Top 10 Songs You Didn't Know Were Written By Max Martin
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
Who knew these songs were written by Max Martin? For this list, we'll be looking at some of the most popular hits of the late 20th and early 21st century you might not have realized were written or co-written by the Swedish record producer. Our countdown includes "Can't Feel My Face," "Problem," So What," and more!
Top 10 Songs You Didn't Know Were Written by Max Martin
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Songs You Didn’t Know Were Written by Max Martin.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most popular hits of the late 20th and early 21st century you might not have realized were written or co-written by the Swedish record producer.
Are you familiar with Max Martin? Which of his songs is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
#10: “Can't Stop the Feeling!” (2016)
In the summer of 2016, it felt like you couldn’t go anywhere without this tune blaring across the airwaves. Not that we’re complaining — it’s a whole bop. Its upbeat, funky disco-pop sound totally screams summer vibes. Co-written by Timberlake, Max Martin, and Shellback, it served as the title track for the DreamWorks animation “Trolls.” Even though the movie didn’t come out until the fall, the song debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, topped charts internationally, and was the year’s best-selling song in the US. “Can’t Stop” received several prestigious award nominations, even winning the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media. It always feels like the sun is shining whenever we hear this tune.
#9: “Can't Feel My Face” (2015)
Max Martin’s responsible for launching many careers, and, for The Weeknd, this was the song that did just that. The Toronto-born Abel Tesfaye wasn’t unknown per se, but this song gave him his first no.1 hit, propelling him into international recognition. This lively, poppin’ melody, somewhat inspired by Tesfaye’s idol Michael Jackson, became the definitive earworm of 2015. Its enticing beat draws you in before really taking off and leaving you with no other option but to jam out until that final note. There’s been much speculation over the song’s meaning, with many, including the singer, alluding to substance use. Still, the only thing we’re hooked on is just how much we love this track.
#8: “Problem” (2014)
Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea
Co-written by both artists, along with Martin and others, our only “Problem” in 2014 was that we couldn’t get this hit out of our heads! Supposedly, it took two years to get Martin on board, but his daughter was a huge Grande fan, so how could he refuse? Only someone as skilled as this songwriter and producer could amalgamate dance-pop, R&B, jazz, and funk, chuck in some 90s throwback vibes, and give us a mega-hit. If you love Grande’s far-reaching range in the pre-chorus, or you still can’t get enough of those saxophone notes, you have Martin to thank. He really understands how to take a great song and turn it into something phenomenal. And this six-time platinum-certified record proves just that.
#7: “Teenage Dream” (2010)
Martin collaborated with the “California Gurls” singer on several occasions. They worked together on her debut single, “I Kissed a Girl” and again, on her female empowerment anthem “Roar,” among several others. However, the title track on her “Teenage Dream” album was a euphoric breath of fresh air that reminded us what it meant to be young and in love. The alluring mid-tempo pop number evokes imagery of blissful days in the sun and youthful, free-spirited energy. It earned Martin his eighth no.1 and went platinum in a plethora of countries, including nine times in the US. Meanwhile, Perry received her third Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy nomination. The song also been covered endlessly across popular culture.
#6: “Shake It Off” (2014)
Two outstanding songwriters, Martin and T-Swift, are forces to be reckoned with. So, when they come together, we get iconic earworms like the break-up anthem “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” They've also collaborated on several other unforgettable tunes, but there's one we simply can't ‘shake off.’ An animated and catchy dance-pop number, Swift reclaimed the haters' words and turned it into a number one hit — marking Martin's 18th chart-topper. The single saw Swift seamlessly transition into pop with a sharp middle finger to her critics. It was named Favorite Song at the 2015 People's Choice Awards and awarded diamond certification. It also received three Grammy nominations. Although it didn't win, Martin was honored with the Producer of the Year, Non-Classical award.
#5: “So What” (2008)
From its opening chords, “So What” has an instantly memorable sound and cheeky tone. Inspired by Alecia Moore, a.k.a Pink’s, separation from Carey Hart, this song had us thrashing around and singing along at the top of our lungs. It wasn’t the first time Moore and Martin collaborated, but “So What” marked the singer’s second chart-topper as well as her highest-selling single in the US. Its banging tune and liberating tongue-in-cheek lyrics made it an instant fan favorite. Whether you relate to its themes or just need space to let loose, it’s difficult to deny how empowering it is. In 2008, it won Most Addictive Track at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and all these years later, we’re still obsessed.
#4: “Since U Been Gone” (2004)
Winning “American Idol” put Kelly Clarkson on the map. But, she secured her place there with the timeless and vivacious pop-rock power ballad “Since U Been Gone.” Apparently, the song’s co-writers, Martin and Dr. Luke, were inspired by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ song, “Maps,” which they thought would be elevated by a pop chorus. Martin initially co-wrote “Since U Been Gone” for Pink, who passed on it. It was then offered to Hilary Duff, who also turned it down. Ultimately, the track fell into the right hands, with Clarkson opting to amp up the rock and make the number more “explosive.” It was a critical and commercial worldwide success, earning the singer a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
#3: “It's Gonna Be Me” (2000)
In 1997, this beloved boy band was “Tearin’ Up [Our] Hearts” with their second single from their debut album. Later, Martin – joined by collaborators Andreas Carlsson and Rami Yacoub – set to work on the group’s next hit single for their follow-up album. The story goes, Martin overheard Carlsson whistling a tune that caught his intrigue and eventually became the melody for “It’s Gonna Be Me.” Apparently, that famed over-pronunciation that launched a million memes was also a deliberate creative choice. The song, which we can all agree is an absolute banger, spent two consecutive weeks at no.1, marking Martin’s second hit to reach the top spot. Decades later, you can still find us on the dance floor whenever this song plays.
#2: “I Want It That Way” (1999)
By now, we’ve established that Max Martin is a “Larger than Life” songwriter. In 1997, he had us all chanting along to, “Backstreet’s back, alright!”. And, in 1999, he co-wrote the pop ballad of the year. The poppy yet gentle medley of “I Want It That Way” captivated us, while the boys’ harmonies had us mesmerized. It was nominated for three Grammys and deservingly became the group’s highly celebrated signature track. It was even featured on Rolling Stone’s 2021 list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” The tune has been covered and parodied to no end, including the iconic “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” bit. Thanks to its catchy rhythm and somewhat nonsensical call-and-response lyrics, its legacy continues to thrive. Guess you could say, “[We] Want It That Way.”
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Show Me Love” (1997), Robyn
The Song Achieved Gold Certification in the US
“My Universe” (2021), Coldplay X BTS
Its Many Accolades Include a Guinness World Record for Highest Debut by a UK Group in the US Singles Chart
“That's the Way It Is” (1999), Céline Dion
Billboard Called It One of the Greatest Songs of 1999
“It's My Life” (2000), Bon Jovi
Max Martin Helped Introduce Bon Jovi to Younger Audiences with This Legendary Rock Anthem
“One More Try” (2019), Jessie J
A Breathtaking Tune Written Specifically for the Musical “&Juliet”
#1: “...Baby One More Time” (1998)
We could write a whole list just on the songs Max Martin has written for Britney Spears. But instead, we’ll take you back to where it all began. “...Baby, One More Time” became Martin’s first no.1 hit and started him on the trajectory of becoming one of the most influential songwriters of the modern age. It also catapulted a 16-year-old Spears to stardom and launched the 90s teen pop era. The song went multi-platinum in several countries and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time. It speaks volumes that despite Spears’ countless subsequent hits and accolades, “...Baby, One More Time” stays unrivaled. “Oops!... [We listened to] it again”!