This post is going to come off shady as f**k but bear with me- it's genuinely not my intent.
Now despite knowing Mariah Carey is a songwriter (honestly, anyone who doesn't know this by now clearly hasn't been paying attention!), I did wonder if recently she had gone down the lazy route of securing songwriting credits by only changing a few words on a submitted track. These thoughts first darkened my thoughts when listening to album Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel. With an obvious change in writing style, I couldnt help but question how much involvement she had in the formulation of the lyrics. Well shame on me for doubting the Queen!
YouTube has revealed, via demos from that very LP, just how much the diva adds and personalises the bare bones she is presented with. Take the glorious ballad H.A.T.E U. All that was kept from that demo was the chorus- everything else got a rewrite.
Betcha Gon' Know (The Prologue) is a little more suspect- if the demo is to be believed. Here it sounds like Mariah just changed the last part of the song, where she tells us how 'real' the situation really is by using pop culture references. However with the song mentioning Mariah's friends Jasmine and Rae Rae, I do wonder if this demo was recorded after they'd already written the first draft of the song, as Wiki states it was recorded in more than one location. Even if this didn't happen, at least we can hear a change to the words.
Betcha Gon' Know (The Prologue),
Betcha Gon' Know (The Prologue),
Now let's take a look at Beyoncé and how she earns her writing credit. First we have Halo. No lyrical change here, yet the diva is credited. This demo was also one sent to other singers, so there's no way Bey could have had a role in its creation, yet the credit is there.
Next up is 1+1. Once again no change lyrically between the demo and the version Beyoncé recorded (bar the odd pronunciation of "algebra"). To those who say the vocal arrangement is enough to earn the singer a credit, I say "nein!" If no lyrics have been changed, no credit should be given! Now, earning a production credit for vocal arrangement would be a different story, and would definitely be more agreeable to me.
Finally we have the controversial Irreplaceable which Beyoncé claimed she co-wrote, but actual writer Ne-Yo publicly quashed that by saying he wrote the song, alone. Saying that, she's still credited as a writer, along with five other people, so Lord knows how Ne-Yo can claim he wrote it alone.
Some would argue that the exposure a writer gains from being featured on a big artist's album is a worthwhile trade-off for a dent to their publishing royalties. Just take a look at Sia. This is one Diva who is a hell of a lot richer, and well known, because of her writing for other, bigger stars.
Counter to this, there are artists like Rihanna and Britney Spears that don't ask for credit, despite being big sellers with enough clout to do so. It's obviously an issue writers are aware of. Check out what Heather Bright, someone this actually affects, had to add to the debate:
I would just like to address one thing! The media is talking trash about how Britney didn’t write any of the songs on her album … HELLO! Wake up everybody! NONE OF THESE ARTISTS WRITE THEIR OWN SONGS!!!!!! (there are a few exceptions … lady gaga, will.i.am/BEP, chris brown is starting to write a lot of his own stuff … ummmm … and now I’m running out of artists). Anyway … here’s my thing … and I feel VERY passionate about this issue. Britney could have come to me, like all these other A-list artists, and said …Source: Vulture.com
Hey, you wanna be on my album? I’m gonna need writing credit for that song AND part of your publishing even though I didn’t write anything! And then I’m gonna go on tour and gross $150 million in ticket sales and not give you any of that, even though I’m performing your song!”
I could rattle off a laundry list of artists who I’ve had that conversation with! And I’m on the other end like … “Oh okay … so you wanna rape me, but just with the tip?!” *Prince side eye* Britney’s one of the few artists I’ve worked with who didn’t try to take something that wasn’t hers. In my experience, from a business standpoint, her entire team is nothing less than a bonafide class act!
What do you guys think? Outside of the specific Divas mentioned, is this practice just individuals being smart, or is it actually a form of exploitation?