Hello BTS readers! This is the third in a series of playlists called “Songwriters I Love”, where I will be making playlists of multiple songs written or co-written by the same songwriter. The ultimate goal of these playlists is to feature outstanding songwriters while also pointing out how great songwriters can maintain their personal writing voice while simultaneously writing songs that fit a variety of artists.
This playlist is full of songs by Ina Wroldsen. She is a Norwegian songwriter who is half of the electropop duo Ask Embla, whose work I couldn’t find on Spotify but YouTube will have it if you want to listen. She recently released a solo single called Aliens (her er jeg), produced by Steve Mac. Her songs tend to be very vulnerable with full-throated, passionate declarations, and recently she has had much success writing these types of songs for artists who are more known for rougher, more danceable music. She writes with a kind of melancholy tinge to strength, which you will hear in this playlist. Wroldsen currently lives in London so there are a high number of British artists on this playlist.
Hush Hush – Pussycat Dolls
Wroldsen’s first cut for a major artists was this song for the Pussycat Dolls, AKA Nicole Scherzinger with four models pretending to be her backup singers. The song starts out as a steamy kind of urban ballad that erupts into banging dance-pop mania. The adjective “full-throated” doesn’t even cover the massiveness of the chorus. When she’s singing that she doesn’t want to stay another minute, she REALLY doesn’t want to. This is a good sign of things to come.
Gravity – Pixie Lott
This song is slightly more low-key than Hush Hush, but the same trend of impassioned singing and vulnerability comes through here. Wroldsen’s earliest hits were with British artists like Lott, who is popular in the UK but virtually unheard of in the US.
Ego – The Saturdays
Wroldsen has had enormous success with the Saturdays, one of the UK’s many great girl groups. They have recorded over 10 of her songs, and this might be one of the best. It’s a pretty straightforward song with a strong chorus and really great lyrics for a breakup song. If it sounds like Timbaland produced Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” on this song, this was released at the tailend of 2009, when Gaga was hitting meteoric proportions and Timbaland had already made huge waves with his various hits like “SexyBack” and “Apologize”, so the combination of the two were very in vogue at this time. Besides the obvious bending to trends, it’s a great song.
A Little Love – Dionne Bromfield
Bromfield was Amy Winehouse’s goddaughter and was the first artist signed to Winehouse’s imprint, Lioness Records. Bromfield, like her famous godmother, is very into the retro soul sound, which marks a departure for Wroldsen who wrote songs that were in a very icy, urban musical style. This is essentially what the previous songs would have sounded like recorded by the Shirelles and the Supremes instead of the Saturdays and the Pussycat Dolls, or if Postmodern Jukebox had existed in 2009.
Impossible – Shontelle
This is probably one of Wroldsen’s biggest hits. It’s a pretty standard pop ballad, but it is a first class song featuring a strong vocal performance from Shontelle. There is ample melodrama in the arrangement that compounds the melodrama already present in the song. Also, if you’re looking for a really outstanding cover of this song, go on YouTube and look up Fifth Harmony’s performance of this song during the Judges’ House round of the X Factor USA. Simon Cowell and his guest Marc Anthony are completely blown away by this performance, as was I after watching it. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfIkc76M40c
Weak – Melanie C
Sporty Spice was the only Spice Girl who has still managed to make music that people listen to over a decade after they split up. I don’t think anyone is surprised at this, considering she arguably had the strongest and most unique voice in the group. This song is from her most recent album of original music called The Sea, and it’s also arguably the strongest song on the album. It’s memorable, vulnerable and dramatic while also showing off Mel C’s voice.
He About To Lose Me – Britney Spears
This song was produced to fit in at a club considering that this is from the same album as club bangers like “Hold It Against Me” and “Till the World Ends”, but this song could have just as easily worked with an intimate, acoustic setting. That is part of the beauty of this song, as well as many of the others on this playlist. They convey vulnerability while also blending in very well with artists who tend to lean more towards electronic music.
Sirens – Cher Lloyd
This is far and away one of Cher Lloyd’s best vocal performances. The song itself also deserved to be a much bigger hit than it was. Again, it blends in with other electronic-sounding songs on pop radio but cuts through the noise because of the full-throated passion that Lloyd sings with.
Empire – Shakira
In case anyone forgot, Shakira started her career as a pop/rock type singer before becoming the “Hips Don’t Lie” belly dancing pop star that she is now. Just in case, this song was on Shakira’s most recent album. It was released as a single, but it seems like the public likes the belly dancing better. Either way, Shakira shows depth and range here.
You Make Me Feel… – Cobra Starship and Sabi
This was an inescapable radio hit that did not really do what it needed to for Sabi’s career to really take off. It doesn’t quite have the same emotional impact as the other songs, but that kind of full-throated passion that Sabi sings with in the chorus is unmistakable.