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The producers behind the biggest popstars

Written By Sam Murphy on 07/29/2014

producers

It may surprise you, but Rihanna, Miley and Katy Perry are not the only ones in the studio penning and producing their hits. Below we take a look at the biggest, best and most promising producers in pop music today.

The Heavy-Weights

Pharrell

The man that almost need not be mentioned. Over the past year, Pharrell has reboosted his credentials, stemming from a feature on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. Since then he has released a solo album, Girl (and a fragrance) which reached number one in Australia and the UK and has had a worldwide number one single by way of Happy. Originally as part of The Neptunes (with Chad Hugo), Pharrell produced hits for All Saints, Backstreet Boys, Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z, Kelis, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg…can I stop now? In the past year alone he’s produced tracks on Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, Beyonce’s self-titled record, Kylie’s Kiss Me Once and Ed Sheeran’s X. While we may want to forget about it, he also produced Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.

Go to for: Funky, minimalist RnB tunes

Best production of 2014: His own track, Hunter

Career Highlight: Gwen StefaniHollaback Girl

Max Martin

Martin Sandberg (aka. Max Martin) may not be a name you’ve heard much of but he’s behind some of the biggest pop tracks of all time. The Swede has produced hits for Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and N’Sync but he is still just as relevant today. Recently he’s had writing and production credits on Katy Perry’s Roar, Ariana Grande’s Problem and Justin Bieber’s Beauty and the Beat just to name a few.

Go to for: Big, anthemic pop moments

Best production of 2014: Ariana GrandeProblem

Career Highlight: The Grammy-winning Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

Greg Kurstin

Greg Kurstin was a member of 90s alt-pop trio, Geggy Tah and is now a part of The Bird and The Bee but he’s undoubtedly better known for his work as a pop producer. The producer was attached to Kelly Clarkson’s mammoth Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) and also worked on Lily Allen’s debut album, Alright, Still and the following two, It’s Not Me, It’s You and Sheezus. Since then he’s worked with Kylie, Sia and Kesha. His work on more alternative works from Lykke Li, Tegan and Sara and The Shins indicate how multi-faceted Kurstin is.

Go to for: Melodic pop songs with an alternative tinge

Best production of 2014: SiaChandelier

Career Highlight: Ellie GouldingBurn or Lily AllenThe Fear

Dr. Luke

Lukasz Sebastian “Luke” Gottwald also known as Dr. Luke made a name for himself as Saturday Night Live’s house guitarist but since then he’s become one of the world’s biggest producers. Hits like Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl, Pink’s Who Knew and Jessie J’s Price Tag all have Dr. Luke’s fingerprints on them. More recently he gave way to Miley’s mammoth Wrecking Ball and Katy Perry’s Roar. It’s safe to say that Dr. Luke is one of the most demanded men in pop music right now. He also runs Kemosabe records which hosts the likes of Katy Perry, G.R.L and Kesha.

Go to for: Huge choruses

Best production of 2014: Nicki Minaj- Pills N Potions

Career Highlight: Surely being a part of Miley Cyrus’ Party In The USA

Benny Blanco

Benjamin Levin has been producing since 2007 and as such has collected an extraordinary amount of credentials. Beginning as a rapper, Blanco was mentored by Dr. Luke before producing tracks for Britney Spears, Jordin Sparks and Katy Perry in 2008. We’ll forgive him for working with Vanessa Hudgens and 3OH!3 because he’s produced songs like Rihanna’s Diamonds and Kesha’s We R Who We R and they are kind of pop gold. Of late, he’s been working with British producer, Two Inch Punch as BenZel.

Go to for: Big, radio friendly pop tunes

Best production of 2014: Jessie WareTough Love (as BenZel)

Career Highlight: RihannaDiamonds

The Sound of the Moment

Dev Hynes

Devonte Hynes is a chameleon. He’s performed as Lightspeed Champion, is now Blood Orange and produces under his own name. While he hasn’t had any huge chart success, his work as an alternative pop producer and given way to a funky, throwback sounds that is permeating non-mainstream pop. Originally producing for Florence and the Machine he went on to work with Solange on her 2012 True EP which gave way to Losing You. In that same year he produced Sky Ferreira’s Everything is Embarrassing which took her from being a wannabe to a cult hero. More recently he’s worked with Kylie and produced for the original Sugababes now known as Mutya Keisha Siobhan.

Go to for: Throwback alternative pop tunes

Best production of 2014: KylieCrystallize

Career Highlight: SolangeLosing You

Ariel Rechtshaid

Formerly a member of The Hippos and Foreign Born, American producer Ariel Rechtshaid has made a name for himself with glossy alternative tracks. He worked on Usher’s career-best Climax and has since worked with Sky Ferreira, Vampire Weekend, Charli XCX and Justin Bieber. Two of last years best LP’s, Haim’s Days Are Gone and Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time were produced by Rechtshaid.

Go to for: A bit of direction while still retaining your personal shtick

Best production of 2014: He hasn’t done a lot this year yet but rumour has it he’s working on Madonna’s next album

Career Highlight: UsherClimax

Mike Will Made It

Some of you may know him as the name mentioned at the start of Miley Cyrus’We Can’t Stop but he’s far more than that. Michael Len Williams II is one of the most sought after producers at the minute for his brand of hip-hop/pop crossover. In the past year he’s produced for Jay Z, Ciara, Mariah Carey and of course, Miley as well as releasing his own solo material. His latest track, Buy The World features Future, Kendrick Lamar and Lil Wayne.

Go to for: Melodic hip-hop RnB tunes with pop hooks

Best production of 2014: FutureMove That Dope

Career Highlight: CiaraBody Party

The Up-and-Comers

Two Inch Punch

As indicated before, Ben Ash (aka. Two Inch Punch) is one half of BenZel with Benny Blanco but he’s also done some pretty impressive stuff on his own. He had a big part in the success of Sam Smith, producing Nirvana and the UK number one single, Money On My Mind. He also produced Life Support off his debut album In The Lonely Hour. He’s also recently produced Rudimental collaborator Becky Hill’s track Caution to the Wind. If you’re an aritst attempting to oscillate between the alternative and the mainstream it seems you should look no further than Two Inch Punch.

Go to for: A less obvious take on pop music

Best production of 2014: Sam SmithMoney On My MInd

Career HighlightSam SmithMoney On My Mind

Shlohmo

LA producer, Shlohmo is probably best known for his remixes and original tracks but as a producer he’s proving to have some serious chops. You only have to listen to No More, his collaborative EP with Jeremih, to realise that his balance between electronica and RnB is unparalleled. While that EP doesn’t have a lot of mainstream appeal, his production on BANKSBrain most certainly does.

Go to for: Skittering RnB

Best production of 2014: BANKSBrain

Career Highlight: Jeremih- Bo Peep

Detail

Noel Fisher, otherwise known as American producer, Detail may have been producing since 2007 but last year was the best year of his career. 2013 saw him producer Beyonce’s Drunk In Love and Jealous while also waving his magic over Drake’s Own It and 305 To My City. Brooding, smokey RnB/Hip-hop tracks seem to be his flavour which is perfect because it seems to be everybody’s flavour right now. This year he produced Jennifer Lopez’s criminally unrecognised, I Luh Ya Papi.

Go to for: Mid-tempo Hip-Hop/RnB that breathes

Best production of 2014Jennifer Lopez-I Luh Ya Papi

Career Highlight: Beyonce- Drunk In Love (Feat. Jay Z)

BOOTS

When Beyonce’s self-titled album came out at the end of last year, BOOTS (aka. Jordy Asher) was an enigmatic, unknown producer. He signed a publishing deal with Roc Nation in June 2013 and produced eight of the 14 songs on Beyonce including Drunk In Love and Partition. Since then he’s released a mixtape, WinterSpringSummerFall but hasn’t had production credits on anything else. Surely, most artists in the world are clamouring to work with BOOTS.

Go to for: Genre-pushing RnB

Best production of 2014: His own track Howl/ Your Move

Career Highlight: BeyonceDrunk In Love