Diane Warren called out by Beyonce collaborator The-Dream after asking “how can there be 24 writers on a song?”

Diane Warren
Diane Warren. (Image credit: Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images)

Acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren has been forced to apologise after she was criticised for asking “how can there be 24 writers on a song?”

Though Warren didn’t say which song she was referring to when she posed the question on Twitter - accompanied by an eyeroll emoji - it was assumed to be in reference to Beyonce’s Alien Superstar, a track on her new Renaissance album that has - you guessed it - 24 credited writers.

Warren was quick to add that “this isn’t meant as shade, I’m just curious,” but Beyonce collaborator The-Dream, one of seven people to receive a production credit on the track, felt compelled to respond.

He tweeted: “You mean how’s does our (Black) culture have so many writers, well it started because we couldn’t afford certain things starting out, so we started sampling and it became an Artform, a major part of the Black Culture (hip hop) in America. Had that era not happen who knows. U good?”

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Warren then followed up by saying: “I didn't mean that as an attack or as disrespect. I didn't know this, thank U for making me aware of it. No need to be mean about it.”

The-Dream then replied again, saying: “Btw I know it’s not a one on one writing contest you looking for from no one over here…… you don’t want that smoke. And you know I love you, but come on. Stop acting like your records haven’t been sampled.”

Following the discussion, Warren offered one further comment on the matter, saying: “Ok, I meant no disrespect to Beyonce, who I've worked with and admire. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding.”

Alien Superstar opens with a spoken word sample taken from Foremost Poets’ Moonraker, which explains the credit given to John Holliday, that track’s writer. Kim Cooper’s credit, meanwhile, is due to the use of a sample from Danube Dance’s 1992 track Unique.

There’s also a spoken word contribution from the late American writer Barbara Ann Teer, lifted from an interview with her. 

However, perhaps the most eyebrow-raising credits in Alien Superstar go to Fred Fairbrass, Richard Fairbrass and Rob Manzoli - AKA, Right Said Fred. This is down to the fact that the song features an obvious nod to I’m Too Sexy, the band’s enduring 1991 hit, in its chorus.

This credit follows Right Said Fred’s similar acknowledgement on Taylor Swift’s 2017 single Look What You Made Me Do, which also doffed its chorus to I’m Too Sexy.

Coincidentally,  Swift herself was also at the centre of a co-writing spat earlier this year, with Blur’s Damon Albarn ultimately apologising “unreservedly and unconditionally” after saying “there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes” while discussing her work in an interview.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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