Martin Karl Sandberg
Martin Sandberg (born Karl Martin Sandberg 26 February 1971), known professionally as Max Martin, is a Swedish music producer and songwriter. He rose to prominence in the mid-1990s after crafting a string of major hits for artists such as Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and 'N Sync. Some of his earlier hits include "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)", "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", "I Want It That Way", "...Baby One More Time", "Oops!... I Did It Again", and "It's My Life".
His trademark during the second half of the 1990s and the early 2000s was a danceable, keyboard-laden pop sound that blended music styles such as funk, heavy metal and europop. However, with Kelly Clarkson's songs "Since U Been Gone" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes", Martin stepped back into the spotlight after reinventing himself with a heavier, rock-tinged sound.
Since 1999, he has written and co-written 17 Billboard number-one hits (most of which he has also produced or co-produced), including "Domino" by Jessie J, "So What" and "Raise Your Glass" by Pink; "I Kissed a Girl", "Hot n Cold", "California Gurls", "Teenage Dream", "E.T.", "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)", "Part of Me", "Roar", "Dark Horse", "The One That Got Away" and "Wide Awake" by Katy Perry; "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift; "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson, "...Baby One More Time", "3", "Hold It Against Me" by Britney Spears, and "One More Night" by Maroon 5. Top-10 singles co-written by Martin in the same period include "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz, "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" by Usher, "Whataya Want From Me" by Adam Lambert, "F**kin' Perfect" by Pink, "Beauty and a Beat" by Justin Bieber, and, "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift.
Early career and It's Alive
Martin grew up in Stenhamra, Ekerö Municipality, a suburb of Stockholm. As a teenager he sang in a variety of bands before joining a glam-style metal band called It's Alive in 1985 as their singer and frontman. It's Alive were formed by ex-LAZY members Per Aldeheim and Kim Björkgren on guitars, and John Rosth who had been a member of Lineout. Martin eventually dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music with his band under the nickname "Martin White". In 1988 they participated in the national rock championships and played as the in-house band at a disco in Cyprus. The band got a breakthrough in 1991, as Dave Constable of Megarock Records offered them to make a demo-record. The later debut album was originally pressed in 1,000 copies and later on given away as a free cover tape in the UK by the Metal Forces magazine.
The decision to focus on a music career paid off as they landed a record deal on producer Denniz PoP's label Cheiron Records, a BMG affiliate. After recording their second album Earthquake Visions, they released three singles in conjunction with the record and toured through Europe in 1994 supporting Kingdom Come. Earthquake Visions eventually sold a disappointing 30,000 copies, despite being released in as many as 30 countries. More importantly though, Martin also began collaborating on songs with PoP. Recognizing a talent for writing pop songs in the young rocker, PoP renamed his new protégé Max Martin and eventually became Martins mentor.
Working with Cheiron and Denniz Pop
"I didn't even know what a producer did, I spent two years--day and night--in that studio trying to learn what the hell was going on." - Max Martin, 19 March 2001.
In 1993, Martin was hired by Cheiron Studios and spent some time learning the basics, before the first production collaboration between Pop and Martin: the Rednex song "Wish You Were Here" in 1994. They both worked on Ace of Base's second album The Bridge shortly thereafter, as well as on albums by 3T, Army of Lovers and Leila K. To date, The Bridge has sold more than six million copies worldwide, including one million in the United States. When Martin eventually left his band It's Alive in late 1995, he was replaced by Anders Jansson.
In 1995, the Cheiron Studios was hired by Zomba to work on Backstreet Boys' self-titled debut album Backstreet Boys. Zomba became the main working partner since the success in 1995. Martin took part in the production of "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)", co-written with Herbie Crichlow, a single which quickly went platinum and climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the singles "As Long As You Love Me" and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)". The album was not released in the U.S. until 1997, but was released overseas and caught on all across Europe, eventually selling around 8 million copies worldwide. This led to the Backstreet Boys being relaunched in their home country later on, this time more successfully. Later that year, Martin co-produced Robyns hit "Show Me Love" which ended up on the Billboard Top 10.
In 1998, Cheiron Productions worked on albums by Five and Jessica Folcker. Jessica Folcker had first been hired as a backing singer for tracks with Ace of Base and Dr. Alban, and her debut album Jessica became an instant hit with singles like "Tell Me What You Like" and "How Will I Know Who You Are" which both sold platinum. After Denniz Pop died of cancer that same summer, Martin took over as director of Cheiron Studios. He soon started working with writer/producer Rami Yacoub, who continued to be his partner for many years. Martin also wrote two songs with Bryan Adams during this time, "Cloud Number Nine" and "Before The Night Is Over".
Martin wrote, co-wrote, and co-produced 7 out of the 12 songs on the 1999 album Millennium by the Backstreet Boys, including all the singles. "I Want It That Way", a hit song Martin co-wrote with Andreas Carlsson and co-produced with Kristian Lundin, became the group's biggest single to date and it is still popular today ("I Want It That Way" was voted No. 10 in the MTV/Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Pop Songs.") A VH1 special, 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s, ranked the song at number 1, making it the highest ranked boy-band single and pop song. Millennium sold over 1.1 million units in its first week in the United States, setting a record for most albums sold in its debut week (that record was later beaten by 'N Sync's No Strings Attached), and was the best-selling album in the world. When working on her own solo album, to be released in 2001 on Stockholm Records, Lisa Miskovsky wrote the text for Backstreet Boys new hit single "Shape of My Heart" with Max Martin and Rami. The song, originally written for Miskovskys own album, was passed along to the Backstreet Boys by Max Martin when Miskovsky determined it did not fit her style. The song became the first single off the group's new album Black & Blue. In the first week of release, "Shape of My Heart" immediately jumped into the Top Five in Sweden, Norway, Canada, Germany and another 15 countries. Black & Blue, containing several songs produced and written by Martin, sold 1.6 million units in its first week in America. Martin again received ASCAP's award "Songwriter of the Year" both in 2000 and 2001. Martin is currently working with them on their eighth album to be released in 2013. Martin almost planning to create all the albums of Backstreet Boys peak, until after the 2005 Martin cooperation, their fifth album "Never Gone" peak for the Backstreet Boys, 10 years of partnership finally part company each going his own way. In 2013 April, the Backstreet Boys member Brian Littrell to call Martin, for their single "In A World Like This", the single peak No.6 in the Oricon chart, in the U.S Hot Dance chart and adult singles chart are also scored TOP40. Martin collaborated on the Never Gone songs "Climbing the Walls", "Just Want You to Know", "Siberia", and the melancholy love song "I Still...", a trademark song for the Backstreet Boys. Martin wanted the album to be more of a contemporary, alternative pop album with a little R&B. The resulting album had a more organic music style with more live instruments, and was a departure from The Backstreet Boys' earlier work.
In 1998, Martin wrote and co-produced Spears' hit "...Baby One More Time" for her album with the same name, (the hit single was originally offered to both the Backstreet Boys, who turned it down, and TLC, who passed because they were 'taking time off'). The single remains Spears' best selling single to this date, and on Vh1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s", it was ranked at number 7. Martin also co-wrote and co-produced the third single "(You Drive Me) Crazy". The album ...Baby One More Time has sold over 15 million copies in the U.S., certifying Diamond Status. Also, within a year of its release, ...Baby One More Time had become the best-selling LP by a teenager in history, selling over 30 million copies. Martin was the first non-American citizen ever to win ASCAP's prestigious award "Songwriter of the Year" in 1999 (an award he also won in 2000 and 2001).
Martin worked on Spears' first three studio albums which were made in the style of teen-oriented pop. In this period he co-wrote and co-produced the singles "Oops!... I Did It Again", "Lucky", "Stronger", "Overprotected", and "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman". However, when Spears recorded her 2003 album In the Zone, she decided to move away from that genre. The duo ended up parting ways, and Martin had no input on that album nor on her 2007 album, Blackout. At the request of Spears, Martin produced and wrote for Spears' 2008 album Circus, released that December. Martin co-wrote and produced the provocatively titled, "If U Seek Amy", which was chosen by fans to be the third single of the album. Different from Martin's previous tracks for Spears, "If U Seek Amy" is an electro-pop dance song, in which even the lyrics shows a different, more dance-oriented direction from Spears and Martin's previous work. In July 2009, Spears stated on her Twitter account, that she was in the recording studio in Stockholm, Sweden with Martin. Later, on 29 September 2009, it was announced that Martin had worked with Spears on her upcoming compilation album. Martin produced "3", the song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Martin was the executive producer (along with Dr. Luke) of Spears' seventh album Femme Fatale, released 29 March 2011. During a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Spears stated that Martin "gets exactly what I am saying when I tell him what I want and don't want musically. His melodies are incredible and he is always coming up with weird sounds, which I love." Adding; "There is nobody I feel more comfortable collaborating with in the studio." In January 2011, "Hold It Against Me" was released as the lead single of Spears' new album, the song later debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Becoming Spears' second single to debut at No. 1 and her fourth overall, Max also co-produced the album's second single "Till the World Ends", respectively peaking at No. 3. As well as co-producing "Hold It Against Me" and "Till the World Ends", Martin co-produced the songs "Inside Out", "I Wanna Go", "Seal It with a Kiss", "Criminal" & "Up n' Down". In May 2011, It was announced "I Wanna Go" would serve as the 3rd single from "Femme Fatale". On 5 August 2011, Spears launched a poll on her Facebook page asking fans whether her next single should be "Criminal", "Inside Out" or "(Drop Dead) Beautiful." After the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, she revealed to MTV News that "Criminal" was chosen as the fourth single, marking the first time Martin has produced four singles of a Spears album, beating out himself when he had produced the first three singles from Oops!... I Did It Again. Max was then excluded from Spears's eighth studio album, Britney Jean. This may be because fans were upset with some of his work on Femme Fatale, as Dr. Luke was also excluded from the album.
In late 1999 Céline Dion released "That's the Way It Is," a song co-written by Max Martin to promote her greatest hits album All the Way... A Decade of Song. The song became a hit, going to number 1 on the adult contemporary charts in the United States and Canada, and reaching top 10 all over the world. Since the song was released in November 1999, it has cycled 500,000 times on almost 1400 radio stations across Canada and the U.S. In 2003 Martin co-wrote and produced three songs for Céline Dion's album One Heart. One of them called "Faith" was released as a promotional single in Canada and reached number 4 on the Quebec Airplay Chart and number 37 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart.
Producer role for Cheiron
The traditional division of work in the record industry typically has the artist writing the songs and then hiring a producer to help shape the sound. At Cheiron it was the other way around; the producers wrote the songs, played the instruments, engineered and mixed the recordings and the artist was only brought in near the end of the process to do the vocals. For example, on Britney Spears's second album Oops! I Did It Again, Cheiron had already written seven songs and had proceeded to record the layers of music before Britney even arrived at the studios in early November 1999. It took her only one week to do the vocals. Martin and his team worked more like a band that alternated singers. Martin explained his working method:
|I want to be part of every note, every single moment going on in the studio. I want nothing forgotten, I want nothing missed. I'm a perfectionist. The producer should decide what kind of music is being made, what it's going to sound like--all of it, the why, when and how. - LA Times, 6/05/00|
Startup of Maratone
Despite the success, Cheiron Studios was closed down in 2000. The reason behind the decision to close it down was, according to the press release on their homepage, that the heart and soul of the studio had been lost with the death of Denniz Pop. Another reason for closing the studio down was for the people at Cheiron Studios to be able to do more experimental music work without the weight of the now famous name Cheiron upon their shoulders.
Max Martin and Tom Talomaa started a new production company together named Maratone in January 2001 and moved into the famous Cosmos Studios that had housed the production team Kai Erixon and Kent (Gillström) Isaacs whom had been very successful at the Swedish pop/hiphop-arena with numerous gold/platinum-selling artists. Also, David Kreuger and Per Magnusson started A Side Productions and Kristian Lundin started the production company The Location and the publishing company Location Songs together with Jake Schulze and Andreas Carlsson (both also members of Cheiron's production team) at the same location as Cheiron Studios. The first songs to be written and produced at Maratone were four tracks for Britney Spears' third album Britney. The Maratone production crew initially consisted of producers/songwriters Max Martin, Rami, Alexandra, Arnthor and young sensation Shellback, but Rami, Alexandra and Arnthor have all moved on since then. Following the work with Celine Dion on the album One Heart in 2003, few new hits appeared from Maratone until 2005. More recently 2009 has seen a string of hits from the studio including the hits "My Life Would Suck Without You" from Kelly Clarkson and "3" from Britney Spears.
In 2004, former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson traveled to Sweden to collaborate with Max Martin and Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald on songs for her album Breakaway. They decided to create songs that were rockier than anticipated by the fans, as can be heard on the hit singles "Since U Been Gone" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes". "Since U Been Gone" became a huge hit and remains one of the biggest hits of Clarkson's career, and one of the biggest hits of 2005. The next single, "Behind These Hazel Eyes", actually reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 while the single "Since U Been Gone" was still on the chart. In 2009 he also co-wrote Clarkson's single "My Life Would Suck Without You", which has the record for the highest Billboard Hot 100 jump to No. 1, jumping from No. 97 in its first week on the chart.
Collaborations with Marion Raven
In 2005 Max Martin collaborated with the Norwegian singer Marion Raven for the release of her debut album entitled Here I Am on what may be his first mainstream Rock work, writing the song "Break You" and co-writing with Raven many songs, including "End of Me," "Here I Am," "Little By Little," "In Spite of Me," and "Six Feet Under." "End of Me" and "Break You" were big hits in Asia and Norway. In 2007 "Break You" was included again in Raven's North American and European debut album called Set Me Free. The American singer Megan McCauley did a cover of "Break You" in 2006 but the song is not included on any of McCauley's albums.
Martin also co-wrote and produced songs on Pink's very successful and critically acclaimed platinum selling fourth album I'm Not Dead. Worldwide the album was the sixth biggest selling album of 2006, going top 5 in the UK, platinum and top ten in the United States, and number one in Australia and Germany. In Australia the album had 5 top five singles, and spent a record 63 weeks in the top 10. As of July 2009 it is 10 times Platinum and has been charting in the Australian Top 50 for 146 weeks. Martin also collaborated with Pink for her fifth studio album, Funhouse, released October 2008. Martin co-wrote the first smash hit single, "So What", plus the tracks "Please Don't Leave Me", "I Don't Believe You" "Who Knew" and "It's All Your Fault".
Martin worked with Avril Lavigne on four songs for her fourth studio album Goodbye Lullaby; the three singles "What the Hell", "Smile", and Wish You Were Here, and the album track "I Love You".
Max Martin is also responsible for some of the songs of Katy Perry on three albums. On One of the Boys including the number-one single "I Kissed a Girl", and Top 5 hit single "Hot n Cold", and following-up album Teenage Dream, including the Billboard Hot 100 numbers-ones hits singles "California Gurls", "Teenage Dream", "E.T.", "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" and the Hot 100 top ten hit "The One That Got Away". Martin also co-wrote the songs "Part of Me" and "Wide Awake", the former of which topped the Billboard Hot 100. For her album Prism, he co-wrote the No. 1 singles "Roar" and "Dark Horse".
Confirmed by RCA Executives on 18 December 2011, Martin worked on Aguilera's seventh studio album Lotus and was the producer of her lead single, "Your Body", as well as another song titled "Let There Be Love". Both songs reached number one on the Billboard dance/club charts in 2012 Your body and Let there be love in 2013.
Martin produced and co-wrote the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", on Taylor Swift's 2012 album Red, which became her first number-one single in the US. Upon its release, the song reached the top position on the iTunes singles chart in 50 minutes, hence breaking the previous record held by Lady Gaga's song "Born This Way" with a record of an hour, making "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" the fastest selling single in digital history. It set the record for the biggest digital sales week (623,000) ever for a song by a female artist, surpassing the record held by Kesha's "Tik Tok". It also reached the top of the iTunes single chart in 32 countries. He also co-wrote and produced two other singles on the album "I Knew You Were Trouble" which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "22" which was a moderate success.
4th runner up of the eighth season of American Idol, Allison Iraheta has been collaborating with Max Martin on her debut album. Her first single, "Friday I'll Be Over U" is confirmed to be written by Martin. On 17 August 2009, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert announced via Twitter that he was in New York City with Martin recording a song for his debut album. It turned out to be the song "Whataya Want From Me", that was also written by Pink.
Martin also co-wrote "Into the Nightlife", a popular club track recorded by Cyndi Lauper in 2008 and produced, alongside Zedd, and co-wrote "Beauty and a Beat", on Justin Bieber's 2012 album "Believe".
Martin also produced several albums for eurodance act E-type.
In January 2014, Martin produced a 2-minute advertisement titled "Volvo XC70: Made By Sweden" featuring soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The video of the advertisement received several million views on YouTube.
In 2014, Martin co-wrote the song "Dare (La La La)" for Shakira's self-titled album.
In May 2014, Martin produced Jennifer Lopez second single "First Love" for her yet untitled Album #10 to be released on June 17th
Songwriting and producing
- Main article: Max Martin production discography
- Swedish Dance Music Awards 1996
- Swedish Grammis Award in 1997
- ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 1999
- ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 2000
- ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 2001
- ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 2011
- ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 2012
- ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year in 2013
- Swedish pop music
- Proff.se. Swedish commercial register. Retrieved on 14 June 2013.
- TIME - "Top of the Pops" by Jeff Chu, March 19. 2001 vol. 157 no. 11
- Gold & Platinum Search Results: Ace of Base. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved on 1 January 2010.
- MTV, Rolling Stone list top 100 pop songs. Ljworld.com. Retrieved on 20 February 2007.
- Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen (23 May 2001). Songwriters Behind 'NSYNC, Backstreet Boys Hits Win Big At ASCAP Pop Awards. MTV. Retrieved on 15 October 2007.
- Rock&Pop: Story of the song '...Baby One More Time', Findarticles.com. URL accessed on 19 May 2007.
- A Tweet from Britney - BRITNEY SPEARS
- Britney Spears On Her New Album, Her Favorite Music and Working With will.i.am. RollingStone.com (17 March 2011). Retrieved on 18 March 2011.
- BRITannica (13 May 2011). Britney Confirms 'I Wanna Go' As Next Single. Britney.com. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.
- Vena, Jocelyn (10 August 2011). Will '(Drop Dead) Beautiful' Be Britney Spears' Next Single?. MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved on 29 August 2011.
- 09/18/2009 (18 September 2009). Allison Iraheta In Sweden Working on Her Album With Max Martin. Mjsbigblog.com. Retrieved on 16 April 2012.
- Link to Twitter status entry