Max Martin is a Swedish record producer, songwriter, and retired singer. He rose to fame in the late 1990s when he produced songs for NSYNC, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys. In 1992, he was hired as a producer at Cheiron, where he spent most of his time learning the ropes of producing music. He ended up becoming Denniz Pop’s protégé. Denniz enjoyed major success after producing Ace of Base’s album, The Sign. According to Wikiwand, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) listed it as among the top 100 best-selling albums of all time, with sales exceeding 21 million copies. Max worked with Denniz and got their big break as a duo when they worked with the Backstreet Boys. Unfortunately, in 1998 Denniz succumbed to cancer which meant Max had to take over the leadership of Cheiron. Despite the setback, he continued to produce superb songs. Having established Max’s journey into music production, we should mention some of his best songs. Here are the top 10 best songs produced by him.
10. Kelly Clarkson- Since U Been Gone (2004)
Max produced this song to shift towards a rock sound while still maintaining elements of pop. This song does a great job of building suspense in the beginning through its suspended animation. Eventually, a slow single-note guitar riff starts the song off. By the time the chorus reaches, the guitar riff is sped up while Kelly perfectly portrays her anger at a man who gave her a hard time in their relationship.
9. Ariana Grande ft Iggy Azalea- Problem (2014)
This song is heavily saxophone-driven, which is likely a callback to 1990s R&B songs. The song’s melody begins explosively when Ariana sings and slows down the moment Iggy starts to rap. One could argue that the melody change is meant to distinguish one as a pop singer and one as a hip-hop artist. This song managed to sell a lot of copies. According to Rolling Stone, it sold 438,000 copies in the first week.
8. Taylor Swift- Style (2014)
The song incorporates elements of pop rock, synth-pop, and funk-pop. To dramatically shift from the country sound Taylor was known for; the song uses vocal reverberation and heavy synthesizers. In an interview with iHeartRadio in 2014, Taylor revealed that the song was about one of Taylor Swift’s past relationships. She added that the relationship always felt odd. The purpose of this song was to explain her evolved viewpoints on her past relationships.
7. Britney Spears- Oops!… I Did It Again (2000)
In this teen-pop song, Britney takes on the role of a serial heartbreaker. This song was a huge departure from her earlier ones, since she always portrayed herself as the one in love. She explains how she gets involved romantically with a man for fun, unbeknownst to him. In the second verse, she claims she always wanted a relationship but yet she rejects men who want her. Despite playing a villainous role, you cannot help but sing along to the chorus where she admits she plays with men’s hearts.
6. Backstreet Boys- I Want It That Way (1999)
You will instantly be drawn to this song just by listening to the delicate guitar in the beginning. The song realizes how catchy the chorus is, which explains why it only takes four lines of the second verse. This song portrays a man and woman at different stages in their relationship. The man is aware that the woman doesn’t love him back, yet he still finds out from her whether she loves him.
5. Ed Sheeran ft Khalid- Beautiful People (2019)
The song’s title refers to people who move in fashionable and glamorous circles. According to Song Facts, the term, “beautiful people” was first used in the 1960s to mock the rich and powerful. The two artists play the role of characters who struggle to fit in with beautiful people. This song does a great job of conveying the message of the importance of being true to yourself, while still remaining catchy.
4. Katy Perry- Roar (2013)
This song features elements from arena rock. Since arena rock is primarily performed to excite audiences in an arena, it explains why you occasionally hear some “hey” chants in the background. Katy manages to portray her journey from a helpless woman to a strong woman in the song without it sounding like a clichéd female anthem song.
3. The Weeknd- Can’t Feel My Face (2015)
The song is upbeat and pays homage to disco and funk sounds. Some critics have claimed that the sounds could pass for a Michael Jackson song. In this song, the artist likens drug addiction to being in a relationship with a toxic woman. Despite knowing how dangerous his relationship with the drug (or woman) is, he still enjoys the negative feeling he gets from it.
2. Adele- Send My Love (To Your New Lover) (2016)
This pop song has some calypso elements and uses an African-sounding guitar lick. Before the song starts, Adele appears to ask someone off-screen whether the guitar should be used in the song. Immediately, the acoustic guitar starts off the song, which is a creative way to begin a song. The song is about her struggling to move past her past relationship. Later on, she admits that she will be able to move on past him.
1. Backstreet Boys- As Long as You Love Me (1997)
Here is a song that tackles the importance of loving someone despite their past. From the chorus, he asserts he still loves her despite her past and only needs her to love him. The greatest strengths of this song are the vocal hooks and the twinkling instrumental guitar hook.
If you have listened to these ten songs, you cannot help but appreciate how Max Martin was able to evolve with the times. For instance, teen pop was popular in the late 1990s, and he produced teen pop music. In the early 2000s, rock was popular, and he produced the genre. His musical journey illustrates the importance of adjusting to current music trends. If he released teen pop in the 2010s, you can be sure his career would stagnate or die.