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What you can learn from Billboard Hot 100 songwriting legends

Reading time: 4 minutes


In the illustrious history of the Billboard Hot 100, certain songwriters have achieved extraordinary success by penning multiple No. 1 hits. These 17 solo songwriters have made an indelible mark on popular music, crafting chart-topping songs that have captivated audiences worldwide. Join us as we celebrate their remarkable achievements and explore the valuable lessons budding songwriters can learn from their musical journeys.

Lionel Richie (8 No. 1 Hits):

Lesson: Craft Emotional and Memorable Ballads Lionel Richie's ability to create heartfelt ballads like "Hello" and "Endless Love" showcases the power of emotional storytelling and melody. Learn to connect with your audience on a deep level through heartfelt lyrics and unforgettable melodies.

Diane Warren (8 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Embrace Vulnerability and Universal Themes Diane Warren's songwriting brilliance lies in her ability to tap into universal emotions and create songs that resonate with a wide range of listeners. Explore themes of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery to connect with your audience on a personal level.

Michael Jackson (7 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Push Boundaries and Embrace Artistic Innovation Michael Jackson's groundbreaking music and iconic dance moves revolutionized the industry. Embrace your unique creativity, experiment with different genres, and don't be afraid to challenge the status quo.

George Michael (7 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Balance Catchy Pop Hooks with Thoughtful Songwriting George Michael's music seamlessly blended infectious pop hooks with introspective and thought-provoking lyrics. Strive to find the perfect balance between creating catchy melodies and crafting meaningful songs.

Paul McCartney (7 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Embrace Collaborations and Experimentation Paul McCartney's collaborations, both within The Beatles and as a solo artist, allowed him to explore different musical styles and push his creative boundaries. Collaborate with other musicians, embrace new sounds, and constantly evolve as a songwriter.

Stevie Wonder (7 No. 1 Hits):

Lesson: Infuse Songs with Soulful Melodies and Meaningful Messages Stevie Wonder's soulful melodies and socially conscious lyrics have touched the hearts of millions. Use your music as a platform to address important issues and spread messages of love, unity, and positivity.

Prince (6 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Embrace Individuality and Fearlessly Express Yourself Prince's flamboyant style, unique persona, and fearless expression serve as a reminder to be true to yourself as a songwriter. Embrace your individuality, embrace your quirks, and let your true voice shine through your music.

Phil Collins (4 No. 1 Hits):

Lesson: Craft Powerful and Emotive Ballads Phil Collins' heartfelt ballads like "Against All Odds" and "Another Day in Paradise" demonstrate the impact of emotionally charged storytelling. Learn to evoke powerful emotions in your audience through poignant lyrics and heartfelt melodies.

Neil Diamond (4 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Focus on Memorable Hooks and Engaging Melodies Neil Diamond's knack for crafting catchy hooks and memorable melodies has made his songs timeless. Invest time in creating captivating melodies that hook your listeners and keep them coming back for more.

Paul Simon (4 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Master the Art of Storytelling Paul Simon's ability to weave captivating stories within his songs is a testament to the power of storytelling. Hone your storytelling skills, paint vivid imagery with your lyrics, and transport your audience into your musical world.

John Denver (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Celebrate Simplicity and Authenticity John Denver's heartfelt and down-to-earth approach resonated with audiences worldwide. Embrace simplicity, write from the heart, and let your authenticity shine through your music.

John Farrar (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Create Irresistible Pop Hooks John Farrar's contributions to hits like "You're the One That I Want" demonstrate the power of crafting irresistible pop hooks. Focus on creating hooks that stick in the minds of your listeners and make your songs memorable.

Per Gessle (of Roxette) (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Craft Infectious Pop Hits with Memorable Hooks Per Gessle's ability to create catchy and infectious pop hits like "The Look," "It Must Have Been Love," and "Joyride" demonstrates the power of crafting memorable hooks that resonate with listeners. Focus on creating hooks that captivate your audience and make your songs instantly recognizable.

Billy Joel (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Embrace Versatility and Musical Storytelling Billy Joel's diverse catalog of hits, including "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Tell Her About It," and "We Didn't Start the Fire," showcases his ability to tackle different genres and tell compelling stories through his music. Explore different musical styles and use your songs to tell captivating narratives.

Richard Marx (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Craft Powerful Ballads with Emotional Impact Richard Marx's heartfelt ballads like "Hold On to the Nights," "Satisfied," and "Right Here Waiting" resonate with listeners due to their emotional depth and powerful storytelling. Learn to write poignant and relatable ballads that connect with your audience on an emotional level.

Maurice Starr (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Create Pop Hits with Mass Appeal Maurice Starr's contributions to New Kids on the Block's No. 1 hits like "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)," "Hangin' Tough," and "Step By Step" exemplify his talent for creating pop hits with mass appeal. Focus on crafting songs that have broad appeal and can resonate with a wide range of listeners.

Sly Stone (3 No. 1 Hits): 

Lesson: Fuse Different Musical Styles to Create Unique Sounds Sly Stone's blend of funk, soul, and rock in songs like "Everyday People," "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)," and "Family Affair" showcases the power of combining different musical genres to create a unique and captivating sound. Experiment with various musical styles and embrace the freedom to create something fresh and innovative.


These 17 solo songwriters have left an indelible mark on the Billboard Hot 100 with their multiple No. 1 hits. Each one brings their unique style, songwriting approach, and musical vision to the table. By studying their work, budding songwriters can gain valuable insights into the art of crafting hit songs and find inspiration to embark on their own creative journeys.


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