New book by hit songwriter Sam Hollander is hilarious inside look at the music biz, stars and creativity

Brigid Pearson/Kamp Kennedy/Penguin Random HousePanic! at the Disco's "High Hopes." Fitz & the Tantrums' "HandClap." Train's "Marry Me." Metro Station's "Shake It." Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold." They all have one thing in common: They were co-...
Brigid Pearson/Kamp Kennedy/Penguin Random House

Panic! at the Disco’s “High Hopes.” Fitz & the Tantrums‘ “HandClap.” Train‘s “Marry Me.” Metro Station‘s “Shake It.” Gym Class Heroes‘ “Cupid’s Chokehold.” They all have one thing in common: They were co-written by Sam Hollander. His new book, 21-Hit Wonder: Flopping My Way to the Top of the Charts, should be of interest to anyone who’s into pop culture, the music biz or looking to jump-start their creativity.

Hollander, whose resume also includes dozens of other artists, from Blink-182 to Katy Perry, tells ABC Audio he believes the book could be a blueprint for “creatives who are searching and are just questioning their choices.” He also feels aspiring musicians and songwriters might resonate with his tales of “30 years of getting the s**t kicked out of me.”  There’s plenty of celeb dish, too.

But it’s inspiring to read about Hollander’s numerous failures and how his don’t-quit attitude allowed him to outlast multiple music trends. For example, all those pop-punk hits he wrote years ago are suddenly back in fashion

“It’s fascinating,” Hollander says of suddenly getting “excited” calls about “Cupid’s Chokehold,” “Shake It” and Boys Like Girls‘ “Great Escape.” He notes, “There was a [whole] decade where no one mentioned them!”

But don’t ask Sam to write a song that’ll be a TikTok hit. “You can’t game the system,” he notes, pointing out  “no one cared” about a song he wrote in 2017: Banners’ “Someone Like You.” That is, until 2020, when it went viral on TikTok.

“The fact that that’s the one that reacted, that took it from 50 million streams to 600 million streams … I can’t game this anymore,” he laughs. “So I’m just going to continue to write for me and write what I believe I’d like to listen to.”

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