Why Pop Music is All the Same

By Conor Bulkeley-Krane ‘16

When fans buy Pitbull’s latest banger or Drake’s newest R&B ballad, the only information that they see regarding its authorship is the artist listed. However, in most pop music, there is an entire team of people responsible for writing the music, playing the instruments, recording the song, producing the song, and engineering the final product. Often, the “artist” listed barely has anything to do with the final product.

One example of a song closely related to a musician that is actually the work of a corporation is Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” Clarkson is perceived as a skilled musician and songwriter, and it is widely assumed that she wrote the song. Max Martin originally wrote the song with P!nk in mind, but she turned it down, and it was given to Hilary Duff (Lizzy McGuire). Hilary Duff turned it down, and finally Clive Davis, a music industry executive convinced Max Martin & Dr. Luke (Martin’s protogé) to give it to Kelly Clarkson.

Max Martin is a songwriter and producer who has been behind many of pop music’s biggest hits in the last 20 years. He is, in fact, behind the third-most number one singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, behind only Paul McCartney and John Lennon. As of February 2015, Martin had written a total of 54 songs that reached the top ten charts placing him above Madonna’s 38, Elvis Presley’s 36 and the Beatles’ 34. Below you can see a few of Martin’s most successful pop songs and the celebrities who have recorded them.


(Graphic: Conor Bulkeley-Krane ‘16)

(Graphic: Conor Bulkeley-Krane ‘16)