1. Royals – Lorde
She wrote the song in 30 minutes, at the age of 15.
2. Skyfall – Adele
Written within 10 minutes, as producer Paul Epworth told Hollywood.com:
After writing a piece of music that Epworth believed could be the tune for the Bond theme, the producer thought, “This could be the song.” Then he rang up Adele and said: “It might be too dark.” And she said she loved it. The pair immediately went into the studio and within 10 minutes she’d put down the first draft of the verse and chorus. “She had the lyrics ready in her head when she drove over. It was the most absurd thing. She’s fast, but it was really quite phenomenal.
3. Losing my Religion – REM
Written within 10 minutes
4. Life on Mars – David Bowie
In 2008, Bowie recalled writing this song to the Mail on Sunday: “This song was so easy. Being young was easy. A really beautiful day in the park, sitting on the steps of the bandstand. ‘Sailors bap-bap-bap-bap-baaa-bap.’ An anomic (not a ‘gnomic’) heroine. Middle-class ecstasy. I took a walk to Beckenham High Street to catch a bus to Lewisham to buy shoes and shirts but couldn’t get the riff out of my head. Jumped off two stops into the ride and more or less loped back to the house up on Southend Road. Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise lounge; a bargain-price art nouveau screen (‘William Morris,’ so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing free standing ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon. Nice. Rick Wakeman [of prog band, Yes] came over a couple of weeks later and embellished the piano part and guitarist Mick Ronson created one of his first and best string parts for this song which now has become something of a fixture in my live shows.”
5. Yesterday – The Beatles
Written in a dream – less than a minute
In a radio interview on XFM, Paul McCartney said: “If I had to answer one song it would have to be ‘Yesterday’ because it came to me in a dream and because 3,000 people are supposed to have recorded it. That was entirely magical – I have no idea how I wrote that. I just woke up one morning and it was in my head. I didn’t believe it for about two weeks.”
6. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Composed during a soundcheck.
7. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
Written in about 40 minutes
8. Song 2 – Blur
Written in less than 30 minutes.
9. Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie
According to Roger Taylor in the Days of our Lives documentary, Deacon came up with the riff, then the band went for pizza before coming back to continue rehearsals. Upon returning, Deacon had completely forgotten his idea! Luckily, Taylor eventually remembered how the bassline went.