Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony take Scandinavia’s mighty pop empires into battle

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“Max Martin needs no introduction. The 45-year-old Swede has maintained an iron grip on the pop charts since the turn of the century, churning out everything from ‘…Baby One More Time’ and ‘I Want It That Way’ to ‘Shake It Off’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. His songs are saturated with hooks, combining the catchiest parts of Swedish dance-pop, arena rock, ‘90s R&B and millennial electronic music to define the sound of modern pop.

But Martin is not the only Scandinavian hitmaker ruling the charts from behind the scenes: for the last decade, Norwegian production duo Stargate has had dozens of top 10 singles, working from a similar formula as Martin but forging songs more apt for R&B-influenced singers like Rihanna, Ne-yo and Beyoncé. In the last few years you’ve heard Martin’s productions – think the hits of Taylor Swift’s 1989 – on the radio, in commercials and in stadiums; you’re more likely to hear Stargate’s work – including Tinashe’s ‘All Hands On Deck’ and Ty Dolla $ign’s ‘Drop That Kitty’ – in the club. And their different production styles are all over Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman and Fifth Harmony’s 7/27, albums that tell us plenty about both acts – and the state of pop music in 2016.”

Read more in FACT Magazine.

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