12 Famous People Who Started Out Writing Other Famous People’s Songs

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Harry Styles She Is A Good Songwriter  Taylor Swift


Tomorrow marks the release of Sia's sixth studio album, 1000 Forms Of Fear, which features that one song that Lena Dunham danced interpretively to for absolutely no reason. If you're a fan of Sia, this is great news. And, if you're a fan of learning random musical trivia that everyone in your real life will only pretend to be interested in, then I have even better news! Because, in addition to the songs that Sia's written for her own famous self, she's also written tons of songs for other celebrities. Like David Guetta's “Titanium,” Rihanna's “Diamonds,” Britney Spears' “Perfume,” and Beyoncé's “Pretty Hurts,” just to name a few lesser-known tunes.

And what better time to celebrate that fact than right now, with a list of 12 other famous guys and gals who have that hit-making gene in common with Sia? They all got their big breaks in the music industry by writing hit songs for super-famous celebrities and went on to become their peers. So, I like to think of it like an internship that's rewarded with a lot more fame, money, and scandals, in the long run.

1. Kesha

Kesha Sticking Out Tongue


Most Notable Hit: Britney Spears' “‘Til The World Ends”

Before any of us had ever obnoxiously referred to Kesha as “Ke-dollarsign-ha,” she was busy quietly penning music for the likes of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.

2. Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars Laughing


Most Notable Hit: Cee Lo Green's “Forget You”

If Cee Lo's infectious song that had moms everywhere dropping F bombs sounded suspiciously doo-wop-y (shh, that's a word), it should totally make sense that Bruno Mars wrote it. That's, like, his thing. You've seen the Elvis-inspired pompadour, you know.

3. Prince

Prince Hair Smooth


Most Notable Hit: Sinead O'Connor's “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Apparently, even the very biggest of stars had to start somewhere, too. Which is news to me because I'd always assumed they were just born all shiny and famous.

4. Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo Smile Hat


Most Notable Hit: Beyoncé's “Irreplaceable”

You have Ne-Yo to thank for that entire summer that you couldn't stop singing, “To the left, to the left…” Of course, he has you to thank for the bajillion dollars I'm guessing he made from writing songs like that and Rihanna's “Unfaithful”.

5. Jessie J

Jessie J Smile Wave


Most Notable Hit: Miley Cyrus' “Party In The USA”

The song that began the official launch of Miley's career as Not Hannah Montana came from the brain of Jessie J. I don't know why this surprises me so much, but I'm thinking it's a case of me not being able to figure out how the hell these two ever even met?

6. Keri Hilson

Keri Hilson Smile Shrug


Most Notable Hit: Britney Spears' “Break The Ice”

So, basically, if you can snag a songwriting gig with Britney Spears, you're pretty much on your way to a solo career.

7. Kanye West

Kanye West Dancing


Most Notable Hit: Alicia Keys' “You Don't Know My Name”

Heeeey, remember when Kanye made music, instead of just starring in the never-ending train wreck that is the Kardashians' day-to-day, like he does now? I do! And Alicia Keys, Jay Z, and Janet Jackson probably do, too, considering they're among the celebs for whom he started out writing.

8. Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris Ellie Goulding Need Your Love Video Kiss


Most Notable Hit: Rihanna's “We Found Love”

I just need to give Calvin extra props for a sec because I will still stop what I'm doing and dance to this song when it comes on, and I've heard it approximately 14 million times.

9. Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran Smile


Most Notable Hit: One Direction's “Little Things”

Before Ed had the giant fan base and are-they-aren't-they relationship with Taylor Swift that he has now, he was writing songs for everyone's favorite group of floppy-haireds. What a small England!

10. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga Blows Kiss


Most Notable Song: Jennifer Lopez's “Invading My Mind”

Let's be honest, no one's ever heard this song by J.Lo. But it's J.Lo! And having her on the list of artists you've written songs for, along with Fergie and (of course) Britney Spears, could only be a good thing. 

11. Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean Laugh


Most Notable Hit: Beyonce's “I Miss You”

True, his solo album, Channel Orange, blew away music fans and critics, alike. But it wasn't too long ago that he was writing for fellow pop stars, including a presumably pre-douchey Justin Bieber.

12. Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz Talking


Most Notable Hit: Madonna's “Justify My Love”

Within just two years of his musical debut, Lenny was already writing songs for Madonna, who was arguably at the height of her career. Ya know, just so we're all aware that he is, in fact, cooler than any of us will ever be.