The Greatest Artist You’ve Never Heard Of

What if I told you that there’s an artist that has been active since 1983, has over 100 songs that received airplay, is the only artist to ever have seven hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 at the same time, has been nominated for six Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and seven Grammys (with one win)? Would you guess that this artist has a world-wide fan base and can fill any stadium, and is a household name?

You’d guess wrong. In fact, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of this artist. But chances are, you know and love most of her songs. Her name is Diane Warren. She can’t sing all that well. She couldn’t fill an auditorium. She has a tiny fan base and almost no notoriety outside the music industry.

She’s not a singer, not a member of a band, not a soloist. She’s a songwriter whose songs have enjoyed phenomenal success, starting with “Solitaire” in 1983 and continuing into the present day. She’s worked with too many artists to name.

She’s my favorite songwriter. And this post is my tribute to some of her best known songs.

“Because You Loved Me” is best known as performed by Celine Dion. I danced with my mom to this at my wedding during the groom/mother spotlight dance. That’s interesting because Warren actually wrote it for her father.

Other artists who covered this song include Johnny Mathis, Michael Ball, Vivian Reed, and Clay Aiken.

Warren found herself at the center of controversy for this single, “Blame it on the Rain,” which was covered by disgraced pop duo Milli Vanilli. Warren, though, had no knowledge of the scam.

For those that are too young to remember, Milli Vanilli sold a bunch of records, took this track to number one, and won several Grammys before revealing that they hadn’t sung a single lyric on their album. They promised that it would be them for the next album. Not surprisingly, that next album never was released and the duo was stripped of their Grammys. Radio stations across the country refused to play Milli Vanilli tunes ever again.

“Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” an underrated song from the Coyote Ugly soundtrack, is performed by LeAnn Rimes and I love this tune.

“Don’t Turn Around” has been covered by everyone and their brother. Tina Turner, Kim Goody, Bonnie Tyler, Luther Ingram, Loretta Chandler, Eyes, Neil Diamond, and Ace of Base have all done a version of this song. The reggae group Aswad, however, took it to number one in the U.K. in 1987.

Despite being featured in a really, really interesting movie like Space Jam, Monica did wonders with the song “For You I Will.” Nice, smooth tune. Very good.

Double whammy: “Have You Ever” is written by Diane Warren, and produced by Chicago collaborator David Foster. That power combination, combined with Brandy’s excellent voice, makes this a great song.

Warren collaborated with Michael Bolton (no, not the extra-nerdy guy from Office Space) and Desmond Child to write this song, “How Can We Be Lovers?” It exemplifies Diane Warren’s desire to put a new spin on old questions. This song asks an excellent philosophical question: How can we be lovers if we can’t even be friends? I think that friendship is important. My wife and I are excellent friends as well as lovers. You really can’t have one without the other.

From the movie Con Air, both Trisha Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes covered this track in the same month in the same year. Radio stations actually put it to listener vote as to which version would be played, so I hear.

Though it isn’t the point to the song, it does illustrate the need for communication, even among rival record labels. Same song, same month, same year? OOOPS.

Edwin McCain is a songwriter as well as a singer, however he covered Warren’s “I Could Not Ask for More.” Good choice on his part, as this is an excellent song!

My friend Caleb was severely disappointed that this song, from the Armageddon soundtrack, was Arrowsmith’s first number one single. He realized that it differed significantly from what we’ve come to expect from Arrowsmith, and I confirmed his suspicions when I told him that Diane Warren wrote it. Arrowsmith writes the majority of their own music, but elected to cover this track for the movie.

One of Diane Warren’s earlier hits, “I Get Weak” was performed by Belinda Carlisle. Typical 80s bopping beat and electronic, synthesized arrangement. But catchy as all get-out!

All-4-One and Christina Aguilera both covered this track. Aguilera did a much better job, I think.

I’ve always like this song, but until compiling this entry I had no idea that it was written by Diane Warren, in collaboration with Michael W. Smith. That’s ironic considering what a Diane Warren fan I am, and that I just said in the introduction that I’m betting you didn’t know how many great songs that Diane Warren was responsible for. It appears as though I still have a thing or two to learn!

I’ve always considered Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth)” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” an unofficial trilogy. The imagery in the videos, the musical arrangements, vocal performances, and lyrical themes were very similar. “I’d Do Anything for Love” and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” were both written by Jim Steinman (my unofficial second favorite songwriter), but “I’d Lie for You” belongs to Diane Warren.

I think this is actually the song that introduced me to Diane Warren. I really liked this song when it first came out, and reasoned that I might like other songs by the same writer. When I did some research, I discovered a treasure trove of songs by Diane Warren, including many songs that I loved for years without even knowing Warren had written them!

Covered by the trio of pretty ladies (Jeanette Jurado, Ann Curless, and Kelly Moneymaker) known as Expose, the song hit pretty big in 1993. It was later covered by the late Selena, Bellefire, and a Filipino group called MYMP.

I got so sick of this song.

“If You Asked Me To” was covered first by Patti LaBelle and then later remade by Celine Dion, which was her second single.

I love Expose’s other Diane Warren cover, “In Walked Love.” While searching for that video, I accidentally uncovered a video by Louise and I like that version, too!

I also love The X-Files, and this is the only video I could find of Expose’s take on this song. Hurry up and listen to it before someone sends a DCMA notice to YouTube and gets it yanked down!

Gloria Estefan covered “Live for Loving You.” Pretty good. Makes you want to get up and dance.

“Love Can Move Mountains:” the best Celine Dion song that never gets played anymore.

“Love Will Lead You Back” may be one of the best rock ballads of all time. Powerful vocals from Taylor Dane, solid songwriting from Diane Warren, and produced by Ric Wake (who worked with Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Sheena Easton, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Barry Manilow, John Secada, Clay Aiken, Marc Anthony, Dixie Chicks, and Whitney Houston) combine to make this a great song. One of my personal, all-time favorites in fact!

“Missing You Now” is another collaboration between Warren and Michael Bolton.

It blew my mind that Gloria Estefan would work with *NSYNC, but it snapped my mind even further that the song they performed was written by Diane Warren. This has to be a sign of the apocalypse. Someone consult Revelation.

“Note to God” was first recorded by JoJo, but Charice blew the audience away when she performed it on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009.

Co-written with former partner Albert Hammond, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” came from the impending marriage of Hammond to his live-in girlfriend of seven years after the divorce from his first wife was finalized. It is most famous for gracing the soundtrack of the cheesy 80s movie Mannequin, and was performed by Jefferson Starship.

There was  short-lived dance song in the 90s with the same title. But this 1984 single by DeBarge is a classic. Another version of this song appears in the movie Moulin Rouge!, and Kylie Minogue uses the chorus in a medley for her album KylieFever2002.

You truly learn something new everyday. “Saving Forever for You” has been one of my favorite songs ever, despite its connection to the original Beverly Hills 90210 series that I couldn’t stand.

In preparing this post, I learned for the first time that “Saving Forever for You” was written by Diane Warren, and produced by David Foster. Wow. Really beautiful song.

“Set the Night to Music,” recorded first by Starship and then by Roberta Flack with Maxi Priest, is truly one of the greatest songs ever written. No Diane Warren collection would be complete without this song.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t seem to have the Roberta Flack version of this song, which I think is way better than the Starship version.

This song was originally written and performed by Martine Clemenceau in French. Jack White, producer for Laura Branigan, asked Warren to rewrite the song in English. Warren used the card game solitaire as a metaphor for loneliness and neglect from a lover. The original song spoke of a recluse who feared nuclear war.

Diane Warren’s first song that was released on a wide scale, and launched her career. Still one of her better songs!

I almost forgot about “There You’ll Be.” That wouldn’t have been nice of me! From the soundtrack to Pearl Harbor and performed by the excellent Faith Hill, this epic love song is awesome!

Another collaboration with Michael Bolton, “Time, Love, and Tenderness” is a lot better than “Missing You Now.”

With a Latin flavor, Toni Braxton graces us with her excellent voice and new long hair in “Un-break My Heart.” I’ve always liked this song! It’s a new spin on an old theme, something I know that Diane Warren tries to do with her music.

And who could forget the Bad English ballad “When I See You Smile?” An 80s classic!

Finally, we have Joe Cocker’s excellent tune “When the Night Comes.”

What else can you say about Diane Warren? May she keep making excellent music for decades to come.

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