Shortly after going viral on YouTube in 2011 with his soulful cover of Adele‘s “Someone Like You,” Charlie Puth began delivering his own original hits, starting his 2015 debut, “Marvin Gaye,” featuring Meghan Trainor.
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Before hitting the charts with his own songs, Puth was already co-writing tracks for other artists, including the 2015 Furious 7 track, “See You Again,” along with other songs for Thomas Rhett, CeeLo Green, Pitbull, and Jason Derulo. Puth has continued co-writing and producing songs for other artists —One Direction, John Legend, Maroon 5, and more.
[RELATED: 10 Songs You Didn’t Know Charlie Puth Wrote for Other Artists]
In 2016, Puth released his debut Nine Track Mind with the hit “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” followed by Voicenotes in 2018 and hit singles “How Long” and “Attention.” In the middle of the pandemic, Puth began experimenting with sounds and lyrics again and documented on social media the production of each song on his self-produced 2022 album Charlie.
Dipping into Puth’s still-expanding catalog, here’s a chronological look at 10 of his top songs since breaking out in 2015.
1. “Marvin Gaye” with Meghan Trainor (2015)
Written by Charlie Puth, Nick Seeley, Julie Frost, Jacob Luttrell
First released on his 2015 EP, Some Type of Love, “Marvin Gaye” was Puth’s first official single. A tribute to the late R&B legend, Puth wanted to perform the song as a duet, much like Gaye’s earlier songs with Tammi Terrell, and called on Meghan Trainor as his partner.
“Marvin Gaye” was also the first song Puth wrote when he moved to Los Angeles, and later released the track on his debut album, Nine Track Mind, in 2016.
“’Marvin Gaye’ came about my first day in LA,” shared Puth in 2015. “It was kind of crazy that that’s my first song that I wrote and it blew up that much. What’s crazy is the next day I wrote ‘See You Again,’ so that’s pretty interesting.”
The song also uses Marvin Gaye‘s name as a verb. “I was trying to prove myself as a songwriter,” added Puth. “I was just having fun, and I was surrounded by all these pretty women. … Pure human emotion is how ‘Marvin Gaye’ happened. I just said the line ‘Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on.’ I don’t know where it came from.”
2. “See You Again,” Wiz Khalifa, featuring Charlie Puth (2015)
Written by Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa, Cameron Thomaz, Dann Hume, Josh Hardy, Phoebe Cockburn, Justin Franks, Andrew Cedar
Co-written by Puth for the 2015 Furious 7 soundtrack, “See You Again” was recorded by Wiz Khalifa (featuring Puth) for the film and as a tribute to actor Paul Walker, who died in a car crash at 40 on November 30, 2013.
The song was an instant hit for Khalifa and Puth, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for 12 weeks.
3. “One Call Away” (2016)
Written by Charlie Puth, Justin Franks, Maureen McDonald, Breyan Isaac, Matt Prime, Shy Carter
The second single from Puth’s debut album, “One Call Away” peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Puth revealed that the song came about during a songwriting camp set up by his label and was written for anyone who doesn’t get to see the person they love every day.
“My friend was talking to me about his long-distance relationship, and how it breaks his heart that he can’t see his girlfriend every day,” said Puth. “So, I wanted to make an anthem for everyone in a long-distance relationship or just someone they haven’t seen in a while is just one call away.”
4. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” with Selena Gomez (2016)
Written by Charlie Puth, Selena Gomez, Jacob Kasher Hindlin
“We Don’t Talk Anymore” came to Puth in pieces. The beat came to him while he was in the Phillippines and the guitar parts when he was touring Japan. After recording the vocal for the track, Puth presented the song to Selena Gomez as a duet. She ended up recording her vocals for the song in Puth’s closet.
“She came over and I literally set the mic up in a closet,” revealed Puth. “So, I can say that I’ve vocal produced Selena Gomez while she’s in a closet recording. I think it added to the quaintness of the record.”
5. “Attention” (2018)
Written by Charlie Puth and Jacob Kasher Hindlin
A song about someone who doesn’t want his heart, only his attention—You just want attention, you don’t want my heart / Maybe you just hate the thought of me with someone new—Puth started putting the pieces of “Attention” together while he was on tour in Japan. To illustrate the meaning behind the song, Puth teased it with a pop-up, LED installation in Los Angeles, showing the brain’s reaction to receiving attention.
6. “Done For Me,” featuring Kehlani (2018)
Written by Charlie Puth, Kehlani, John Ryan, Jacob Kasher Hindlin
Following their 2015 cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” Puth and Kehlani reunited on “Done for Me,” the third single off his second album Voicenotes. “Done For Me” went platinum with more than one million certified unit sales in the U.S.
7. “If You Leave Me,” featuring Boyz II Men (2018)
Written by Charlie Puth, Tobias Jesso Jr., Robin Wiley
Also on Voicenotes, “If You Leave Me” is performed a cappella, along with Boyz II Men, and interpolates N’SYNC’s 2000 song “I Thought She Knew.” Though Puth wasn’t covering “If You Leave Me” by Chicago, his version does feature the verse You will take the biggest part of me from the band’s 1976 hit. Coincidentally, Boyz II Men did cover the Chicago song in 2009.
8. “Change,” featuring James Taylor (2018)
Written by Charlie Puth, Johan Carlsson, Ross Golan
Featuring vocals from James Taylor, Puth wrote “Change” for those who have lost their lives due to gun violence. Written a year prior to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which resulted in the death of 17 people, the song was dedicated to the students.
Look around there are too many of us crying
And not enough love to go around
What a waste, another day
Another good one dying
But I know that the world will change
The day we know we’re all the same
“Recording with James Taylor was a dream come true,” said Puth. “He’s the reason why I write music and it was an absolute honor to work with him.” He added, “But performing ‘Change’ for the first time ever at March For Our Lives after meeting Mia and Hayley [two students from Parkland, FL], and feeling all of that emotion from the tens of thousands of people who came out to support them is also something that I’ll never forget.”
9. “Left and Right,” featuring Jung Kook of BTS, (2022)
Written by Charlie Puth and Jacob Kasher Hindlin
“Left and Right” was the third single Puth revealed from his third album Charlie and featured BTS’ Jung Kook on vocals. “Any collaboration that I do I have to have some sort of musical connection with the person,” said Puth of their collaboration. The two first met in South Korea four years before working together.
“We performed on an awards show,” added Puth. “And I was always just so impressed with how he was able to hit all those notes so flawlessly. He has absolute pitch too. I’m always fascinated by people like that and especially because he can’t really speak too good of English just like I can’t speak Korean so we’re able to communicate seamlessly through melody. It’s amazing.”
10. “Light Switch” (2022)
Written by Charlie Puth, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Jake Torrey
A perceptive ear will detect the actual sound of a light switch flicking on and off on the dance-y “Light Switch,” something Puth first recorded and posted on his TikTok page, while documenting the making of his album Charlie.
“Light Switch” initially started out as a slow and gloomier ballad about how Puth couldn’t switch his brain off, but then evolved into a more dance-pop track about a girl that he’s attracted to, who is wrong for him, but knows how to turn him on … like a light switch.
Photo by Kenneth Cappello / ID PR