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22 January 2018, 15:48
Many current chart hits are either written by a large group of people, or feature at least one guest vocalist. Or both. And Benny Andersson has had enough.
The ABBA legend has criticised the modern trend of writing pop records "by committee".
For instance, Ed Sheeran's huge 2017 hit 'Shape of You' was written by six writers in total, while his track 'Galway Girl' had nine. One Direction member Liam Payne's single 'Strip That Down' featured rapper Quavo, and needed 15 contributors.
“If there are seven people behind it [a song], are they all honest? Do they all mean it?" Andersson said.
Nowadays, a hit song will usually start with a drum loop created by a beats specialist. Then, other contributors add the hook, lyrics, melody, instrumentation and potentially a rap.
Andersson’s songwriting partnership with Björn Ulvaeus produced countless hits for ABBA and others, including 'Dancing Queen' and 'Mamma Mia'. However, he believes ABBA’s songs also had a certain level of quality and honesty, which he says is lacking in today’s machine-helmed pop.
“So many songs are now written by committee and I don’t understand how that works, because for me a song starts with melody combined with chords,” he told Music Business Worldwide.
Andersson said: “I arrange the song, with bass and drums, after the song is finished, not the other way round. If I start with the drums and the bass and then add some chords, randomly, and then try to write a melody… I don’t know how that works, I don’t get it.”
He added: “What that lacks, I think, is a ‘sender’. If someone likes my music, that’s me, it’s me sending it to you. If there are seven people behind it, are they all honest? Do they all mean it?”
Multiple songwriters have often resulted in hits which sound very similar to others. Ed Sheeran settled a $20m copyright infringement lawsuit with two writers who claimed his hit 'Photograph' copied the melody of Matt Cardle’s 'Amazing'.
Watch when Benny Andersson spoke to Smooth Radio below: