10 Songs You Didn't Know Justin Tranter Co-Wrote

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Justin Tranter attends OUT Magazine's inaugural POWER 50 gala and awards presentation at Goya Studios on Aug. 10, 2017 in Los Angeles.

One of the most successful songwriters in pop music today, Justin Tranter has contributed to some of the biggest smashes of the past few years. After fronting the New York City rock band Semi Precious Weapons, Tranter turned to penning songs behind the scenes, writing instantly recognizable tracks for the queens and kings of pop. From intensely personal odes to party jams and every hook in between, here are 10 songs -- including the freshest smashes and the deepest cuts -- you may not have known Tranter co-wrote.

Halsey - “Bad At Love”

Peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, Tranter’s most recent hit is this raw, catchy collaboration with Halsey. Produced by Ricky Reed, “Bad at Love” starts off with the pop crooner lamenting about “a boy back home in Michigan” and dives into an exploration that’s simultaneously revealing and deeply personal, thus making “Bad at Love” anything but sugary sweet pop. Further setting the track apart from typical radio fare, its lyrics nod to sexism with "Now he's gone and he's calling me a bitch again” and “He wants me in the kitchen with a dinner plate.” Tranter recently told Billboard that the hit is “very queer,” adding “(Halsey is) the realest of real deal. I’m really lucky I got to hang out with her and help her out because that girl is fine on her own.”

Justin Bieber & BloodPop - “Friends”

It’s well known by now that Tranter and Michaels penned Justin Bieber’s immensely successful “Sorry,” which essentially kicked off the duo’s impressive run in 2015. To follow up, the four folks behind the jam, including producer BloodPop, reunited for the 2017 slammer “Friends.” While it wasn’t as big of a hit as “Sorry” (a Hot 100 No. 1 smash),  “Friends” eventually peaked at No. 20 on the Hot 100. In an interview with Billboard, BloodPop broke down his favorite part of the song: “The opening line, ‘I was wonderin’ ‘bout your mama.’ That’s a certain thing that can be like, ‘Is your mom happy?,’ Because it’s like, ‘If she’s happy, you’re happy, and I care about everything that comes with your life.’ I think that sets the tone for an earnest note of ‘I actually care for someone,’ because when you’re friends with somebody, you’re like, ‘How’s everything? How’s your family?’ So I like that line because it sets the tone.”

Imagine Dragons - “Believer”

If you thought Tranter only penned smashes for pop stars, you’d be sorely mistaken. Take this Imagine Dragons megahit, for example. Surrounded by a battery of drums and punctuated by a resounding chorus, “Believer” peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 and holds the distinction of being 2017’s ninth biggest Hot 100 hit on Billboard's year-end chart. Explained Tranter to GQ of the track: "‘Believer’ is special because I come from a band, and [Imagine Dragons frontman] Dan Reynolds is a f--king icon, so to work with a band again was really cool.”

Maroon 5 ft. Future - “Cold”

Another notch in Tranter’s band songwriting canon, “Cold” features Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s lush voice crooning about how someone can be, well, so gosh darn cold. Released on Valentine’s Day 2017 and later included in deluxe edition of the California band’s sixth album Red Pill Blues, the song wound up hitting No. 16 on the Hot 100. Levine stated that, at least according to him, the song is about nobody in particular. “When someone brings a song and I work with them on it, maybe that's how they're feeling,” the Maroon 5 singer explained. “It's kind of cool that I can become that person for a moment. It's kind of fun to play dress up with songs."

Camila Cabello - “Into It”

When the Fifth Harmony alum dropped her highly anticipated debut album in January, it featured a who’s who of the biggest writers and producers in pop. That includes Tranter, who co-wrote the album’s tenth track “Into It” alongside fellow heavyweight Ryan Tedder, “Havana” co-writer Louis Bell, “Never Be the Same” producer Frank Dukes and songwriter Kaan Gunesberk. The resulting collaboration is a sultry jam for the pop ages which still has time to make its mark on the charts.

Gwen Stefani - “Used to Love You”

Who did pop veteran Gwen Stefani turn to for help when she was seeking songs for her 2015 confessional album This Is What the Truth Feels Like? Tranter and longtime songwriting cohort Julia Michaels, of course. Breaking down her feelings after her very public divorce from husband Gavin Rossdale, “Used to Love You” was spurred by the singer’s instinct to get as real as possible. “She just flat out walked in the room and was like, 'Listen. I only want to tell the truth. I only want to make s--t that’s real. If you’re not interested in that, let’s not do this,'" Tranter told Spin of the track. “Being able to be a part of Gwen Stefani telling the f--king truth is like… I get teary talking about it. It’s insane.”

Julia Michaels - “Issues” & “Uh Huh”

When “Issues” became a breakout hit for Tranter’s songwriting partner in crime Julia Michaels, it successfully thrust the formerly behind-the-scenes Michaels to pop star status. While “Issues” peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 following its January 2017 release, the deeply personal track almost wasn’t sung by Michaels at all. “The other people we wrote it with were a little skeptical just because it’s such a special song and if you put it on a superstar, it has a better chance of working,” said Tranter. “But me and Julia were like, ‘Nope, bitches, that’s her song.’” The two followed up the hit with “Uh Huh,” which was featured on her 2017 EP Nervous System and was produced by the Swedish duo of Mattman and Robin.

Fifth Harmony - “Dope”

Another Tranter-Michaels collaboration (this one also featuring the talents of Jack Antonoff), “Dope” landed on the deluxe edition of Fifth Harmony’s 2016 album 7/27 and is an anthem dedicated the fine art of flat out revealing you’re crushing on someone. “I don’t know what else to say but you’re pretty f--king dope,” repeats the song’s signature line surrounded by ear candy production and a thumping beat. Do you know what else is pretty f--king dope? This song.

Jason Derulo - “If I’m Lucky”

Co-written by Jay-sonnnn Deruloooo! himself, “If I’m Lucky” starts off with a Michael Jackson-ish shriek and evolves into a perfect party banger, complete with a video inspired by Jackson’s “Thriller.” Said Derulo to Billboard of the track: “I think it sounds like nothing else I write. It’s an emotional song that you can dance to. And the subject matter I think is really cool, it’s one that has never been talked about -- having a love that fails in this life, but it was a love that was so good that maybe the love will work in the next life.”

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