Max Martin was the millennial torch-bearer to Sweden’s continual reign over saccharine, ridiculously catchy pop gems. For the first time on Friday Mixtape, we’re splitting the producer’s work into two parts, because Max Martin is one of the most prolific and successful pop producers for the last two decades. First, we’ll look at his look from 1994 through to 2000.
Max Martin (a.k.a. Martin Sandberg) grew up in the suburbs of Stockholm in the early 70s. His first successful musical venture was a glam metal band called It’s Alive!, which led him to drop out of high school and tour Europe in the early 90s. Martin began to indulge a secret love of pop music through collaboration with It’s Alive!’s record label boss Denniz Pop. Denniz, best known for producing Ace Of Base’s breakthrough album The Sign, soon became Martin’s mentor, and gave him the name “Max Martin” because it seemed to “pop” more than Martin Sandberg.
Denniz Pop hired Max Martin as an in-house songwriter and producer in 1992, and Martin learned the ropes of the music industry while working alongside Pop at Cheiron Records. This gave Max the opportunity to work on Ace Of Base’s second album, and perhaps most importantly, led to a huge international breakthrough when the duo co-wrote and co-produced the first two albums by The Backstreet Boys. Martin also co-wrote and co-produced “Show Me Love,” the hit that thrust fellow Swede Robyn into the limelight.
In 1998, Denniz Pop died of cancer. Without his mentor at his side, Max Martin continued to carve out the sound of the new wave of boybands and teen pop. Producing for acts like *NSYNC and 5ive, Max Martin proved that his dominance on the airwaves wasn’t a fluke. A new partnership with songwriter and producer Rami Yacoub proved to be a successful union, as the pair’s first collaboration was a breakthrough hit for Britney Spears (“…Baby One More Time”) that would eventually become one of the highest selling singles of all time, moving over 9 million copies to date.
Max Martin had eight Top 10 hits between 1994 and 2000, so we’d better pause there, and save his post-millennial output for next week.
To be continued…