Pop tunesmiths are a baker's dozen. After the late-90s surge of uber song doctors such as Desmond Child and Diane Warren (known for that Titanic song), Justin Timberlake found his "SexyBack" and his own writing voice following years of whistling Max Martin dixie. Heck, even Britney Spears penned tunes from her Britney effort. (This year's tepid train wreck "Blackout" features a pitiful two songs co-written by the popstar.)

But what goes around comes around. A mere glance at the contemporary pop offerings finds only a chapbook of singer-songwriters. Ms. Warren's cheeseball balladry has been replaced by the granular cock-rock of Brian Howes, the tousled haired mastermind behind Hinder and Daughtry. Meanwhile, Mr. Martin's synthy bubblegum pop has been chomped to bits in favor of Butch Walker's sneery punk riffs. But out of the bandaged riffraff, Starpulse managed to find a breezy mélange of self-penned pop stars who craft mean hooks all of their own.


The Skinny: Emo for Jesus? Despite fronting an oxymoronic genre, this feisty suburban-rock foursome plucks killer chords over expansive vocal lines with lead singer Hayley Williams channeling Pat Benatar as told by Kelly Clarkson.

Current Hit: With spidery guitar riffs and Williams' scorched earth vocals, "Misery Business" is taking the little-band-that-could to a pop station near you.

Sample lyric: "To steal it all away from you now/ But God does it feels so good/ 'Cause I got him where I want him now/ And if you could then you know you would"

Why You Should Listen to Them Over Avril Lavigne: Hey, hey, yeah, yeah. Avril don't write her songs. Paramore's got some God ones.
Plain White T's

The Skinny: The former by-the-numbers Chicago pop-punk band Disneyifed their image to the VH-1 You Oughta Know masses on their Hollywood Records debut, Every Second Counts. Filled with anthemic hooks and John Mayer bedroom pop, album single "Hey There Delilah" made a turtle ascent to the top of the charts.

Current Hit: If we have to hear that god forsaken "Hey There Delilah" song again, we might ban every woman-done-me-wrong motif until James Blunt's next album.

Sample Lyric: "I will write you a song/ That's how you'll know that my love is still strong/ I will write you a song/ And you'll know from this song that I just can't go on without you"

Why You Should Listen to Them Over James Blunt: Frontman Tom Higgenson's Hallmark card pop isn't mired in Blunt's rock star douchebaggery.
Keri Hilson

The Skinny: Call her the Carole King of crunk. A founding member of the ATL songwriter's collective, The Clutch, which amounts to a bass-thumpin' Brill Building, Hilson hitched her smooth vocals to Timbaland's grammatically challenged No. 1 smash, "The Way I Are."

Current Hit: Besides the Timbaland track and a slew of other ghostwritten tunes, Hilson's getting ready for a solo career with the Mosley Music Group.

Story by Joey Hood
Starpulse.com contributing writer