News of Michael Busbee’s death at 43 on Sunday resonated throughout Nashville and the music community at large.
A respected songwriter and producer, he was a creative partner to Nashville artists like Maren Morris, Keith Urban, and Lady Antebellum, deftly bringing a pop sensibility to country music. And for good reason: he got his start writing and producing pop acts like Shakira and Christina Aguilera.
Here is a list of songs, either written or produced (or both), by Busbee that highlight his strong yet unshowy approach in the studio and the writing room.
Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing”
The first song that Carly Pearce ever wrote with Busbee, her longtime collaborator, and producer, ended up becoming the singer’s biggest solo hit of her career
Endurance was an intermittent theme in Busbee’s music (see Keith Urban’s “The Fighter”), and nowhere was that more apparent than in “Try,” the 2013 song he co-wrote with Ben West for Pink’s The Truth about love album.
Lady Antebellum’s “You Look Good“
Lady Antebellum retreated from hiatus with a freshened sound on 2017’s Heart Break, thanks in no small part to the album’s lead single “You Look Good.”
Busbee created the recording and co-wrote the song with Hillary Lindsey and Ryan Hurd, putting in a funky, bass-heavy rhythm and some humid brass lines that intensified the vocal interplay between Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott.
The Fighter,” Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood
Two of country music’s biggest names Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood — came together for this crossover smash, which appealed to the adult contemporary audience as much as it did to country fans. But star power alone can’t take a hit.
Credit Busbee’s nimble production for putting it over the top. With a hypnotic rhythm and a melody that bobs and weaves, “The Fighter” (co-written by Busbee, to boot) was a knockout both on country radio and in the dance clubs and proved that country can benefit from mad beats when done right.
“H.O.L.Y.,” Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line can chalk up much of the success of their 2016 blockbuster hit to Busbee, who came up with the song’s gospel-pop melodic hook the instant co-writer Nate Cyphert brought him the idea for the “high on loving you” acronym song title. “