Over recent years, we’ve seen more and more popstars write songs for the stage. We’ve seen the full spectrum, from the instant hit (Duncan Sheik’s “Spring Awakening”) to the joke of the season (Bono’s “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark”). This year we’ve seen Sara Bareilles write a musical titled “Waitress” and the great, late David Bowie’s otherworldly “Lazurus.”
These musicals got me thinking about the best songwriters currently in the business. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that these girls have talent, and could potentially write some pretty incredible musicals.
While you may not be on the “T-Swift Train,” you can’t deny that this girl’s got songwriting chops. The kitschy, catchy tunes from her latest album are over a year old, yet we’re still hearing them on the radio. And it’s not just upbeat songs; Taylor’s ballads have proven to be emotional and haunting over the years.
There’s more to Meghan Trainor than “All About That Bass.” In fact, if you listen to her major-label debut album, you will be surprised by the clever wordplay and musical range. Many of her songs tell a story (“Dear Future Husband,” “Walkashame,” for example) while still maintaining that doo-wop flavor that is so rare in today’s pop music. Plus, I’ll bet you’ve never heard rapping in the middle of a 1950s-style song. If the founding fathers can be proficient in hip-hop, why not some cool cats at the soda hop?
Taking a step away from pop singers, Carrie Underwood could be this generation’s Dolly Parton (I’m looking at you, “9 to 5”). Recently, all of her radio hits have been penned by Carrie herself. From “Little Toy Guns” to “Something in the Water,” we obviously know she’s got some range, both in musical variation and storytelling. And besides, you know she’d throw in some insane belting moments.
Don’t stop reading! Trust me on this; Kesha (now officially without the dollar sign) has been writing songs for herself and other singers ever since Paris Hilton was releasing music. While her more popular songs are definitely raucous and loud, try giving “The Harold Song” a listen. Really listen. Look past the synthesizers and auto-tune and listen to the lyrics.
Of course I had to include the Queen Monster, AKA a theatre kid at-heart! If you’ve heard any of her music (and I know you have), you’ll know she’s got the songwriting chops to fill a theatre. She’s clever and wry and, at times, extremely tender. If that doesn’t convince you, go watch her “Sound of Music” medley from last years’ Oscars. If that doesn’t convince you, then just think about how theatrical she is; from her music videos to her day-to-day “costumes,” Lady Gaga is always putting on a show, and I’m willing to bet a Gaga musical would be quite the show.