One of the most successful production and songwriting units throughout the 2000s and 2010s, Stargate originated in Trondheim, Norway as a partnership between Mikkel Storleer Eriksen (aka Mikkel SE), Tor Erik Hermansen, and Hallgeir Rustan. The trio made a splash in Europe with a 1999-2004 run that spawned hits for S Club 7, Billie Piper, Hear’Say, Atomic Kitten, and Samantha Mumba. Eriksen and Hermansen set up business in New York — Rustan opted to remain in Norway with his family — and a chance meeting with Shaffer Smith (aka Ne-Yo) helped catapult Stargate to prominence in the U.S., where their biggest hit — to that point — was Mis-Teeq’s Top 40 single “Scandalous.” After linking with Smith, Stargate rattled off a succession of moderately popular and ubiquitous hit singles. Eriksen and Hermansen became one of the premier pop-R&B production teams, successors to the likes of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Babyface and L.A. Reid. They reached the Top Ten four times in 2006 with Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” and “Sexy Love,” Rihanna’s “Unfaithful,” and Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” the last of which received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. From 2007 through 2009, Stargate notched an additional nine Top Ten songs, occasionally collaborating with other artists and songwriters instead of Smith. Jordin Sparks’ “Tattoo,” for instance, was written with Amanda Ghost and Ian Dench.
Stargate’s biggest year yet was 2010, fostered somewhat ironically by a reversion to their Euro-pop roots. Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” “Only Girl (In the World),” and “What’s My Name?,” along with Katy Perry’s “Firework,” all topped the Hot 100 with high-gloss dancefloor and radio appeal. These hits involved collaborations with the artists and a number of other songwriters, including Esther Dean, Traci Hale, and Crystal Johnson. Among the duo’s biggest hits during the next few years were the stylistically dissimilar likes of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” and Ylvis’ “The Fox.” Eriksen and Hermansen continued to branch out in 2015 as co-producers of Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams. By 2017, the duo made their move to the forefront as primary artists, releasing the single “Waterfall” under the Stargate moniker. The track featured P!nk and Sia, as well as songwriting assistance from Diplo and Jr. Blender. ~ Andy Kellman
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