When it comes to writing hit records the Babyface’s, Stevie Wonder’s, Ne-Yo’s, and Diane Warren’s of the world have penned chart topping songs for more artists than we could even imagine. They are probably still living off royalty checks from the days when their pen first hit the pad for the first artist they worked with.
While the songwriter still plays a major role in today’s industry, there are artists that have the ability to write their own songs and in many cases, these are artists are even responsible for penning the lyrics and melody the to biggest songs of their careers. Starting with a man that is no stranger to hit records, we present to you 10 artists who wrote their way into the penthouse by penning their biggest hit.
- 1 10. “Gold Digger”- Kanye West
- 2 9. “We Belong Together” -Mariah Carey
- 3 8. “I Got a Feeling” – The Black Eyed Peas
- 4 7. “Low” -Flo-Rida
- 5 6. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
- 6 5. “No One” – Alicia Keys
- 7 4. “Dilemna” Nelly
- 8 3. “Family Affair” – Mary J. Blige
- 9 2. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson
- 10 1. “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
10. “Gold Digger”- Kanye West
“I aint saying she a Gold Digger but she ain’t messin’ with no broke…” Kanye West will probably never have to worry about being broke because he scored big with his hit single, “Gold Digger.” Released as the second single from West’s second album, Late Registration, “Gold Digger” featured Jamie Foxx on the hook. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on September 6, 2005, becoming West’s and Foxx’s second number one single.
Co-produced with Jon Brion, the single broke a record for the most digital downloads in a week, selling over 80,000 digital downloads, and was also the fastest selling digital download of all time; both records have since been broken. The single alone has sold close to 4 million copies to date if not more.
9. “We Belong Together” -Mariah Carey
Before 2005 many critics and cynics thought Mariah Carey’s career was over. The four years prior she wasn’t doing those astronomical Mariah numbers that we all grew accustomed to. Then she penned “We Belong Together” alongside Jermaine Dupri and his clan of hit songwriters and the rest is history. “We Belong Together” was declared the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-end Chart of 2005, a career first for Carey.
Billboard listed “We Belong Together” ninth on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and second on Top Billboard Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song was also declared the most popular song of the 2000s decade by Billboard, which makes Carey the first artist to have more than one song being the most popular of a decade, as “One Sweet Day” was the most popular song of the 1990s.
8. “I Got a Feeling” – The Black Eyed Peas
I don’t care what anyone says! When I saw The Black Eyed Peas pull off the most incredible Flash Mob I have ever witnessed when they performed the song “I Got a Feeling” on Oprah’s 24th Year Anniversary Special, I knew that song was a mega-hit and The Black Eyed Peas cashed in a mega-check for penning the party anthem. “I Gotta Feeling” is the second single from The Black Eyed Peas’ fifth album The E.N.D., produced by the French DJ David Guetta.
The song was released on May 21, 2009 and debuted at number two on the Canadian and Billboard Hot 100 on the week of June 27, 2009, behind the group’s “Boom Boom Pow”, making the group one of 11 artists who have occupied the top two positions of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. The song later reached number one on the US charts and 20 charts worldwide. The song was nominated for Record of the Year at the 52nd Grammy Awards and won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. “I Gotta Feeling” was 5th on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade.
7. “Low” -Flo-Rida
Before “Low” launched Flo-Rida into a new stratosphere, I had the pleasure of knowing this young man and he is more than worthy of the fame and the check he cashed for this smash shit. The song was a massive success worldwide and was the longest running number-one single of 2008 in the United States. With over 6 million digital downloads, it has been certified 7× Platinum by the RIAA, and was the most downloaded single of the 2000s decade, measured by paid digital downloads.
The song was named 3rd on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade. “Low” spent ten consecutive weeks top of the Billboard Hot 100, the longest-running number-one single of 2008. As the song suggests, shawty may have gotten low, low, low but Flo-Rida money and fame was going high, high, high.
6. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
“Rolling in the Deep” had Adele rolling in the dough! The song was written by Adele and Paul Epworth. The singer herself describes it as a “dark blues-y gospel disco tune”. The largest crossover hit in the United States from the past 25 years, this joint was playing any and everywhere. Aretha Franklin even remade the song playing homage to Adele. Now that is powerful! The song was first released on 29 November 2010 as the lead single from 21 in digital download format.
“Rolling in the Deep” was acclaimed by music critics and represented a commercial breakthrough for Adele, propelling her to international success. The song reached number one in 11 countries and the top five in many more regions. It was Adele’s first number-one song in the United States, reaching the top spot on many Billboard charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 where it was number one for seven weeks. By February 2012, “Rolling in the Deep” had sold over 7,600,000 copies in the United States, making it the highest selling digital song by a female artist in the US.
5. “No One” – Alicia Keys
“No- One, No-One, No-One” was happier than Alicia Keys when she wrote this hit. “No One” is Keys’ biggest hit to date, having topped several singles charts, including the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for ten consecutive weeks. It is her second solo number-one single in the United States after 2001’s “Fallin'”. In 2008, “No One” was ranked at number forty-two on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and number fourteen on the Top Billboard Hot 100 R&B/hip-hop songs. In 2009, the song placed at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 decade-end chart.
It also placed at number 48 on Billboard’s “Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs”. Although they have several streams of income, I’m sure Alicia Keys and her hubby, Swizz Beatz are still living off those “No-One” residuals.
4. “Dilemna” Nelly
You would think that once Nelly made it “Hot In Here” and all the clothes were coming off he might have reached his plateau. That was not the case. His song “Dilemma” is the most successful song of Nelly’s career, giving him his first number-one single in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Dilemma is the most successful single of Kelly Rowland’s career also, who appeared alongside Nelly.
This song and chemistry was so hot between Nelly and Kelly Rowland that people assumed they were dating but that was not the case. They just came together to make a song that was ranked at number 75 on the all-time Hot 100 songs in the 55th Anniversary of the Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine. The end of 2009 it was named the 11th most successful song from 2000 to 2009, on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 45th Grammy Awards. “Dilemma” was accredited internationally with 16 certifications. I’m sure Nelly’s “Dilemna” checks are nice but Nelly is a savvy business man with several streams of income. Look it up!
3. “Family Affair” – Mary J. Blige
There was absolutely no “Hateration” going on when it came to airplay for this Mary J. Blige smash. The word is that Mary actually heard the song in skeleton form when she first heard it because it was supposedly intended for Rakim, who was working with Dr. Dre at the time. Mary decided to aid her pen game to what was already present and the rest was history. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks from November 3, 2001.
It was Blige’s first Hot 100 number-one single. In 2008, for Billboard magazine’s 50th Anniversary, “Family Affair” was listed as the 79th-biggest single on the The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. While at the end of 2009 was named the 12th most successful song from 2000 to 2009, on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade. Rolling Stone ranked it number ninety-five on their list of 100 Best Songs of the 2000’s decade.
2. “Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson
Jackson was already a fortified superstar after earning three solo Hot 100 NO. 1’S – including two from his “Off the Wall,” album but “Billie Jean” shot MJ into a place of stardom that transcends space and time. Penning this all by his lonesome, Michael was on one when With seven weeks at No. 1, the song introduced the iconic “Thriller” album to the masses. May it was the song itself or maybe it was that classic Motown 25 performance where he unveiled the Moowwalk, or maybe it was a combination of many things but whatever it was, “Billie Jean” is an all time classic. The song became a worldwide commercial and critical success; it was one of the best-selling singles of 1983 and is one of the best-selling singles worldwide.
The song topped both the US and UK charts simultaneously. In other countries, it topped the charts of Switzerland and reached the top ten in Austria, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. “Billie Jean” was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1989. Rolling Stone magazine placed the song in the 58th spot on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
1. “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Speaking of poppin’ tags, I’m sure Macklemore and Ryan Lewis could afford to spend a little money outside of the “Thrift Shop” after penning this hit. The single was actually released on Macklemore’s independent label with distribution by ADA so it is safe to assume that the duo pocketed quite a bit a cash on this one. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and has since sold over 7 million copies in the US alone.
The song also reached number one in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. A music video was released to accompany the song’s release on August 29, 2012. Furthermore, the video has garnered more than 600 million views on YouTube, and as of July 2014 it is the site’s 13th most-watched video. In 2014, the single won two Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.