An Anatomy Of A Pop Song: Usher’s “I Don’t Mind” Ft. Juicy J

Posted by on January 22, 2015

Usher has another hit on his hands. “I Don’t Mind” is incredibly catchy, as I found myself listening to it multiples today until I was sick of hearing it. This, of course, is by design, as Dr. Luke and Cirkut produced the record. If you don’t know who Dr. Luke and Cirkut are, they’re a production team (of sorts) that are responsible for almost every hit on the radio. Collaborators Benny Blanco and Max Martin would beg to differ, but I digress. The average fan doesn’t know (and perhaps doesn’t care) about who produced and wrote the new Usher single, but we do. It’s northing short of fascinating.

Anyone worth their salt in the music industry knows that there’s more money in writing and producing pop songs than there is being an artist. With publishing and mechanical royalties in play, the producers and songwriters stand to gain more, carving out careers and longevity. The producers and writers involved in creating the records you hear on the radio are a small and exclusive group, employing small armys of budding producers signed to them exclusively. If you aren’t signed to them? Good luck getting your song placed. You can almost count them on one hand: Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder, Dr. Luke, Cirkuit, and Max Martin. Who then, made “I Don’t Mind”? That’s what we’ll examine below.

Released in November, “I Don’t Mind” was written by Usher (yeah right) Jordan Houston (Juicy J), Dr. Luke, Deejay Cyfer, Jacob Kasher, Theron Thomas, Timothy Thomas, and Henry Walter. That’s eight, count eight, writers just to pen a hit song. I don’t want to know what the splits look like. What about on the production side? It took Dr. Luke, Cirkuit, and Rock City (Theron and Timonthy) to produce the record. How could it take this many people to make a hit song? The truth is stranger than fiction.

Let’s look at the writers and producers of song. Jacob Kasher (who wrote Maroon 5’s “Sugar” with Mike Posner), Theron Thomas, Timothy Thomas, and Henry Walter all have something in common. They’re signed to Dr. Luke, whether it be through Kemosabe Records of Dr. Luke’s publishing company, Prescription Songs. This means that Dr. Luke likely wrote very little of the song, acting almost as an editor would, placing the brunt of the song writing work on his signed acts, tailoring as he sees fit. This is the general modus operandi in the music industry. The big names (like Luke) have extremely talented acts under them who work on the songs. When completed, they make a few changes and slap their name on it. This is no secret to those in the know, as just about every major producer operates the same way.

I know what you’re thinking. What about Jordan Houston and Deejay Cyfer? Let’s take a look at Jordan Houston, better known as Juicy J. He couldn’t be signed to Dr. Luke, right? Wrong. Dr. Luke signed Juicy J shortly after “Bandz Will Make Her Dance” fame. This is how Juicy J has been featured on massive tracks like Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Ne-Yo’s “She Knows”. Dr. Luke produced both singles, and presumably uses his influence and leverage to garner these placements for his artist.

What’s fascinating is that Deejay Cypher, who’s produced tracks for 50 Cent, Drake, and Katy Perry, seems to be the only artist not signed to Dr. Luke. His website claims to be signed to Interscope. How he was credited as a writer of “I Don’t Mind” without being signed to Dr. Luke is conundrum to me. I suspect he knows this is the case, as Dr. Luke and many others rarely allow that to happen.

This, my friends, is how modern pop music is made.

Tags: , , ,