…and contrast the American icon with the Swedish pop star:

Martin also elaborates on the benefits of keeping out of the spotlight, unlike most of the other names atop Billboard’s hits list (“My life is so much easier without the attention. I meet people who have so many problems related to that kind of stuff”). And then, the most experienced music-maker of the century makes a cultural comment on the pace of music in general:

Dagens Industri: How has the very structure of a pop song changed during the 20 years you’ve been working?

Max Martin: It keeps changing all the time. We’ve just made it out from the marshlands of EDM. Nothing wrong about EDM, great songs came out of it, but there was a period when everything had to have a pace of 128 bpm and be DJ-related… But back to your question: I recently re-watched an old movie that I used to like when it came out. Now that I watched it over, I felt the movie’s tempo. It all felt a bit slow. They showed the whole trip to the airport. Today it’s more, “Boom!” and you’re at the airport.

The same thing has happened to pop music. There’s less downtime. Pop music follows the evolution of society in general: Everything moves faster. Intros have gotten shorter.

While pop music is known to be undyingly repetitive, speed (whether tempo, length, the frequency of hooks and repeated lyrics coming at you within the span of a particular song) does seem to be the one thing that can be counted on to vary, with time. You can hear what Martin means in his own works: Just compare the simple rhythmic catchiness of Britney’s “Baby One More Time” from 1998 to Ariana Grande’s Martin-produced 2016 hit ”Into You”—a song so complex that its intricacies have warranted a 50-minute podcast dissection.

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