Producer Deep Focus - Jack Antonoff

Story posted October 25, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Sophia D’Ovidio

Jack Michael Antonoff was born on March 31, 1984, in Bergenfield, New Jersey. In high school, he attended the Professional Children’s School, which enrolls students aspiring for a career in the arts.

While he did form a punk rock band during his sophomore year of high school, his music career formally took off in 2002 with his band Steel Train where he was the lead singer.

However, Antonoff’s mainstream success began in 2008 when he joined Nate Russe and Andrew Dost to form Fun. This band had colossal mainstream success with its number-one hit “We Are Young,” which won the best song at the Grammys. The band also won best new artist at the Grammys that year.

While Antonoff makes new music in his band Bleachers, he is best known for his producer credits. Antonoff is a frequent and trusted collaborator of some of the biggest names in music. He has worked on Taylor Swift’s last six albums along with Lorde and Lana Del Rey on their two most recent albums. Other notable artists include St.Vincent, Clairo, Kevin Abstract and The Chicks.

Antonoff has been nominated for 15 Grammy awards and has won five. Antonoff is a powerhouse producer that keeps himself busy, consistently collaborating on critically acclaimed projects of the past five years, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be out of a job anytime soon.

Let's take a look at essential Jack Antonoff songs:

“Out of the Woods”- Taylor Swift (2014)

One of the many singles off of Swift’s Grammy award-winning album “1989,” “Out Of The Woods” is some of Swift and Antonoffs earliest work together, but it is some of the pair’s best. The layered background vocals, booming drums and repetitive lyrics help the listener feel the anxiousness of the relationship, which is the subject of the song.

While “1989” draws huge inspiration from 80s pop-synth, “Out of the Woods” may utilize this style the best. It is clear why this song went platinum and continues to be a fan favorite today.

“august”- Taylor Swift (2020)

While collaborating on another one of Swift’s Grammy award-winning albums, “Folklore,” Antonoff sent Swift the instrumental to “august,” and she wrote the lyrics to the song on the spot.
This pop-ballad can feel both somber and dreamy, with the guitar and string instrumental telling the ups and downs of this fictional summer affair. Antonoff even got to perform this song with Swift at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

“Green Light”- Lorde (2017)

Lorde and Antonoff teamed up for most of the songs off Lorde’s 2017 album “Melodrama.” Its lead single, “Green Light,” is considered by many to be pop-perfection. The song starts slowly, but when the pre-chorus comes in with a booming drum, it is clear why music critics had so much praise for the song. 

This song took Antonoff and Lorde 18-months to create and went platinum after peaking at 19 on the U.S. charts. “Green Light'' beautifully crafts a story of heartbreak and tells it in a fun and exciting song.

“Mariners Apartment Complex”- Lana Del Rey (2018)

Many praise Antonoff for the simplicity of his production. “Mariners Apartment Complex'' is one of the best examples of this.

Lana Del Rey tells the story of a relationship she is in with a “broken” man. The song’s production helps highlight this as the crescendo of the instrumental during the chorus helps intensify Del Rey’s emotions.

“Peach”- Kevin Abstract (2019)

While most of Antanoff’s work is pop or indie music, his production on “Peach” demonstrates that Antanoffs production skills translate to hip-hop. Antanoffs production highlights Abstract’s vocal performance and lyricism.  The delicate and comforting instrumental paired with a relaxed beat helps complete this single to be the song it is.

Essential Jack Antanoff Album:

“Melodrama”- Lorde (2017)

Despite Antanoff’s two Grammys for album of the year coming from his collaborations with Taylor Swift, Antanoff’s best work is on Lorde’s second studio album “Melodrama.”

“Melodrama” was a significant departure from the minimalist aesthetic of Lorde’s previous album “Pure Heroine,” which pulls influence from hip-hop. Bringing in Antonoff as a new collaborator allowed for Lorde’s vision of a new era to come to life.

This album is considered an “electro-pop” album, and songs like “Greenlight” and “Perfect Places” fit this genre perfectly. While certain tracks like “Liability” and “Writer In the Dark” are stripped of the synthesizers and electronic beats that most of the songs have, the album is still incredibly cohesive.

Antanoff has writing and production credits on every track off “Melodrama” except for “Homemade Dynamite.” Additionally, Antanoff and Lorde are the sole writers on every song, except for “Greenlight” and “Homemade Dynamite.”

“Melodrama” is a critically acclaimed album that received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year at the 60th Grammy Awards. It is also included on the Rolling Stones list of the 500 all-time best albums. Upon its first week of release, it went number one on the Billboard 200, awarding Lorde her first number one album.

The two years Lorde and Antanoff spent putting together “Melodrama” clearly paid off. This team is not going anywhere as they partnered up again for Lorde’s third studio album, “Solar Power.” Even now, “Melodrama” remains one of the best pop albums of all time and both artists’ best work to date.

 

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.