If you know Ester Dean from her role as Cynthia Rose-Adams in the Pitch Perfect movies, then you know that she is an amazing singer. But did you know that she’s also a talented musician and songwriter?
The Oklahoma native dropped her first single as a solo artist “Drop It Low” featuring Chris Brown in 2009, which was used in the film More Than A Game. Since then, she’s lent her vocals for artists such as Tinie Tempah, David Guetta, Ciara and Machine Gun Kelly, who linked up on the song “Invincible.”
But she found greater success and prominence as a songwriter, often writing for other artists. She’s been writing in the music industry since 2006 and has collected a long library of popular songs — believe us, you’ve heard of them before.
Over the years, she’s written for artists such as Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige and so much more. Dean even earned a Grammy nomination for her work on Rihanna’s album, Loud.
Outside of music, she appeared in several films either in an acting role or songwriting role such as Rio, Ice Age: Continental Drift and Trolls World Tour. Her most recent role is being a judge on the NBC songwriting competition show, Songland.
Ester Dean wrote and produced a number of the biggest hits in the past decade. Here is a list of only a fraction of the songs she’s written — including a very iconic pop song.
“Rude Boy” – Rihanna
As you will see throughout this list, there are a lot of Rihanna songs and collabs with the production duo Stargate and “Rude Boy” is just one of many.
“Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)” – The Pussycat Dolls & A.R. Rahman
Ester Dean was one of the songwriters who helped write the English version of “Jai Ho,” from the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire.
“Sex Therapy” – Robin Thicke
This sexy slow jam from Robin Thicke is a song that she helped write. Sheesh, they know how to set the mood.
“Letting Go (Dutty Love)” – Sean Kingston & Nicki Minaj
Another collaboration from Dean and Stargate, they wrote this Reggae infused track from Sean Kingston and Nicki Minaj.
“Super Bass” – Nicki Minaj
Talk about a throwback! She helped write this upbeat bubblegum pop track and “Right By Your Side” featuring Chris Brown. If you listen closely, you might even hear Dean in the background.
“Firework” – Katy Perry
That’s right! In another collab with Stargate, she co-wrote this major hit from 2010. She also wrote Perry’s song “Peacock.” Watch her talk about then inspiration from “Firework” here.
“S&M” – Rihanna
If you see a Rihanna song on this list, just assume that it’s a co-write between Ester Dean and Stargate. They also helped write “What’s My Name?” Watch Dean talk about writing “S&M” here.
“Countdown” – Beyoncé
Dean was among one of the many songwriters for this vibrant song. The song off Beyoncé’s 4 album is certified gold.
“Turn Me On” – David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj
Yup, she wrote this too. This 2011 club hit from David Guetta and Nicki Minaj went to become double platinum. Dean also helped write “Hey Mama” from Guetta, Minaj, Bebe Rexha and Afrojack.
“Lay It Down” – Lloyd
The throwbacks keep coming. This R&B track from Lloyd is another one of Dean’s works.
“You Da One” – Rihanna
Ester Dean and Rihanna just make a great pair. She penned this song and many others off Rihanna’s Talk That Talk album.
“Come & Get It” – Selena Gomez
A sole production from Dean and Stargate. Something about the two of them (and Rihanna) that just screams hits.
By the way, there’s a lot more songs that she’s written than what’s shown here. Her songwriting credits in itself could fill a book. She’s that good.
What’s next for Ester Dean? She’s still writing and producing. She recently posted on her Instagram a video of her and Stargate in the studio. Could we be seeing an Ester Dean solo album?
Meanwhile, you can catch her on Songland on NBC, where you can see her creating music with aspiring songwriters.
For more music content, check out Beyond The Stage Magazine