When it comes to penning a “hit,” some artists have the formula down to a science. There’s a slew of stars who make it to the top of the Billboard charts time and time again, and it’s no coincidence. Behind every big hit, there’s a talented writer behind it. And while sometimes musicians enlist writers to pen their music for them, it’s even more impressive when an artist writes their own tunes. In a time where fans value authenticity from celebrities more than ever, a lot of
artists . do write their own music
Some artists are so skilled when it comes to stringing verses together, they've made a career penning songs for other artists. For example,
Julia Michaels has written tons of hits including Selena Gomez's "Bad Liar." She's not the only superstar making a side hustle out of writing for others. Sia has written for Britney Spears and Shakira, while Jessie J helped write the masterpiece that is Miley Cyrus' " Party in the USA."
When it comes to artists who write their own music, you might be surprised by who makes the list. These are all the singers who prefer to hit the studio solo, or, at least, have a hand in co-writing their songs — plus, some of their most popular self-written tracks.
John Atashian/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Taylor Swift started out
writing songs in her bedroom, and she's still at the helm of every album she releases. However, she says she has to work twice as hard as male songwriters to prove her worth.
In November 2014, she told
Time, "In the beginning, I liked to think that we were all on the same playing field. And then it became pretty obvious to me that when you have people sort of questioning the validity of a female songwriter." Popular Self-Written Song: "Our Song" John Atashian/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Ed Sheeran's dreamy voice isn't the only thing he's got going for him. In addition to singing and writing his own songs,
he's penned numerous hits for others. Sheeran is the man behind songs like One Directions "Little Things," and Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself." Popular Self-Written Song: "Perfect" Isabel Infantes - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
She may not have had full creative control during her time in Fifth Harmony, but these days, it's Cabello's way or the highway.
She wrote every song on her solo debut album, Camila. Popular Self-Written Song: "Consequences" John Atashian/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Mendes' manager Andrew Gertler (who also discovered Mendes),
praised his songwriting skills in an April 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. “From the very beginning, he was set on the fact that he was going to write his own music and that he was a songwriter," he said. Popular Self-Written Song: "Treat You Better" The Chosunilbo JNS/ImaZinS/Getty Images John Atashian/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Julia Michaels is recording her own songs these days, but her
first major credits were with Fifth Harmony and Demi Lovato hits like "Miss Movin' On" and "Fire Starter." Whether it's for herself or another artist, Michaels says songwriting is a necessary part of her artistry.
“I have to write. I physically, for my being, for my sanity, have to write songs," she told
The Fader. Popular Self-Written Song: "Issues" Noam Galai/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
From day one, Halsey has written her own music, and some intensely personal songs at that. In fact, she's already won awards for her songwriting skills. In 2019,
Halsey received the Hal David Starlight Award during the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York City. Popular Self-Written Song: "You Should Be Sad" picture alliance/picture alliance/Getty Images
You better believe
Adele is the force behind all her heartbreaking ballads. As emotional as they are for fans to hear, they're the same way for her. “That’s how I know that I’ve written a good song for myself — it’s when I start crying," she told the New York Times in November 2015. Popular Self-Written Song: "Hello" Dan MacMedan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
In an interview with Apple’s
Beats 1 radio, Lady Gaga made it clear: she's the driving force behind her music. "I write all my own music. I spend hours and hours a day in the studio, I’m a producer, I’m a writer. What I do is different," she said. Popular Self-Written Song: "Poker Face" Toni Anne Barson/WireImage/Getty Images Sam Smith has confessed to facing writer's block in the past, particularly on his LP The Thrill of it All.
“For the first two months, I really struggled,” he told
Rolling Stone in October 2017. He had trouble writing about himself, he adds, “because I realized I didn’t actually like myself a lot.” Popular Self-Written Song: "Too Good At Goodbyes" Lester Cohen/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Don't be fooled by her superfluous hits like "Tik Tok."
Kesha is a seasoned songwriter. She's also written songs for other artists, like Miley Cyrus' "The Time Of Our Lives." Popular Self-Written Song: "Your Love Is My Drug" CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images
Lorde's ultra-personal hits are definitely
inspired by her own life. In June 2017, she chatted with Vanity Fair, explaining, “I’m an introvert, a writer— just trying to translate what’s inside my chest.” Popular Self-Written Song: "Royals" Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images
Ellie Goulding is such a talented songwriter, she's
in high-demand for other artists. However, she'd much rather focus on putting out tracks of her own. In June 2010, she told The Daily Record, "I don't think I'll write for anyone again." Popular Self-Written Song: "Lights" David M. Benett/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Trainor takes pride in her songwriter status. In November 2015, she spoke to Zach Sang on
why songwriting is so important to her.
When asked what she thinks of artists who use ghostwriters to write their tunes, Trainor expressed how much she dislikes the practice. "Coming from a songwriter world, I was going to do it, I was going to be that ghostwriter that wrote for these big artists and that never got credit," she said.
Popular Self-Written Song: "All About That Bass" Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images
Calvin Harris is so proud of his music that he
clapped back at rumors claiming he had a ghost producer. In August 2014, he took to Twitter saying, "Honest to God nothing more annoying than people telling me i have a ghost producer smh." Harris' tweet has since been deleted. Popular Self-Written Song: "I Need Your Love" Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images
While a majority of pop artists get a helping hand in writing their songs, Queen Mimi
set the record straight in 2005.
When chatting with
Variety, she said, “I’ve always been a songwriter first, even with the first demo I had. They were my songs." She actually wrote her biggest hit ever, "All I Want for Christmas is You" in 15 minutes. Popular Self-Written Song: "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
Sure, Eilish usually
works on songs with her brother, Finneas, but she always makes sure her voice is heard in the studio. She and her older brother have become the ultimate pop power duo, and they both have a huge creative hand in the process of writing and recording her albums. As she said in December 2019, he deserves major props.
"We started making music together when I was 13 and he was 17; he produces everything. He’s the only reason I’m anywhere in the whole world and he’s probably the only reason I’m alive,” she said at
Variety’s Hitmaker brunch. Popular Self-Written Song: “Bad Guy”
Rita Ora is such a talented songwriter, she’s been tapped to write songs for other artists. She was the woman
behind Sofia Reyes song “R.I.P” and also helped pen “Better Than You” by Conor Maynard. Popular Self-Written Song: “Anywhere”
John Mayer has seen Top 40 success with several pop-leaning hits, but he is a singer-songwriter at his core. He has been writing his own music since his debut album,
Room for Squares, in June 2001. Popular Self-Written Song: “Your Body Is A Wonderland”
Disney stars traditionally have very little control over their public image and, sometimes, the music they release. But Olivia Rodrigo is an exception. She’s written her own music since the inception of her solo music career. When she released her debut album,
Sour, in May 2021, she was credited on every song, and had very few co-writers involved with the record.
As she told
NME in May 2021, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Not to knock Disney Channel artists…. But yeah, I always wanted to do something different. I never wanted to be a pop girl; that was never my prerogative,” she said. “I always wanted to write my own songs.” Popular Self-Written Song: “Drivers License”
The late Amy Winehouse prided herself on pushing boundaries with her music. So, it’s safe to say she didn’t let others influence her music very much. In fact, she was credited as
the sole songwriter for “Rehab” — her biggest hit. Popular Self-Written Song: “Rehab”
Pink is another songwriter who is not only hyper-focused on her own career, but often takes the time to write songs for other artists. The pop star has been writing her own songs since she was a teenager, and also
helped with Cher’s “I Walk Alone” and Faith Hill’s “If You’re Gonna Fly Away.” Yep, It’s icons only here. Popular Self-Written Song: “So What”
West is a man of many talents, and his poetic lyrics have become a signature for him. With so many personal stories packed inside each song, it’s to be expected the MC pens his own lyrics. He often raps about his family, and with his highly-anticipated 2021 album
Donda, he’s expected to touch upon his divorce from Kim Kardashian in the lyrics. With each of his albums, West has had a hand in the songwriting process, and even has credits on much of the production work. Popular Self-Written Song: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
There was a time when Lovato was living the Disney dream and didn’t always have a hand in writing her songs. In fact, her breakout hit “Here We Go Again” was written by a slew of other songwriters. These days, though, the opposite can be said. Lovato had a songwriting credit on every song off her 2021 album,
Dancing With The Devil. Popular Self-Written Song: “Dancing With The Devil”