It's been nearly 17 years since Greg Kurstin scored his first Billboard hit with "Whoever You Are," the breakout single from '90s alt-rock band Geggy Tah, for whom he was a guitarist/keyboardist for more than seven years. But it wasn't until 2012 that Kurstin, a songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, really hit his stride.
"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," one of three songs he contributed to Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger," spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the singer's biggest hit (and the top-selling single of any "American Idol" alum). P!nk's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)," one of five songs he contributed to her sixth studio album, "The Truth About Love," was a top five hit last fall, and follow-up single "Try" (produced by Kurstin) hit the top 10 in February. A longtime go-to guy for quirky indie pop, Kurstin was also tapped for recent albums by Marina & the Diamonds, Kimbra, Ke$ha and Tegan & Sara.
The sudden flurry of top 40 success has been a long time coming for Kurstin, who'd released three albums with Geggy Tah, three with electro-lounge project the Bird & the Bee and an experimental jazz solo project for Verve during the past 17 years before scoring his first big pop hit. His embrace by the pop world also comes at the same time as longtime collaborator Sia enjoys a similar breakthrough, contributing vocals to top 10 hits for David Guetta ("Titanium") and Flo Rida ("Wild Ones") as well as co-penning smashes for Rihanna ("Diamonds") and Ne-Yo ("Let Me Love You"). In fact, the pair were in the studio cutting two tracks for Sia's next Kurstin-helmed album when Billboard shared the news that they'd both made the top 10 of the latest Publishers Quarterly.