6 Hit Songs Written By the Last Person You'd Expect
It's no surprise that musicians don't write all of their own songs. Hell, with all the boy bands and Justin Biebers of the world, you assume it's all done on some assembly line anyway.
But when you actually sit down to look at the songwriting credits on famous tracks, the writers often come way the hell out of left field. For instance ...
A Barely Known Rapper Wrote Puff Daddy's Heartfelt Tribute to Notorious B.I.G.
The murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace (aka the Notorious B.I.G.) stand as some of the darkest moments in music history, and nobody seemed to be quite as grief stricken as Bad Boy Records founder Puff Daddy.
For months Diddy refused to do anything but look longingly out of the nearest window.
In the months following the death of his close friend Notorious B.I.G., Puff released a tender, heartfelt tribute song called "I'll Be Missing You." You can tell how heartfelt it was because Puffy felt it was worth ripping off an entire Police song for the music:
But as for the lyrics, you can see Puff Daddy reaching back for his most personal memories of his friend:
Seems like yesterday we used to rock the show/So far from hanging on the block for dough/Words can't express what you mean to me/Even though you're gone we're still a team.
Hmmm ... hold on. A quick scan of the songwriters reveals three names, none of which are Puffy.
Two of them should come as no surprise: Faith Evans, who sings the chorus on the song and also happens to be the wife of the late rapper, and Sting, who happens to own 100 percent of the publishing rights to the song because, you know, that's who Puff stole the music from. But the third name is the mystery here ... Todd Gaither.
Who in the hell is Todd Gaither, you ask? Our team of Internet researchers has confirmed this to be a barely known rapper and former Jay-Z protege who goes by the stage name Sauce Money, assuming he's even on stages anymore these days.
Here he is in a Vibe magazine interview discussing the process that goes into making Puff Daddy seem capable of actual human emotion ...
Writing for Puff is easy, he gives you the blueprint, the direction. He tells you, "I wanna say this." For "I'll Be Missing You" we sat down and he told me what he wanted. And being as that my mother had just passed not too long before, I just added sprinkles in there.
So, what's supposed to be a eulogy from one friend to another is not only not even written by said friend, but also it's not even written with the dead friend in mind. First an entire Police song, and then the tender emotions of another person. Is there nothing Puff Daddy won't sample?
Puff Daddy has decreed your song to be eminent domain.
Prince Wrote the Bangles' "Manic Monday"
"Manic Monday" was the Bangles' first big hit. It's also the song most widely credited with leading to the band's demise, which is shocking when you take into account that we're talking about the band that also recorded "Walk Like an Egyptian."
Historical accounts suggest that this is actually how people walked in 1986.
That said, we're also talking about a song that painfully rhymes "Sunday" with "I don't have to run day." So it makes some sort of sense.
Curiously, the writing credit for "Manic Monday" was cryptically listed only as "Christopher." If that is a mystery that's been gnawing away at your brain since the mid-'80s, allow us to solve it for you. The "Christopher" in question is the lead character in the god awful film Under the Cherry Moon. The tiny man who filled that lead role was none other than Prince Rogers Nelson, more commonly known to the world as just Prince.
You know, the guy who tries not to bring up "Batdance" anymore?
Prince originally intended to give "Manic Monday" to Appolonia 6, one of the groups he created in the '80s, but eventually decided to give it to the Bangles instead. While we have no sources to back it up, we have to assume that this decision boiled down to the fact that Prince had probably banged Appolonia frontwoman Patricia Kotero hundreds of times by then, but had yet to lay as much as a baby-sized hand on Susanna Hoffs, the insanely hot soon-to-be lead singer of the Bangles.
The song went to No. 2 on the Billboard charts (bested only by Prince's own "Kiss") and left the general public assuming that Susanna Hoffs was the lead singer of the Bangles. That was a problem in a band that always maintained they were equals, with no frontwoman. If we're guessing, we'd say the band was probably also jealous that Prince wasn't hitting on them. Shit, we're even kind of jealous about that.
His true love is music, or just sex with musical instruments.
And before you go thinking Prince only makes careers for women he'd like to sleep with, if you remember Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor, you'll remember her biggest hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," a cover of a song Prince originally wrote for one of his side projects, the Family.
What we're saying is that in the '80s Prince wrote every single song anyone ever sang.
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"Get the Party Started" by Pink Was Written by Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes
2001's "Get the Party Started" was one of Pink's (we hope none of you mind this more traditional spelling, but typing P!nk too many times just makes our stomachs churn a little) biggest hits and one of four singles off her second album, M!ssundaztood (another title we're going to do our best to only type once). Much of that album was written or co-written by a woman named Linda Perry.
Who's that? Well, you've heard at least one of her songs -- she was the frontwoman of '90s one-hit wonder 4 Non Blondes. Their (huge) hit was 1992's "What's Up?"
It's not clear what that song is about, but it's one of those songs that sounds like maybe you shouldn't make fun of it, because it might be about something important ("And I pray/Oh my god do I pray/I pray every single day/For a revolution"). Well, that's the song that made Pink reach out to her, beginning their professional relationship by telling Perry, "I love that you're not hip and that's why I'm calling you."
"You just have a certain, how shall I say ... 'je ne sais quoi.'"
After such a glowing compliment, instead of whipping out some powerful song about the triumph of feminism, Perry offered Pink "Get the Party Started," the first dance track she ever wrote. In fact, describing the writing process in an interview, Perry said she intentionally "put every wrong instrument in this song" and "pulled every catch phrase you possibly could imagine," never dreaming the song would actually be recorded, let alone become a major pop hit.
By the way, Pink was not the only 2000s pop star to cash in on a Linda Perry hit. Notably, in juxtaposition to "Get the Party Started," Perry wrote the emotionally vulnerable "Beautiful" for Christina Aguilera. Yep, like the Notorious B.I.G. tribute earlier, it's another track that sounds like the singer's deeply personal statement to the world ("I am beautiful, no matter what they say/Words can't bring me down") that turns out to have been written by a stranger.
We would be surprised if tank rounds could bring that woman down.
Nas Co-Wrote Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"
Nasir Jones, commonly known to the world as Nas (or Nasty Nas, Nastradamus, Esco, Escobar ... take your pick), has spent nearly two decades performing feats of badassery that have become the stuff of legend.
When East Coast rap seemed all but dead, his debut album, Illmatic, helped shift the balance of power back to New York. It is widely considered to be one of the most perfect rap albums ever made, and the guy was only 20 when he wrote and recorded it (with all of one special guest appearance, which was completely unheard of at the time and still is today).
When his own career seemed all but dead, he decided to take on the biggest rapper in the world, Jay-Z, and made a mockery of the man. The respect gained from knocking Jay-Z off his high horse immediately put him back in the good graces of the music-buying public.
A recent cease-fire secret handshake marked an end to hostilities.
When Nas announced at a show in 2007 that an upcoming album would be called Nigga, Bill O'Reilly threatened one of his famous boycotts over the title.
In response, Nas challenged O'Reilly to a debate live on The O'Reilly Factor, but only after announcing that he was shelving the Nigga title in favor of the far more retailer-friendly Nigger.
"That could work."
What we're saying is that Nas has as much street cred in the rap world as anybody. So we apologize if what we tell you next shatters that illusion into a million tiny little radio-friendly pieces. Here goes:
Nas co-wrote Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."
Yes, Nas is in large part responsible for absurd lines like this ...
Ciga-Cigar right from Cuba-Cuba/I just bite it/It's for the look/I don't light it/Ill-way the an-may on the ance-day oor-flay/Giving it up jiggy/Make it feel like foreplay.
Sadly, his work on "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" stands as the only Grammy Award-winning project and Billboard No. 1 single of Nas' career. A song that has become synonymous with corniness in all facets of pop culture, from being a terribly overused sitcom punchline to being a goddamn Banjo-Kazooie achievement, is the crowning jewel in Nas' career as far as mainstream success goes.
"A fucking Grammy? You serious?"
This is exactly why Americans shouldn't be allowed to vote.
Neil Young Wrote the Insanely Cheesy '70s Classic "Lotta Love"
If you grew up any time prior to the 1990s and aren't familiar with Nicolette Larson's breakthrough (and only) hit, "Lotta Love," your parents either didn't own a radio or didn't have enough casual disco sex. Whatever the case, give it a listen now if you'd like ...
If you don't like, just keep these lyrics in mind ...
It's gonna take a lotta love/To get us through the night/It's gonna take a lotta love/To make things work out right/So if you are out there waitin'/I hope you show up soon/Cause my heart needs relatin'/Not solitude.
Go ahead and sing those lyrics in the most '70s-sounding voice you can summon. We know that makes absolutely no sense, but still, pretty corny, right? Now try to wrap your head around this ... that inane slice of '70s cheese was written by this guy:
That's Neil goddamn Young, the man often credited as the "Godfather of Grunge." A man known for the kind of violent and unhinged guitar solos that often end with guitar strings being forcibly removed from the guitar.
A man so legendarily grumpy and uncaring that he quit a 1976 tour with Stephen Stills well before it was over by simply sending him a note that said, "Funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach, Neil." That guy. He alone wrote one of the sappiest "adult-oriented rock" songs of all time. And the story of how Nicolette Larson got her hands on it is just one more testament to Neil Young's legendary assholish tendencies.
Larson had beat the odds and made a friend in the surly rock legend when she provided background vocals on Young's 1977 album American Stars 'n Bars. While riding around Neil's ranch with him at the wheel of an almost certainly beat to shit truck, Larson popped in a cassette that was just sitting on the floor. It turned out to be a demo version of "Lotta Love." Larson was taken with the track, and Young said that she could have it. Score! Except not really!
Nicolette Larson, widely regarded as the "Godmother of Swedish Death Metal."
Either Young didn't remember that he gave Larson the song or he just eventually fell in love with it himself and decided he didn't give a shit. Whatever the case, despite promising the song to Larson, Young recorded his own version of the song.
Next, in a move that perfectly represents his often inexplicably dickish nature, Young released his version of the song on the exact same day that Larson released her version. For his part, Young probably didn't even remember recording the song by the time the album it was on (Comes a Time) was released.
As for Nicolette Larson, she was planning on releasing her version as the lead single of her debut album. In other words, it was kind of a big deal. But it was a big deal that now had to wait while it was determined if Young intended to release his version as a single. It would be a full two months before Larson was able to release her version of the song.
Future performances of the song included the lines, "So if you are out there waitin',
I hope you show up soon. Except for you, Neil Young, you're a jerk."
When asked to comment on the matter, we're guessing Young said something along the lines of, "Hey, what's for lunch?" and then went back to not giving a shit.
Cee-Lo Green, Busta Rhymes and Sir-Mix-a-Lot Wrote the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha" (Kind Of)
When it was released in 2005, most people were too busy wishing that the person who decided the Pussycat Dolls should venture into music would be exiled to a prison island to be even remotely concerned with who wrote their debut single, the disgustingly catchy "Don't Cha" (aka "Don't Cha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me").
The Pussycat Dolls at a landmark rally for radical feminism.
Honestly, even if anyone looked into it they might not have noticed anything special with the list of names. Thomas Callaway, Anthony Ray, Trevor Smith ... just a bunch of names that you probably won't recognize until we run them through the stage-name filter, which we'll do right now. Here's the list again, translated into a bunch of names you should absolutely recognize:
Wait ... what? How were those three even in the same room at the same time in 2005? Is Sir Mix-a-Lot even alive anymore? It doesn't matter, because he didn't actually have any part in writing the song, other than the fact that the chorus of "Don't Cha" is lifted from a Sir-Mix-a-Lot song called "Swass." So that explains his name being on the list. Busta Rhymes makes the list because he decided street credibility is for fuckfaces and wrote a rap for the song.
So what's Cee-Lo's excuse? How did the man who famously made a song called "Fuck You" into a radio anthem and helped legitimize Southern hip-hop in the '90s as one-fourth of legendary Atlanta rap outfit Goodie Mob come to write a song about how you wish your girlfriend was as hot as him? It's a pretty simple story, really. Green wrote the song with the intention of giving it not to the Pussycat Dolls, but rather to a female protege named Tori Alamaze.
And he did! And she recorded it! And released it as a single! And was then promptly dropped from her record label never to be heard from again!
Understanding that a song with this kind of historical significance just could not go unappreciated by the general public, all involved parties ignored the fact that the song failed to turn water into wine the first time around and decided to see if the Pussycat Dolls would have better luck with it as their first single.
The Pussycat Dolls performing their hit single "Human Centipede (of Luv)."
And the rest, as they say, is shitty music history.
For more of pieces of work that came from unsuspecting sources, check out 8 Famous Movies Made by The Last Person You'd Ever Suspect. Or learn about The 5 Most Famous Musicians Who Are Thieving Bastards.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover what Sir Mix-a-Lot wrote for Ke$ha.
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