Amazing List of 10 Greatest Songwriters of All Time
You ever listen to a song that you’re absolutely crazy over? Do you have a song that you could hear over and over again? While listening to these songs, have you ever wondered to yourself who wrote this? Or maybe have you asked “what was their inspiration?” Or you may have even said to yourself “wow, how did they come up with these amazing lyrics?” All of these questions are why songwriters exist in the world. You may see the artist singing the song, but you never really know who wrote the song or what the songwriter vision was. However, without songwriters the world lack many beautiful, timeless tunes. This is why here at ASKM Publishing we appreciate songwriters. Here’s our list of the 10 greatest songwriters of all time.
10) Shaffer “Ne Yo” Smith
Coming in at number 10 on our list is none other than Ne Yo. Shaffer “Ne Yo” Smith who remains a top songwriter of today is rightfully apart of our list of greatest songwriters of all time. From writing top hits for himself and other artists such as Mario, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson and many more Ne Yo has sealed his place in history of one of the greatest songwriters. With his first song ever written for another artist being “That girl” recorded by Marques Houston, it was clear Ne Yo had the gift to write for others as well as himself. Ne Yo’s big claim to fame as a songwriter was the R&B chart topping hit “Let me love you” recorded by Mario. However, the most amazing aspect of Ne Yo’s songwriting skills is his ability to write for both genders. Many critics and audience were shocked to learn Ne Yo wrote the hit “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce in 2006. So many found it hard to believe a male could write such a female-oriented song. Ne Yo’s ability to write for so many different voice types, genres and both genders makes him a phenomenal songwriter.
9) Mariah Carey
Although she’s known for her spectacular, amazing voice Mariah Carey is also a phenomenal songwriter. With a groundbreaking 18 #1 hits what a lot of people don’t is most of those hits were written by Mariah Carey herself. Her very 1st debut single “Vision of love” which was a chart topping hit and brought her onto the scene was written by her. Mariah Carey isn’t only great at writing lyrics she also writes the melody, harmony and composes her music. Some of her biggest hits she wrote herself are:
With these amazing hits and many more being under her belt just proves why Mariah is on our list of greatest songwriters of all time.
8) Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
An amazing songwriting duo who makes our list of greatest songwriters are Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Initially getting their start working with Prince and Morris Day, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis went on to write sensational R&B and Pop hits. They are single-handedly the masterminds behind the success of legend Janet Jackson’s career. However, their songwriting skills don’t stop with Janet. They have written classic hits for artists such as New Edition, Vanessa Williams, Usher and many more. One of the most amazing factors about Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis songwriting is the fact that they’ve managed to write for decades and merge generations. From working with Prince during the 70’s and early 80’s. To taking Janet Jackson under their wings during the mid 80’s. To working with artist like Karen White and Johnny Gill during the 90’s, then working with Usher in the 2000’s. They are still leaving their mark and legacy. Some classic hits that will forever be known thanks to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are:
- “Can you stand the rain” – New Edition
- “Never too far” – Mariah Carey
- “Open my heart” – Yolanda Adams
- “Rhythm nation” – Janet Jackson
7) Diane Warren
Diane Warren is not only one of the greatest living songwriters she’s one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Diane Warren has written songs for countless singers of all genres. She’s worked with greats ranging from Whitney Houston to Celine Dion. Diane Warren has also won many awards and accolades for her skills as a great songwriter. One of the most impressive things about Diane Warren as a songwriter is her ability to write songs that have universal appeal. She’s written songs that have crossed over to many genres, nations and audiences. Some of these hits include:
- “Un-break my heart” by Toni Braxton
- “Because you loved me” by Celine Dion
- “Have you ever” by Brandy
- “I don’t want to miss a thing” by Aerosmith
6) Rod Temperton
Rod Temperton is hands down one of the greatest songwriters of all time. With a discography that includes working with the all-time greats from Michael Jackson to Heatwave, Rod Temperton has literally written classics. He’s also worked with legendary producer and composer Quincy Jones. What makes Rod Temperton such a great songwriter is the fact that he’s written so many R&B, Soul and Funk hits that are still special today. The reality is Rod Temperton being a white man and writing fro Funk and Soul artists during the time he did (1970’s and 1980’s) was considered unheard of. His lyrics, melodies and rhythms are simply amazing. When defining a list of songwriters for any genre or generation you have to add Rod Temperton.
5) Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff
Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff are a legendary songwriting duo that definitely goes on the list of one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff not only sensation songwriters, they literally birthed the sound of Philly. That’s right they founded and ran Philadelphia International Records. This label has birthed many legends including Patti Labelle, Phyllis Hyman, Teddy Pendergrass and many more. Not only did Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff redefine music and the sound of Philly with the artists they signed, they wrote most of the classics you heard from these artists. Another noted song they wrote besides hits for recording artist, they also wrote the theme song to classic show “Soul Train.” The list truly goes on and on in regards to how many hits and classics this legendary duo created. One of the most amazing factors about Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff is their ability to write for both genders. Their ability to add so much soul and intimacy into their songs. Their ability to create such powerful lyrics. Below are just a few classic songs penned by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.
- “If you don’t know me by now” – Harold Melvin
- “For the love of money” – The O’Jays
- “Me and Mrs. Jones” – Billy Paul
- “Enjoy yourself” – The Jacksons
The legend Prince is known for being a great performer and amazing musician. However, Prince is also an incredible songwriter. Not only did Prince write his own songs, he wrote songs for other artists as well. Not only was he an amazing songwriting he’s a phenomenal musician and composer. Prince’s ability to blend beautiful lyrics with mesmerizing melodies and harmonies are simply amazing. The lyrics to Prince songs are rich and have so much depth. The main reason Prince has to be noted as one of the greatest songwriters of all time is his musicianship and amount of songs written. Prince could play over 27 instruments. It’s also been reported Prince had over 10,000 unreleased songs. Not to mention the number of songs he had that were released. Let’s not forget to timeless hits he wrote for fellow artists such as:
- “Nothing compares to you” – Sinead O’Connor
- “Yo mister” – Patti Labelle
- “I feel for you” – Chaka Khan
3) Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
A famous songwriter who definitely tops the list of greatest songwriters of all time is Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Babyface has literally written most of the R&B 90’s top hits. From working with Toni Braxton, Tevin Campbell, Boyz to Men, TLC and so many more, Babyface has truly redefined a generation. Not only has Babyface penned some of the most memorable 90’s hit he’s also written classics from the 80’s, 2000’s and 2010’s. Babyface has also worked on classic movie soundtracks such as “Boomerang” and “Waiting to Exhale.” What makes Babyface skills as a songwriter so phenomenal is his natural gift for songwriting. He can truly write for any artist, genre or style. He’s worked with some of the all-time greats and helped jumpstart the successful career of legend Toni Braxton. Here are just a few notable songs written by Babyface.
- “Can we talk” – Tevin Campbell
- “Diggin’ on you” – TLC
- “Don’t be cruel” – Bobby Brown
- “End of the road” – Boyz to Men
- “Not gon’ cry” – Mary J. Blige
2) Stevie Wonder
Number 2 on our list of greatest songwriters of all time is the one and only Stevie Wonder. Known as the “8th wonder of the world” and a musical genius, Stevie Wonder is also a magnificent songwriter. From writing all of his own songs which most went on to become timeless hits, to even writing songs for other artists. Stevie Wonder has truly been a phenomena since came onto the scene. Starting out as a child prodigy to emerging into a worldwide artist Stevie Wonder’s work speaks for itself. Not only does he write his own lyrics he plays his own instruments and produces his own music. The most amazing thing about Stevie Wonder as a songwriter is his incredible lyrics. Stevie Wonder lyrics are so profound and captivating. They’re lyrics you won’t find similar to any other song or songwriter. A song in particular of his that has spectacular, meaningful lyrics is “As” from his classic album “Songs in the key of life.” However, his list of phenomenal, meaningful songs and lyrics don’t stop here. “Sir duke” is another song he wrote for amazing lyrics as well as “I just called to say I love you” and “Superstition.”
1) Smokey Robinson
The number one greatest songwriter of all time is the one and only Smokey Robinson. Smokey Robinson who’s known for his amazing, falsetto voice, tenderness and being crowned “The King of Motown” is the greatest songwriter of all time for many reasons. One of these reasons being he literally helped pioneer Motown records, the most influential record label of all time. He wrote for just about every artist at Motown. He knows how to write for male and female artists. He can make you feel every word he wrote. His lyrics are creative, unique, timeless and captivating. His songs are literally cultural treasures. He’s written some of the most famous songs all of time that every man, woman and child know. For example the classic “My girl” performed by The Temptations was written by Smokey Robinson. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what type of music you like you know “My girl.” Smokey Robinson truly writes the songs that makes the whole world sing. In terms of how the structure of a song, the way a song is suppose to tell a story no one does it quite like Smokey. When a lot of artists were struggling at Motown to get their 1st big hit, Smokey Robinson came through to save the day. Not only did he write countless hits for other artists he also wrote most of his songs and his group The Miracles songs. Other amazing, classic songs written by Smokey Robinson are: