Five songs you didn't know John Legend wrote
- Arusa Qureshi
- 11 May 2017
He's not just Chrissy Teigen's husband, you know
In recent years, Legend has gained an unprecedented amount of attention for his so-adorable-you-might-throw-up marriage to supermodel Chrissy Teigen. From their many PDA-filled red carpet moments to their romantic Instagram snaps, they're what many people have branded 'relationship goals'. But behind all that cutesy family stuff is a talented songwriter, whose many collaborations and award wins over the years have resulted in him becoming one of the most in-demand talents in the industry today.
As well as being the brains behind 'All of Me', also known as one of the most popular wedding songs of all time, John Legend has more than a few impressive writing credits on songs you might not expect.
Estelle, 'American Boy'
John Legend has featured on a number of Estelle songs over the years but in all his time with working with her, his contribution to 'American Boy' was probably the most important. As she explained in a 2008 interview with Blues and Soul: 'We were just messing about in the studio, joking around. And John [Legend] just said to me 'Why don't you write a song about meeting an American boy?' So I was like 'Well, that's pretty easy' – because I have a lot of male friends out there in New York. And I unwittingly ended up creating a new ladies' anthem!' The song was produced by will.i.am, who also gets a writing credit alongside Estelle herself, John Legend and Kanye West. From its disco-funk beat to Estelle's soulful vocals, 'American Boy' is a pop/R&B classic that has firmly planted itself in every noughties playlist ever created.
Janet Jackson, 'I Want You'
Despite the blacklisting of Janet Jackson's singles and music videos worldwide in 2004, which occurred as a result of that notorious Super Bowl Halftime Show wardrobe malfunction, 'I Want You' still received mostly positive reviews, going on to become a top 40 hit. Co-written by John Legend, the song is a throwback to Motown era pop, which at the time was a fairly new move for Jackson. It's notable for being one of Legend's earliest credits, as well as featuring Kanye West as producer, who at the time had just released The College Dropout.
Scissor Sisters, 'Baby Come Home'
First question: Where did the Scissor Sisters go? Second question: how did they manage to get John Legend involved with this (pretty terrible) song? 'Baby Come Home' is a playful ditty about a lover that stays out too late and it's very typical of the group's early disco-influenced stuff. According to Discogs, Legend also contributed his piano skills to the song, which, let's be honest, is the best part.
When you think of Fergie, you probably don't immediately think power ballad. But 'Finally', the closing track on her debut studio album, The Dutchess, is a pleasant surprise, with dramatic Broadway style composition courtesy of John Legend, Stefanie Ridel and Fergie herself. It's a far cry from the dance/pop/R&B of tracks like 'Fergalicious' and 'London Bridge' but the instrumentation and production (which Legend was also partly responsible for) does wonders for Fergie's voice. If you were unsure of her vocal talents before, listen to this song and prepare to be blown away.
David Guetta, 'Listen'
A common thread is appearing here; John Legend seems to have a knack for making songs better. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the generally appalling 'Listen' by David Guetta, from the French DJ's sixth studio album. Guetta was keen to reinvent himself and step away from his usual EDM for more classical music and piano ballads, which is where Legend comes in. As well as co-writing the song, he provided vocals, which to be honest, is the only thing that saves it.
John Legend's Darkness and Light UK arena tour arrives kicks off in Glasgow Fri 8 Sep. Tickets on sale now.