Rihanna’s Songwriting Secret Weapon Doesn’t Want to Be Famous

Rihanna wearing a crown


Several of Rihanna’s most impactful songs were co-written by the same movie star. The movie star in question has no interest in becoming famous for her songwriting.

Several of Rihanna‘s most impactful songs were co-written by the same movie star. The movie star in question has no interest in becoming famous for her songwriting. Here’s a look at the musical genius who wrote hits for several of the most essential divas of our time.

Several Rihanna songs were written be an actor from the ‘Pitch Perfect’ movies

Ester Dean is a songwriter who has written hits for megastars like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Selena Gomez, and Katy Perry. She wrote more hits for Rihanna than anyone else. The Rihanna singles she wrote include “Rude Boy,” “What’s My Name?,” “S&M,” “You da One,” and “Where Have You Been.” Dean is also a singer in her own right, having released some songs and played a singer in the Pitch Perfect movies.

During a 2015 interview with Time, Dean was asked if she writes her songs with specific artists in mind. “I’ve always written songs for myself,” she said. “I’ve never started writing for other people unless somebody literally puts me in the studio for Rihanna. I’m just writing what I feel and my own story. Nicki and I clicked because I was writing songs about love in my life, and we [felt] connected through the same thing. That’s how songs work — it’s all about if that person is living the same truth as you.”

Ester Dean said her songs are ‘part of a machine’

Dean was asked if it was strange that fans were familiar with her through her appearances in the Pitch Perfect movies but not through the numerous hit songs she penned. “I’m just part of a machine,” she explained. It’s like a stylist or a make-up artist for Rihanna. 

“Her brand is her brand because she knows how to pick a song, she knows how to do a show. I’m a part of the success,” Dean added. “But when they see me, I love that they know me for me. I don’t want them to know me for a Rihanna song. It wouldn’t mean anything.”

There’s an interesting connection between Dean’s songwriting and her role in the original Pitch Perfect. Dean performed “S&M” in the film. It’s unlikely that many fans of the film were aware that they were watching the co-writer of “S&M” cover the song before their eyes. The choice to have Dean sing “S&M” almost feels like an inside joke, whether it was intended that way or not. 

3 Ester Dean tunes became No. 1 hits for Rihanna

So far, three of the songs Dean wrote for Rihanna have become No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Rude Boy,” “What’s My Name?,” and “S&M.” “Rude Boy” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks, “What’s My Name?” for one week, and “S&M” for one week.

“Rude Boy” appeared on Rihanna’s darkest album Rated R. That album reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 45 weeks. “What’s My Name?” and “S&M” appeared on the album Loud. That record reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and spent a total of 78 weeks on the chart.

Dean is one of the vital behind-the-scenes people in Rihanna’s career, and she’s perfectly happy about that.

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