10 Pop songs which were produced by DJs

Posted at August 1st, 2015 | by Sidhantha Jain | in

Billboard’s Top 100 chart is mostly comprised of commercial songs and often at times we forget the journey of a song, eyeing at the destination only. Even pop music veterans resort to outsourcing the production work to musicians to work with/for them. These proficient human beings, who commonly are referred to as, ‘Ghost producers’ aren’t generally recognized for their contributions and are mostly ‘bought.’
Therefore, we wanted to bring to your notice some popular songs that were indeed produced by EDM personalities but didn’t end up their respective artist mentions.

1. Usher – Numb


Another big name who used some amazing talent to produce for him but kept silent on accrediting the artist(s) is, Usher! ‘Numb’ was recorded by the American singer for his seventh studio album ‘Looking 4 Myself,’ and received additional writing provided by Swedish House Mafia and Alesso. Usher and the ex-trio performed the song together for the 2011 American Music Awards. Lyrically, it is ‘an inspirational song about finding one’s destiny, and becoming numb to the negativity and just following your dreams.’ They also worked together on his song ‘Euphoria.’
Usher has previously worked with Diplo, on the tracks like ‘Go Missin’ and ‘Climax.’


2. Justin Bieber – Beauty And A Beat feat. Nicki Minaj


It comes as a bolt from the blue that, this blockbuster track was initially meant for Zedd’s own album. Zaslavski felt that the number didn’t fall in line with everything else on ‘Clarity.’ As a result, he got in touch with some other producers and re-wrote the song for Justin Bieber upon the latter’s request. The result as we know today, ‘Beauty and a Beat,’ is a bubbling pop tune tailor made for a night out on the town, with some lyrical sass from YMCMB’s Nicki Minaj. In an interview the 25 year old claimed; he wants to be known as a musician not an EDM DJ. Probably that’s the reason he’s been producing beats for Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and other big names in the contemporary music industry every now and then!


3. Pitbull – Shake Senora feat. T-Pain and Sean Paul


In addition to frequent collaborator and pal T-Pain, the ‘Shake Señora’ crew also includes Sean Paul, Clinton Sparks and our very own trap-star, DJ Snake! This song from Pitbull’s album ‘Planet Pit’ heavily relies on samples‘Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)’, composed in 1946 by Lord Kitchener and popularized in 1961 by Harry Belafonte. The ‘Turn Down For What’ artist isn’t easily detectable as the track follows more a Latin-o approach, sounding unlike his current works. In its official remix, a verse from the American rapper Ludacris was also joined to this booty-shaking anthem making it longer by nearly a minute.


4. Flo Rida – Good Feeling


The first time you heard this track, you would have guessed it within the first ten seconds that, it kind-a sounds familiar! Flo Rida picked up Avicii’s platinum certified, ‘Levels’ to add some of his boisterous rap verses and release ‘Good Feeling’ as part of his album ‘Wild Ones.’ The positive song features acoustic driven guitars, computerized beats and charging keyboards over a prominent sample from Etta James’ 1962 gospel-tinged hit ‘Something’s Got a Hold on Me,’ the same material which features on Avicii’s version. Rida’s efforts paid off and it peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his fourth top-five single on the chart. The song became a top ten hit in 16 countries. Also, ‘Levels’ featured in the pilot episode of an American television series, Arrow.


5. Rihanna – Rude Boy


If ‘Antidote‘s’ sound tickled your EDM fantasy, Rihanna’s single from her album ‘Rated R,’ ‘Rude Boy’ which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, might be the cause for your frenzy tonight. One of the reasons why it was called the highlight of the album was because of its music production, to which Rob Wire lent a hand. Robert Swire Thompson who is best known as the lead vocalist cum producer for Pendulum, and one half of the dubstep duo named Knife Party, alongside Gareth McGrillen, helped the Barbadian singer co-writing the song too. According to Wikipedia, “it is an up-tempo dancehall song which incorporates elements of raggamuffin.”


6. Britney Spears – Work Bitch


Britney Spears recruited a variety of EDM-celebs to pen down the vocals and handle the production on her track ‘Work Bitch.’ Sebastian Ingrosso’s name was seen on the lyric sheet posted on the ‘Toxic’ babe’s Instagram account. One-third of Swedish House Mafia, who’s no stranger to making club music, surprisingly didn’t help her with the music quotient! The four-minute track includes an energetic beat thrown at by the mastermind team of Otto Knows and will.i.am, which when combed with Britney’s tuned catchy vocals, makes it sound more like an EDM song than a pop one. According to Miriam Coleman of Rolling Stone, it “features mostly spoken lyrics, and serves as a testament to the fine things a strong work ethic can bring about.” In all, it perfectly falls in the best of both worlds category!


7. Beyoncé – Run the World (Girls)


Beyoncé Knowles is a HOT commodity in the world of pop music and ‘Run the World (Girls)’ is one of her most successful tracks. It is little known that she employed a ton of EDM heavyweights in writing the song and developing its background score. It was written by Afrojack and Diplo besides her regulars, and samples were taken from Major Lazer’s ‘Pon de Floor,’ syncing with alternative hip hop-dancehall genres, mixed well with Knowles usual R&B and pop styles. Jocelyn Vena of MTV News described the song as a “club banger” and “female empowerment/girl power type of song.”


8. Lady Gaga – Donatella


Lady Gaga’s ‘Donatella’ was listed on the tracklist for her third studio album, ‘Artpop.’ Described as an, “incredible crazy fun pop song” by Stefani Joanne herself, the electronic beats she dances to are actually a brainchild of Zedd. The instrumental is based on ‘It’s Karma Bitch’, a musical-soup he created back in 2012 along with the singer Anjulie.
The song is basically about being a fearless female, staying indifferent to people’s comments and most importantly, being proud of who you are and walking the walk no matter what!
In an interview, Gaga expressed her thoughts over this particular song by mentioning “Maybe she’s a bitch, maybe she’s too skinny, maybe she’s too rich, maybe she’s too out there. Or, maybe she’s brilliant, maybe she’s intelligent, maybe she’s strong, maybe she’s everything, maybe she’s Donatella.”



9. Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars


Coldplay is a regular name in the dance music community due to a wide range of remixes and covers it receives from EDM mains like Tiesto’s ‘Midnight’ bootleg, Fedde le Grand’s take on ‘Paradise’ and Swedish House Mafia’s version of ‘Every Tear Drop Is A Water Fall.’ One of their biggest hits, that was later remixed by Hardwell,‘A Sky Full Of Stars,’ was actually produced with the help of Avicii on the piano instrumentals. Coldplay isn’t usually seen experimenting with progressive-house chords but this one is definite exception. However, Avicii’s electro beat isn’t fully recognized until the chorus arrives.


10. Kanye West – Stronger


Back in 2007, Kanye dared to give Daft Punk’s iconic tune, ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’ a rap makeover, when electronic music was nothing compared to its magnitude today. The second single from his third studio album, ‘Graduation,’ titled as ‘Stronger,’ featured breakneck tight verses amidst the robotic beat playing as a video game soundtrack. The collab’s popularity encouraged other hip-hop artists to play around with EDM elements, and gained massive airplays for bringing out “disco” out of its grave.

Although it helped West, secure a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance, Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter felt “It was very raw,” and further added, “He was rapping – kind of screaming primally.”
Fun Fact: Kanye West’s use of shutter shades in the music video became a signature of his in the late 2000s, which apparently took him three months to find them abandoned at a public toilet in Paris!

Sidhantha Jain

I love EDM, it loves me back. It pays for my food bills.


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