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From ‘Sucker’ to ‘Sunflower,’ Producer Louis Bell Helped Craft the Sound of 2019

Quincy, Mass.-bred songwriter-producer Louis Bell has credits on four of 2019’s most consumed hits: Post Malone’s “Wow” and “Sunflower,” Halsey’s “Without Me” and Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker.” “If these songs were colors on a spectrum, they would be totally different colors, but somehow they work,” says Bell. His secret? Not paying attention to trends, or anything at all, really, beyond the artist’s core objective. “Everything you’ve done in the past and future becomes irrelevant,” he says. “Your job is to paint the picture with whatever brushes are in front of you.”

Bell is self-trained, citing four years of piano lessons as a kid and early experiences collaborating with friends and local rappers. He got his big break after moving to L.A., where he first collaborated with Post Malone on the rapper-singer’s breakthrough LPs — 2016’s “Stoney” and 2018’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys” — the latter of which made streaming history, with 431.3 million on-demand audio streams in its debut week. Bell co-wrote all 18 cuts. “Post does every song the same way; everything is a riff,” he says. “He’ll literally go into the booth and just sing for 10 to 12 minutes until he’s, like, ‘OK, that’s great — I’ve got it.’”

The “vibes,” as they say, were contagious: Halsey — a supportive fan of Post’s — suggested her A&R team reach out to Bell to collaborate on a bridge for the cut “Alone,” from 2017’s “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.” They reunited on last year’s “Without Me,” which lands at No. 6 for the year. But it was songwriter Ryan Tedder who “spearheaded” the connection with the Jonas Brothers. “He knows how to get a song into the right hands,” says Bell, also citing Republic A&R executive Wendy Goldstein as someone who “really believed” in “Sucker.”

Looking back, the Sony/ATV-published powerhouse thinks there was a greater force at play in his career arc, pointing to a Jonas Brothers reference in the lyrics to Malone’s megahit “Better Now”— “And I’m rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ / with my brothers like it’s Jonas, Jonas.” “If you look at that timeline, there’s a very interesting backstory,” he says. “To be on ‘Sucker’ after ‘Better Now,’ it really feels like destiny that this all happened.”

See the full list of 2019 Hitmakers here.

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