The truth behind the hits of Ariana Grande, The Weeknd and other unstoppable artists
You probably know the words to at least one of their popular songs, and you may have heard many others on the radio. But: How do you manage to write songs as catchy as “What makes you beautiful” by British-Irish band One Direction or “Side to Side” of Ariana Grande and nicki minaj?
The successful American composer and lyricist Savan Kotecha assures that his secret is “to spare no effort”. “What I do is dedicate time to the songs,” he says in an interview with the BBC’s Newsbeat program.
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Songs written by Savan include hits like Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time”, The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Beauty and a Beat”. ” (“A beauty and a rhythm”) by Justin Bieber.
You might think that the song “What Makes You Beautiful” talks about a love story of a One Direction memberbut you are probably wrong. “The song is about when I met my wife”Savan explains. “It’s been fun at our house letting my kids know that [la canción] It’s about his mom.”
“Focus on your craft”
Kotecha’s big break came when music mogul Simon Cowell asked him to join the crew of the British television show The X Factor. The famous TV singing competition launched the careers of groups like One Direction and Little Mix. “Once you start to be successful, you start to realize: It took this [elemento] to make such a song great and I am going to apply a similar work ethic to other songs.”
Kotecha, who is originally from Texas, believes that getting far requires “a combination of hard work and luck” and “focus on your craft.”
He adds that it’s important not to “just write something quickly and leave it there.” “It’s about making sure every part of the song is as good as I am. and that the collaborators can sing it”. The process varies from artist to artist, she explains. “Sometimes someone already has a sound and you’re just trying to help make it better.” “Other times you play the best friend and therapist, helping them express what they want in a digestible way.”
But: Who have been your favorite collaborators? Kotecha thinks carefully, before mentioning One Direction and Ariana Grande. “One Last Time” by Ariana has been played over a billion times on Spotify. It is a single that the lyricist assures that he wrote “after six months of suffering a bad writer’s block.”
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“That was the first song I played for Ari. So began a very special relationship that I cherish.” Kotecha points out that the melody has taken on another meaning after the terrorist attacks in Manchester Sand: now used “to comfort and heal.”
An evolving industry
During her time in the industry, Kotecha has seen changes and things that have come about thanks to TikTok. He says that record labels can no longer tell people what to listen to. “It is the audience that says: ‘this is what we want to hear and what we enjoy’”.
But now may be “a much more complicated time” so that new artists and composers make their way in the industry, because it is no longer just about signing a contract, according to the Texan musician. “You have to build your fan base, and you have to do all those things yourself.” For this reason, now he wants to help new talents.
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He has partnered with TikTok, Simon Cowell, and other big names under a project called StemDrop. The initiative provides creators on the social network with individual components of a song, such as drums, bass, or some vocal parts, in order for them to create and share their own unique versions.
“It feels like the evolution of how the business can run, where there are no gatekeepers anymore,” he says. “It also gives us the opportunity to collaborate with new songwriters that we normally wouldn’t be able to.” And for those who find success and end up writing a good song, Kotecha says that hard work must not stop. “Challenge the song you’re writing and make sure it’s the best it can be”, He says. “Instead of being happy you wrote a song, go further.” “[El éxito] it takes time”.