Monday, July 23, 2007
Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK - Of all the names in music, Chantal Kreviazuk may be the least likely to appear in a headline. Though she recently released her own album, the songwriter usually stays behind the scenes to pen hits with artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne.
But earlier this month, Kreviazuk rocked the pop music world by suggesting that Lavigne was a collaborator in name only. Although she quickly retracted her comments and others defended Lavigne, the flap illuminated a long-standing fraud that has become more prevalent than ever: "singer-songwriters" who do much less songwriting than their publicists would have you believe.
"It's crazy!" exclaimed Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren, who has written for artists such as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mary J. Blige. "How can someone look in the mirror and know they didn't do something and their name is on it? For money? For credit? It's a lie."
This being the music industry, money is of course a factor, since the writers of hit songs can earn more than the singer over the long term. But today's singers also press for writing credit because it gives them more of a cachet, presenting them as more of a "real artist" in comparison with a star who doesn't write a note.
"It's a practice that's been going on but now it's really prevalent in every situation," says songwriter Adonis Shropshire, who helped pen the hit "My Boo" for Alicia Keys and Usher, and has worked with Chris Brown, Ciara and others.
Shropshire says that many artists will only allow songwriters to work on an album in return for song credit, and "if they do write, they ask for more publishing than they honestly contributed ... it is the way it is."
The practice has been prevalent for decades. Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, maneuvered to give the King songwriting credits on early hits like "Love Me Tender" even though he never wrote a word. James Brown was sued by an associate over song credits. Lauryn Hill settled a lawsuit by a group that claimed she improperly took sole production and writing credit on her Grammy-winning album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." And Diddy seemed to acknowledge claims that he wasn't really writing his raps in the "Bad Boys for Life" song with the brushoff line: "Don't worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!""