Max Martin, the current Grammy Award winner for producer of the year, was named songwriter of the year for the eighth time on Wednesday night (April 29) at the 32nd annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards. Crowned song of the year: John Legend‘s “All of Me,” written by Toby Gad.
Held at the Dolby Ballroom in the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, the ceremony recognized the songwriters and publishers of ASCAP’s most-performed songs of 2014.The gala also doubled as the kickoff to ASCAP’s “I Create Music Expo” (April 30-May 2), being held at the same venue and celebrating its 10th year.
Tied with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for the most ASCAP songwriter of the year awards, Martin was recognized for his work on such hits as “Bang Bang” by Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry‘s “Dark Horse” and “Roar,” “Problem” by Grande featuring Iggy Azalea and Taylor Swift‘s “Shake It Off.”
Also joining Martin and Gad in the winners’ circle: Sony/ATV as publisher of the year and Prescription Songs as independent publisher of the year. Sony/ATV, headed by CEO Martin Bandier, tallied 25 pop songs in 2014, including “All of Me.” Prescription marks its third consecutive win in that category.
ASCAP president Paul Williams got the show rolling with opening remarks that drew plenty of applause. “The times are changing,” noted Williams while addressing the audience. “But what hasn’t changed is your music still has value. And you deserve to be properly compensated for it, god dammit.”
Highlighting the evening was the presentation of three special ASCAP awards. Rock icons KISS received the organization’s highest honor, the Founders Award presented by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. During his remarks, Grohl recalled buying his first KISS album, Destroyer, after previous fan turns with the Beatles, Phoebe Snow and 10cc. “My tiny bedroom became a fucking [KISS] shrine and ultimately inspired my unreasonable dream of becoming a rock and roll professional.” Tony-nominated singer/actor Constantine Maroulis (Broadway’s Rock of Ages) saluted the group with a hard-charging medley that included “Detroit Rock City,” “Love Gun,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
Declared KISS’s Paul Stanley: “The last 40 years weren’t about smoke and makeup. It was about the songs. And now we need to support the younger artists. We’ don’t need money the way they do.” Fellow founding member Gene Simmons added that in the beginning, “We didn’t know shit. What we did know what was we loved … it was let’s fuck all the rules.” He also threw a barb at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Humble Pie isn’t in the hall but Madonna is? Are you fucking kidding me?”
Doobie Brothers members Patrick Simmons, Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston and John McFee were on hand to receive the Voice of Music Award. Richie Sambora and his girlfriend, Australian guitarist Orianthi, performed two of the group’s iconic hits, “Black Water” and “Takin’ It to the Streets.” Featuring vocal accompaniment by the four Brothers — an unplanned cameo, organizers later revealed — the brief concert erupted into a spirited audience sing-along that prompted Sambora to proclaim at the finish, “That’s the shit.” Quipped McDonald after the award presentation: “Me and Pat have been ASCAP members as teenagers and now we’re the oldest people in the room.” Added Simmons: “We’re still hanging in there and there are still a lot of songs to be written.”
Fearless independent singer/songwriter and guitar virtuoso St. Vincent, who won her first Grammy this year for best alternative album, was given the Vanguard Award. After accepting the award from her publisher, Big Deal Songs president Kenny MacPherson, St. Vincent humorously thanked all of professional supporters and fans. “Not to sound like Hillary Clinton, it takes a village … there’s a sign-up sheet in the back if you want to get in on it.”
The evening’s other top-notch performances were provided by Capital Cities’ Sebu Simonian and singer/songwriter Maureen “MoZella” McDonald. Simonian performed the band’s “Safe and Sound,” while MoZella scored a standing ovation for a riveting rendition of her song co-write, Miley Cyrus‘ “Wrecking Ball.”