When many people think of pop music, songwriting is a task not usually associated with its performers. At the time, singers weren’t expected to write their own songs. However, as the songwriters themselves began to succeed in their singing careers, this was viewed differently. Writing your own music has become a key part of being taken seriously as an artist.
While rock music is generally considered to have many of its performers writing their own music, the same cannot be said for pop music. Today, multiple writers are often credited on a single track, making it difficult for people to know what input the singers actually had in creating the song.
This generalization isn’t fair though, as many of today’s pop stars have real songwriting talent. These are songs written entirely by the big pop stars who sing them and no one else.
8/8 Everyone from Madonna
The Queen of Pop’s very first single was written entirely by Madonna herself! Released in 1982, this song was written by Madonna while making demos with her friend Stephen Bray. Bray and Madonna would go on to produce several hits together, including “Into the Groove”, “Papa Don’t Preach”, and “Express Yourself”. This time, however, Mark Kamins was brought in to produce the song instead. This caused a brief falling out between Madonna and Bray. However, the song remains a Madonna classic that many don’t even realize she wrote entirely.
7/8 Will You Be There by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” album was released in 1991. It was an extremely creative project for Jackson, which again changed his sound. Jackson was inspired by New Jack Swing, a mix of hip hop and dance music. There were notable deviations from this style on the album, however. One of them was this song, where Jackson delivers a true gospel performance. It was written entirely by the King of Pop himself. Jackson later revealed that he wrote the song in his “gift tree” at Neverland Ranch. Andraé Crouch Chior, who previously sang on “Man In The Mirror”, delivered stunning vocals on the song.
6/8 Vulnerability (Interlude) by Mariah Carey
When Mariah Carey released her single “Heartbreaker”, it became her 14th number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the lead single from her album “Rainbow”, which was her final studio album with Columbia Records. It also saw Carey collaborate with greats like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the first time. This track, an interlude, sees Carey take his lyrics from “Heartbreaker” and put a new spin on them. It was written entirely by Carey herself and served as a transitional moment in the sequencing of the album. Carey participated in the writing of almost every one of her songs.
5/8 Janet Jackson’s Black Cat
When Janet Jackson started her music career, she didn’t write any of her own songs. In fact, she said she didn’t want to be in the music industry at all. Her first recording contract came because her father and manager wanted her to be a singer. She finally took control with an album of the same name in 1986. Jackson wrote many of the songs on the album and flourished as an artist. When she released her album “Rhythm Nation” in 1989, this track saw Jackson composing a song by herself for the first time. A rock song with heavy metal influences, “Black Cat” is a true highlight of Jackson’s catalog.
4/8 Speechless by Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has always had musical talent. She was a child prodigy on the piano and showed precocious talent as a singer. His early music was much more stripped down and rock-influenced. There was a singer-songwriter feel to Gaga’s early recordings that differed from the dance music she would become known for. However, there were always songs on those early albums that took listeners to that stripped-back place. This song was one of them. Released on “The Fame Monster” in 2009, it’s a song Gaga wrote on her own for her father. Her dad had just had heart surgery and Gaga wrote this song after telling him he was “ready to die.”
3/8 This love of Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift was known for being a country artist early in her career. However, his songs always had a pop style, which made his later change not so unpredictable. For her “1989” album, Swift went pop, not incorporating any country elements into the songs. This song is the only song on the album to have been written solely by Swift. He talks about the different cycles that a relationship goes through. She reflects on the good times and the bad, deciding that it’s still love no matter what. Swift later said her idea of love was being with someone who didn’t want to change her.
2/8 Happier by Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” has been described as a breakthrough album. The songs on the album detail the different stages of grief one goes through during and after a breakup. This is one of the songs that Rodrigo wrote entirely by herself. On this song, Rodrigo wishes good luck to his ex in his new relationship. In the lyrics, Rodrigo expresses that while she might still want it in her life, it probably won’t happen. Rodrigo also wants his ex to know that she’s the best he’ll ever have. Although there is a desire to move on, this song still conveys some pretty strong feelings.
1/8 Get Well Soon by Ariana Grande
The world was shocked when a suicide bombing took place at Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert in 2017. Grande herself later revealed that she had gone home and canceled several shows. She was considering not finishing her tour and taking a long break. She finally decided not to give in to fear and set an example for her fans. The One Love Manchester benefit concert raised millions and saw Grande return to the stage. When she was working on her album “Sweetener”, she wrote this song about her anxiety and mental health. She added 40 seconds of silence at the end of the song, bringing the song’s length to five minutes and 22 seconds (the date of the attack was May 22, 2017). The silence is meant to commemorate the victims of the attack.