Hitmaker of the Month: Justin Tranter on Discovering Self-Love With Selena Gomez

Presented by BMI

Songwriter Justin Tranter and Selena Gomez have been making music together since 2015, but “Lose You to Love Me” represents their biggest success to date, landing at No. 1 in its second week on the BuzzAngle/Rolling Stone consumption chart (ahead of four new songs by Kanye West that dominated the rest of the top 5). Five weeks later, the song is still in the top 10 with nearly 110 million total streams and 800,000 song units. Its official video, meanwhile, will soon cross 160 million views on YouTube.

“It feels unbelievable — and so beautiful,” says Tranter, who was nominated for both a Grammy and Golden Globe last year. “My dream was to just make music that people hear and care about. The charts can be a fun way to mark something, but for me that means people responding to the song in a positive way and continuing to listen to it.”

These days Tranter, who identifies as gender non-conforming, prefers to be behind-the-scenes while empowering others to shine in the spotlight. “Ever since I stopped being an artist, I’m here to help other people tell their stories,” says the former frontman of Semi-Precious Weapons and frequent songwriting partner of Julia Michaels.  “To know that I did the best that I could and it worked? That always feels f–ing great!”

But Tranter refuses to take all the credit of Gomez’s latest hit: “So many people were involved aside from me and Selena — Julia, Mattman and Robin.” The co-songwriters otherwise known as Mattias Larsson and Robin Fredriksson also produced the track with Finneas. “He brought ambiance and ear candy to the final steps of production,” Tranter says of Billie Eilish’s big brother. “That gave it this last little breath of life.”

“It had been a minute since we’d all been together,” Tranter recalls of the reunion that inspired the song, which took place at Max Martin’s compound in West Hollywood. “So we were just talking and catching up and the idea came out of our conversation. There’s a beautiful upright piano in the studio that you can hear on the track. Robin started playing the chord on the piano and it just all started to flow.”

Just as the single didn’t take long to blast off, the writing process was also quick. “The meat of it — meaning like the chords and lyric and melody — took an hour at most,” Tranter says. “It sounds crazy but it’s true: The second the first chorus was done, I knew we had something special. We were all hugging each other and crying. When Selena and Julia and I get together, something magical happens with the level of vulnerability and honesty — really cutting to the truth while still making something that people could relate to.”

Tranter doesn’t want to give too much away when it comes to Gomez’s personal life, and for him, it’s all about a universal idea rather than intimate details. “We wanted to dig into the message that loving yourself has to always be the priority,” Tranter explains. “Acknowledge the pain [of loss] that everybody goes through, but focus on the positive: If you deal with your pain correctly, you’re going to come out the other side loving yourself even more. That was the unspoken goal of the song.”

While Gomez has done plenty of research for her past hits about heartbreak — her relationship with Justin Bieber was the definition of on-again, off-again — Tranter encouraged her to flip the script this time around. “Self-love is my favorite subject — I’m married to myself and put a big, fat ring on my finger,” they says, noting that it’s an unpopular opinion. “The media is obsessed with the idea that a difficult relationship is the most valuable. You know, movies about a guy who treats you like s–t and then chases after you in an airport to apologize — that’s real love? Of course relationships and romance are important to humanity and have created unbelievable legendary art. But it’s exciting to talk about loving yourself for a change and that’s very inspiring to me.”

There’s no doubt that “Lose You to Love Me” has struck a chord on an international level — and like Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” it could also earn Gomez the critical respect that has somewhat eluded her. “This song lends a credibility to her as an artist that she has always deserved,” says Tranter. “I think the whole world sees the artist and musician and storyteller in Selena I have seen since the first day we met. And it makes me super-proud to be a part of that process.”

More Music

  • Duffy Singer Duffy arrives for the

    British Singer Duffy Says She Was 'Raped, Drugged and Held Captive'

    “Whatever happened to Duffy?” is a question that’s been asked by pop music fans for the better part of a decade — especially in the singer’s native England, where, in the late 2000s, she seemed poised for the kind of massive neo-soul career that Adele has enjoyed in her wake. Occasional stories over the years attempted [...]

  • What — and Who — Is

    What — and Who — Is Next for Def Jam Records?

    Friday afternoon’s announcement that Paul Rosenberg will be stepping down as CEO of Def Jam Records caught nearly everyone by surprise — including, briefly, the label’s parent company Universal Music Group, sources say. But the company pivoted quickly, appointing well-respected UMG chief counsel Jeff Harleston as interim chief while the suddenly public search for a [...]

  • Harry Styles performs at the Greek

    Harry Styles Is Appearing on 'The Howard Stern Show' Next Week

    Harry Styles is making an appearance on “The Howard Stern Show” next Monday, the program’s Captain Janks announced on Twitter on Tuesday. Stern is known to be a fan of Styles ever since the musician released his self-titled solo album back in 2017, expressing his “disturbing” enjoyment of the tracks despite some preconceived notions of [...]

  • Yola Carter Yola in concert at

    Concert Review: Yola Goes from a Dusty Whisper to a Tina-esque Scream

    Tom Hanks and Austin Butler, the stars of Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis Presley/Colonel Parker film, might want to watch out. Yola has been cast in the presumably small role of gospel/guitar great Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but once she’s on set, Luhrmann might decide to turn tail and just turn the whole thing into a Tharpe [...]

  • BTS carpool

    BTS Takes Over Late-Night With 'Tonight Show,' 'Carpool Karaoke' Appearances (Watch)

    In its most unique U.S. guest appearance to date, BTS performed on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Monday night in an episode that focused on the band members’ sense of humor, which doesn’t need much interpretation. The South Korean septet played games with Fallon on the subway, made pastrami sandwiches at New York City’s [...]

  • Julia Lewis

    Atlas Music, Quincy Jones Productions Sign Bay Area Jazz Talent Julia Lewis (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jazz artist Julia Lewis (stylized JULiA LEWiS) is the first signing to the Atlas Music and Quincy Jones Productions joint venture. Lewis, whose real name is Benjamin Falik, arrives from the Bay Area where he built a following as a local producer, DJ and independent artist. Said Richard Stumpf, who founded the digital market-minded publisher Atlas [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga's New Single, 'Stupid Love,' Is Dropping Friday

    Lady Gaga has announced that her next single, “Stupid Love,” the first new material she has released since the “Star Is Born” soundtrack, is dropping Friday at midnight ET. The singer posted the news on her social media accounts; there is also a billboard in Hollywood. “STUPID LOVE”THE NEW SINGLE BY LADY GAGA OUT FRIDAY [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content