×

Variety’s 2019 Hitmakers and Hitbreakers Revealed

It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2019 and the horse it rode in on — or the horse that dominated the conversation: Lil Nas X’s. The year in pop has been largely defined by a gay black man peddling country tropes, an all-shapes-and-sizes-glorifying soul shouter and a waif who felt like Kate Bush reincarnated into a rock ’n’ roll high school valedictorian. Which is to say: hardly defined at all. As Hitmaker of the Year Billie Eilish tells it, 2019 was “pretty genre-less. This year has been about accepting or just being open to new stuff that doesn’t necessarily have a specific sound.” Adds her producer-brother Finneas O’Connell: “There aren’t a lot of sound-alikes. Even the top five that we were in for a minute, where it was ‘Bad Guy,’ ‘Old Town Road,’ ‘Señorita’ and ‘Truth Hurts’ — those are pretty different songs, right?” Yes, and with pretty different teams behind them, all with a talent for turning the slightly peculiar into the monumentally popular. Here’s to the creatives and execs who fed us hits so eccentric but memorable that the world may still be grooving to them when Lil Nas has bought his farm and Eilish is deep into her dotage.

See the full list of Hitmakers below and head over to the gallery to read individual capsules and check out the corresponding chart of the most-consumed songs of 2019 here.

Category Hitmaker Artist Song
Songwriter Amy Allen Halsey “Without Me”
Producer-Songwriter Benny Blanco Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid

“Señorita”

“Eastside”

Producer-Songwriter Tommy Brown Ariana Grande “7 Rings”

“Thank U, Next”

Producer-Songwriter Cashmere Cat Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid

“Señorita”

“Eastside”

Producer-Songwriter Cirkut Ava Max “Sweet but Psycho”
Producer-Songwriter Cook Classics Panic! at the Disco

Ava Max

“High Hopes”

“Sweet but Psycho”

Producer Mike Dean Travis Scott “Sicko Mode”
Producers-Songwriters Disclosure Khalid “Talk”
Producer-Songwriter Frank Dukes Post Malone

Jonas Brothers

“Wow”

“Sucker”

Producer-Songwriter Finneas Billie Eilish “Bad Guy”
Producer-Songwriter Charlie Handsome Khalid “Better”
Songwriter Sam Hollander Panic! at the Disco “High Hopes”
Producer-Songwriter Jonas Jeberg Panic! at the Disco “High Hopes”
Producer-Songwriter Ilya Ariana Grande “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”
Songwriter Jozzy Lil Nas X “Old Town Road”
Songwriter Ilsey Juber Panic! at the Disco “High Hopes”
Songwriter Savan Kotecha Ariana Grande “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”
Songwriter Madison Love Ava Max “Sweet but Psycho”
Songwriter Victoria Monet Ariana Grande “7 Rings”

“Thank U, Next”

Producer-Songwriter Jimmy Napes Sam Smith & Normani “Dancing With a Stranger”
Songwriter Tayla Parx Ariana Grande

Panic! at the Disco

“7 Rings” and “Thank U, Next

“High Hopes”

Producer-Songwriter Ricky Reed Lizzo “Truth Hurts”
Songwriter Anthony Rossomando Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper “Shallow”
Producer-Songwriter Jake Sinclair Panic! at the Disco “High Hopes”
Producers-Songwriters Stargate Sam Smith & Normani “Dancing With a Stranger”
Songwriter Ali Tamposi Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello “Señorita”
Producer T-Minus J. Cole “Middle Child”
Producers Taz Taylor & Nick Mira Lil Tecca “Ransom”
Producer-Songwriter Billy Walsh Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

Producer-Songwriter Andrew Watt Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid

“Señorita”

“Eastside”

Producer-Songwriter Wheezy Meek Mill f. Drake “Going Bad”
A&R Joey Arbagey, Epic Records Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello “Señorita”
A&R Tyler Arnold, Republic Records Post Malone & Swae Lee “Wow””Sunflower”
A&R Tunji Balogun, RCA Records Khalid “Talk” and “Better”
A&R Ziggy Chareton, Island Records Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello “Señorita”
A&R Brandon Davis, Atlantic Records Lizzo “Truth Hurts”
A&R Caroline “Baroline” Diaz DaBaby “Suge”
A&R Edgar “Edd Grand” Machuca, Artist Partner Group Halsey “Without Me”
A&R Dallas Martin, Atlantic Records Meek Mill f. Drake “Going Bad”
A&R Rob Stevenson, Republic Records  Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

A&R Julian Swirsky, Republic Records  Lil Tecca “Ransom”
A&R Evan Taubenfeld, Crush  Panic! at the Disco “High Hopes”
A&R Jeremy Vuernick, Capitol Music Group Halsey

Marshmello & Bastille

“Without Me”

“Happier”

A&R Wendy Goldstein, Republic Records  Ariana Grande

Jonas Brothers

“7 Rings”

“Thank U, Next”

“Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”

“Sucker”

Executives Toby Andrews, Astralwerks Marshmello & Bastille “Happier”
Executives Mike Caren, Artist Partner Group Ava Max “Sweet but Psycho”
Executives Ethiopia Habtemariam, Motown  Lil Baby f. Gunna “Drip Too Hard”
Executives Justin Lubliner, The Darkroom Billie Eilish “Bad Guy”
Executives Angie Pagano, Artist Partner Group Ava Max “Sweet but Psycho”
Executives Jim Roppo, Republic Records  Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

Ariana Grande

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

“7 Rings” & “Thank U, Next”

“Ransom”

Executives Ron Perry, Columbia Records Lil Nas X “Old Town Road”
Executives Dana Sano, Republic Records  Post Malone & Swae Lee “Sunflower”
Executives Astrid Taylor, Mad Love Records and Friends Keep Secrets Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid “Eastside”
Management Jason Aron and Anthony Li, Anti-Pop Halsey “Without Me”
Management Scooter Braun & Allison Kaye, SB Projects Ariana Grande “7 Rings”

“Thank U, Next”

“Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”

Management Andrew Gertler, AG Artists Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello “Señorita”
Management Roger Gold, Gold Music Management Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello “Señorita”
Management Dre London, London Ent. Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

Management Kevin Beisler & Brandon Creed, Full Stop Management Lizzo “Truth Hurts”
Management Scott Nagelberg, Crush Panic! at the Disco “High Hopes”
Management Adam Leber & Gee Roberson, Maverick Lil Nas X “Old Town Road”
Management Danny Rukasin & Brandon Goodman Billie Eilish “Bad Guy”
Management Phil McIntyre, Philymack Jonas Brothers “Sucker”
Management Moe Shalizi, The Shalizi Group Marshmello & Bastille “Happier”
Management Courtney Stewart, Right Hand Music Group Khalid “Talk” and “Better”
Promotion Juliette Jones, Atlantic Records Meek Mill f. Drake “Going Bad”
Promotion Larry Khan & Nino Cuccinello, Interscope  J. Cole

DaBaby

“Middle Child”

“Suge”

Promotion Geo Bivins, RCA Records Khalid “Talk” and “Better”
Promotion Bill Evans, Capitol Music Group Lil Baby f. Gunna “Drip Too Hard”
Promotion Andrea Ganis, Atlantic Records Ava Max “Sweet but Psycho”
Promotion Lori Giamela & Kevin Valentini Khalid “Talk” and “Better”
Promotion David ‘Davey Dee’ Ingenloff, Republic Records Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

Promotion Greg Marella, Capitol Music Group Halsey

Marshmello & Bastille

Sam Smith & Normani

“Without Me”

“Happier”

“Dancing With a Stranger”

Promotion Brenda Romano, Interscope Billie Eilish

Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

“Bad Guy”

“Eastside”

“Shallow”

Promotion Ayelet Schiffman, Island Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello “Señorita”
Promotion Gary Spangler, Republic Records Ariana Grande

Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”

“Señorita”

Promotion Dixie Tipton, Capitol Records Lil Baby f. Gunna “Drip Too Hard”
Publishing Shawn Holiday, Sony/ATV Lil Nas X

Travis Scott

“Old Town Road”

“Sicko Mode

Publishing Lillia Parsa, UMPG Halsey “Without Me”
Publishing Ryan Press, Warner Chappell  Post Malone & Swae Lee “Sunflower”
Publishing Casey Robison, Big Deal Music Group  Lizzo

Panic! at the Disco

“Truth Hurts”

“High Hopes”

Publishing Darryl Watts, Universal Music Publishing Group 
Marshmello & Bastille “Happier”
Marketing & Commerce Michael Alexander, Republic, Def Jam and Island Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

“Señorita”

Marketing & Commerce Matt Bernal, Republic Records Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

“Ransom”

Marketing & Commerce Jordan Blaugrund, RCA Records Khalid “Talk” and “Better”
Marketing & Commerce Marleny Dominguez-Reyes & Donna Grynn, Republic Records Post Malone

Ariana Grande

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”

“Ransom”

Marketing & Commerce Mike Horton, Republic Records Post Malone

Ariana Grande

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”

“Ransom”

Marketing & Commerce Tim Hrycyshyn, Republic Records Post Malone

Ariana Grande

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”

“Ransom”

Marketing & Commerce Kevin Lipson, Republic Records
Post Malone

Ariana Grande

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”

“Ransom”

Marketing & Commerce Kerri Mackar, Republic Records
Post Malone

Post Malone & Swae Lee

“Wow”

“Sunflower”

Marketing & Commerce Brooks Roach, Atlantic Records Ava Max “Sweet but Psycho”
Marketing & Commerce Grace James, Atlantic Records Lizzo “Truth Hurts”
Media Joseph Carozza, Marisa Bianco, Beau Benton, Republic Records Post Malone

Ariana Grande

Lil Tecca

“Wow”

“7 Rings,” “Thank U, Next”

“Ransom”

 

More Music

  • Justin Bieber 2020

    Justin Bieber Gives Emotional Speech at Album Preview Event

    Justin Bieber broke down in tears describing the challenges he’s faced in the last couple of years and the people who helped him get through it. At a playback of his forthcoming album “Changes,” held at Village Recorders in West Los Angeles during the heart of Grammy week, Bieber got emotional and started crying recalling [...]

  • Why the Oscars, Emmys Shouldn't Try

    Grammys Deny Allegations of ‘Rigging’ Nominations

    Among the many allegations in ousted Recording Academy chief Deborah Dugan’s bombshell complaint Tuesday was a claim that the nominations are marred by what she has described as “rigging.” The example in the complaint points to the 2019 Best Song category, where an unidentified artist who was represented by a board member moved from the [...]

  • Lucian Grainge

    Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Sam Smith Toast Universal Music Group Chief Lucian Grainge

    Universal Music Group chairman Lucian Grainge brought the star power to his Hollywood Walk of Fame dedication ceremony. In attendance outside of Capitol Studios in Hollywood were Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Sam Smith, Tori Kelly, Hailee Steinfeld and Beck, among others. Also seated for the ceremony was a who’s who of the music industry’s top [...]

  • Conductor and Composer Eímear Noone pictured

    Oscars to Feature Female Orchestra Conductor for the First Time

    A woman will be conducting at the Oscars for the first time on Sunday, Feb. 9, the Academy announced today. Irish-born composer-conductor Eímear Noone will conduct excerpts from the five nominated scores. She is the first female to lead the orchestra in the history of the televised awards, the Academy said. Details beyond that are [...]

  • Tina Fey attends the "Mean Girls"

    Tina Fey Announces Movie Adaptation of Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical

    It’s good to be mean…the “Mean Girls” musical, that is. Producers of the hit Broadway show announced today that the Tony-nominated production is being adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures. The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name. “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen,’ Tina Fey, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content