Entertainment

27 Hit Songs That Were Actually Written By Other Major Artists

You'll be surprised who wrote some of your faves' biggest hits.

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How many times have you been listening to a song, thinking it was written by that singer, then your world gets rocked when you learn it was written by some entirely different artist? Well, spoiler alert: A lot of singers don't write their own songs. Shocking, I know. It's almost as if songwriting is a completely separate skill from singing! There are some truly shocking hit songs that were written by other artists when you take a look through songwriting history, though.

For example, did you know Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" isn't an original Whitney Houston song? I feel like this one is pretty well known at this point, but there are still those who don't know that Houston's arguably most iconic song is actually a cover of a song of the same name by Dolly Parton. Yup, "I Will Always Love You" was originally a country love song.

Singers not writing their own music (especially in the pop genre) is actually really common. And frequently enough, songwriters end up becoming famous singers in their own right once they get to a point where they no longer want to simply sell the songs they write. But it is one hell of a lucrative line of work once you start making money off selling your tracks to big-name artists.

Here are 27 hugely popular songs that were written by other famous artists:

01
"Party In The U.S.A." — Miley Cyrus

Songwriter: Jessie J

Before she rose to fame as a solo artist, Jessie J wrote one of Miley Cyrus' biggest hits, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She told Glamour U.K. in 2014 that she had originally written the song for herself with Dr. Luke and Claude Kelly, but ended up not recording it. She said the song ended up paying her rent for three years.

02
"Love Yourself" — Justin Bieber

Songwriter: Ed Sheeran

Sheeran penned "Love Yourself" from Bieber's Purpose album, then he had Bieber on his own No. 6 Collaborations Project on the track "I Don't Care."

03
"Make It Right" — BTS

Songwriter: Ed Sheeran

Sheeran also contributed to K-Pop sensation BTS' 2019 album, Map Of The Soul: Persona, with the song "Make It Right."

04
"Sorry" — Justin Bieber

Songwriter: Julia Michaels

Julia Michaels has now made a name for herself as a solo artist, but she started out writing hits for other artists for a minute. She penned Justin Bieber's "Sorry" for his Purpose album, arguably the album's biggest hit.

05
"Baby" — Justin Bieber

Songwriter: Christina Milian

Try not to let this blow your mind, but Christina Milian is responsible for Justin Bieber's first hit. Yes, it's true. She wrote "Baby." She did that. Bieber has Usher to thank for discovering him, but he owes a heck of a lot to Milian.

06
"Irreplaceable" — Beyoncé

Songwriter: Ne-Yo

Beyoncé doesn't write a lot of her own songs. Lots of mainstream artists don't, honestly. But Ne-Yo does! The "So Sick" singer wrote Queen Bey's early classic "Irreplaceable," and reportedly regretted selling it afterwards. I would too! That song's iconic.

07
"Diamonds" — Rihanna

Songwriter: Sia

Shine bright like... all the money Sia has in the bank thanks to writing Rihanna's "Diamonds." The devil works hard, but Sia works harder.

08
"Hollaback Girl" — Gwen Stefani

Songwriter: Pharrell Williams

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Pharrell Williams is behind just about every iconic song you could think of. The list gets even more overwhelming when you factor in the songs he produced. Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" is one of countless hit songs he penned.

09
"Pretty Hurts" — Beyoncé

Songwriter: Sia

Pharrell Williams and Sia have a lot in common in that they've grown successful for writing songs for big-name artists. Sia wrote "Pretty Hurts," the opening song to Beyoncé's 2013 self-titled album.

10
"Breakaway" — Kelly Clarkson

Songwriter: Avril Lavigne

I'll spread my wings and I'll... buy a song from Avril Lavigne! Clarkson's 2004 hit was actually written by emo queen Avril Lavigne. And then it was featured in The Princess Diaries 2. Yes, I remember that. No, I feel no shame.

11
"American Boy" — Estelle, Kanye West

Songwriter: John Legend

John Legend wrote this classic hit with will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas.

12
"Better Man" — Little Big Town

Songwriter: Taylor Swift

Swift returned to her country music roots to pen Little Big Town's "Better Man" in 2016.

13
"Forget You" — Ceelo Green

Songwriter: Bruno Mars

Before he was a solo artist with an Album of the Year win under his belt, Bruno Mars penned Ceelo Green's stupidly catchy "Forget You."

14
"Get Me Bodied" — Beyoncé

Songwriter: Solange

Bey likes to keep it in the family. Solange Knowles actually wrote a lot of songs on Beyoncé's past albums! She wrote "Get Me Bodied" (and was featured in the music video), "Upgrade U," and "Why Don't You Love Me" for her older sister.

15
"Till The World Ends" — Britney Spears

Songwriter: Kesha

Kesha is a pop star in her own right, but she wrote "Till The World Ends" for the Princess of Pop herself.

16
"I'm A Slave 4 U" — Britney Spears

Songwriter: Pharrell Williams

Who freaking knew that Pharrell wrote "I'm A Slave For U?!" He also wrote Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot," Nelly's "Hot In Herre," and Kelis' "Milkshake." The talent this man has. The power this man has. The cultural impact this man has made.

17
"Little Things" — One Direction

Songwriter: Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran is behind a lot of your favorite One Direction songs, "Little Things" being one of the not-so-little hits. Sheeran also wrote "18," "Moment," and "Over Again" for the group.

18
"Strip That Down" — Liam Payne

Songwriter: Ed Sheeran

Sheeran continued his One Direction legacy by writing Liam Payne's debut solo single, "Strip That Down."

19
"Rock Your Body" — Justin Timberlake

Songwriter: Pharrell Williams

Did you think we were done with the Pharrell credits? Think again! Pharrell blessed Justin Timberlake by writing "Rock Your Body" and "Señorita" for Timberlake's debut solo album, Justified.

20
"Bad Liar" — Selena Gomez

Songwriter: Julia Michaels

Michaels wrote the bop that is "Bad Liar," Selena Gomez's 2017 single. She also wrote Gomez's "Hands To Myself." Now that she's a successful solo artist, I guess Michaels could stop writing hits for other artists. I mean, she could, but why would she want to?

21
"We Found Love" — Rihanna

Songwriter: Calvin Harris

Rihanna found love in a hopeless place on her 2011 9x-platinum single, but it may not have been inspired by her own romantic endeavors after all. It was actually penned by Calvin Harris, who also appeared in several scenes of the music video.

22
"Elevator" — Pussycat Dolls

Songwriter: Lady Gaga

The Pussycat Dolls’ song “Elevator” took their career to new heights, but what some fans might not have known is that the lyrics were the work of Lady Gaga. Yep, Little Monsters might take an extra liking to the song after learning that fun fact.

23
"Miss Movin' On" — Fifth Harmony

Songwriter: Julia Michaels

Julia Michaels has written or co-written for dozens of artists aside from herself, including Fifth Harmony. The songstress penned the girl group’s 2013 song “Miss Movin’ On,” written about finding independence after a broken relationship.

24
"Fire Starter" — Demi Lovato

Songwriter: Julia Michaels

Michael’s long list of credits includes some seriously impressive names, and Lovato is undoubtedly one of the biggest artists she’s written for. Michaels lent her skills on the pop star’s 2013 year track “Fire Starter.”

25
“Whataya Want from Me” — Adam Lambert

Songwriter: Pink

Lambert’s “Whataya Want from Me” took over airwaves upon its 2009 release. While the American Idol alum is an incredibly talented songwriter, even he gets a little help from friends. Pink was the mastermind behind this particular single.

26
"Unthinkable" — Alicia Keys

Songwriter: Drake

If you take a look at the songwriting credits for Key’s “Unthinkable,” they include the name Aubrey Graham, better known as Drake.

27
"Don't Cha" — Pussycat Dolls

Songwriters: CeeLo Green & Busta Rhymes

It was not one, but two, superstar songwriters who hit the studio to write “Don’t Cha” for the Pussycat Dolls. CeeLo Green and Busta Rhymes teamed up to pen the song for the now-defunct girl group.