Music Industry

Want to a major pop hit? Start with seven songwriters

How many people does it take to write a pop song today? If you look at the songwriting credits of any current pop record, you’ll find five, six, seven or even more names listed. What did all these people do?

Let’s take “The Middle,” a major hit by Zedd, Gray and Maren Morris as an example.

The New York Times went to the seven people responsible for writing the song who then broke it all down.

Dig just past the shiny surface of today’s mainstream pop music, and you might find yourself asking questions like, “Why does it take seven people to write a song that sounds like it came from a computer?”

In the case of the current smash hit “The Middle” by Zedd, Grey and Maren Morris — which has topped Billboard’s pop radio airplay and dance music charts while collecting hundreds of millions of digital streams on services like Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music — the process went far beyond even its three lead artists and seven credited songwriters.

What began as a demo by the Monsters and the Strangerz, a behind-the-scenes Los Angeles studio team, and Sarah Aarons, a young wallflower songwriter from Australia, took more than a year of fiddling between the germ of the idea and its Top 40 debut — a creative roller coaster that included three distinct waves of musical production, 14 prospective vocalists, a corporate tie-in and a video premiere during the Grammys.

Lennon-McCartney this was not.

This is fascinating. Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38458 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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