5 Songs You Didn’t Know ‘American Idol’ Winners Wrote for Other Artists

American Idol has been a monumental platform for aspiring singers. From producing winners Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Scotty McCreery and more, the show has introduced promising new talent to the world.

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In addition to their powerful voices, many Idol winners have also proven to be talented songwriters. From Ariana Grande to One Direction, here are five songs you didn’t know Idol winners wrote for other artists.

1. “The Way” by Ariana Grande

Written by Jordin Sparks, Mac Miller, Harmony Samuels, Amber Streeter, Al Sherrod Lambert and Brenda Russell

Jordin Sparks won over the hearts of America when she was crowned winner of season six of American Idol. With a voice that caught people’s ears, she proved that gift translates to songwriting as one of the co-writers on Ariana Grande’s hit single, “The Way.” Released as the lead single off her debut album, Yours Truly, “The Way” reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped launch her into superstar status.

According to one of the album’s producers, Harmony Samuels, many of the songs that ended up on Yours Truly were originally crafted for Sparks. “I was working on those records for Ariana Grande, but they weren’t Ariana Grande records — they were Jordin Sparks records,” Samuels explained to Rated R&B. “Jordin Sparks is the originator of those records and the blueprint behind who Ari is now. My vision was for Jordin to be that person. Unfortunately, RCA didn’t see the value in what I was producing for Jordin, and they proceeded to go in a different direction.”

2. “Tell Me a Lie” by One Direction

Written by Kelly Clarkson, Tom Meredith and Shep Solomon

Hot off the heels of placing third in the seventh season of the British version of The X Factor, One Direction went straight to the studio to record their debut album, Up All Night, which arrived in 2011. Along with hits “What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing,” the album also features a deep cut co-written by the inaugural American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson, “Tell Me a Lie.” Clarkson originally wrote the song for herself, but when it didn’t fit the album she was working on at the time, she agreed to give it to 1D at Simon Cowell’s request. Clarkson met Cowell when he was a judge on AI. He’s also responsible for putting 1D together on X Factor.

“When Simon Cowell put me forward to write for One Direction I said, ‘Let me hear them first,'” Clarkson told Daily Star. “Simon has been really supportive since I won American Idol. ‘Tell Me A Lie’ is the cut I’ve got on 1D’s album as I like the story of them, how they came together as a group.” Up All Night hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

3. “Kiss You Tonight” by David Nail

Written by David Cook, Jay Knowles and Trent Summar

American Idol season seven winner David Cook moved to Nashville in 2012 and soon stepped into the world of country music when he co-wrote David Nail’s 2014 single, “Kiss You Tonight.” Though the writing session with Jay Knowles and Trent Summar was intended to produce songs for Cook, “Kiss You Tonight” didn’t quite feel like his song. It did, however, fit Nail’s vibe.

“‘Kiss You Tonight’ was a song that the first time I heard it I knew I was going to record it,” Nail stated at the time of the song’s release. “There was just something about it that made me remember so many songs from the past that, you know there’s not a specific thing that jumps out at you the first time you hear it you just know, ‘Hey, I wanna hear that again.'” “Kiss You” became a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

4. “Still Got Tonight” by Matthew Morrison

Written by Kris Allen, Steve Kipner and Andrew Frampton

After winning season eight of Idol, Kris Allen not only became a recording artist but also a professional songwriter. Glee star Matthew Morrison is one of the artists who cut one of Allen’s songs. “Still Got Tonight” was released as the second single off Morrison’s self-titled debut album and was performed by Morrison in the season two finale of Glee.

5. “Catastrophe” by Josh Gracin

Written by Ruben Studdard and Josh Gracin

Josh Gracin and Ruben Studdard’s relationship continued even after the votes were tallied and crowned the winner of season two of American Idol. Gracin, who placed fourth during the same season, called on Studdard via Twitter to co-write this soulful deep cut, “Catastrophe,” for his third album, Redemption.

“I didn’t know if he would see it or not because you never know who’s actually doing the pages,” Gracin recalled to Billboard in 2011 about reaching out to Studdard via Twitter. “He sent me a message right back, and he lives in Birmingham. So, all I had to do was drive down there — about two hours — and we finished it. He came up with a brilliant bridge.”

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images

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