The technique behind the hits of Ariana Grande, The Weeknd and other artists | Music | Entertainment

You probably know the words to at least one of their popular songs, and you may have heard many others on the radio.

But how do you manage to write songs as catchy as What makes you beautiful (“What makes you beautiful”) by the British-Irish band One Direction or Side to Side (“Side by Side”) by Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj?

The successful American composer and lyricist Savan Kotecha assures that his secret is “spare no effort”.

“What I do is dedicate time to the songs,” he says in an interview with the program Newsbeat from the BBC.

Songs written by Savan include hits like One Last Time (“One Last Time”) by Ariana Grande, Can’t Feel My Face (“I Can’t Feel My Face”) by The Weeknd Y Beauty and a Beat (“A beauty and a rhythm”) by Justin Bieber.

You might think that the song What Makes You Beautiful it talks about a love story of a member of One Direction, but you are probably wrong.

“The song is about when I met my wife,” Savan explains. “It’s been fun at our house letting my kids know that [la canción] It’s about his mom.”

The technique behind the hits of Ariana Grande The Weeknd
The members of One Direction. GETTY IMAGES Photo: BBC World

“Focus on your craft”

Kotecha’s big break came when music mogul Simon Cowell asked him to join the crew of the British television show The X Factor.

The famous television singing competition launched the careers of groups such as One Direction and Little Mix.

“Once you start to be successful, you start to realize: It took this [elemento] to make such a song great and I am going to apply a similar work ethic to other songs.”

Kotecha, who is originally from Texas, believes that getting far requires “a combination of hard work and luck” and “focusing on your craft.”

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Savan Kotecha reflects on his own background of growing up in “a very traditional Indian family” where he was not supposed to have a chance of ending up in the music industry. GETTY IMAGES Photo: BBC World

He adds that it is important not to “just write something fast and leave it there.”

“It’s about making sure that every part of the song is as good as I am and that the collaborators can sing it.”

The process varies from artist to artist, he explains.

“Sometimes someone already has a sound and you’re just trying to help make it better.”

“Other times you make a best friend and therapisthelping them express what they want in a digestible way.”

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The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” has been streamed more than 1.3 billion times on Spotify. GETTY IMAGES Photo: BBC World

But who have been your favorite collaborators? Kotecha thinks carefully, before mentioning One Direction and Ariana Grande.

One Last Time by Ariana has been streamed over a billion times on Spotify. It is a single that the lyricist assures that she wrote “after six months of suffering a bad writer’s block”.

“That was the first song I played for Ari. Then started a very special relationship that I cherish”.

Kotecha notes that the tune has taken on another meaning after the Manchester Arena terrorist attacks: it is now used “to comfort and heal.”

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Kotecha describes Ariana as “an incredible generational talent.” GETTY IMAGES Photo: BBC World

An evolving industry

During her time in the industry, Kotecha has seen changes and things that have come about thanks to TikTok.

He says record labels can no longer tell people what to listen to.

“It is the audience that says: ‘this is what we want to hear and what we enjoy’”.

But now may be “a much more difficult time” for new artists and songwriters to break into the industry, because it’s not just about signing a contract anymore, according to the Texan musician.

“You have to build your fan baseand you have to do all those things yourself.”

For this reason, now he wants to help new talents.

He has partnered with TikTok, Simon Cowell, and other big names under a project called StemDrop.

The initiative provides creators on the social network with individual components of a song, such as drums, bass, or some vocal parts, in order for them to believe and share their own unique versions.

“It feels like the evolution of how the business can run, where there are no gatekeepers anymore,” he says.

“It also gives us the opportunity to collaborate with new songwriters that we normally wouldn’t be able to.”

And for those who find success and end up writing a good song, Kotecha says that hard work must not stop.

“Challenge the song you’re writing and make sure it’s the best it can be,” he says.

“Instead of being happy you wrote a song, go further.”

“[El éxito] it takes time.” (YO)

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The technique behind the hits of Ariana Grande, The Weeknd and other artists | Music | Entertainment

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