Max Martin’s 20 #1 Singles, From “…Baby One More Time” To “Bad Blood”: Revisited, Reviewed & Ranked
20. “One More Night” Artist: Maroon 5 Year: 2012 Stay At #1: 9 weeks Max Martin’s Involvement: Co-wrote, co-produced
Let’s be honest here – Maroon 5 have mastered the perfect pop recipe. And their 2012 single “One More Night” only grazes the tip of the iceberg. Max Martin, Shellback and Savan Kotecha co-produced and co-wrote the track, creating a reggae-influenced pop melody that made it a sure-fire hit. Perhaps it was an attempt to make lyrics like “Try to tell you no, but my body keeps on telling you yes / try to tell you stop, but your lipstick got me so out of breath” slightly more digestible? Because, after 2002 album Songs About Jane, this LA troupe catapulted straight into the commercially viable stratosphere, and unfortunately never looked back. — RACHEL SONIS
19. “Roar” Artist: Katy Perry Year: 2013 Stay At #1: 2 weeks Max Martin’s Involvement: Co-wrote, co-produced
After Katy Perry conquered the world like a sexy game of Candyland, Katy Kats and Kasual Kittens alike waited, titillated, for her next single. Although it topped the charts, “Roar” failed to snatch the world’s baby-blue wig — mostly because it made a woman famous for her whipped-cream-squirting bra seem…boring.
Expertly constructed but definitely not anyone’s all-time favorite, “Roar” now rules the realms where pleasantly forgettable songs hold sway: right this very moment somewhere in the world, it’s inspired a receptionist to turn up the Lite-FM and remark, “I just love that Tracy Perry!” — JONATHAN RIGGS
18. “Blank Space” Artist: Taylor Swift Year: 2014 Stay At #1: 7 weeks Max Martin’s Involvement: Co-wrote, co-produced
For audible evidence of how nuanced Max Martin’s always-flawless pop music production has become, check out that weird pen-clicky sound effect in “Blank Space.” Odd, unexpected and utterly perfect, it sets up Taylor Swift’s ultra-meta “I’ll write your name” sharp enough to draw blood.
It’s just one of a thousand details that reflect Martin and Swift’s remarkable precision. Eerie, spare and smart, “Blank Space” is a song only they could create. That effect we mentioned earlier? It’s not a pen at all: it’s the sound of the pop game’s lonely Starbucks lovers, getting SCALPED. — JONATHAN RIGGS
17. “Part Of Me” Artist: Katy Perry Year: 2012 Stay At #1: 1 week Max Martin’s Involvement: Co-wrote, co-produced
Out of Katy Perry’s many songs on self-empowerment, her 2012 single “Part Of Me” is by far the most striking. Sure, “Firework” swept the nation two years prior, and the world hadn’t heard “Roar” just yet. But it was something about this song’s free-spirited dance-pop production (courtesy of Max Martin and Dr. Luke) and Katy’s cutting vocals that made it stick.
Let’s also take a moment to remember the track’s music video, where Katy, after discovering her boyfriend’s infidelity, enlists in the Marine Corps. It just goes to show that Katy’s “girl power” formula is, well, bulletproof. — RACHEL SONIS
16. “Bad Blood” Artist: Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar Year: 2015 Stay At #1: 1 week (so far) Max Martin’s Involvement: Co-wrote, co-produced
Too often, pop music skews overly sweet or overly sexy. There just aren’t enough rated-R-for-revenge anthems on the radio, despite the best efforts of the Kidz Bop Kids.
“Bad Blood” is a mean-spirited marvel that funnels the angry “BABE!” punchiness of *NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna Be Me” through Taylor Swift’s poison pen. In other words, it’s a snarling number that we hope began life as a “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes, bitch!” voicemail on Katy Perry’s answering machine. FINISH HER!!!! — JONATHAN RIGGS