The coveted Songwriters Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductees were announced on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday, Jan. 16.
Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Eurythmics, Rick Nowels, The Neptunes, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Steve Miller will be celebrated for their legendary contributions in the art form of songwriting on Thursday, June 11, in New York City.
Last year’s class included a plethora of influential writers behind the soundtracks to many lives like Dallas Austin, Jack Tempchin and most notably Missy Elliott, who became the first female rapper to be inducted.
After a historic 2019 thanks to Elliott, many were looking forward to see who was next. A good portion of the 2020 honorees’ inductions are long overdue due to their undeniable impact, but thankfully, we’re glad they are finally getting some well-deserved shine for their game-changing work behind the music.
With a total of 19 chart toppers on the Billboard Hot 100, Mariah Carey holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist, a female songwriter and a female producer. And 18 of those, not including her “MTV Unplugged” rendition of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” were either written or co-written by the Elusive Chanteuse herself. As Carey famously said, “Not everyone has that to their credit.”
As much of a stellar vocalist Carey is, she should be just as celebrated for her accomplishments as a songwriter, which is why the Hall of Fame is a major step in the right direction. From the inspirational balladry of “Hero” to the detailed storytelling of “The Roof,” Carey’s entire catalog proves her immense influence in all aspects of today’s popular music.
Interestingly enough, both Carey and The Neptunes have collaborated, which makes this class even more special—take a listen to “Say Somethin’” from 2005’s “The Emancipation of Mimi” album. Besides that connection, The Neptunes—Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams—are arguably one of the most influential production and songwriting duos in the modern era.
Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, Williams and Hugo acquired a total of twenty-four Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits, so it’s difficult to find a memorable song from the era that hasn’t been blessed by them. After all, they are the masterminds behind some of our beloved classics such as Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U,” and Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You” and plenty more, so it’s only right they’re getting their flowers now.
Apart of the British synth pop phenomenon, Eurythmics—Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart—released a slew of hit singles throughout the ‘80s including “Here Comes the Rain Again” and “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
On top of their massive career as a duo, both Lennox and Stewart have found solo success as well. Stewart has co-written and produced for Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor and Katy Perry. Lennox received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Into the West,” written for the “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” soundtrack on top of her multiple awards.
Another huge honoree is The Isley Brothers, who are among the few groups to have a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades with their first major hit, “Shout,” in 1959 to “Down Low” in 1996. Accolades aside, their music has been sampled a numerous amount of times in some of the most popular hip-hop songs—for instance, The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” famously samples “Between the Sheets.” With massive influence like that, The Isley Brothers represent the longevity plenty of artists dream of.
Most recently known for his work with Lana Del Rey, Rick Nowels has also written for Santana, John Legend, Jewel and most notably, Madonna—earning a credit for the hit “The Power of Goodbye” from 1998’s “Ray of Light.” Switching genres, Steve Miller, who has sold millions of records with The Steve Miller Band, is responsible for an assortment of rock hits such as “The Joker” and “Fly Like An Eagle.”
Lastly, as the very first Head of A&R at Motown, William “Mickey” Stevenson had a hand in writing everything from Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” to the Detroit Wheels’ “Devil With the Blue Dress On.” Not many can say they were a part of the “glory” years of Motown throughout the mid-1960s and Stevenson definitely had a big role behind the success of one of the most transformative eras in music history.
In their own ways, all of the 2020 inductees have contributed a massive amount of influence on the way we experience music and have continuously raised the bar for fellow artists and songwriters alike.
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.