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Max Martin’s 58 Top 10 Hits As A Writer!


With “Can’t Feel My Face”, Max Martin, the legendary Swedish songwriter and producer, has had 58 top ten hits. Those sort of numbers make you hold your breath and scratch your head. The 44 year old is a one man jukebox -only Paul McCartney has had a better track record,  and Billboard compiled it in a list and I listened to it (see below for the list)

Though for the rock world of authentic pop music the EDM producer is an anti-christ, heralding the end of grunge in 1997 and the complete eclipse of the world with Kelly Clarkson on “Since U Been Gone” in 2005. Between the two he, along with Shellac and Dr. Luke, heralded the storming of the charts by pop confection.

If the complaint is the perfectionist Martin, something of a one man ABBA and a direct descendant if not, indeed, the child of  Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, shares with them a perfectionist eye, though with a deeper palette, well, how bad is that? Will he have to wait till 2035 to be considered a giant? . Martin isn’t as skilful a songwriter as ABBA,  but he has more tools in his chest, and he has absolutely perfected something Katy Perry, Pink, Ariana Grande, need: he makes them only one part of the hit and still individuals.

Listening to all these hits today, one after another, it seems like anybody can do it more or less: all you need is the processed beats and borderline tunefulness. But if that was true, why can’t everybody do it? Is it the intricate arrangements, the clarity of every instruments so you get the idea of multi-track mush but not the sound?

I got this quote from Stereogum’s Michael Nelson’s “30 Essential Max Martin songs back in March (here). It is one of Max’s songwriters Bonnie McKee:  “It’s very mathematical. A line has to have a certain number of syllables, and the next line has to be its mirror image … If you add one syllable, or take it away, it’s a completely different melody to Max. I can write something I think is so clever, but if it doesn’t hit the ear right then Max doesn’t like it.”

In theory, I am not a huge Max Martin fan, his recent work with Taylor Swift might have taken her to another level but what he added to the songs wasn’t what I needed. This sense where Martin has a sterile perfectionism infects the way you hear the songs and his lyrical idea are puerile in the extreme. : the syllable counting self centered professor of pop is antithetical to the genius who has an idea suddenly pop into his head. Martin isn’t like that, he isn’t Biggie stoned out of his mind freestyling over a beat, or Kurt at home in his bedroom with his acoustic guitar doodling in the margins of his sketch book.

So why do so many people. myself included, love it so much?  Here is the way soul works, if millions upon millions of people love your songs, they give them soul and the songs return it. Max is such a gifted songwriter and producer he has an alchemic relationship with his audience. They hear sublimely what he adds subliminally and he himself hears right at the top of the mix.

Max Martin’s 58 Hot 100 Top 10s as a Songwriter

Peak Pos., Title, Artist, Peak Date
No. 7, “Do You Know (What It Takes),” Robyn, 8/2/1997
No. 2, “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart),” Backstreet Boys, 9/6/1997
No. 7, “Show Me Love,” Robyn, 11/29/1997

No. 4, “Everybody [Backstreet’s Back],” Backstreet Boys, 5/9/1998

No. 1 (two weeks), “…Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears, 1/30/1999
No. 6, “I Want It That Way,” Backstreet Boys, 6/26/1999
No. 10, “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” Britney Spears, 11/13/1999

No. 6, “That’s the Way It Is,” Celine Dion, 3/4/2000
No. 6, “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” Backstreet Boys, 3/18/2000
No. 9, “Oops!…I Did It Again,” Britney Spears, 6/10/2000
No. 1 (two weeks), “It’s Gonna Be Me,” ‘N Sync, 7/29/2000
No. 9, “Shape of My Heart,” Backstreet Boys, 12/2/2000

No. 2, “Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson, 4/9/05
No. 6, “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” Kelly Clarkson, 6/11/05

No. 9, “U + Ur Hand,” P!nk, 5/5/2007
No. 9, “Who Knew,” P!nk, 9/29/2007

No. 3, “Hot N Cold,” Katy Perry, 1/22/2008
No. 1 (seven weeks), “I Kissed a Girl,” Katy Perry, 7/5/2008
No. 1 (one week), “So What,” P!nk, 9/27/2008

No. 1 (two weeks), “My Life Would Suck Without You,” Kelly Clarkson, 2/7/2009
No. 1 (one week), “3,” Britney Spears, 10/24/2009

No. 10, “Whataya Want From Me,” Adam Lambert, 5/1/2010
No. 1, “California Gurls,” Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg, 6/19/2010
No. 2, “Dynamite,” Taio Cruz, 8/21/2010
No. 1 (two weeks), “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry, 9/18/2010
No. 4, “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love,” Usher feat. Pitbull, 10/9/2010
No. 8, “Teenage Dream,” Glee Cast, 11/27/2010
No. 1 (one week), “Raise Your Glass,” P!nk, 12/11/2010

No. 1 (one week), “Hold It Against Me,” Britney Spears, 1/29/2011
No. 2, “F**kin’ Perfect,” P!nk, 2/12/2011
No. 7, “Blow,” Ke$ha, 3/19/2011
No. 6, “Loser Like Me,” Glee Cast, 4/2/2011
No. 1 (five weeks), “E.T.,” Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, 4/9/2011
No. 3, “Till the World Ends,” Britney Spears, 5/14/2011
No. 7, “I Wanna Go,” Britney Spears, 8/20/2011

No. 1 (two weeks), “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” Katy Perry, 8/27/2011

No. 3, “The One That Got Away,” Katy Perry, 1/7/2012
No. 6, “Domino,” Jessie J, 2/18/2012
No. 1 (one week), “Part of Me,” Katy Perry, 3/3/2012
No. 9, “Scream,” Usher, 8/4/2012
No. 2, “Wide Awake,” Katy Perry, 8/11/2012
No. 1 (three weeks), “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift, 9/1/2012
No. 1 (nine weeks), “One More Night,” Maroon 5, 9/29/2012

No. 5, “Beauty and a Beat,” Justin Bieber feat. Nicki Minaj, 1/5/2013
No. 2, “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” Taylor Swift, 1/12/2013
No. 7, “Daylight,” Maroon 5, 2/23/2013
No. 1 (two weeks), “Roar,” Katy Perry, 9/14/2013

No. 1 (four weeks), “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry feat. Juicy J, 2/8/2014
No. 2, “Problem,” Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea, 6/7/2014
No. 4, “Break Free,” Ariana Grande feat. Zedd, 8/30/2014
No. 1 (four weeks), “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift, 9/6/2014
No. 3, “Bang Bang,” Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, 10/4/2014
No. 7, “Love Me Harder,” Ariana Grande & The Weeknd, 11/22/2014
No. 1 (seven weeks), “Blank Space,” Taylor Swift, 11/29/2014

No. 3, “Love Me Like You Do,” Ellie Goulding, 3/7/2015
No. 6, “Style,” Taylor Swift, 3/21/2015
No. 1 (one week), “Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, 6/6/2015

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