Only 13 U.S. number one songs this century had just one writer
A new and highly unexpected music feud emerged this week. Blur and Gorillaz star Damon Albarn caused a furore online after he dismissed the songwriting abilities of Taylor Swift in an LA Times interview.
After claiming that she doesn’t write her own songs, he then criticised her use of co-writers, saying “I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different than writing.”
Huge backlash ensued, including from Swift herself, who insisted, “I write ALL of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and SO damaging. You don’t have to like my songs but it’s really f–ked up to try and discredit my writing. WOW” (it should be noted that Albarn later apologised to Swift “unreservedly and unconditionally”).
People were quick to empirically back Swift, with many reminding Albarn that she wrote her whole third album, 2010’s Speak Now, on her own.
And now, as Billboard highlights, the data from the Hot 100 comes down in favour of Swift rather than Albarn. When the publication analysed the figures back in 2020, they discovered that just 13 of the 283 songs to reach number one this century have had only one writer:
Vertical Horizon – ‘Everything You Want’ (Matthew Scannell)
Matchbox Twenty – ‘Bent’ (Rob Thomas)
Alicia Keys – ‘Fallin” (Alicia Keys)
Nickelback – ‘How You Remind Me’ (Chad Kroeger)
OutKast – ‘Hey Ya!’ (Andre 3000)
Daniel Powter – ‘Bad Day’ (Daniel Powter)
Plain White T’s – ‘Hey There Delilah’ (Tom Higgenson)
Soulja Boy Tell’em – ‘Crank That (Soulja Boy)’ (Soulja Boy)
Owl City – ‘Fireflies’ (Adam Young)
Usher feat. will.i.am – ‘OMG’ (will.i.am)
Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris – ‘We Found Love’ (Calvin Harris)
Pharrell Williams – ‘Happy’ (Pharrell Williams)
Ed Sheeran – ‘Perfect’ (Ed Sheeran)
Added to that finding, only 29 of the 540 songs – or just over 5% – to have peaked in the top 10 for the first time in the past decade are credited to a sole writer. J. Cole performs strongly in this field with four songs, followed by Twenty One Pilots’ Tyler Joseph and, unsurprisingly, Swift with three songs.
A look at the current chart shows little change: only nine of the 100 songs are credited to one writer, but it’s significantly helped by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work on the Encanto soundtrack.
Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto Cast – ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda
Glass Animals – ‘Heat Waves’ (Dave Bayley)
Jessica Darrow – ‘Surface Pressure’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Diane Guerrero & Stephanie Beatriz – ‘What Else Can I Do?’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Stephanie Beatriz, Olga Merediz & Encanto Cast – ‘The Family Madrigal’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Sebastian Yatra – ‘Dos Oruguitas’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Eric Church – ‘Heart on Fire’ (Eric Church)
Stephanie Beatriz – ‘Waiting on a Miracle’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Stephanie Beatriz, Olga Merediz, John Leguizamo, Adassa, Maluma & Encanto Cast – ‘All of You’ (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
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This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.