the studio know how much is really contributed. Chart Article. "I write songs about my feelings. One of the many, many things Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have disagreed about over the years is how their songwriting partnership got started. "It was a way of bending people's minds and showing them that what they took for granted might not be the truth at all," he wrote in his bio. But no songwriter has explored sex so ingeniously —from the frisky flirtations of "Little Red Corvette" and "U Got the Look" to more ambitious therapy sessions like "When Doves Cry" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend." Love lifts me up.") ", Dixon was a fine performer and bass player, but he made his greatest contribution as house songwriter at Chess Records in the 1950s. On classic albums like 1970's 12 Songs and 1972's Sail Away, Newman developed characters, explored ironies and embodied perspectives no one else of his time had even considered — "Suzanne" was sung from the point of view of a rapist, "God's Song" surveyed mankind with disgust from the Almighty's easy chair and "Sail Away" was a sales pitch from an antebellum slave trader to Africans on the wonders of America ("Every man is free to take care of his home and his family"). "Everything was a song," Mayfield said in 1994. Best Known For: “I Decided,” Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied,” “Upgrade U,” “Why Don’t You Love Me” His most indelible songs — "Izzo (Hova)," "99 Problems," "Big Pimpin'" — mix diamond-sharp rhymes with unshakable hooks. I talk with the artist and find out what they will or won't sing about." His songs ranged from Friday night party starters like "Hey Good Lookin'" and "Settin' the Woods on Fire" to tales of romantic desolation like "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" to the redemptive anthem "I Saw the Light" to heart-wrenching depictions of dread and isolation like "Lost Highway" and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," the last single released during his lifetime. The crooner helped pen and produce Cassie’s entire debut album, and his work on her semi-erotic breakout “Me & U” pushed the single to No. Best Known For: “Rock wit U (Aww Baby),” “Breakup 2 Makeup” Bartholomew also wrote scores of hits for other New Orleans artists, many of which became rock standards: "I Hear You Knocking," "One Night," "I'm Walkin'." Prince's talents as a multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, bandleader and live powerhouse are peerless. "I despaired, for a time, of writing any more words. Read our countdown of passionate pop, electrifying rock and anthemic rap – and see if you agree Ester Dean Why He’s Dope: The singer/songwriter/producer is responsible for writing 80 percent of Ashanti’s love-soaked self-titled debut, when the Long Island-bred songstress was at her best. Copied to clipboard. Cooke, who died in 1964, didn't live to see it become a civil rights anthem recorded by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé, or to hear the first African-American President of the United States quote it on the night he was elected. October 8, 2019 by Aphoristical 44 Comments on The Ten Next Best Singer-Songwriters Ever Lists. Taylor himself knows that some people slag him for the first-person aspect of his writing: "If you think it's sentimental and self-absorbed, then I agree with you, basically. Their slyly humorous story songs skillfully mixed R&B grooves with clever, often subversive lyrics: "Riot in Cell Block #9," a Number One R&B hit for the Robins in 1954, was about a prison uprising, while the Coasters' 1959 chart-topper "Poison Ivy" was a reference to sexually transmitted diseases. "They're just thorns without the rose." They scored their first big hit with the Soul Survivors' "Expressway to Your Heart" in 1967, but by then the team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff had already been working together for five years, and over the following 15, they'd define the sound of Philadelphia soul and help invent disco. A look at the The Best Singer-Songwriter Albums of the 2010s by User Score. Claude Kelly has done this quite well. In his late-Sixties/early-Seventies prime, it was a potent combination: composer/producer David Axelrod called him "the greatest talent in pop music history." Like most indie music, things got truly weird in the 2000s. . "They're like strange countries that you have to enter." CCR were the catchy, hard-driving dance band amidst the psychedelic San Francisco ballroom scene of the late Sixties, scoring 12 Top 40 hits during their run while releasing an incredible five albums between 1968 and 1970. Jermaine Dupri "Without [Bernie] the journey would not have been possible," Elton said in 1994. As the leader of Pretenders, Hynde linked the start-and-go rhythms and abrasive guitars of post-punk to a heartland rocker's sense of straightforward melody. In actuality, being in tune with his inner emotions gives Drake a keen ear for rhythm and blues. "I liked the effect of a lot of images passing by quickly"), Elvis Costello evolved into a songwriter of profoundly American sensibilities and almost unparalleled versatility. "He was always building up layers, making breakdowns, creating this searing funk with amazing dynamic changes.". "I've always prided myself as a songwriter more than anything else" she once said, adding "nothing is more sacred and more precious to me than when I really can get in that zone where it's just God and me. "When you think about it, when you're writing a song, you're always trying to write something that you love and the people will love.". But Kristofferson did more than succeed them. Why He’s Dope: Justin Timberlake's solo career popped due to his singing and songwriting talents that yielded hits like "SexyBack," "My Love" and "Cry Me A River,” but little did you know, he also wrote a few of N’Sync’s most loved hits, including “Girlfriend.” In 2008, JT won ASCAP songwriting awards for "My Love" and "Until the End of Time" featuring Beyoncé. A high-school dropout, Westerberg spoke for a nation of smart, wiseacre misfits, paving the way for Green Day and Nirvana, both of which were led by avowed Replacements fans. The storytelling was always a delight, but it was Hunter's way with a homey-cosmic aphorism that made Dead lyrics so tattoo-able, bobbing and bouncing on Garcia's sweet, sad melody lines like glinting revelations. Buddy Holly, the other great rock & roll singer-songwriter of the Fifties, embodied it. "People know when you do that. Hynde had one of the best runs of the New Wave era: winning over a wide pop audience with sharp tunes like "Brass in Pocket (I'm Special)," "Middle of the Road," and "Back on the Chain Gang" as well as the buoyant "Don't Get Me Wrong" and ballads like "2000 Miles." "I think it's essential," Jagger once told Rolling Stone of the idea of partnership. Unafraid of risk, Springsteen followed it with a long period of redefinition, making his sound and his stories ever more intimate on 1987's Tunnel of Love and later 1996's The Ghost of Tom Joad.