Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
After reading the "Ask Billboard" e-mails the past three weeks about prominent acts without No. 1 hits on both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100, and reader Brad Lyman's comment that Bruce Springsteen had written the No. 1 "Blinded By the Light," performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, I started thinking about another "Ask Billboard" that readers might want to contribute to:
Hit songs written by superstars that were performed by other artists.
Two that quickly come to mind, other than "Light," are Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U," written by Prince, and Paul Young's "Everytime You Go Away," written by Daryl Hall and originally performed by Hall and Oates.
I would love to know if there are many more!
Thank you for another incredibly intriguing topic!
The rock era, dating even to its early days, is infused with many such examples. At the height of Beatlemania, Paul McCartney and John Lennon penned the 1964 Hot 100 No. 1 "A World Without Love" for Peter and Gordon. (McCartney was dating Peter Asher's sister, Jane, at the time ...)
McCartney also wrote and produced the No. 7 "Come and Get It" for Badfinger in 1970.
During their "Saturday Night Fever"-era success, members of the Bee Gees also wrote or co-wrote three Hot 100 No. 1s for brother Andy and one for Yvonne Elliman ("If I Can't Have You"), plus the No. 3-peaking "Emotion" for Samantha Sang. In 1983, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb wrote (and Barry co-produced) the two-week Hot 100 leader "Islands in the Stream" for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.
(And, Prince, as "Christopher," also wrote the Bangles' No. 2 1986 smash "Manic Monday").
There are numerous more recent examples, as well, including Taylor Swift having co-written "Best Days of Your Life" with her friend Kellie Pickler, who sent the cut to No. 9 on Country Songs in 2009.
Ke$ha also co-authored Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends," which reached No. 3 on the Hot 100 last month.
I'll let faithful and knowledgeable Chart Beat readers name countless other examples of hit songs written by superstars that were performed by other artists. Please feel free to e-mail email@example.com and we'll pick up the discussion next Friday.
In the meantime, one more artist who's penned hits for other acts, since I saw him perform last night at WLTW (106.7 Lite FM)/New York's P.C. Richards & Sons Theater and am still on a high from the show.
In addition to scoring 17 Hot 100 hits between 1987 and 1998, including nine top 10s, three of which reached No. 1, Richard Marx has written or co-written six top 40 Hot 100 hits for other acts:
Peak Pos., Title, Performer(s)
No. 15, 1984, "What About Me," Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes & James Ingram
No. 26, 1988, "Edge of a Broken Heart," Vixen
No. 6, 1989, "Surrender to Me," Ann Wilson & Robin Zander
No. 39, 1990, "Nothin' to Hide," Poco
No. 5, 2000, "This I Promise You," 'N Sync
No. 38, 2003, "Dance With My Father," Luther Vandross
Marx has also co-written seven top 40 entries on Country Songs, including two No. 1s with the artists that performed them: Kenny Rogers' "Crazy" (one week, 1985) and Keith Urban's "Better Life" (six weeks, 2005).
The pair also wrote Urban's new single, "Long Hot Summer," which could bow on Country Songs next week.
As always, Marx mixed in his trademark self-deprecating humor at last night's performance, hosted by syndicated love songs radio personality Delilah.
Three amusing highlights:
- Recalling hearing his new single "When You Loved Me" (up 21-19 on Adult Contemporary this week) on an AC station recently, Marx heard the DJ promote that Nickelback's "Photograph" was ahead. "Usually it's, 'That was Richard Marx. Coming up next, Bette Midler's 'Wind Beneath My Wings.' Still cool! ... but 'Nickelback' was cooler ..."
- At a recent concert, a fan requested that Marx sing "Summer of '69," confusing him with fellow '80s hitmaker Bryan Adams. (Marx said he sang it for him anyway, as he likes the song). When Marx then saw Adams at one of the latter artist's concerts, he told him the story, adding "So, do fans ever request any of my songs at your shows?" Adams stared at Marx before responding with a quizzical ... "No ..."
- Marx preceded his performance of "Hazard" by discussing the song's origin: that he thought it was the dumbest lyrical plot he'd ever imagined (that he was a fictional possible murder suspect). Still, he said, it sounded different from many of his other songs so he wanted to at least record a rough take of it on cassette in his home studio.
As he was singing it, his wife, actress ("Dirty Dancing")/singer (Animotion) Cynthia Rhodes came in and listened. When he had finished, she said, "That's a hit." Marx strongly disagreed and wound up including it on his 1991 album "Rush Street" "just to prove to her that she was wrong. Isn't that all guys want, just be right once in awhile?," Marx joked to the audience.
"Four months later," he said, "'Hazard' was No. 1 in 13 countries.
"And I was pi**ed."