“When the English language gets in my way, I walk over it.” – Billy Sunday
Finally! Max Martin has won a GRAMMY!
Oddly enough it was the first time he’d been nominated too. So… One for one is a pretty good track record! Seems like an oversight since he’s been pumping out Billboard hits for the past 20 years.
Regardless, i’m glad!
Even though i’d sang along to a myriad of his songs I didn’t know about him until ’97 when he kind of exploded with Backstreet Boys. That’s when the “Swedish Music Miracle” really took off.
Before he won there’d been some debate about his songs abusing the rules of english grammar. This was mainly targeted at Ariana Grande’s “Break Free”. Even she fought him on the subject. Now, i’m sitting here smiling at this because I feel like I understand why he does this.
First of all it really makes the lyrics stand out. Then comes the beauty of language being malleable. I suggest looking at his back catalogue to see how song’s that we’ve all sang along to really make no sense and are, in all honesty, fucking awful. Just… Just try to imagine reciting the words to “I Want It That Way”. Sure, two other Swedes are to blame too but still…
The English language would not be what it is without a meddling wordsmith called Shakespeare who manhandled it as best. All in the service of growing the language by forming new words and expressions that live on to this day. Check out the list here!
Now, i’m not saying that Max Martin is the Shakespeare of our time but he continues the tradition. It probably helps that he’s not a native speaker of English. I’m sure that some of the sentences in his songs make a lot more sense in Swedish. Take a look at this article on a related issue with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
This isn’t even restricted to the people we’ve discussed so far. Take a look at the lyrics to “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “MacArthur Park” or “Mighty Quinn”. Jeez, I would argue them to be on par with Max’s work!
Besides, English has long tradition of being influenced by other cultures use of it. If anything it’s a good thing that should be celebrated!
To be perfectly honest, there’s no shame in trying out new things when it comes to any language. That’s the only way it can evolve and give us a broader palette to paint with.
I have to mention one more thing since we’re talking about Max. His mentee: Shellback.
I watched a movie today starring Hugh Grant (don’t knock it just yet!) called “Rewrite”. If you’re in need of a break and want to watch something related to writing for some inspiration, go check it out!
In it Hugh plays an Oscar-winning writer who’s been in a slump for a while and needs some work. He’s more or less forced to take a job to teach screenwriting at a college. I won’t spoil the movie but I saw the connection Max & Shellback when he found a protegé in his class.
The producers Hugh had pitched his ideas to had been asking for a “fresh voice” and found that he didn’t understand what they meant and that he wasn’t interested in changing his approach. So, when he finds this kid who the producers absolutely love he finally sees what they were saying. Hugh’s character still had a voice but it didn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table.
I think that Max in some way saw this some years ago when he took Shellback under his wing. If we take a look at the work Max had been producing between ’02-’05 we could deduce that he was in, at least for him, a “slump”. In 2006 he invited Shellback to his studio and signed him to Maratone in 2007. From that point on his songwriting took off again in 2008!
Now, there are probably a variety of other reasons for his second coming. It might be a little rash to call it a second coming, he did have some success during that 3 year period. Still, i’m sure that having that youthful energy and curiosity sparked something in Max that had gone dormant for a while! Looking back now, maybe that’s exactly what Max did for his mentor Denniz Pop?
All I really wanted to say was that we should just celebrate that silly words be silly!
Here’s a song from Max’s vaults that I used to perform during my days in a hard rock band. Enjoy!