Rami Yacoub is a name you don’t know that you know. Although you may have never heard of him before, chances are you’ve definitely heard his work on the radio countless times. The Swedish-Palestinian music producer is responsible for some of your favorite artist’s biggest hits over the last two decades. Cue: One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful, Ariana Grande’s One Last Time, and Shape of Your Heart by The Backstreet Boys, to name a few.
Born in Sweden, the artist first found his passion for music at the age of 13, when he joined a band in Stockholm as the bass player, and wrote most of their songs. His talent for songwriting didn’t go unnoticed – in 1998, he was approached by Grammy Award-winning producer Max Martin, who was looking for a new production partner. Yacoub’s first collaboration with Martin was “…Baby One More Time”, the song that ultimately catapulted Britney Spears’s career into the stratosphere. Today, the certified hitmaker, who has written for the likes of Nicki Minaj, Céline Dion, Madonna, and more, runs his own production studios based in Los Angeles and Stockholm where he continues to churn out endless tunes to this day.
Read on to discover some of the songwriter’s most iconic discography.
“…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears
It was intended for TLC, who turned it down because it didn’t represent female empowerment. So it became Britney Spears’ debut single. The Swedish Yacoub thought “hit” was slang for “call,” which changes the meaning a bit…
“It’s Gonna Be Me” by NSYNC
While it was NSYNC’s only number one hit, it became infamous thanks to Justin Timberlake’s pronunciation of “me” sounding like “may.” Cue memes on April 30, with a shot from the video emblazoned with the words “It’s gonna be May.”
“I’m Not a Girl Not Yet a Woman” by Britney Spears
The making of the video wasn’t so simple. Shot on a cliff-edge, things got a little risky when the wind picked up. “She was standing on the edge in her cowboy boots,” said director Wayne Isham. She didn’t have a blink of fear.”
“Pound the Alarm” by Nicki Minaj
This single from Minaj’s second album wasn’t meant to be released. The rapper asked fans which song to launch first – and while “Va Va Voom” got the most votes, “Pound the Alarm” got so many AirPlay requests that it was released instead.
“Kiss You” by One Direction
Despite getting 10.4 million views in one day, the band, who were then still a five-piece with Zayn Malik, didn’t beat the record. That is held by Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat,” which pulled in 10.6 million views in a single day.