Stargate are a European record producing and songwriting duo made up of Norwegians, Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen, who are currently residing in New York City. They first started out writing songs for artists in 1997 in Norway.
The team's earlier successes were in the UK market with songs like 'S Club Party' for pop act S Club 7, Hear'say's 'The Way To Your Love' and 'One Night Stand' for Mis-Teeq. During the late 1990s to early 2000s, their records leaned more towards Euro pop, rather than R&B, harking back to Swedish hit maker, Max Martin and Cheiron Studios. I was familiar with some of their work at the time, and as interesting as their UK efforts were, they weren't by any means ground-breaking, nor were they really big hits. There were a couple of hit songs making it to #1 and the top 10, but they were not at the same level as the songs that later came out during the mid-2000s from this team.
Since 2006 and their worldwide breakthrough hit, Ne-Yo's 'So Sick', the pairing have set the U.S charts alight with their European brand of R&B music. Their sound changed dramatically (and for the better), once they moved to the U.S with a more American- sound to them. In the last few years, it has gravitated more towards reggae & Caribbean - like soca -beats fused with Electro pop. They are mostly noted for their extensive work with Ne-Yo and Bajan pop songstress, Rihanna.
The New York Times Ben Sisaro described Stargate's musical production style as 'sugary, lilting R&B in the style of Michael Jackson, leavened with a melody rich European pop'.
Their work carries on from the tradition of Scandinavian pop artistry, that goes as far back as ABBA, Ace of Base and Max Martin. Whilst Max Martin has since made the transition from bubble gum teen pop to rock/contemporary pop, Stargate have continuously been the trendsetters for Scandinavian R&B.
In contrast to many of the well known music producers of yesteryear and today, what makes Stargate different from their other European counterparts, is the fact they have made their mark on the music scene, without it overshadowing themselves. In spite of their past and present track record of hits, the team are still vastly underrated and unknown to many, compared to other producers.
Stargate's signature sound can sometimes be difficult to detect, because with the music scene today, it changes every so often. So therefore, you'll never know what to expect from them. However, once you string along 3 of their songs together, you can sense a trademark theme throughout.
In the midst of an R&B scene that is and has been constantly dominated by Black African- American music producers, Eriksen and Hermansen offer something completely different to what is already out there, not just in contemporary and mainstream R&B, but R&B and music in general.
And for R&B fanatics and pop music fans in general, this is a good thing.
My Favourite 30 Stargate Produced Tracks
Hate That I Love You - Rihanna featuring Ne -Yo
Broken - Hearted Girl - Beyonce; an understated track by ex- Destiny's Child's lead vocalist and one of the biggest pop stars today. I definitely prefer this song over 'Halo'.
Got To Love You - Sean Paul feat. Alexis Jordan
With You - Chris Brown
Worth It - Fifth Harmony
Mad - Ne - Yo; beautiful piano laden ballad
Good Girl Gone Bad - Rihanna; this should have been released as a single
I Am - Mary J. Blige
Stay - Stephen Gately; one of Stargate's earlier efforts was this Britney Spears sounding single for the late Boyzone singer. Sounds remarkably similar to 'Baby One More Time' and 'You Drive Me Crazy'
Stupid in Love - Rihanna; one of the highlights taken from the Rated R album, alongside 'Firebomb' and 'Cold Case Love'. Was penned by singer, Ne-Yo.
Lose Control (Let Me Down) - Keri Hilson featuring Nelly; I love the musical composition of Stargate's songs, but this one has to be up there in the top 10. 'Lose Control' is Rihanna's 'What's My Name?' part 2.
Letting Go (Dutty Love) - Sean Kingston feauring Nicki Minaj; this song didn't chart very high in the U.S billboard charts, which was a surprise, given how infectiously catchy and fun it sounds.
Wait on Me - Rixton; I was surprised when I found out that Stargate had produced this hit single for UK band, Rixton. It's also a good one as well.
Come and Get It - Selena Gomez; a huge departure from her previous hits for the former Disney starlet, but also my favourite song out of the ones she has released as a single, so far.
What's My Name? - Rihanna featuring Drake
Des'ree - It's Okay (Stargate remix)
Te Amo - Rihanna
The Way To Your Love - Hear'Say; the first reality TV show pop stars from the UK reality show titled 'Popstars', they didn't last very long as an act and later split up. I did enjoy this song, however.
Another Day In Paradise - Brandy featuring Ray J (Stargate remix); I'm not into Phil Collins but this R&B rendition of the 80s hit, was one of the better cover versions I've heard.
Always Come Back To Your Love - Samantha Mumba
Sexy Love - Ne-Yo
Tattoo - Jordin Sparks
Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson
Take You To Rio (Stargate remix) - Ester Dean, taken from the animated movie, 'Rio'
Thunder - Jessie J; reached #18 in the UK singles chart in 2013, should have been a bigger hit, great song
What's A Man To Do - Usher
Talk That Talk - Rihanna featuring Jay Z
Be With You - Flo - Rida featuring Ne - Yo
Day and Night - Billie; the song 'Because We Want To' was so incredibly annoying and bad, thankfully, this song was miles better than its predecessor.
International Love - Claude Kelly; later released by rapper Pitbull with Chris Brown on vocals as a single, I like this rendition of the song and prefer it over the single that came out in the charts.