“Attention” is the 2017 pop hit from American singer, songwriter, musician and producer Charlie Puth and his second studio album “Voicenotes” (2018), which Puth produced almost entirely himself. The song was written and produced by Puth, with addtional song writing credits noting Jacob Kashner as co-writer.
“Attention” quickly became one of Puth’s signature hits, with the catchy lyrics detailing an encounter with a former ex-partner who tries to entice Puth back into a relationship, however Puth fully knows that the ex-partner doesn’t really care for him, but simply wants attention. In the final pre-chorus of the song, the listeners hear a sigh from Puth. Speaking to Genius.com, Puth revealed why that sound was kept in: “I kinda just got a little emotional. I decided to keep the take of this. I was going to delete it, but I was like “screw it.” And it has an odd bar. It has a second of nothing. It’s cool.”
Puth also spoke to Genius.com about the song’s inspiration both lyrically and sonically, as well as his feelings as himself as an artist before releasing one of his most popular and well-loved songs.
G: How did this song come together?
C: When I came up with the song originally, I was on this hotel bed in this really cool room in the Philippines. I was just watching TV and kind of browsing through Instagram, because that’s how you watch TV, nowadays. You don’t really watch it, you just… You look at your phone and you look at the TV at the same time and I was looking at this Instagram post that somebody had posted. It was this long letter about how he had just broken up with his girlfriend. I don’t know this guy. I have no idea why it popped up on my feed. I just was reading it and I was like, “Damn. This girl really played him and she just wants attention.” So it was like, “Why hasn’t anyone made that a song? She just wants attention.”
The original lyric was like a ballad, how I had it in my head. I pictured plucking strings and then very lushly, “She just wants attention…” It was a dirty lyric at first. She doesn’t want his… She just wants attention. And they were like, “OK we can’t put that in a song. It sounds too sappy and sad. It sounds too much like a Disney thing, if it was strings and butterflies and whatever.” So I wanted a funky, walkable baseline and then I was thinking of a different song and then I put the melody… All it is is just a E flat minor scale. And I put it over the bassline that I had in my head and it just went perfectly on it.
And I was like, “Oh shit!” And I took out my phone and recorded a voice note and I just had that chorus. And if you watch the music video, I put the voice note at the end of it.
G: How did the music come together?
C: It was literally just a kickdrum sample. A 707. A really fake-sounding kickdrum, but with a lot of knock to it. Everyone keeps asking me like, “Yo, how did you get Nile Rodgers to play the bass on that song?” And they don’t realize that it’s literally a fake bass. It’s a software plug-in called Trillion from Spectrasonics. They make other great stuff like Omnisphere and Keyscape. I love their stuff, and this plug-in came out in like 2003. The bass samples on it are so good that they haven’t had to update it since then. For all the producers watching this, this is the preset: retro 60s, in the live bass section. I just put a CLA 76 from waves on it and just juiced it up and cranked the fuck out of it and put a little side chains on it. I was on a train in Tokyo, just making the velocities perfect in ProTools, because that’s how I produce music. All just in ProTools. Very rigid, but it was important to make it sound real. So all the velocities sound like they’re being played by a real musician. And then you put a little side chain on it, to make room for the kick. I kept the 707 and put in one of my Puth kicks, as I like to call it. I have a secret folder of Puth kicks and I put it under the 707 and you mix the punchy kick with the fluff kick and it becomes a super kick.
Speaking to Billboard.com in 2018, Puth revealed his feelings about “Attention” and the impact it had on his views as an artist himself:
“I didn’t feel like an artist until ‘Attention’ came out. And I feel like people are just starting to get it. I’m not mad that they’re just finding out – they’re getting the message I wasn’t allowed to say before. ‘Attention’ is me saying, ‘Fuck everybody: I’m doing this song the way I want to do it.’”
The music video for “Attention” was released alongside the single on the 24th April 2017, and was uploaded to Puth’s official YouTube channel. Directed by Emil Nava, the video shows Puth at club seeming very unhappy, watching as a young woman seemingly has other intentions with Puth than to date him, but rather to get attention. As of May 2021, the video has over 1.2 billion views, with an incredible 8.6 million likes.
Release Date: 21st April 2017
Songwriter/s: Charlie Puth & Jacob Kasher
Producer: Charlie Puth
Label/s: Artist Partner & Atlantic
Music Video Release Date: 24th April 2017
Music Video Director: Emil Nava
Chart Rankings & Certifications: In its year of release, “Attention” charted across the world and reached the following peak positions in various countries and locations:
– #17 in Argentina
– #10 in Australia
– #11 in Austria
– #2 and #15 on different charts in Belgium
– #2 in Bulgaria
– #6 in Canada
– #1 on the CIS Tophit
– #6 in Chile
– #48 in Colombia
– #6 in Croatia
– #13 & #17 on various charts in Czech Republic
– #12 in Denmark
– #5 in Ecuador
– #3 in France
– #9 in Germany
– #5 in Greece
– #4, #5, #6 & #10 on various charts in Hungary
– #11 in Ireland
– #1 in Israel
– #10 in Italy
– #3 in Lebanon
– #3 in Luxembourg
– #2 in Malaysia
– #2 & #10 in Mexico
– #11 & #20 in the Netherlands
– #6 in New Zealand
– #13 in Norway
– #5 in Panama
– #9 in the Philippines
– #3 in Poland
– #3 in Portugal
– #4 in Romania
– #1 in Russia
– #12 in Scotland
– #1 in Serbia
– #8 & #12 on various charts in Slovakia
– #13 in Slovenia
– #9 in South Korea
– #10 in Spain
– #20 in Sweden
– #6 in Switzerland
– #9 on the UK Singles chart
– #1 in the Ukraine
– #14 in Uruguay
– #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100
– #6 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary
– #1 on the US Adult Top 40
– #38 on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs
– #1 on the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40
– #9 on the US Billboard Rhythmic
– #1 in Venezuela
“Attention” is certified:
– Gold in Austria & Mexico
– 3x Gold in Germany
– Platinum in Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, Portugal & Switzerland
– 2x Platinum in the Netherlands, Spain & the UK
– 4x Platinum in Italy, Poland & the US
– 5x Platinum in Australia & Canada
– Diamond in France
Read the lyrics to “Attention” here.
Listen to “Attention” on Apple Music.
Listen to “Attention” on Spotify.