Sign up FAST! Login

Hit Charade: Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts.

Stashed in: Music, @katyperry, @taylorswift13, @justinbieber, @rihanna, @selenagomez, Nordic!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Millions of Swifties and KatyCats—as well as Beliebers, Barbz, and Selenators, and the Rihanna Navy—would be stunned by the revelation that a handful of people, a crazily high percentage of them middle-aged Scandinavian men, write most of America’s pop hits. It is an open yet closely guarded secret, protected jealously by the labels and the performers themselves, whose identities are as carefully constructed as their songs and dances. The illusion of creative control is maintained by the fig leaf of a songwriting credit. The performer’s name will often appear in the list of songwriters, even if his or her contribution is negligible. (There’s a saying for this in the music industry: “Change a word, get a third.”) But almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day.

Crazy that middle aged Nordic men have mastered the formula for hits.

We've come a long way since artists who wrote their own hit music, like the Beatles, Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and Prince.

The closest thing we have to that today is Foo Fighters and Pharrell.

Crazy that we attribute "feelings of the artist" as part of the pop culture creative process.

You May Also Like: