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Max Martin: Why a Pop-Hit Songwriter and Producer Created a Musical

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JONY STUDIOS

Even if you don’t know who Max Martin is, you’ve definitely heard his songs. Hit-pop songs are kind of his thing after all.

Martin first stepped into the music world in 1985 as a frontman for a glam-style metal band called It’s Alive. 

Although the band disbanded in 1995, their success during that time landed them a record deal with producer Denniz PoP’s label Cheiron Records. Soon after that, PoP recognized Martin’s talent for writing pop songs and eventually hired Martin at Cheiron Studios, the recording studio branch of the company. 

Over his 27-year music career, Martin had a hand in many hit pop songs while working at Cheiron Studios and, later, his own production company Maratone. His original rise to fame came from co-writing and co-producing consecutive pop hits, including:

  • Britney Spears's “...Baby One More Time” (1998)
  • Backstreet Boys' “I Want It That Way” (1999)
  • Celine Dion's “That’s the Way It Is” (1999)
  • NSYNC's “It’s Gonna Be Me” (2000)

Presently, Martin has written and co-written a whopping 25 Billboard Hot 100 number-one songs. The only people with more hit songs are John Lennon at 26 and Paul McCartney at 32. Additionally, Martin is tied with George Martin for producing 23 Hot 100 number-one songs as of 2021. These songs include hits like:

  • Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” (2008) and “Roar” (2013)
  • Maroon 5 "One More Night" (2012)
  • Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space” (2014)
  • The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (2019) and “Save Your Tears” (2020)

If you just consider his number-one songs, Martin’s career is pretty impressive already. However, Martin has also had a hand in many other hit songs that became incredibly popular. Martin has worked with a wide range of artists, including Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Usher, Avril Lavigne, Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and many more. 

As expected, Martin has won a variety of awards for his work including a record 11 ASCAP Songwriter of the Years Awards and 5 Grammy Awards (including Producer of the Year).

The New Yorker

Without a doubt, Max Martin is a master at writing a pop-hit single. 

What is his creative process like though?

For starters, Max Martin draws inspiration from artists like ABBA, Kiss, Prince, and Lasse Holm. 

Meanwhile, in the studio, Martin goes against traditions in the record industry with his creative process. At Cheiron, Martin and his team did everything from songwriting to playing instruments to mixing recordings. The only thing the artist had to do was provide vocals near the end. 

“I want to be part of every note, every single moment going on in the studio. I want nothing forgotten, I want nothing missed. I'm a perfectionist. The producer should decide what kind of music is being made, what it's going to sound like–all of it, the why, when and how.” - Max Martin

Typically, Martin avoids the spotlight. In fact, he has only been interviewed a few times despite his decades-long music career. Why then did he recently do an interview with news.com.au? & Juliet is his answer.

So what is & Juliet?

What happens when you take Romeo and Juliet and place it in the 21st century? What if Juliet didn’t die at the end? Add some of the past 2 decades' popular hits to that and you have & Juliet

& Juliet is a jukebox musical that features hits by Max Martin with a story update by Schitt’s Creek writer David West Read. 

Martin credits his wife of 20 years, Jenny, for the initial musical idea:

“I was like, ‘Sure, why not?’ Not knowing what it meant, or the amount of work that you need to put into it, but we just dove in. This is probably over 10 years ago.”

Martin realized pretty quickly that musical production is a completely different ball game than song production. For someone who is used to a small studio, Martin felt like a fish out of water in his musical team:

“After the day’s done, everyone gets together in the team and you talk about what happened (that day). And I’m sitting there, looking at, it’s like 50 people and I’m like, ‘Wow. This is such a different beast.’ That was the biggest ‘what the f**k’ moment, thinking to myself: ‘You’re not in Kansas anymore.’” - Max Martin on working on & Juliet

The musical first premiered at the Manchester Opera House in 2019 and is now showing in Melbourne this week. Now you know why he’s doing an interview with Australia’s number-one commercial news site. 

Check out the full news.com.au interview here! And if you're in Melbourne, make sure to go see & Juliet at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre!

ABC News