Jack Antonoff remains booked and busy.
Antonoff, former member of fun. and current frontman of indie pop group Bleachers, is the most sought-after producer in the pop world right now, full stop. This, like any gust of fame, comes with a harsher magnifying glass. Antonoff has turned into a bit of a polarizing figure recently; many love the signature flourishes he adds to tracks, while others think he’s becoming formulaic.
Wherever you stand when it comes to the Antonoff discourse, it’s worth highlighting his resume of contributions to modern pop. Not to mention his five Grammy Awards; he was also nominated for Producer of the Year in 2021 and 2020.
With Bleachers, Clairo and Lorde releasing Antonoff-produced projects in rapid succession, we found this to be the perfect time to take on the gargantuan task of ranking every song the ‘80s loving advocate of main character energy has ever produced. To be clear, this isn’t a ranking of Swift or Del Rey’s discographies; rather, we set out to illustrate a map of Antonoff’s growth and influence as a producer, while highlighting the varied and unique merits of each song.
The ground rules: this list excludes songs on which Antonoff might have co-written/composed but had no hand in as a producer, as well as most remixes, voice memos, and Del Rey’s spoken word album. We’ve also left out unreleased songs, and have combined interludes/instrumentals when appropriate. Bonus tracks were fair game.
The usual suspects appear on the list of over 200 songs — namely, Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Lana Del Rey — but there are moments with artists like Kevin Abstract, St. Vincent, and Clairo that have allowed Antonoff to experiment with different musical brushstrokes, expanding his palette of production skills. In examining his production discography, some of his quirks become abundantly clear. He knows his lane, and he can achieve excellence there.
Meanwhile, some of the less favorable sentiments bouncing around about Antonoff seem to lump him in with his frequent collaborators. In a conversation with the New York Times ahead of the release of Solar Power, Lorde pushed back on the idea that she was making a “Jack Antonoff record,” rightfully resentful of the idea that she was just another feather in his cap. Antonoff is not who made Lorde great; he’s also probably not to blame for this recent record being relatively lackluster.
What the list does reveal, though, is that Antonoff’s reputation as a pop superproducer is the result of years of dedication and a bit of healthy experimenting. At one point does developing musical motifs become repetitive instead? Just how much of an impact does Antonoff’s involvement have in the reception to a new release? While we might not have all the answers, we do have this ranking, listed in order from the songs we’re happy to forget, to the songs we stan(tonoff). Scroll to the end for the full playlist.
214. Lorde – “California”
Almost entirely unrelatable, “California” is a track that shows one of the negatives of Lorde’s time away from society. The references feel forced, dated, and strange — aren’t the days of marveling at lines at the Supreme store behind us? Lorde should have the freedom to explore her complicated relationship with fame, but this Solar Power cut is so scattered that the takeaways get muddled. — M.S.
213. Fifth Harmony – “Dope”
Not many things could’ve saved Fifth Harmony — the group was plagued by lack of cohesiveness almost from the start, perhaps due to the members being pitted against one another during their formative years. Jack Antonoff couldn’t save them, either, and the same can be said for “Dope,” a completely forgettable song from 7/27 that doesn’t even stand out as a b-side. — M.S.
212. Brooke Candy – “Changes”
By design, Brooke Candy and her larger-than-life persona transcend any accusations of “quirky,” instead moving directly into the realm of camp. (See: releasing a song with a feature from Real Housewife Erika Jayne). “Changes” is more on the restrained end for the rapper and singer, and Antonoff is uncredited on the background vocals through the chorus. Perhaps it was a fun experiment for both, but if that’s the case, it was one from which both parties quickly moved on. — M.S.
211. How to Dress Well – “Lost Youth/Lost You”
There’s a certain glamor attached to songs that extend past three and a half minutes, reveling in taking up time and space in a way most artists shy away from these days. “Lost Youth/Lost You” is such a track from ultra-indie multimedia artist How to Dress Well. His ambient sounds turned out to be a good match for Antonoff’s production style, but the repetitive track isn’t one that sticks for much longer than the song’s indulgent runtime. — M.S.
210. Red Hearse – “Born to Bleed”
“Born to Bleed” is one of the tracks from Red Hearse (Sam Dew, Sounwave, and Antonoff) that fell the most flat. The draw to days gone by is overdone here, nostalgia tipping into cheesy territory. Everything feels too big, leaving the track scattered. Red Hearse is a great concept, and some of the results of the collaboration are treasures worth revisiting, but “Born to Bleed” isn’t one of them. — M.S.
There was a certain point where people started jumping ship from being associated with Sia’s disastrous foray into film. (How was that just this year?) Music, which was co-written and directed by Sia, received vocal pushback from autistic critics who pointed out the ableist perspectives the film perpetuated. “Together” was meant to be a bouncy, buoyant track to accompany the film — and it’s fine — but, much like Music, will probably be forgotten very soon. — M.S.
208. Sia – “Play Dumb”
The same goes for “Play Dumb,” because, truly, who was spearheading everything surrounding this film? Sia will be remembered for much kinder, better work — Music was a rare but major misstep for the artist. Like “Together,” “Play Dumb” has no staying power whatsoever. — M.S.
207. St. Vincent – “Humming (Interlude 1, 2 and 3)”
The three interludes on Daddy’s Home support one of St. Vincent’s goals for this album, which was harkening back to the indulgent album structure of the ‘70s. The first interlude is the most accessible, a quick, dreamy escape; the second interlude gets warped, sounding like she’s underwater; by the third, things sound almost haunted. — M.S.
206. Lorde – “Leader of a New Regime”
Channeling her best Crosby, Stills & Nash impression on this Solar Power cut, Lorde picks through a meditation on the uncertainty of the future you can practically hear being sung around the fire at the nearest nature commune. Now if only the song was more of a fully fleshed-out treatise, than the start of important social questions she briefly sketches out before leaving them hanging in the air after just 93 seconds. — Glenn Rowley
205. Lana Del Rey – “Not All Who Wander Are Lost”
Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club takes listeners not to the West Coast (as one expects), but to the flyover states; in this case, to Lincoln, Nebraska. (How did we get here?) Paired simply with an acoustic guitar, the ultra-specific identity of HomeGoods Lana soothes in a falsetto encapsulating the idea that truly, not all who wander are lost… they’re just in wanderlust. — John Palmer Rea.
Miss Swift, of course, has a fondness for the British, and “Sweeter Than Fiction” was an original song she penned for the 2013 U.K. film One Chance, which stars… James Corden, sigh. It’s a track that feels like the result of a Mad Libs set of sorts — and it’s uncharacteristically formulaic for Swift. Even the most devoted Swifties might have forgotten this one. — M.S.
203. Red Hearse – “Violence”
This song provides a pretty strong argument for the existence of Red Hearse. The chorus in particular sticks the landing: Dew’s vocals soar over Antonoff’s production and instrumentals when Sounwave’s beat kicks in. It’s a song for a friend as much as it is a song about the highs and lows of life — there’s a great breakdown on the bridge that’s so fun that it’s remarkably easy to forget that Dew is singing about the violence too often found in life. — M.S.
202. St. Vincent – “Somebody Like Me”
Annie Clark excels both in rockstar mode and heartbreaking singer-songwriter mode (as with gems like “New York”). “Somebody Like Me” is one of the tracks that lands somewhere in the middle, a song with country elements that would be fitting for a long drive on a nearly empty highway. It fits neatly into Daddy’s Home, but ultimately feels a bit forgettable. — M.S.
201. Bleachers – “Who I Want You to Love”
Understated but raw in its lyrical content, “Who I Want You to Love” wraps up Bleachers’ debut album. It’s certainly the exit sign for Strange Desire: sonically, Antonoff lures you to sleep. This wasn’t designed to be a banger, but it does its job as an outro just fine. — J.P.R.
200. Lana Del Rey – “Breaking Up Slowly”
On this collaboration with country artist Nikki Lane, Del Rey proves she can hold her own in the genre (we’re still waiting for those two other country songs she wrote with Antonoff, btw). Antonoff assists by lacing up Del Rey’s boots and providing an ominous background for these two distinct voices. Overall, it’s nothing too
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