Most Influential Songwriters of All Time

The musicians who, by the force of their writing, have changed the way we view music and, quite often, life.

The Top Ten

1 John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40.

Across The universe, Imagine, And your Bird Can sing, Sexy Sadie, It won't be Long, Nowhere Man, Strawberry Fields, Walrus, All you Need Is Love, Benefit of Mr. Kite, Bungalow bill, Dear Prudence, Revolution, Come Together. What kind of ignorant dunce would moronically label this genius overrated? Pity the fool!

Only a delusional Freddie Mercury lover could call John Lennon "overrated". Thank God there are The Beatles towering at #1 to keep Queen fans in their place.

Johns lyrics are the most poignant, unflinchingly self reflective, other worldly and cutting edge. He is my favorite of all time. closely rivaled by Paul Simon who also writes other worldly songs as well My two choices..."Across the Universe" and "Only Living Boy in New York".

He is overrated. Imagine is one of the most childish and far from reality songs ever made. Freddie Mercury,Robert Plant and Bob dylan are on another level.

2 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and artist who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades.

The second most covered artist of all time he inspired and influenced so many people such as Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon his ability to reinvent himself has caused him to produce number one albums in six decades.

Again, I'm not a big fan of his music, but he's still going after over fifty years, which is something not many musicians can claim.

No-one has written so many wonderful songs from so many perspectives. The man is a living legend

Actually, after getting past his voice, I am now a big fan of his music. Should have put him higher.

His voice puts off many but often the expression and emotion fit the world weary, battle-scarred nature of his songs. Anyway, glad you saw past that to appreciate his art. Unfortunately it's not accessible for everyone

3 Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .

In terms of success how could you not choose Paul? Also you have to remember he has written some of the most recorded songs in history including the number 1 recorded song in history with Yesterday. Also his appeal rivals Dylan although Dylan was and is a great songwriter and should be in the top 10 you can surely argue that Paul deserves the number 1 spot.

It was a toss-up between Lennon and McCartney for the top spot. But Paul holds the first two slots on the TheTopTens Best Beatles Songs list with Hey Jude and Let It Be. Not to mention the most covered song of all time in Yesterday.

Lennon or McCartney, The Beatles are the most influential ever!

No Debate, He just simply make my days of life, and maybe your days...

4 David Bowie David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016) was an English singer born in London, the son of a fundraiser and a waitress. He is credited for his experimental and creative musical discography which has won praise and accolades for many critics and fans. ...read more.

I'm more a queen fan in fact, but in songwriting I think bowie would beat them anyway...

What isn't he awesome in I wonder =D

5 Nick Cave Nicholas Edward Cave (born 22 September 1957) is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional film actor, best known as the frontman of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave's music is generally characterized by emotional intensity, a wide variety ...read more.

Australia's prince of darkness. Has written some of the most beautiful but dark songs ever!

Has produced tons of music able to influence people and men.

One of the most prolific author of the last decades

More than 40 years of creativity!

6 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave ...read more.

Love, love me do
You know I love you
I'll always be true
So please, love me do
Whoa, love me do
...
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me, to me...

...
Is there any question?

Umm, yes there is. What kind of comparison is this, one of Paul and John's weakest works against one of Freddie's greatest?
Just as well I might say:
Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
...
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
...
Is there any question?
Also, basing this just on their lyrical writing skills is ridiculous. In terms of musicality, Paul beats Freddie any day of the week.

He was much more creative, experimental than Paul McCartney and John Lennon together. He created a lot of amazing and timeless songs is a lot of genre, not just pop/rock as McCartney and Lennon.

Idontreallycaretoomuch:

Bicycle race is a great song.

He never ever wrote such stupid and easy songs like "Love me do", or "I want to hold your hand", or "Yellow submarine"...

He is underrated as a songwriter, but he was amazing! Never the same, always experimental. Much much better than Paul McCartney.

7 Brian Wilson Brian Douglas Wilson is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for being the multi-tasking leader and co-founder of the Beach Boys.

The album Pet Sounds is Brian's greatest contribution to popular music. It includes the beautiful God Only Knows. But his most famous and influential song is, without a doubt, Good Vibrations, slated for release on the cancelled SMiLE project.

Progressive genius - greatest producer of all time, greatest pop songwriter of all time - could neglect all rules there are to songwriting and come up with incredibly catchy tunes.

The one songwriter who Lennon and McCartney thought they had to try extra hard to keep up with.

8 Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel.

As a duo with Art Garfunkel, he crafted materpieces such as The Sound of Silence and Bridge Over Troubled Water. After they split, Simon had a successful solo career.

Beyond brilliant. a true cutting edge pioneer. The most beautiful lyric and music of all time!

Insecure, neurotic genius. Hardly a crap song in his repertiore

9 Joni Mitchell Roberta Joan Mitchell, professionally known as Joni Mitchell, is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.

Totally underrated... Should be top 5!

10 Buddy Holly Buddy Holly, born Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959) was an American musician and singer-songwriter who was a central figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. He was a rising star when a tragic plane crash struck him down at age 22. ...read more.

The Beatles are one of the many groups he influenced, and The Crickets were one of the first true bands in rock 'n' roll. He was with us far too short of a time.

The Contenders

11 Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana and passed away on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 500,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael is also known as The King of Pop (a title given to him by Elizabeth Taylor) or under ...read more.

Can't say I'm a fan, but there's no denying his influence.

He has definitely changed peoples' lives!

12 John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s.

His songs never fail to lift the spirit. Put him on when you're down. He'll raise you up.

Highly underrated. His songs are so poetic and inspirational.

13 Pete Townshend Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band The Who.

Nobody captured teenage angst like Pete Townshend. And he could communicate it succinctly as in a song like "The Kids Are Alright" or "I Can't Explain", or delve deeply into the teenage psyche as he did in the double album Who masterpiece, "Quadrophenia" A lyrical and musical genius. Ask anybody!

No problems with this list

Wrote songs like you wouldn’t believe.

14 Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.

With songs such as Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Rock and Roll Music, he paved the way for rock 'n' roll to grow even bigger.

15 Kurt Cobain Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1987, he started the grunge band Nirvana, which became one of the most successful bands ever. He was a talented yet troubled grunge performer. Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band. He committed suicide at his ...read more.

He hits me he hits you he hits most of the world

16 Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.

He's Canadian gotta go with my countryman!

17 Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

Clearly number one!

NICE SINGER

18 Roger Waters George Roger Waters is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He is mostly known for being the secondary lead vocalist and bassist of Pink Floyd.

There isn't absolutely no way that the lyrics he wrote from Medley to The Final cut will ever be topped by another lyricist in the history of popular music. Especially the lyrics from Dark side of the Moon, which are in great part responsible for the album still selling five thousand copies every week in the US alone.

Main songwriter for Pink Floyd. He wrote all of the songs for Wish You Were here, Dark Side of The Moon, and The Wall, the latter being a concept album and a DOUBLE album, meaning that it was on 2 CDs.

Listen to the entire the wall and try to tell me this man isn't the best songwriter of all time

18?I don't know what life is without him

19 Elton John Sir Elton Hercules John CBE is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.

To the person who posted 'He didn't write any of his songs'... crawl back under your rock. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, handed them to Elton & within 1/2 hour, Elton had composed the whole song from start to finish, all the arrangements, everything PLUS he plays them on the piano and SINGS them. I heard Elton say in one interview that he composed the music to one of his songs in 10 minutes.

Shows you no NOTHING about Sir Elton John! Bernie Taupin is Elton's lyricist - he has been since Elton started making music. Bernie writes the lyrics and Elton composes the melody in 30 MINUTES! Plus Elton does all the instrumentation for his songs. He's a MUSICAL GENIUS!

He didn't write any of his songs

And his lyricist, Bernie Taupin.

20 Ray Davies Raymond Douglas "Ray" Davies is an English musician. He was the rhythm guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for The Kinks, which he led with his younger brother, Dave.

I don't think people understand his Influence.
See My Friends, the first song with indian sound, You Really Got Me, all the charchters songs...There is no question.

No question. Ray is one of the best.

Why he is so low? shoulb be at least in the top 10

WHY SO LOW?

21 John Lydon John Joseph Lydon, also known by his former stage name Johnny Rotten, is an English singer, songwriter, and musician.

Not only did he pen many of the songs that brought Sex Pistols to stardom, he also completely turned music and the basic structure of songwriting on its head with Public Image Limited, MULTIPLE times. With each new release, even up to 2015's What the world needs now... there's always something new and innovative, and his evolution of songwriting from pistols to where he is now, is a transformation that very few musicians have accomplished

22 James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
23 Barry Gibb Barry Alan Crompton Gibb is a British singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the group Bee Gees, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed groups in the history of popular music.

Dude is so awesome with just the lyrics he has written for others.

24 George Harrison George Harrison (1943 - 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

He's definitely as great and talented as Lennon and McCartney!
An underrated talent that deserves to be higher than 28!

john

25 Carole King Carole King is an American composer and singer-songwriter. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the USA, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making ...read more.
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