Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, your one-stop-shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. In addition, you can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop.
Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in iTunes. (Click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on Billboard.com).
On our latest episode, we’ve got a special in-depth interview with songwriter-producer Greg Wells! Wells is a two-time Grammy Award nominee and one of the producers of the runaway smash soundtrack to The Greatest Showman. Wells has also worked with an array of A-listers and Billboard chart-toppers, including Adele, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Dua Lipa, Twenty One Pilots and many more.
In the chat, Wells says he got involved with The Greatest Showman when the film’s director, Michael Gracey, called him up and said, “Greg, I feel like what you do musically has one foot rooted in the classics, but also contemporary without being gimmicky.” Ultimately, Wells ended up producing six of the tracks on the soundtrack album, including the surprise hit “This Is Me,” performed by Keala Settle. That fruitful collaboration led to Wells and Settle working together on Settle’s debut EP, Chapter One, and they are currently at work on Settle’s next album project.
“Once I got over the initial intimidation,” Wells says of the Showman project, “…and my insecure voice saying, ‘You’ve never worked on a movie before and you don’t know what you’re doing,’ I just realized that it’s kind of no different from what I do every day. It’s just storytelling, but there’s a visual component. And it was great, because Michael’s visuals were so good.”
In the podcast, Wells also chats about some of his most famous collaborators, including Twenty One Pilots, Dua Lipa, Katy Perry and Adele.
With Adele, Wells co-wrote the 21 track “One and Only.” And, just as you imagine, Adele is as warm and lovely as we see her during her performances and interviews. “She’s sort of spoiled all future co-writing sessions for me,” Wells jokes.
He discusses the making of “One and Only,” and shares details on an unreleased track he and Adele wrote together.
“Fans know about it,” Wells says. “It’s a song called ‘Devil on My Shoulder.’ She registered it [with performing rights organizations]. And her fans caught it and they’re like, ‘Ooh, what’s that?’ It was sort of a Bo Diddley, very uptempo, kind of like ’50s, almost big-band thing that was really fun. She has emailed me since [writing], ‘We gotta finish that thing!’ And she sounds amazing on it, but it really did not fit what became 21. It’s just a very fun, psychotic, very uptempo song. I hope at some point the world will hear it, because it’s actually great. We didn’t quite finish it, but it’s really fun. And we had a blast working on it together.
Wells also dives into the story behind the making of Dua Lipa’s “Garden,” from her debut album (and how he feared it wouldn’t make the final track list of the set), how “it was really evident” that Twenty One Pilots were going to be huge (while producing the band’s Vessel album), and if he ever got any flak for co-writing Perry’s controversial early song “Ur So Gay” (“a lot of people didn’t get the intent with which we wrote it”).
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