Which artists have written or co-written more hit songs for other artists or bands than they have for themselves?
Written by Cedric Lucas on 21 August 2022
When she was a teenager, and still attending James Madison high school in Brooklyn, New York, Carole King was already selling songs to publishing companies throughout the city, while writing songs for her band Co-Sines and making demo albums with her schoolmate Paul Simon. By the 1960s, King met her soon-to-be husband and co-writer Gerry Goffin at Queens College and went on to write some of the biggest hits throughout the 1960s, ’70s and a career spanning more than six decades.
King’s hit songs for other artists even bypass the enormity of her 1971 solo album Tapestry and hit “You’ve Got a Friend,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “So Far Away,” and “It’s Too Late.”
Tapestry received four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year.
Regarded as one of the most significant and influential musicians of all time, King is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the US, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1962 and 2005.
She has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. She has been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a performer and songwriter. She is the recipient of the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first woman to be so honoured.
Kicking off the 1960s, King earned her first No. 1 hit as a songwriter with The Shirelles’ hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. King later composed Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” along with Goffin and producer Jerry Wexler.
Throughout the 1960s, alone, King wrote smash after smash hit cross-genre, from doo-wop and pop, R&B, soul and rock—and even a few songs The Beatles wanted to cover (“Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Chains”).
Select songs written or co-written by Carole King:
• “The Loco-Motion,” Little Eva (1962) The song is notable for appearing in the American Top 3 thrice, each time in a different decade: in 1962 by the American pop singer Little Eva (U.S. No. 1); in 1974 by the American band Grand Funk Railroad (also U.S. No. 1); and in 1988 by the Australian singer Kylie
• Take Good Care Of My Baby,” Bobby Vee (1961) No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in September 1961
• “Crying In the Rain,” The Everly Brothers (1962) No. 6 on the U.S. Pop charts
• “Up On The Roof,” The Drifters (1963) No. 5 in the U.S. on the Pop Singles chart and No. 4 on the R&B singles chart
• “One Fine Day,” The Chiffons (1963) Top five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1980, King covered it herself and charted at #12 on the Hot 100 with her version
• “I’m Into Something Good,” Herman’s Hermits (1964) was No. 1 in the UK and even entered the U.S. charts at No. 42. King revealed that the song was inspired by The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. “I make no bones about it,” said King. “That song was influenced by Brian’s music”
• “Oh No Not My Baby,” Maxine Brown (1964) Covered by everyone from Cher to Aretha Franklin, Linda Rondstadt, and Dusty Springfield. In 1964, the reached No. 24 on the pop chart for R&B singer Maxine Brown
• “Pleasant Valley Sunday” Peaked at No. 3 for The Monkees
• “You’ve Got a Friend” was a No. 1 hit for James Taylor in 1971 and a Top 40 hit for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway that same year
• Barbra Streisand had a top 40 hit in 1972 with “Where You Lead” twice – by itself and as part of a live medley with “Sweet Inspiration”
• Helen Reddy covered two Carole King penned tunes: the first was “No Sad Song” in 1971 (number 62); the second was “I Can’t Hear You No More” in 1976, combined with “Music Is My Life” to reach number 29
• The Carpenters recorded King’s “It’s Going to Take Some Time” in 1972, it reached number 12 on the Billboard charts
• Martika had a number 25 hit in 1989 with her version of “I Feel the Earth Move”
• “It’s Too Late” reappeared on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1995 by Gloria Estefan
• Linda Ronstadt recorded a new version of “Oh No Not My Baby” in 1993, reaching number 35 on the AC Chart the next year
• Celine Dion recorded King’s song “The Reason” on her 1997 album Let’s Talk About Love with Carole King singing backup. The remake was certified by Diamond in France.
• “Where You Lead” became the title song of the TV show Gilmore Girls.