I Kissed A Girl: at least 10 songs you didn’t know were written by pop wizard Cathy Dennis

Penny Brazier
4 min readSep 13, 2019

Those of us of a certain vintage will remember Cathy Dennis as a pretty successful singer-songwriter from the 80s and 90s.

Norfolk-born Cathy’s early career saw her blast into the international charts with songs like ‘Too Many Walls’, ‘Just Another Dream’ and ‘Touch Me (All Night Long)’.

Lovely stuff. The type of thing your dad would listen to in the car.

These days, you may know her better as the songwriting svengali behind a raft of contemporary pop mega-hits. Pretty much everything Dennis has touched in the last 20 years has turned to chart gold.

If you’ve heard of her, you’re probably aware that she’s hugely successful.

But do you know many earworms Cathy has gifted us?

And do you know which idiots turned some of these pop gems down before they became chart-crushers?

Let’s find out…

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head — Kylie Minogue

Written by Dennis and her song-writing partner Rob Davis of 70s band Mud, this pulsing dancefloor anthem smashed into the number one position in every European country except Finland. And more fool them. Surely one the best Kylie songs ever written, it launched Dennis into a career writing for superstars.

Guess who it was offered it first but turned it down? Sophie Ellis Bextor. Murder on the dancefloor indeed.

About You Now — Sugababes

The Sugababes’ sixth number one single — remember how massive they were? — and also the first UK single to top the charts based purely on downloads. This slice of pop perfection was written by Dennis and collaborator Dr Luke, who famously wrote Kelly Clarkson’s banger (and everyone’s karaoke favourite if we could only hit the high notes) ‘Since U Been Gone’. Excuse me while I float in a blissful pop reminiscence of the late ’00s. Good times.

I Kissed A Girl — Katy Perry

Arguably Dennis’ biggest success, 2008’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ is still one of the best-selling digital singles of all time; a global smash hit that took Perry’s career to the next level. Interviewed by Glamour magazine in 2018 Perry expressed regret for some of her own lyrical content (she had written the chorus herself): “Bisexuality wasn’t as talked about back then, or any type of fluidity. If I had to write that song again, I probably would make an edit on it. It has a couple of stereotypes in there.” Hindsight is 20/20.

So which fool is alleged to have turned this one down? Macy Gray. She claimed in an interview that she had been offered the song first but passed on it. Who knew.

Toxic — Britney Spears

Co-written by Dennis with producers Bloodyshy & Avant, this was the lead single from Britney’s fourth studio album and it blew pretty much everything else out of the pop water in 2004. It won Britney her first and only Grammy and has got to be one of her greatest singles (I’ll fight you on this). Kylie famously turned the song down, and has been very gracious about it since. Lovely Kylie.

Pretty much everything S Club 7 ever did

Cathy’s contribution to the bouncy teen-pop sensations’ back catalogue is impressive. And yes, I do mean impressive — you can’t argue with ‘Reach’ for contagious catchiness and uplifting sentiment. When I open my own primary school we are having it as our anthem. Dennis also wrote S Club hits ‘2 in a Million’, ‘Natural’ and ‘Never Had A Dream Come True’ among many others, plus a fair chunk of S Club Juniors’ output.

Reveal — Celine Dion

It’s not just glitzy pop bangers for Dennis, she’s a dab hand at the AOR stuff too. World-conquering balladeer Celine worked with Dennis and co-writer Greg Wells on this track for her eighth studio album ‘One Heart’. Cathy has also written album tracks for Pink, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Janet Jackson, Little Mix and Christina Aguilera among others. All killer, no filler.

Bumper to Bumper — Spice Girls

As well as fabulous album tracks, Dennis knows when to pitch a b-side. You might not have heard of this track, but you’ll know the a-side. Zig-a-zig-ah! This is said to have been Cathy’s first major songwriting credit. What a start.

Sweet Dreams My LA-ex — Rachel Stevens

An underrated, forgotten gem of a noughties tune. This total banger from former S Clubber Rachel Stevens was written by Dennis as a response to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’. Why? Because Dennis originally wrote the song for Timberlake’s ex-girlfriend Britney Spears. Yup — she turned it down. And this would have been such a great Britney song.

The Pop Idol theme tune

Oh yes, she wrote it. Quite fittingly, as Dennis went on to write songs for many Pop Idol and American Idol alumni including Gareth Gates, Will Young and Kelly Clarkson. One can only imagine the joyous royalties involved in writing the theme tune for one of the biggest TV franchises in the world.

What. A. List. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Next time these hits pop up on the radio, just think of Cathy floating in her massive swimming pool.

What a career. Cathy, I can only say — thank you for the music.

I wrote this post as part of the #write52 project. You can find out more about what that is and sign up for the newsletter right here.

I’m Penny Brazier, a freelance writer and content strategist. When the world leaves you feeling blue, you can count on me, I will be there for you on Twitter here and Instagram here.

--

--