It may be surprising that some musicians reject a song that then goes on to be a smash hit – but it’s more common that you’d think. The last few decades is full of examples of sometimes record-breaking songs that were originally intended for (or offered to) another singer.
All it would've taken is a quick decision in the other direction and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” could’ve been sung by Celine Dion rather than Aerosmith, or Janet Jackson could’ve been on stage singing Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U”. British singer Leona Lewis could have snapped up “Halo” which ended up with Beyonce. Kayne West’s “Gold Digger” was originally meant for Shawnna and the famous song “Call Me” by Blondie was meant for Stevie Nicks. The hit song “Bad” by Michael Jackson was meant to be a duet between him and Prince initially but ended up being a very successful solo track. Those are just a small selection of the many mind-blowing examples of songs that were originally meant for other singers.
So, how does it happen? Production companies and writers often write songs with a specific singer in mind, but then if that singer turns it down afterwards they shop around and see who else might do it justice. Sometimes a song is turned down by a singer’s management team before they even hear a demo track or sometimes singers have a listen and don’t like what they hear so pass it up.
Here are 10 smash hits that were first offered to other famous singers. Read on to see who missed out on money and success.
10 Rock Your Body – Turned Down by Michael Jackson
“Rock Your Body” hit the charts as part of Justin Timberlake’s debut album in 2002, Justified. It was originally meant to be part of the king of pop, Michael Jackson’s, 2001 album Invincible but he rejected this track (and many others which also ended up in the hands of JT). Interestingly, it was this song that JT performed live with Michael Jackson’s sister, Janet, at Super Bowl XXXVIII. JT famously ripped off part of her costume onstage, exposing her breast on live TV. Michael Jackson passed away in 2009 due to cardiac arrest.
9 Whataya Want From Me – Turned Down by Pink
8 Don’t Cha – Turned Down by Paris Hilton
The Pussycat Dolls released the pop song “Don’t Cha” in their self-titled 2005 album. The energetic song hit the charts, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it turns out that The Pussycat Dolls weren’t the number one choice to record the song. It was first offered to both the Sugababes and also to solo artist Paris Hilton, who both said no to it. In 2006 Hilton stated that she thinks she heard the song, but not in the final format that ended up being such a success. She thinks she would’ve “jumped at the chance” to record it if she’d known how good it would end up being.
7 Umbrella – Meant For Britney Spears or Mary J. Blige
6 Since U Been Gone – Turned Down by Pink and Hilary Duff
5 Disturbia – Meant For Chris Brown
Chris Brown and his team originally wrote this song as part of his 2007 album, Exclusive, but after finishing it, he decided it wouldn't make the cut and that it was actually better suited for a female artist. Right he was, because this song ended up in the hands of Rihanna thanks to him and it went on to be hugely successful. She won a Grammy for the song, as well as widespread commercial success including topping the Billboard Top 100 for two weeks in a row. Chris Brown and Rihanna ended up dating for some time, and received widespread attention when Brown reportedly assaulted her. The pair went to court and Brown was given five years’ probation. They got together again briefly in 2013 but now Rihanna is dating Drake.
4 Toxic – Turned Down by Kylie Minogue
3 We Can’t Stop – Meant For Rihanna
2 We Found Love – Turned Down by Nicole Scherzinger
1 Telephone – Turned Down By Britney Spears
The hit pop song “Telephone” was written by Lady Gaga for Britney Spears’ album Circus. However, after reportedly recording a demo version of the song, Spears rejected it. Lady Gaga instead kept the song, which she says was inspired by her fear of suffocation because she rarely had the time to just have fun and let loose. Spears was also going to be the “guest” vocalist for this song, but Gaga ended up choosing Beyonce instead. The 2009 song went on to be a hit, getting nominated for a Grammy in 2011 and selling over seven million digital copies in 2010. It was one of Lady Gaga’s best-selling singles.
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