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Max Martin. Who is Max Martin, and what does he have to do with music?
Maybe you haven’t heard of him…but he is one of the most successful songwriters and record producers ever.
His real name is Karl Martin Sandberg, from Stockholm Sweden, born in 1971. He sang in a band as a teenager, and aspired to a career in music. His band got a record deal with a Swedish record company, but after two albums failed to be successful, he ended his dream of being a rock and roll star. However, the record company recognized his talent in writing pop songs, and he was hired by the record company, where he learned the basics of record production.
In 1995, Martin worked on the debut album by the Backstreet Boys, co-writing and co-producing Quit Playing Games (With My Heart). The song went to #2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on five international charts. It was the first of dozens of major global hits that were written and produced by Martin.
Martin’s first song that topped the Hot 100 chart was Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time in 1998. NSYNC’s It’s Gonna Be Me was next in 2000. But Martin really dominated the Hot 100 starting in 2008, when I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry topped the chart. From 2008 to 2013, he was the co-producer and co-writer of seven #1 hits by Perry. During that period, he also co-wrote and co-produced #1 songs by Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift.
His success didn’t stop. From 2014 to 2019, he co-wrote and co-produced #1 singles by Taylor Swift, The Weeknd and Justin Timberlake. And in 2021, he notched #1 hits by The Weeknd/Ariana Grande (Save Your Tears) as well as Coldplay/BTS (My Universe).
These songs weren’t just hits. They were some of the biggest selling songs of the decade. Dark Horse by Katy Perry was the #26 song of the 10s. One More Night by Maroon 5 was #28. Shake It Off by Taylor Swift was #34. And so on…
His 25 #1 songs on the Hot 100 is the third most all time for a writer. The two ahead of him? Ever hear of Paul McCartney (with 32) and John Lennon (with 26)? It seems inevitable that he will pass up Lennon soon.
Will Martin become the all-time king of pop music, as a writer and producer? Time will tell. Here’s my favorite of his hits – Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake.