Jack Antonoff has co-written and produced several of the most popular pop records of the decade. He brings an innovative mix of classic and contemporary techniques to every track he lays hands on, and it pays off in the biggest way.
Antonoff has made a name for himself as a true talent, not just another shallow hit-maker. The difference between him and other big producers on the pop scene right now is that he maintains integrity in his work.
If you draw a parallel between Antonoff and other producers of hit pop records, such as Max Martin, the difference is evident. Max Martin has produced hits for Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, Taylor Swift, Usher, The Weeknd and pretty much everyone else under the glare of the pop culture spotlight. Martin knows how to create tracks that will get radio play, but there isn’t much depth to a lot of them; they tend to lack that unique quality that gets me excited about a song.
On Taylor Swift’s two most recent records, 1989 and Reputation, Antonoff has co-written and produced several songs. If you look at the credits on these tracks you will see that the more basic, disappointing tracks like “Shake It Off” and “…Ready For It?” were written by Swift with the aid of Martin, while the ‘80s infused music that perfectly complements Swift’s lyrics on “I Wish You Would” was written by Antonoff. “Getaway Car,” “Call It What You Want” and “New Year’s Day,” the highlights of Reputation, were co-written by Antonoff, and the minimalist end of his style is showcased there.
Less auto-tune and bass drops and more focus on the talent of the artist Antonoff is working with show through on his tracks. When writing with Swift, he highlights her lyrical talent. On St. Vincent’s new record Masseduction, Antonoff plays up her softer side rather than showcasing her instrumental ability, because that would have been predictable. He makes her songs come to life by doing so. Every note sounds so genuine, accompanied by St. Vincent’s most personal lyrics yet. His production on Masseduction is possibly his most progressive work yet, but the key is that it is not overdone, like the tragic production on most chart-topping songs.
Perhaps Antonoff’s most important endeavor in recent years is his work on Lorde’s sophomore album, Melodrama. On Lorde’s debut, Pure Heroine, she showed off her raw talent as a writer and a big voice, when she was a 16-year-old nobody from New Zealand. What Antonoff did on Melodrama, was highlight Lorde’s newfound maturity. The production that frames these coming-of-age, self-aware, shattering and coming back to life stories makes the difference between a good record and a great one. It’s safe to say that no matter how gifted Lorde is, without Antonoff’s aid, she would not have found the structure to have arguably the best record of 2017.
In Antonoff’s own band, Bleachers, he stays on the indie end of the spectrum, but utilizes the same thought-provoking type of production. It’s the sort of music you’d like to hear at the gym, just catchy enough to perk you up, but not pop enough to be annoying.
Antonoff is far from a pop poster child, but has managed to put out some of the most successful mainstream music of the decade. Writers, producers and artists like him are what keeps my hope alive for the future of the music industry.
Halle Weber is a sophomore studying journalism with a focus in news and information at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Are you familiar with Jack Antonoff? Let Halle know by tweeting at her @HalleWeber13.
Correction: A previous version of this report misstated the name of Lorde's debut album. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.