SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — English singer Ellie Goulding’s electro-pop power ballad “Love Me Like You Do,” the soundtrack of the film “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which was nominated for this year’s Golden Globe (Best Original Song), and which is a strong contender for a Grammy (Best Song Written for Visual Media), was co-written by Indian American songwriter-producer Savan Kotecha.
Kotecha’s name might not sound very familiar, but the gazillion amazing pop tunes that he has written for the who’s who of the industry most definitely will.
One of those ultra-catchy numbers is “What Makes You Beautiful,” which launched the band One Direction into stardom. Since then, Kotecha has penned several songs for the English-Irish pop band, including “One Thing,” “Live While We’re Young,” “I Wish” and “Kiss You.”
He is also the man credited with writing Platinum-selling hits belted by Maroon 5 (“One More Night”), Jennifer Lopez (“First Love”), Justin Bieber (“Beauty and a Beat”), Carrie Underwood (“Inside Your Heaven”), Britney Spears (“I Wanna Go”), Enrique Iglesias (“Ring My Bells”), Ariana Grande (“Problem,” “Break Free,” “Love Me Harder”), Demi Lovato (“Cool for the Summer,” “Confident”), MKTO (“Forever Until Tomorrow”), Celine Dion (“Eyes on Me”), and the list goes on.
And that’s just a glimpse of this talented songwriter’s repertoire who has helped create some of pop music’s best moments.
“It’s been an amazing year, and I feel really lucky that a number of my songs have connected with the public,” Kotecha told India-West in an e-mail. “The Golden Globe nomination is especially exciting as it’s outside the music business and something new. Every year I can continue to do what I love, (which) is a blessing.”
The Texas native, who now has plenty of musical success stories, began pursuing songwriting as a career when he was a teenager.
“My earliest memory of a song is Diana Ross’ ‘Upside Down’ that my dad would listen to,” Kotecha recalled. “Also buying my first 12 inch vinyl, which was the ‘Thriller’ single I got from Kmart.”
The budding songwriter got a break in 1999 at the age of 21, when music publishing giant BMG took a chance on him and sent him to Sweden. It was also in Sweden that Kotecha was lucky enough to team up with star songwriter Max Martin, whose work with the Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Pink, N Sync, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears has had an influence over global pop that can’t be overstated (IW, Feb 4, 2014: http://bit.ly/1TxTehi).
Kotecha shares a co-writing credit with Martin on “Love Me Like You Do,” along with Tove Nilsson, Ali Payami and Ilya Salmanzadeh.
Talking about his musical collaborations, Kotecha said that he feels “confident” working with artists as big as Maroon 5 and Usher, but when it’s not a super star act, it’s hard to tell what will work, he said.
“You just have to do your best and hope that the song connects,” he told India-West.
Among his many creative credits, the 2016 Grammy nominee admits, some are not as successful as he had hoped.
“This past year, I had a song out called ‘Good Thing’ with Sage the Gemini and Nick Jonas. I really liked the song and felt it would’ve done better than it did, but it just goes to show you never know,” he noted.
Born to Indian immigrant parents, Kotecha admits that he is just not into Bollywood music but nevertheless doesn’t rule out the possibility of a future collaboration.
“But I’m very interested in one day finding the right project to fuse the world I’m in into the Bollywood world,” he said.
Having already worked with the best in the industry, Kotecha now has other plans.
“I feel now I’ve worked with most of the people I could’ve ever dreamed to work with,” he said. “Now it’s just about continuing those relationships and finding new artists who are the next big thing.”
And his advice to budding songwriters: “I think because nowadays we (songwriters) rely so much on top 40 radio, the songs need to be simple enough, but unique enough to catch people’s ears and keep their interest. Having a great title line always helps as well,” Kotecha told India-West.
The 58th annual Grammys will be presented live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.