Written By: Tyler Johnson – The Hit Songs You Know, by the Songwriters You May Not Know
The best music comes from a world where genres are limitless and all that matters is getting lost in the lyrics, melody, and instruments. Behind every song are the songwriters, and Tyler Johnson, this month’s featured writer, has one of the most eclectic and magical catalogs there is. Here, we spotlight 10 of the songs that he has written and produced.
“Where The Heart Is”, Brett Eldredge (Sunday Drive)
The opener on Brett Eldredge’s latest record, Sunday Drive, is one that is met with such a feeling of wonder and liveliness. “In a world that’s gone cold, show me where the heart is,” reads the chorus. Without even reading the song credits, lyrically, it sounds like a Tyler Johnson song – there are multiple layers of hope and vulnerability spread throughout the track.
“People Need A Melody”, The Head and the Heart (Living Mirage)
The Americana hit by the Seattle natives The Head and the Heart is a gorgeous, hopeful tune about music being what people need in hard times. “People need a melody to open their eyes/To a memory frozen in time.” Tyler Johnson co-wrote and produced the track, as well the entire Living Mirage album, and he did a spectacular job at making it sound radio-friendly and personal at the same time.
“Diane”, Cam (The Otherside)
The lead single from Cam’s newest album, The Otherside, was the outstanding “Diane”, a song written from the other woman’s perspective. “It’s kind of like she’s Jolene, but she wanted to come at it from the other side, and focus on the idea that this is an apology that a lot of people deserved that they never got,” Johnson told Billboard in an interview. Sonically, it’s an epic song that really focuses on the vocal delivery.
“Maybe You’re Right”, Miley Cyrus (Bangerz)
Perhaps one of the most influential pop records of the 2010s was Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz. Tyler Johnson, along with the incomparable Cam, co-wrote the deep cut “Maybe You’re Right” with Miley. Melodically, it is clear that both Tyler had a hand in writing it. In many of the pop songs he is a part of, he goes for these harmonic, soaring choruses.
“Shade”, Maren Morris (GIRL)
While never released as an official single, “Shade”, off Maren Morris’ latest record, became a fan-favorite after Morris performed it at the CMT Awards. Tyler Johnson had a hand in writing it, and similar to the Miley Cyrus cut, the melody and harmonies are distinct.
“Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)”, Keith Urban (Ripcord)
Johnson co-wrote and produced another major country artist’s album opener, and that artist is the three-time entertainer of the year Keith Urban. The jaunty track, which features upbeat pop drums and slick banjo is one that Johnson is proud of. “I love how that track sounds. It has a different sonic basis but Keith, as an artist, knew what he wanted and it comes across as authentic,” he told Sounds Like Nashville in an interview.
“Photograph”, Ed Sheeran (x)
Tyler Johnson didn’t actually write this major Ed Sheeran hit, but it’s one of the first songs that he helped engineer and produce and put him on the map. The four-minute-song is all about trying to preserve a relationship forever – making it stand the test of time, keeping the love ageless in a photograph.
“Two Ghosts”, Harry Styles (Harry Styles)
The second single from Harry Styles’ debut solo project, “Two Ghosts” is a stunningly sparse song about lovers who aren’t the same people they were. It’s country in the way Beck, Jeff Tweedy, or even Kacey Musgraves is – folksy with rock and pop undertones. Harry is known for experimenting genre-wise on his records, and country is a sound he dabbles in frequently. Tyler Johnson’s expertise in the Nashville sound definitely has influenced Harry’s own sound to make it a cohesively alternative country song.
“Burning House”, Cam (Untamed)
It’s hard for a ballad to work at country radio. But a woman in country releasing a ballad and going #1 is even rarer. It went on to be nominated for a GRAMMY. “Burning House”, which Tyler co-wrote/produced with Cam, is practically an acoustic track, with just vocals, guitar, and string arrangements. “There’s a weight to [this song]. Writing [it] was amazing and incredibly life-changing,” he told Sounds Like Nashville. It’s painted with intense imagery, and it’s the type of song to stop you in your tracks.
“Fine Line”, Harry Styles (Fine Line)
It’s hard to put into words the brilliant, yet simple song that is Fine Line, the closer on Harry Styles’ latest chart-topping LP. Tyler co-wrote and produced the song, and he did it flawlessly. Lyrically, it reads like a folk song. “We’ll be a fine line/We’ll be alright,” is repeated throughout the choruses, with verses of more intricate poetry throughout. It’s about how in life, one will never be 100% happy or 100% sad. We’ll walk the line between all those emotions, and it’s okay to feel. The bridge is absolutely epic as it builds up to a swell of trumpets, crashing drums, and an orchestral arrangement. It’s beautiful lyrically, but Tyler Johnson’s vision as a producer, sonically, speaks volumes on this song. It’s more than a song – it’s an experience.
To keep up with Tyler Johnson, you can find him on Instagram here.
To listen to some of Tyler Johnson’s discography, you can find the playlist here.
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