As a musician, I always wonder how true it is when artists claim to write their own music. The term “singer/songwriter” has become more and more loose over the years. Even Taylor Swift makes a conscious effort to make it seem as though she receives no help or aid in writing her music. I’ve always thought that this notion was extremely detrimental to pop music culture. Their dirty secret is exemplified by one man–Max Martin. One of the masterminds behind pop music, alone he has been a co-writer on 22 of Swift’s songs.
MAX MARTIN VS LENNON AND MCCARTNEY
People like Max Martin are the unsung heroes of pop music. Give him a quick Google and you will see the unbelievable amount of pop hits he has written. His resume boasts an impressive twenty-one No. 1 Billboard hits. I find it super interesting to compare him to the only comparable people- Lennon and McCartney. The twenty-one billboard hits put him five fewer than John Lennon, and eleven behind Paul McCartney.
Although we could never determine who is the better writer, we have to compare. Lennon and McCartney wrote hundreds of hits. But do we think that maybe part of why they were hits was because of who they were? Whereas Max Martin comes extremely close statistically with no sense of brand or name or popularity, it was solely based off of the music.
THE pop music you know and love
Martin got his start in US pop music by writing for the hit band The Backstreet Boys including everyone’s favorite “I Want It That Way”. Martin has given many bands and artists their sound. He helped launch Britney Spears’ career with “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. For these two artists these are arguably their signature songs. He has also co-written 22 of self-proclaimed singer songwriter Taylor Swift’s songs. Some of those include- “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space”, “Bad Blood”, “Wildest Dreams”, “Style”.
Martin has mastered the art of feeding the pop listeners exactly what they want. Especially in the early 2000s he recycles and uses less popular genres such as punk rock and house music to create pop hits. His claim to fame is his ability to write a “hook”. What is a hook you may ask? No one really knows. There’s no good way to describe it musically. It’s just a feeling you get when you listen.
WHat is the mastermind up to now?
Despite spending the last 20 years or so as the mastermind of pop music, Martin is surprisingly reclusive. You will likely only spot him accepting his usual Grammy amongst many of his co-writers. In fact, he dislikes fame to the point where he doesn’t go by his actual name- Karl Martin Sandberg. Try as he might to dim the spotlight, his talent is a bright light that shines through his amazing work, that is sung and loved by millions. Which piece of his work is your favorite?