The Neptunes, the creative, innovative production-songwriting duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo who shaped pop and urban radio from the ’90s well into the 2000s thanks to crafting hits for Britney Spears, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Beyoncé, are nominated for the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Joining the Neptunes as nominees for the 2020 class are other visionaries who have carved out their own space in the music universe: the rap icons Outkast and rock pioneers R.E.M., who announced they had called it quits in 2011.
The Songwriters Hall gave the Associated Press the list of nominees Tuesday, a day ahead of its official announcement.
Twenty-four acts are in contention for the 2020 class. Performing nominees include Patti Smith, Journey, Vince Gill, Gloria Estefan, the Isley Brothers, former Eurythmics members Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, Mike Love, Bread’s David Gates and Steve Miller. Mariah Carey, who co-wrote 17 of her 18 No. 1 hits and earned her first Songwriters Hall nomination last year, is up for the prize again.
Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years.
Six songwriters, or songwriting groups, will be officially inducted at the Hall’s 51st annual Induction & Awards Gala in New York on June 11, 2020. Eligible members can vote for three non-performing songwriters and three performing songwriters until Dec. 16.
The Neptunes, based in Virginia, became highly sought producers and songwriters as pop to rap to R&B stars requested their services. Williams and Hugo worked on Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits such as Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and Ludacris’ “Money Maker.” They crafted a number of Top 10 hits, too, including Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” Kelis’ “Milkshake,” Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call,” Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful,” N’Sync’s “Girlfriend,” Jay-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss” and “Change Clothes.”
Williams and Hugo met in the seventh grade and appear together in the alternative hip-hop trio N.E.R.D. along with Shay Haley. In recent years Williams, a 13-time Grammy winner, has produced without Hugo (two Grammys), churning out hits for other artists such as Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Migos, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z. Williams also found major success with his own music, earning an Oscar nomination for the smash “Happy,” one of the top songs of the decade.