At the Broadcast Music Inc. "How to Write a Song" pre-Grammy event, Cee Lo talked about writing the Pussycat Dolls' debut song, "Don't Cha," as well as his own hits like "(Expletive) You!" and "Crazy."
"I don't take myself too seriously as a producer. I consider myself more of an idealist," said Cee Lo, who has also written for Jennifer Hudson and Brandy.
Cee Lo's expletive-laden jam is up for four awards at Sunday's Grammys, including record and song of the year. He co-wrote the tune with the Smeezingtons, the production trio that includes rising star Bruno Mars, who is up for seven awards.
Seal, whose "Kiss from a Rose" won Grammys for record and song of the year in 1996, was also on the songwriting panel. He told a story about how his biggest hit almost didn't make his album.
"It wasn't edgy ... and (I) took it off the album," he explained of "Kiss from a Rose." He then said a publicist friend convinced him to put the song back on the CD.
Other attendees included songwriters Bonnie McKee (Katy Perry's "California Gurls," Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me"), Claude Kelly (Bruno Mars' "Grenade," Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You"), BC Jean (Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy") and Chad Hugo, Pharrell's partner in the production team, the Neptunes. Music producer Dallas Austin and BMI vice president Catherine Brewton moderated the panel.
Kelly also co-wrote Miley Cyrus' "Party In the USA" and Spears' "Circus." He said writing for women isn't complicated at all.
"I have a weird way of imitating anybody ... I can go in the booth and I can sing anything from a male perspective or female perspective without any problems," said Kelly, who is also vocal producer.
Kelly, who is nominated for best R&B song this year for co-writing Fantasia's "Bittersweet," said he wanted to work with the former "American Idol" winner after seeing her perform live.
"If you see her live, it changes your whole opinion of Fantasia. She's almost a victim of the wrong generation. If she was out in the '70s or the '60s, she literally would be ... equivalent to Patti (LaBelle) or Aretha (Franklin)," Kelly said, who produced most of Fantasia's latest CD, "Back to Me." Fantasia, who overdosed on a mixture of aspirin and sleeping pills in August, is also up for best R&B female vocal performance for "Bittersweet."
McKee, who is also a singer, co-wrote hits like Perry's Grammy-nominated "Teenage Dream" and Taio Cruz's "Dynamite." She said writing for others has been the break she's badly needed.
"I struggled as an artist and it didn't work out and I was all heartbroken," she said. "So I just kind of needed to take a break from it for a second and sort of heal and just give my love to somebody else. It's a nice departure actually."