Five pop stars who started out as songwriters

From Bruno Mars to Lady Gaga, they may be big stars now but started their careers writing songs for others

Singer Bruno Mars arrives in the press room during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on January 28, 2018, in New York. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT
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The pop world is full of big name acts who honed their craft writing tunes for others. Here are five noteworthy examples.

Bruno Mars

After a string of rejections from record labels, Bruno Mars decided to wedge his foot in the door by songwriting. Before he became a superstar, he composed for a variety of pop acts, including Adam Levine, Brandy and Flo Rida. He landed hits with BOB's Nothin' On You and Billionaire by Travie McCoy, with both songs flying high in the US charts.

Lady Gaga

After being spotted by Akon and signed to a publishing deal, Lady Gaga worked on her big-selling 2008 debut album The Fame while writing songs for others. The same year also saw a string of Gaga compositions for acts including Britney Spears (Quicksand), New Kids on the Block (Full Service) and even Michael Bolton (love song Murder My Heart).


Marques Houston's 2003 recording of unreleased Ne-Yo track That Girl not only landed him his first hit, but also established Ne-Yo as a talented tunesmith. He went on to develop a rather lucrative career in his own right, but in addition to his solo hits, Ne-Yo also found chart success with compositions for Beyonce (Irreplaceable), Rihanna (Hate That I Love You) and Lindsay Lohan's surprise club smash Bossy.

Jessie J

Jessie J's songwriting skills introduced her to the industry when 2009 track Party in the USA for Miley Cyrus landing at the top of the US charts. She followed it up that same year with Chris Brown's I Need This, and even after her solo career kicked off in 2011, she kept writing for various acts including Japan's Koda Kumi (VIP) and DJ Cassidy's UK hit Calling All Hearts.


While shopping for a solo record deal, Kesha maintained her profile in the industry by scribing trademark anthems for other acts. These included the Britney Spears hit Till the World Ends, non-album track Pink Champagne by Ariana Grande and This Love by the Australian pop-rock twins The Veronicas.


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