Inside The ASCAP Pop Music Awards: The Weeknd Wins Songwriter Of The Year

The Weeknd takes home the coveted Songwriter of the Year award at the 2021 ASCAP Pop Music Awards for his double platinum After Hours and the infectious hits “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.” The honor marks the 13th ASCAP award overall for Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye and his first win as Songwriter of the Year.

Videos by American Songwriter

Other winners of note include songwriters Louis Bell, Kaan Güneşberk and Billy Walsh winning Song of the Year for Post Malone’s “Circles,” Dua Lipa and Emily Warren for “Don’t Start Now” and Amy Allen for co-writing the Harry Styles hit “Adore You.”

Top music publisher of the year went to Warner Chappell for multiple top tracks, including Dan + Shay’s “10,000 Hours,” The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” Selena Gomez’s “Lose You to Love Me,” Da Baby’s “ROCKSTAR” and more. The award marks the 14th time the publisher has received top honors.

The 2021 ASCAP Pop Music Awards are rolling out virtually this week, with live acceptance speeches and performances across the PRO’s social media pages.

“Prayed For You,” a country crossover hit for newcomer Matt Stell, was recognized as one of the most performed songs of the year. Stell credits ASCAP for contributing to his success as a writer and artist.

Matt Stell (photo credit: Dustin Haney)

“Prayed For You” stands out and is different from what I do,” he tells American Songwriter. “I knew when we (co-writers Allison Veltz and Ash Bowers) finished writing that song it was a good song. I had no idea it would be a song that would go to Number One and change my life. It turned me into a writer/artist instead of an artist/writer.”

“When you first move to town and you’re trying to be a songwriter, trying to figure out the inroads on where you want to go, it’s tough. ASCAP was good about meeting with me when I was a fledgling songwriter trying to figure out where I wanted to go.”

Songwriter Amy Allen (Harry Styles “Adore You”) (photo credit: Lindsay Ellary)

Amy Allen, a co-writer of “Adore You” echoed Stell’s ASCAP comments.  “Songwriting is such a roller coaster of a career, so it’s been incredible to have people I trust and respect helping to guide me through it.”

She detailed a little of the songwriting process behind “Adore You” for American Songwriter.

“The first line was ‘I’ll walk through fire for you, just let me adore you like it’s the only thing I’ll ever do.’ The rest came pretty quickly after that! That session was one of those dream writes. The whole thing just flowed so easily, and we were all having so much fun.”

“I think we wrote about four songs that day, and ‘Adore You’ was maybe the first or the second idea! I know Tom (Kid Harpoon) put a lot of love into it, and I got to do some vocals on it one day with Harry which was a blast. Loved getting to work with Harry, Tom and Tyler!”

ASCAP’s celebration kicked off yesterday with an ASCAP Pop Music Awards Instagram Live interview and performance from Lewis Capaldi’s “Before You Go” co-writer and ASCAP Award winner Phil Plested (additional co-writers Ben Kohn and Pete “Merf” Kelleher are also winners).

Some of the highlights include:

Madison Emiko Love and Leland will take the ASCAP Instagram Live stage to tell the story behind their hit “Kings & Queens” recorded by Ava Max (co-written by winners Desmond Child, Cirkut and Mimoza) on Wednesday, April 14 at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT.

Watch below for an exclusive performance of “Die From a Broken Heart” from Maddie & Tae featuring ASCAP Award-winning songwriter Maddie Marlow (co-writers Deric Ruttan and Jonathan Singleton are also winners).

The full list of award winners can be viewed on ASCAP’s website here. (Note: the list only includes ASCAP songwriters involved in writing the honored songs).

Key winners include:

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR: Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye


Writers: Billy Walsh, Kaan Güneşberk, Louis Bell
Publishers: LUBALZ PUBLISHING, Nyan King Music, Sony Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, WMMW Publishing

PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR: Warner Chappell Music


10,000 HOURS

Writers: Dan Smyers, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, Jordan Reynolds, Justin Bieber
Publishers: Beats And Banjos, BIEBER TIME PUBLISHING, BMG, Buckeye26, JREYNMUSIC, Poo BZ Publishing Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music


Writers: Amy Allen
Publishers: Artist Publishing Group West, KENNY + BETTY TUNES, Kobalt, superreal Songs, Universal Music Publishing Group


Writers: DaBABY, jetsonmade

Publishers: Baby Jesus Publishing, Jetsonmade Anotha1 Publishing, Sony Music Publishing, South Coast Music Group LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group


Writers: Dua Lipa, Michael Hutchence, Stefan Johnson
Publishers: 1916 Publishing, Kobalt, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music


Writers: Craig Wiseman, Jamie Moore
Publishers: Big Loud Proud Songs, BMG, JMZL Music, Red Toe Rocker, Round Hill Music, Team Destiny


Writers: Desmond Child, Henry “Cirkut” Walter, Leland, Madison Emiko Love, MIMOZA
Publishers: Artist Publishing Group West, Bob Ochoa’s Homemade Salsa, Cirkut Breaker LLC, Downtown Music Publishing , Kobalt, LIVEMADLOVE, Prescription Songs, Sony Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group


Writers: Lil Durk, RON “CARDO” LaTOUR
Publishers: ANGELOOTF MUSIC, Cardo On The Beat, Sony Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group


Writers: Mattman & Robin, Selena Gomez
Publishers: SMG Tunes, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music


Writers: Josh Osborne
Publishers: Smackborne Music, Sony Music Publishing


Writers: Brad Tursi, Josh Osborne, Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen

Publishers: Anthem Music Publishing, Downtown Music Publishing, More Me Gusta Music, ReeHits World, Smackborne Music, SMACKSONGS, Sony Music Publishing, Twelve6 Dogwood, Unfair Entertainment, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music


Writers: Matt Stell


Writers: Ashley Gorley, Zach Crowell
Publishers: Caleb’s College Fund, Miller Crow Music, Round Hill Music, Spirit Music Nashville, Tape Room Music
Publishers: Endurance Music Group, Sony Music Publishing


Writers: DaBaby, SethintheKitchen
Publishers: Baby Jesus Publishing, South Coast Music Group LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music


Writers: Jimmy Robbins


Writers: Kevin Kadish
Publishers: Amplified Administration, Endurance Music Group, Shooting Moving Targets In The Dark

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