Sure, it’s easy to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a pop music website. The entire pop industry is built on songs about falling in love sung by attractive, covetable stars. Pop music gives couples “our song” and something to muffle the squeaky bed frame. But pop music is also a playground for the cold-hearted cynics scowling their way through this sappiest of holidays. And we’re here for them.
But instead of just doing another tired list of breakup songs, we’re highlighting professional breakups between artists and their producers (collaborations that, incidentally, are responsible for a fair share of breakup songs). Because an artistic relationship that results in pop music perfection is rare. When that ends, you can’t just take comfort in a pint of ice cream.
So below, we’ve eulogized 10 successful artist-producer teams that disintegrated because of diminishing returns, squabbles over creative control, alleged body-shaming or, in the case of Ke$ha and Dr. Luke, all three of those things. Happy Valentine’s Day!
1. Ke$ha & Dr. Luke
This one’s still in the process of crumbling, so you’re probably well aware of the details. Dr. Luke was one of the primary architects of Ke$ha’s hit debut album Animal and its successful follow-up EP Cannibal. But their winning partnership stalled a bit on the underwhelming Warrior, which sparked a fan petition to “free” Lady Dolla from the producer. Once the star entered rehab for an eating disorder in January, her mother claimed Dr. Luke was to blame, alleging that he body-shamed her (he denies these claims). It’s gonna be tough to rekindle the relationship after that.
2. Kelly Clarkson & Ryan Tedder
Kelly told CBS, “Beyonce’s album came out when my album was already being printed. No one’s gonna be sittin’ at home, thinking, ‘Man, Ryan Tedder gave Beyonce and Kelly the same track to write to.’ No, they’re just gonna be saying I ripped someone off. I called Ryan and said, ‘I don’t understand. Why would you do that?’”
Tedder rebuffed Clarkson’s claims, and in an interview with Idolator, he stated the following: “If I was going around and selling the same track to the biggest artists in the world, how long would my career last? It’s ludicrous. And she knows me well enough to know I’m not an idiot. I’m not the kinda guy who’s gonna bust my ass for 10 years to try and pull a fast one on Beyonce or Kelly.”
Whatever the case may be, while the pair never worked together again, “Already Gone” went on to sell nearly 2 million digital downloads. Maybe Kelly underestimated the public’s tolerance for repetition?