The 10 greatest songwriting partnerships ever, ranked

3 March 2020, 12:57 | Updated: 3 March 2020, 16:46

The greatest songwriting duos
The greatest songwriting duos. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

To be a truly great artist, you need fantastic songs. To have a lasting career, you'd ideally secure the services of a tried and tested songwriting team.

Throughout pop history, there have been a number of gifted songwriters, who when paired up with a like-minded individual, were able to churn out hit after hit after hit.

We've picked 10 such partnerships who helped change the face of pop music. And as we're talking duos, here's a special shout-out to the trios of the Bee Gees and Holland-Dozier-Holland.

  1. Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers

    Robbie and Guy
    Robbie and Guy. Picture: Getty

    When Robbie quit Take That in 1996, no-one would have guessed that he would have not only scored a huge solo career, but was also responsible for co-writing a long list of massive hits for himself in an era where pop stars were encouraged to churn out covers or let someone else do the work.

    Teaming up with Guy Chambers, the pair clicked instantly and wrote for the majority of his albums and singles including 'Angels' and 'Feel', and after parting ways for a few years, reunited to carry on where they left off.

  2. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards

    Bernard Edwards & Nile Rogers in 1981
    Bernard Edwards & Nile Rogers in 1981. Picture: Getty

    This funk duo are credited with writing and producing some of the best soul and disco hits of the '70s and '80s.

    They met as session musicians in New York and formed many bands before teaming up with singer Norma Jean Wright to become Chic.

    Together, bassist Edwards and guitarist/vocalist Rodgers wrote hits like 'Le Freak', 'Good Times', 'Lost In Music' and 'I'm Coming Out' to name but a few.

  3. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

    Mick and Keith
    Mick and Keith. Picture: Getty

    The Rolling Stones duo may not have always got on, but 'The Glimmer Twins' have written hundreds of brilliant rock tracks over the decades.

    As well as writing for other artists, they collaborated on many iconic Stones tracks, such as 'Gimme Shelter', 'Wild Horses' and 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'.

  4. Carole King and Gerry Goffin

    Carole King and Gerry Goffin
    Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Picture: Getty

    This formerly husband and wife duo wrote many of the '60s biggest hits, including 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow', 'Take Good Care Of My Baby', and 'The Loco-Motion'.

    Their songs were recorded by everyone from Aretha Franklin, James Taylor and the Beatles.

  5. Ashford & Simpson

    Ashford And Simpson
    Ashford And Simpson. Picture: Getty

    This pairing really were a match made in heaven - husband and wife Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson wrote many songs for the Motown label.

    Working with artists like Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, they had huge hits with 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', 'Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing' and 'I'm Every Woman'.

    The couple also had success as recording artists themselves, and who can forget 'Solid' (As A Rock)'!

  6. Burt Bacharach and Hal David

    Burt Bacharach and Hal David
    Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Picture: Getty

    Composer Bacharach and lyricist David are responsible for many easy classics such as 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head', 'I Say A Little Prayer', 'Close To You' and 'Alfie'.

    Their songs have been recorded by Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Cilla Black and The Carpenters among many others.

    "I try to create an emotion to which others can respond," David has said of his lyrics.

  7. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

    Leiber and Stoller in 1959
    Leiber and Stoller in 1959. Picture: Getty

    This American duo wrote or co-wrote over 70 rock and roll hits, including 'Hound Dog', 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Stand By Me'.

    Their songs have been recorded and re-recorded by many musical legends including The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and countless others.

  8. Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus

    Benny and Bjorn
    Benny and Bjorn. Picture: Getty

    The ABBA songwriting pair met while both on the road with other bands and went on to form one of the most successful pop groups of all time.

    The group had 18 number one hits worldwide, including memorable anthems 'Dancing Queen', 'Take A Chance on Me' and 'Knowing Me Knowing You'.

    When the band broke up in 1983, the pair had continued song-writing success with musicals Chess and Mamma Mia!.

  9. John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    Lennon and McCartney
    Lennon and McCartney. Picture: Getty

    Early on, this legendary duo decided that all songs written by them as individuals or as a pair should be credited as Lennon-McCartney.

    Between 1962 and 1969, they published 180 jointly credited songs with some taking the credit McCartney-Lennon. However, even the Beatles songs which one of them predominently composed on their own, the other would more often than not provide some kind of songwriting element.

    "He provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes", John Lennon once said about Sir Paul in an interview with Playboy.

  10. Elton John and Bernie Taupin

    Elton John and Bernie Taupin in 1985
    Elton John and Bernie Taupin in 1985. Picture: Getty

    For a combination of truly fantastic songs, but also a partnership that has lasted for over 50 years, it simply had to be Elton and Bernie at the top of our list.

    With Elton as composer, Taupin's lyrics have brought magic to songs like 'Rocket Man', 'Tiny Dancer', 'Candle In The Wind' and countless others.

    In fact, 33 million people bought 'Candle In The Wind' in 1997 as a musical tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, becoming the biggest-selling song ever.

    Elton once said that "without Bernie Taupin there would be no Elton John."