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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 88: RICHARD MARX

I’ve often wondered what constitutes a timeless song. A song that is regarded as being legendary in its own right. Something that can tug at your heart, and can invade your innermost being, bringing forth emotions to the surface that you never knew you had. I’ve often wondered if it’s the artist who makes a great song, or if it’s the songwriter. Because usually, the great songs (like the great songs in the 90’s like “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey), are 9 times out of 10, written by a songwriter, or maybe two or more; and then given to a singer to ‘make famous’. Is a song famous because of the name and reputation of the artist, or because of the reputation or repertoire of the songwriter? Songwriters like Diane Warren, Ashley Gorley, Justin Paul & Benj Pasek, David Garcia, David Foster, Justin Tranter & Julia Michaels, Sia, Ryan Tedder, Toby Gad, Shane McAnally and Ester Dean, are all in high demand; and only some of these are artists. The rest just keep chugging along, ploughing away at their craft, helping to make artists famous by crafting a radio friendly hit song. Many of these songwriters are world renowned and respected by their peers- and so the question needs to be asked as to whether the song lives on in the hearts of all of us because of the artist or the songwriter. I reckon it’s about 50/50 at least, in that the songwriter generally does around about 50% of the work in propelling an artist into stardom. But whether a song lives on in my heart, and then just doesn’t connect in your heart- that’s a different thing altogether. But generally speaking, the big iconic songs that we’ll still be singing in 20-30 years’ time, are because of a symbiotic or sometimes parasitical relationship between the songwriter and the artist. But what happens when an iconic song is written by the artist who has sung it? Does that artist achieve the recognition, the praise, the accolades, before the songwriters who write for other people? If an artist has been going and going and going for a long period of time, writing and singing, and keeping their head down… and they don’t receive any awards because their songs aren’t flashy nor of big production; is that fair? Even if they’ve worked with a wide variety of people and are considered a legend in their field, by their peers?

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