IDENTIFYING THE SUSPEX

Since the release of “Right Now” in 2000, Mitch Allan has been responsible for some seriously catchy tunes. Although “Right Now” may not be as ubiquitous as other power pop songs from the same era, like “All The Small Things” or “My Own Worst Enemy,” it’s equally strong in terms of craftsmanship. As part of the band SR-71, Allan co-wrote and produced “Right Now” with a name that might be even more familiar, Butch Walker. “Right Now” was included on SR-71’s debut 2000 release, Now You See Inside, which also included production from John Shanks. Along with Max Martin and Dr. Luke, Walker and Shanks helped define pop/rock music throughout the 2000s, writing and producing hits for A-list artists like Avril Lavigne, P!nk, Katy Perry, and Kelly Clarkson.

During that time, Allan also churned out some (hugely underrated) singles for artists like Jessie James and Katharine McPhee, contributed to platinum albums from Daughtry and Disney’s successful Camp Rock and Hannah Montana soundtracks, and was perhaps best known for writing Bowling for Soup’s ultimate guilty pleasure hit, “1985.” He also wrote American Idol’s 2009 coronation single, “No Boundaries,” with two equally talented songwriters, Kara DioGuardi (“Ain’t No Other Man”) and Cathy Dennis (“Toxic”). While on paper that sounds like it should have been an absolute smash, DioGuardi later admitted the song almost “destroyed” her career, so we’ll just leave it at that.

Although never quite reaching the status of superstar hitmaker like some of his contemporaries, even if he stopped there, Allan still would have achieved more success as a songwriter and producer than most could ever dream of. Lucky for us, he didn’t.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Suspex, that’s okay. I didn’t know exactly who–or what–it was until today. I heard the name associated with Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack” and Fifth Harmony’s “Miss Movin’ On,” but never bothered to Google it. The best surprise is when you look something up you know nothing about and end up finding something familiar–which happens a lot in this industry. It’s even better when that something familiar is Mitch Allan, who has long deserved the kind of success as a songwriter and producer that he’s about to get. Paired with Jason Evigan, similarly from the alternative rock scene, the best pop music of the year is coming from a somewhat unlikely source. While the name might not yet sound familiar, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve definitely heard their work.

Heart Attack” (co-written with the phenomenal Nikki Williams), dominated the pop charts this spring. From the explosive opening (complete with strings!) to Lovato’s impressive layered vocals, the song is filled with hooks and legitimized her standing as one of the reigning teen queens in pop music. “Miss Movin’ On,” Fifth Harmony’s debut single following their third place finish on The X Factor, follows a similar sonic blueprint and looks to make them the first success story from the U.S. edition of the show–a female One Direction, if you will. Taking a page from other reality show successes, the single is reminiscent of Jordin Sparks’ powerful “Battlefield” and Kelly Clarkson’s sassy “Miss Independent” (maybe they were all screwed over by “Mr. Know It All”?), while still maintaining a fresh energy. Like Allan’s earliest pop/punk productions, the song kicks off with an intensity that builds throughout, complete with “we mean serious business” stomps on the bridge. The lyrics are also pretty clever and the way “So call me, call me, call me miss movin’ on” is structured will be stuck in your head for days, believe me.

Although not yet a single, “Save the Day,” The Suspex’s track on Selena Gomez’s new album, is the clear standout. Gomez apparently won “Save the Day” over J.Lo, and it’s clear to see why they both wanted it. The track has a similar world dance sound to some of J.Lo’s most recent work with RedOne (and even evokes the pinnacle of her dance pop material, “Waiting for Tonight”) except… it’s better. The guitar and drums remain prominent against a throbbing dance beat, elevating the song from the tired crop of rehashed, uninspired electropop tracks. And, thankfully, there are no jarring dubstep breaks.

Already responsible for three of the best pop songs of the year, according to their Facebook bio, the duo is currently working on tracks with Cassadee Pope, MKS (a.k.a. Sugababes 1.0), Lea Michele, Rita Ora, and Sia–just to name a few. Perhaps the go-to songwriting/production team for this decade have been positively identified?

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Filed under Future, New Music, Producers, Songwriters, Successes

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