He Wrote That? Part II: More Surprising Songwriters Behind Some of Your Favorite Jams

June 21, 2012  |  
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While jamming to your favorite songs, do you ever wonder about who wrote your favorite tune? Okay, probably not. But it’s still cool to see who helped put some of today’s major hits together, and most of the time, it’s  people who you didn’t expect. We started looking into the names behind some popular tracks back in March, and now we’ve compiled a few more. Here’s a list of some major songs by major artists that were created with a little help from their famous (or at the time, soon-to-be-famous) friends.

“Baby” Justin Bieber feat. Ludacris (2009)

The-Dream/Tricky Stewart/Christina Milian

The song that threw Bieber into pop’s stratosphere, and was his highest charting single until 2012’s “Boyfriend,” was put together by former lovers The-Dream and Christina Milian and Dream’s writing partner Tricky Stewart (who has penned songs for Beyoncé, Rihanna, and more). The Dream claims that Milian only helped with the melody of the song- but there’s no way you can just get a royalty check and credits off a melody right? If so, then I stand corrected. Either way, it’s the jam folks of all backgrounds and ages can’t help but sing to, and it’s the song that pretty much made Bieber a household name.

“Confessions” Usher (2004)

Jermaine Dupri

The diamond status album released in 2004 brought us more than just great R&B. The popular track of the same name had many people convinced that the album had everything to do with Usher’s public breakup with Rozanda ‘Chili’ Thomas just months before the album’s release. In 2010 Usher was featured in E’s True Hollywood Stories series and “Confessions” was discussed. However, JD, who served as executive producer for the album, claims that the album and that song in particular was more his story than the R&B singer. “Confessions was actually about a relationship I was in,” said JD. “I got another woman pregnant, and my girlfriend wouldn’t  take me back.” I hope he wasn’t talking about that whole “him cheating on Janet with a stripper” mess…but either way, it made for some classic music!

B2K Album and vocals  on ‘Bump Bump Bump’ (2000/2002)

Trey Songz

I know that there are a few people that really care about the now defunct boy band, but the group is just a tad bit responsible for helping Trey Songz get his foot in the door. Trey’s producer and friend Troy Taylor (above) produced many songs for the band in their heyday and gave Songz some experience, since he co-wrote songs with Taylor for B2K’s debut album…B2K. Songz also sang backup vocals on their 2002 single “Bump Bump Bump,” which was their first top ten hit. Isn’t it funny how some people are connected?

“Use Your Heart” SWV

The Neptunes

Who knew Pharrell and Chad were making hits as far back as ’96? They’ve actually been helping concoct bangers earlier than that, with one of Pharrell’s first writing credits being for writing Teddy Riley’s verse on “Rumpshaker.” But anyway, this smooth track doesn’t immediately scream Neptunes, but Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams are credited as the writers as well as the producers of course. I’m sure if you listen hard enough, you might Pharrell’s behind trying to croon on this track…

“Nothing Compares to You” The Family (1985)

“Nothing Compares 2 U” Sinead O’Connor (1990)


An icon and musical influence for many artists today is Prince. While his last album was 20Ten, which was released in 2010, he has written songs for many different artists throughout his career including Chaka Khan’s “Feel for You,” 80’s all girl band The Bangles’ “Manic Monday” and more. His creative song writing style gave most artists their first number one hits, including Sinead O’ Connor’s 1990 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Prince wrote the song for the funk band The Family, one of his many musical creations of the ’80s, but it was O’Connor’s version that was nationally known.

“Party in the U.S.A.” Miley Cyrus (2009)

Jessie J

It’s safe to say that former child star Miley Cryus’ music career is almost forgettable, but her biggest song was “Party in the U.S.A” in 2009. The song was written by British pop singer Jessie J before she made it big and produced by Dr. Luke (Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, P!nk). Jessie believed that the song didn’t fit her sassy and edgy style so she let Cyrus sing it. The single was the sixth best selling digital single in 2009 and set the record for the fastest selling single in the United States. Since 2009, it has sold over 4.5 million copies and is 4x platinum by the RIAA and Music Canada. I think Jessie J still wins – the royalty rights of course, and if you haven’t heard of her check this out.

“Ice Box” Omarion (2006)

Keri Hilson & Timbaland

After major success with B2K, lead singer Omarion decided to go solo, having big hits with songs like “Touch” and “O.” But the second time around, he released “Ice Box” as his second single for his sophomore effort, 21. The song was his biggest solo hit to date, making it to number 12 on the Billboard charts in 2006. The song was written by Keri Hilson and Timbaland, with three more songwriters as the producing team called The Clutch. It was rumored that Omarion had The Clutch make five more songs for him for 21, but they didn’t make it to the album because his team couldn’t afford them. Maybe his new boss Mr. Ross can reach back in the vault and buy them for him…

“Drug Test” The Game & Snoop Dogg (2011)

J. Cole & Kendrick Lamar

One of hip-hop’s many rumors is the existence of ghost writers for today’s biggest artists. The Game can be questioned now that it was revealed that indie rap artist Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole were credited to a single that they didn’t rap on. The single, “Drug Test” from Game’s The R.E.D. Album (which had way too many cameos if you ask me), features Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and singer Sly. Lamar told MTV’s Sway last year that ghost writing is something that is known in the industry but is never talked about. “It’s a money agreement,” said Lamar. “Writer’s credit can mean anything- a melody or even an idea, it doesn’t have to be the writing though.” Anything for a check right?

“It’s a Shame” The Spinners

Stevie Wonder

“It’s a shame, the way you mess around with your man, it’s a shame, the way you hurt me!” I know you know this classic jam. Though it was performed by the Spinners, the genius that is Stevie Wonder, along with Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett at Motown wrote this classic for the group. He also produced it aside from just writing the track, and not only was it the Spinners biggest hit to date, it was also Wonder’s first production job for someone outside of himself back in 1970. Got to love it!


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