Continuing my series on pop songwriters, next up is…
Max Martin & Cheiron
One of the best and most famous pop songwriters of the past decade has to be Max Martin. Born Martin Samdberg in February 1971, his career in music began when he left school to join a glam-metal group named It’s Alive, who were signed to the Swedish pop label Cheiron, owned by the late Denniz Pop. The band made an album and toured Europe but when they failed to reach megastardom Martin was kept on as a writer and producer at Cheiron.
His first big hit was Ace of Base’s The Sign – the song that brought Denniz Pop his first of many international successes. It was at this time he took on the pseudonym Max Martin, which Pop thought sounded “poppier” than his real name. This success was followed by work with Swedish pop legends Army of Lovers and Leila K, and soon requests were coming in from all over the world for Cheiron to work their pop magic on new band’s songs. Their first massive hits in America came from the Backstreet Boys, who owe many of their brilliant songs to Max Martin, including Quit Playing Games, As Long As You Love Me and Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). The boys were so pleased with his work and the success it brought them that they invited him back to work on every record they have made since, including their biggest hit (and best) album Milennium and their fantastic 2005 comeback, Never Gone.
Other fantastic music Martin had a hand in creating during the late 90s included Robyn’s Show Me Love, and Five and *N Sync’s debut albums. Sadly Denniz Pop died of cancer in 1998, leaving Martin to continue his incredible pop legacy. And continue he did – his next hit was the one he is probably most famous for his involvement in, Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time, which has become one of the biggest and best known pop hits of recent years. It’s a song that everyone knows the words to, unless they’ve been living on Mars, so it must feel amazing to be responsible for it’s creation. The charts of the late 90s were musical heaven for fans of pure pop and Max Martin and the acts he worked with were right at the centre of it. The years 1999 and 2000 were the height of his career so far, with massive success from the Backstreet Boys albums Milennium and Black and Blue, and Britney Spears’ second album, Oops…I Did It Again.
At the end of 2000 Martin made the decision to close the Cheiron studios and opened a new studio and production company (Maratone) with a new writing partner, Rami. Still, his hits would not stop – their success has included Britney’s 3rd album, Britney, plus releases by A*Teens, *N Sync, E-Type and many other acts with 1 letter and a 4 letter word names. More recently, Maratone have turned their focus towards pop-rock music, their most notable success being Kelly Clarkson’s current album. Other acts they have recently worked with include Scandinavian girls Ana Johnsson and Marion Raven, and their change in style has been reflected in the BSBs’ new slightly rockier sound. The first act to test out the new rocky sound were no international megastars, although they deserve to be. In 2001, Lambretta released Bimbo, a fierce and fabulous rock-pop song including lyrics such as “She’s been faking since day one, a friendly kiss includes no tongue”, “Who’s she looking goofy in a Gucci dress?” and “Which bone in her body should I break first?
Which one? The bimbo’s gotta go!” If that doesn’t make you want to hear this song, then clearly there is something wrong with you.
And don’t worry, Max Martin hasn’t entirely turned his back on pure pop music – he recently produced Swedish Idol Darin’s debut album, and if you want to hear the poptastic track he wrote for it visit my mp3 blog Into The Groove where it is currently posted.