The artists you’re about to read about have written some amazing tunes. But you’re always jealous of what someone else has got. We quizzed artists on the songs they wish they’d written – read on to find out about the tracks Metronomy, Warpaint, Suede, and many others, would love to have penned.
These artists have written some amazing tunes, but here are the songs by other musicians they wish they'd penned, starting with Joe Mount of Metronomy who picked Hold On, We’re Going Home by Drake. "It’s going to be a wedding party classic. It just puts people like me and Justin Timberlake to shame when a rapper comes out with the best R'n'B song of the last 10 years."
Emily Kokal, Warpaint
I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton
"Her version of that song gives me goosebumps; she’s so emotional and fragile and so beautiful and sweet. I heard that song was written for her manager when she was breaking up with him. Her voice just makes me want to cry."
Annie Clark, St Vincent
Maybe Your Baby – Stevie Wonder
"The groove is impeccable. It wouldn’t fit well into my repetoire though – it would be horrible! I wouldn’t be able to lock the gospel choirs in the song. I could hit the notes, I could practice and do the licks, but it would be such a fucking bad look. It would be corny if I covered it, but it’s such a good song".
Anton Newcombe, Brian Jonestown Massarce
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – Bob Dylan
"There are so many words - the way they’re tied together is amazing. It paints a picture that you can interpret, with plenty of points of reference to look up quotes and authors to think about. You can try and work out what he’s trying to communicate, if anything, and hidden meanings, if any."
Jamie Reynolds, Klaxons
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
"It’s totally ingrained into every inch of my body. Deep down I wish I’d written a masterpiece. I was looking through my music collection and thought, ‘of course I wish I’d written Ziggy Stardust’."
Alexis Taylor, Hot Chip
Trudy Dies – Palace
"It’s so simple in terms of chords, but so affecting and unusual as a whole song and sound. Royal Trux produced and Liam ‘Plush’ Hayes played mellotron on it. All the greats in one room!"
Machine Gun – Jimi Hendrix
"The psychedelic era of guitar playing still fascinates me, and Jimi was obviously front and centre of that. He seemed to be living at the furthest limits of his mind, and I think for an artist that’s the holy grail. This song shows that completely."
Strawberry Letter 23 – Shuggie Otis
"This is the song I’d pick, musically speaking, because I just love the vibe of it, the guitar shreds. Lyrically it’d be Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John – that song’s a tearjerker."
Jono Ma, Jagwar Ma
Cold Sweat – James Brown
"Tarzan Boy by Baltimora because it’s had over 25 million views on YouTube… no, seriously though, Cold Sweat by James Brown. Why? It doesn’t need an explanation, it’s just perfect."
Kevin Parker, Tame Impala
September – Earth, Wind & Fire
"It’s super-groovy party vibes. If you had a song like that in your arsenal, you could just bust it out and it would be instant good times. It would be like a secret weapon – a button you could push. If you were playing a gig and it was super cold, you could start playing that."
In Every Dream Home A Heartache – Roxy Music
"It’s original and unconventional and the lyric is superb. I have no real interest in how people write songs though – we’re all different. I’m as interested as anyone is in how people work, but I don’t analyse anyone else’s techniques."
Ian McCulloch, Echo & The Bunnymen
The Winner Takes It All – Abba
"It’s incredible that Bjorn Ulvaeus wrote it, knowing what his missus [Agnetha Faltskog] was going through because of him, especially when he was the ugliest cunt in the world. He sees it from the woman’s point of view so well".
Tom Fleming, Wild Beasts
My Sister Said – Angels Of Light
"Michael Gira from Swans has a side project called Angels of Light. This is a breathtaking song; it’s brutally simple and it’s crushing. It has so much emotional weight while saying very little but being really catchy. It’s essentially him with an acoustic guitar. It’s really sparse, but it’s absolutely gorgeous."
Under The Milky Way – The Church
"From that mysterious song title onwards, this is incredible. It sounds so simple, which I think could be a lesson for my own songwriting. So often it’s the songs that have just two or three chords that become your best-loved songs".
Jimi Goodwin, Doves
Promised Land – Johnny Allen
"Chuck Berry wrote the original, which is simply two-and-a-half minutes of joy. I’ve chosen Johnny’s version because of his rip-roaring accordion solo, which is basically the chorus hook. Chuck arguably invented rock’n’roll and the way he tells a story in a song is perfect."
Mark Foster, Foster The People
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
"I think this is the greatest song ever written. It’s so perfectly simple and so deeply profound, lyrically and musically. It takes so many risks and yet you understand it on the first listen. It’s a song that a five year old can understand, but it can also make a grown man weep."
Life On Mars? – David Bowie
"Even listening to it now it feels so simple and effortless. In many ways it’s bonkers, but it also seems to make perfect sense. That’s the beauty of songwriting. I always try and make my chorus make sense and my verses not make sense, but when I listen to Life On Mars, the chorus doesn’t really make much sense but the verses make perfect sense."
Anything by Cole Porter
"Cole Porter and Irving Berlin are just the best. Songs by Chuck Berry, Otis Redding and Hank Williams I love too. Or anything Holland-Dozier-Holland did for The Supremes."
Wonderful Life – The Felice Brothers
"To me, it’s a nearly perfect song – the lyrics, the melody, the mood it evokes in me. I’m good friends with them, and Ian Felice, the main songwriter, did the cover artwork for my new album. Before he wrote songs he was an amazing oil painter. I’ve always liked his artwork and let me use a painting of his."
Hot Pants – James Brown
"I so wish I had written every song I love. Every one of Beethoven’s symphonies. Mozart. Sergei Prokofiev, the lot. And whenever I think about lyrics, I think there’s no better lyric in the world than 'Thinking of losing that funky feeling? Don’t' [from James Brown’s Hot Pants]. It reminds me of James Joyce."
Supersonic – Oasis
"To be a 14-year-old-kid in central London when that came out was pretty special. Even though it was all about Manchester, it’s about getting out of where you’re from and becoming something. That song will stand the test of time."
Brett Anderson, Suede
Vincent – Don McLean
"The melody is beautiful and the lyrics are just so perfect: ‘The silver thorn of bloody rose/Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow’. It gives me a shiver just thinking about it. It’s so sad and beautiful and manages to find that bittersweet holy grail the songwriter is always looking for."
Nutbush City Limits – Ike & Tina Turner
"It’s a tune that has the years in it. I heard it a couple of years ago, and just loved everything about it. The guitar and everything, it’s just cool as fuck, man."
I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
"You know how much money that song must have made? I’d have totally cleaned up if I wrote that song! Seriously though, I walk around my house for weeks at a time singing that shit. She’s super talented. It’s also the song I’d get a lap dance to."
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
"I’ve never seen this song played to a woman who didn’t melt, and for me, that’s an art in itself. The words are perfect, the production is great, the song is timeless and it makes people feel good. It’s everything I strive for when I’m making a song."
James Bagshaw, Temples
Life On Mars? – David Bowie
"It’s really catchy, but in a really unconventional way. There’s one bit where he hits a really high note and it’s so bold; I don’t think I could ever be that bold until I really learn to sing. In a few years, a few decades, maybe… it’s very clever without being pretentious, which is the perfect mix for a musician."
Ice-T isn't falling for this game. He wishes he'd written, erm, 'Colors' by Ice-T. "I never listen to someone else’s and think ‘Damn, I wish that was my song!’".