New Yorker article – “The Song Machine”

Rihanna's 2011 album, Talk that Talk

Ever wonder how a multi-platinum pop single gets made? In the current issue of the New Yorker, writer John Seabrook spends some time observing the creative team behind Rihanna’s biggest singles – a group that includes production duo Stargate, the two Norwegian guys who write the beats and chord progressions, and singer Ester Dean, who writes the “top line” vocal melodies.

As soon as I finished reading the article, I had to jump on You Tube and search for one of Dean’s original demos on You Tube. For instance, it’s interesting to compare her rough, raspy version of “Rude Boy” with the slicker Rihanna hit.

When Dean spoke in the article about wanting to pursue her own singing career, I couldn’t help but think of the wonderful Allison Anders film, Grace of my Heart. It stars Illeanna Douglas as a Brill Building-era songwriter who has a knack for writing hits for other people, but wants nothing more than to make her own big artistic statement someday. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend seeking it out on iTunes or Netflix.


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