Haters might say that Dr. Luke and Max Martin are responsible for the downfall of music. After all, manufactured pop has killed it for other genres, especially harder and more experimental ones. But at ASCAP's Pop Music Awards last night you would have thought that these two songwriters/producers (known for work with Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Ke$ha to name a few) are saving music, at least if by “music” you mean the corporate music industry and the few who got extremely wealthy in the years of pop dominance.
The music biz may be in shambles, but when it comes to publishing, it's not dead. (BMI, the other publishing super-power does very well itself– two words: “Lady” and “Gaga”).
Last night, Luke and Martin were honored as Songwriters of the Year, and several of their songs piled up the plaques individually. Less bubblegummy artists received awards only for past work: Band of Horses (Vanguard award), Randy Bachman (Global Impact Award) and Rod Stewart (Founders Award).
Clearly pop has trumped rock in the new music industry climate. But can it change?:
The only two “rock” acts honored for their singles were Train and Kings of Leon. Stewart's American Songbook covers project was touted nearly as much as his classic material. Not a good sign. Still, there is hope. Horses said the little checks they got periodically gave them the ability to keep on playing. And for every spaced-out, Spears-like pop puppet, there's an Adam Lambert, Perry and badass Pink (who are very involved in the creative process), retaining an edge even while backed by the corporate marketing machine. Luke and Martin seem to only enhance what unique artists like these three already bring to the table.
Before last year's Pop Awards we always thought Luke was some Diddy-like playa type in shades and bling. After all he's co-penned with plenty of rap stars (Flo Rida, Lil Jon, Pitbull, T.I.). Our surprise, he's a somewhat nerdy white guy (real name Lukasz Gottwald). A very rich nerdy white guy.
Some of his biggest producer/co-writer hits include:
Circus, Till The World Ends, Hold It Against Me– Britney Spears
California Gurls, Teenage Dream, ET, I Kissed A Girl, Hot & Cold– Katy Perry
Tik Tok, Your Love Is My Drug, We R Who We R, Sleazy– Ke$ha
Dynamite- Taio Cruz
For Your Entertainment– Adam Lambert
Price Tag– Jessie J
Party In the USA– Miley Cyrus
Right Round– Flo Rida
Girlfriend– Avril Lavigne
Since You Been Gone– Kelly Clarkson
Martin is equally formidable: He co-wrote and produced basically all of Britney Spears hits on the Baby One More Time and Oops I Did It Again albums as well as Backstreet Boys biggest hits and many of the tracks above with Dr. Luke.
These are songs that have gone beyond mainstream radio to become part of pop culture in every medium, from TV averts and show placement to Youtube parodies and social media commentary. Like it or not, they've got they the hooks that hook the masses in.
Wanna learn how to write a hit (or at least make music writing a viable career)? Check out ASCAP's “I Create Music” Expo, which takes place today thur Sat. at the Reniassance Hotel. Today at 5 pm, Dr. Luke himself will be speaking and maybe even sharing his “prescription” for writing mega-hits. We think it's voodoo and he's actually a witch doctor!
Full “I Create Music Expo schedule here.
More photos in this week's Nightranger slideshow.
Follow Lina Lecaro on Twitter @L_in_A.