As the Meek Mill and Drake feud rolls on, ghostwriting is a hot topic. While the rappers continue to tangle -- one fiery tweet and diss track at a time -- we look at the artists whose hit songs were penned by other artists and songwriters. From Frank Sinatra to Rihanna, music stars across the genres have sung (and rapped) other writers' words for decades.
Beyonce's A-list songwriters have included Frank Ocean, Sia, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake and more to pen hits including 2006’s "Irreplaceable" (The-Dream) and 2014's "Pretty Hurts" (Sia.
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While Frank Sinatra provided timelessly gliding vocals, he had songwriters like Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder and Bart Howard to tackle his lyrics. Singleton and Snyder's 1966 "Strangers in the Night" peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while Howard's 1964 "Fly Me to the Moon" hit No.14. Howard stuck to his guns and ignored one publisher's advice to change the lyrics to "take me to the moon". "Had I done that," he told The New York Times in 1988, "I don't know where I'd be today."
From one pop diva to another, Ke$ha is the woman behind the words to Britney Spears' single "Till the World Ends." The song was featured on 2011’s Femme Fatale, Spears' seventh studio album, and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard charts. It was "an honor to write for one of pop music's biggest icons," Ke$ha told MTV.
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The Supremes left their lyrics in the hands of Motown writers like Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland (a.k.a. Holland-Dozier-Holland). This trio penned hits like the 1965 single "Stop! In the Name of Love", and 1964’s "Baby Love" and "Where Did Our Love Go?," all of which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Where Did Our Love Go?" was originally for The Marvelettes, "who refused to do it," Dozier said in a 2003 interview. Though The Supremes "felt like they were getting leftovers" they yielded a hit. After being deemed the first group to earn three Billboard No. 1 singles from one album, the song didn't look so unappetizing after all.
According to Snoop Dogg, he and Dr. Dre "couldn’t come up with nothing as dope as Jay Z" when it came to writing the 1999 single "Still D.R.E." "He wrote it in the same vein as if we wrote it because he understood what he was writing for," Snoop said of Hova in a GGN News video. Nailing the west coast flavor, Jay made the song a quintessential Cali classic.
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Presley took care of the hip-gyrating and smooth vocals while songwriters like Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller covered the swoon-inducing lyrics of tracks like 1968 single "Jailhouse Rock" and 1969’s "Hound Dog." “I didn’t like the way he did it,” Leiber admitted about Presley's "Hound Dog" rendition (which was originally written for blues singer Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thorton) in the autobiography Hound Dog: The Leiber and Stoller Collection. “The song isn’t about a dog, it’s about a man, a freeloading gigolo." Stoller was of the same sentiment, but "after [the song] sold seven or eight million copies it began to sound better," he joked.
Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry make the best kind of unintentional collaborators. Perry, who originally wrote the 2009 single "I Do Not Hook Up" for herself, passed the track off to Clarkson. "I guess she liked it," said Perry, who was also responsible for Clarkson's "Long Shot." While the latter got the song and a No. 20 Billboard Hot 100 placement, the "Roar" singer revels in the rewards. Perry joked in an MTV interview, “House in Malibu! Thank you, Kelly!”
Elton John wrote the music for the majority of his songs but songwriter Bernie Taupin is the force behind the lyrics. Taupin is responsible for many of John's hits, including singles like 1972’s "Rocket Man", 1970’s "Your Song", and 1973’s "Crocodile Rock." “I think of myself as a story teller," Taupin said in an interview with The Telegraph. After nearly fifty years working with with Sir Elton, Taupin's storytelling has made its mark on the charts: The songwriter helped land John the first-ever Billboard No. 1 album debut and a 29-year streak on the top 40 charts.
When two teen heartthrobs come together, the product is can be hit-making magic. Such was the case when Harry Styles wrote Ariana Grande's "Just a Little Bit of Your Heart.” The song was featured on Grande's 2014 second studio album My Everything. "I was very touched," Grande said about the One Direction singer's words. "His writing to me is just as good as his singing."
Lil Kim got a lil' help from Cam'ron, who wrote her notorious 1996 single "Crush on You” from her debut album Hardcore. But it wasn't a huge payday: “What happened was," the rapper tells The Boombox, "Un gave Mase $30,000 to write five songs for Lil’ Cease at that time and Mase gave me $5,000 of the 30 to write one or two of the songs.”
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The Beastie Boys did it like this, and Run-D.M.C. did it like that, and somehow the "Paul Revere" was born. The third single on The Beastie Boys' 1986 album Licensed to Ill, "Paul Revere" was largely written by Run-D.M.C. and Rick Rubin. It's no surprise that this team of legends was able to create a hip-hop historical landmark with this contagiously funky track that rose to No. 34 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
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Rihanna has the golden touch in delivering the words of other songwriters: From 20-year-old Bibi Bourelly responsible for this year’s "Bitch Better Have My Money" to Sia behind the 2014 single "Diamonds" (it took her 14 minutes to write!) to ex Chris Brown who wrote 2007’s "Disturbia", the singer's put her vocal spin on other writers' lyrics.