SAN LEANDRO, CA: Indian American songwriter-producer Savan Kotecha’s song in the film “Fifty Shades of Grey,” has been nominated for the Grammy award in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category. The 58th annual Grammys will be presented live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 15th.
The Texas native, who now has plenty of musical success stories, began pursuing songwriting as a career when he was a teenager. “My earliest memory of a song is Diana Ross’ ‘Upside Down’ that my dad would listen to,” Kotecha recalled. “Also buying my first 12 inch vinyl, which was the ‘Thriller’ single I got from Kmart.”
The budding songwriter got a break in 1999 at the age of 21, when music publishing giant BMG took a chance on him and sent him to Sweden. It was also in Sweden that Kotecha was lucky enough to team up with star songwriter Max Martin, whose work with the Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry, Pink, N Sync, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears has had an influence over global pop that can’t be overstated.
Kotecha’s name might not sound very familiar, but the gazillion amazing pop tunes that he has written for the who’s who of the industry most definitely will. One of those ultra-catchy numbers is “What Makes You Beautiful,” which launched the band One Direction into stardom. Since then, Kotecha has penned several songs for the English-Irish pop band, including “One Thing,” “Live While We’re Young,” “I Wish” and “Kiss You.”
Kotecha has written Platinum-selling hit songs for artists like Justin Bieber (“Beauty and a Beat”), Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 (“One More Night”), Britney Spears (“If U Seek Amy”), Usher (“Scream,” “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love”), Demi Lovato, Celine Dion, Westlife and many others — including most notably the pop music phenomenon One Direction, the British boy band whose 2011 debut album, “Up All Night,” sold more than 4.5 million copies. They are embarking on a world tour this year.
Kotecha first popped up on this writer’s radar as a songwriter and vocal coach for One Direction, for whom he is credited as a writer on such songs as “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Up All Night,” “One Thing,” “I Wish” and “Save You Tonight.”
When 1D’s second album, “Take Me Home,” was released in 2012, it topped the charts in more than 35 countries, and was the fourth best-selling album of 2012, selling 4.4 million units. Kotecha is credited as a writer on that album’s singles “Live While We’re Young” (which went Platinum and became YouTube’s most-viewed video debut ever), “Kiss You,” “Last First Kiss,” “Heart Attack,” “Change My Mind” and “Back for You.” Their latest album, “Midnight Memories,” features another Kotecha composition, “Happily.” Kotecha even appears in a scene in the band’s 2013 3D concert movie “One Direction: This Is Us.”
“It’s been an amazing year, and I feel really lucky that a number of my songs have connected with the public,” Kotecha said. “The Golden Globe nomination is especially exciting as it’s outside the music business and something new. Every year I can continue to do what I love, (which) is a blessing.”
Kotecha shares a co-writing credit with Martin on “Love Me Like You Do,” along with Tove Nilsson, Ali Payami and Ilya Salmanzadeh. Talking about his musical collaborations, Kotecha said that he feels “confident” working with artists as big as Maroon 5 and Usher, but when it’s not a super star act, it’s hard to tell what will work, he said.
Born to Indian immigrant parents, Kotecha admits that he is just not into Bollywood music but nevertheless doesn’t rule out the possibility of a future collaboration. “But I’m very interested in one day finding the right project to fuse the world I’m in into the Bollywood world,” he said. Having already worked with the best in the industry, Kotecha now has other plans.
“I feel now I’ve worked with most of the people I could’ve ever dreamed to work with,” he said. “Now it’s just about continuing those relationships and finding new artists who are the next big thing.”