Many songs that have gone on to become chart smashes were not always intended for the artist who made the song into the hit that it is today. Ever wondered what Rihanna‘s ‘Umbrella’ would sound like with Britney‘s vocal in the driving seat? What about if TLC ended up recording her smash ‘Baby One More Time’? These are some of the things we wonder about after discovering another big time artist was given the chance to record the smash single.
It happens all the time in the music industry. Songs get passed around, re-worked and recorded. This post below, looks at the more popular rejections and you never know, there might even be a few that totally surprise you!
Britney Spears & Mary J. Blige turned down Rihanna‘s ‘Umbrella’:
Terius ‘The-Dream’ Nash previously confirmed that Rihanna‘s monster smash ‘Umbrella’ was written with Britney Spears in mind. British singer/songwriter Taio Cruz instantly knew the song was a number one smash and asked Tricky Stewart for the track. Tricky told him he could not have the track because he was waiting on Britney’s people to reach out (they didn’t respond). The track would have ended up on Britney’s critically acclaimed ‘Blackout’ album, which was at the time of her nervous breakdown. Mary J. Blige also confirmed the track was shopped to her before it was pitched to Rihanna, but Blige says she had no regrets because the song was “too commercial”. We will never hear Britney putting her nasally spin on those infectious “Eh eh eh’s” but that’s okay. Rihanna did an epic job on the song which would go on to net The-Dream a rather cool $15 million!
Janet Jackson turned down Whitney Houston‘s ‘How Will I Know’:
‘How Will I Know’ was written by romantic couple George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, who were appointed to write for Janet Jackson‘s ‘Control’ album. The track was sent to Janet’s people, but they passed it on because it wasn’t right for her at the time. The couple’s publishing company played it for Gerry Griffith when he was in Los Angeles gathering material for the unknown Whitney Houston. He fell in love with it and sent it to Whitney’s mentor Clive Davis! The track became Houston’s first pop crossover hit and her second #1 single. It’s easy to see why Janet would turn it down. It just didn’t seem like her style at all!
Britney Spears turned down Lady Gaga‘s ‘Telephone’:
Lady Gaga was still considered a new artist when she released the anti-posessive boyfriend anthem ‘Telephone’. Before turning her back on pop cuts that had urban market appeal, she accepted the Darkchild-produced ‘Telephone’ after it was originally written for Britney Spears. Britney did record a heavily autotuned demo of the song but passed it on allowing Gaga to record it as a collaboration with Beyonce. Later on down the line, Gaga went on to say: “I hate ‘Telephone’. It’s the song I have the most difficult time listening to”. Not sure why Britney turned it down though. It would have fit right in with her ‘Circus’ album in my opinion. It was a tailor-made beat for Britney.
TLC turned down Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time’:
Legendary R&B trio TLC made the decision to reject the Max Martin-penned ‘Baby One More Time’. They passed it over because they felt it was unsuitable for their ‘Fanmail’ album. This allowed Britney Spears to smash the charts globally with her first ever debut single. The video, consisting of the the teen rocking pigtails and a sexy school uniform, took the song onto another level. I can see why TLC turned it down. ‘Baby’ was way too poppish for TLC. Listen to the ‘Fanmail’ album and then listen to ‘Baby’. Not a cohesive transition AT ALL! Still, TLC went on to snag their own smash single ‘No Scrubs’, which ended up reaching the highest audience figures in US chart history!
Chrisette Michele turned down Beyonce‘s ‘Irreplaceable’:
Chrisette Michele turned down the Ne-yo-penned ‘Irreplaceable’ because she felt it “wasn’t her”. In other words, she thought it was too “pop”. Ne-yo passed on the song to Beyonce who infamously told fans at her ‘Beyonce Experience’ concert that SHE wrote the song. Of course Ne-yo shot that down, claiming Beyonce only added melodic changes to ‘Irreplaceable’, which *ahem* does count as songwriting. Others would beg to differ given that the song was pre-made and pre-written. Interestingly enough, she told female concertgoers: “I wrote this for my ladies”, which would imply she had a hand in writing the strong-headed lyrics as well. Whatever the argument, Ne-yo got paid as the song became a worldwide smash encouraging Stargate to recycle the same beat over and over again!
Chris Brown turned down Rihanna‘s ‘Disturbia’:
Before things turned nasty between ex-couple Rihanna and Chris Brown, he was also a creative force behind her career as well. Not just embarking on joint tours but working with her professionally. Brown co-wrote ‘Disturbia’ for his own album, ‘Exclusive’, but passed it onto Rihanna after he decided it was better suited to a female vocalist.
Christina Milian turned down Rihanna‘s ‘S.O.S’:
Turning down ‘S.O.S’ may have been the worst career move for Christina Milian. I do know that LA Reid was trying to pitch the track to Milian to kickstart the launch of her ‘So Amazin’ album. She further angered Reid when she ditched all of his proposed producers to allow her then boyfriend Dre to produce the entire project. The song went on to become Rihanna‘s first #1 single. Milian went on to say ‘S.O.S.’ just didn’t appeal to her. When the album bombed, she was dropped a week after its release and blamed the label’s priority on Rihanna for her misfortune: “It was a budget cut, I believe. [Def Jam] probably got rid of projects like mine to spend the money on [Rihanna]” she said. She may have been onto something. *crickets*
Michael Jackson turned down Justin Timberlake‘s ‘Rock Your Body’:
Half of Justin Timberlake‘s ‘Justified’ album was comprised of Michael Jackson rejects, songs Pharrell Williams pitched to MJ for his album ‘Invincible’. Pharrell said MJ’s management didn’t want them. They didn’t appeal to MJ for some reason, although I could easily hear some of the ‘Off The Wall’ influences in the music. Timberlake was happy enough to accept songs originally intended to launch the comeback of his idol. He had hit song after hit song and the album sold incredibly well.
Christina Aguilera turned down Kelly Clarkson‘s ‘Miss Independent’:
Not much people know Christina Aguilera shares a writing credit on Kelly Clarkson‘s hit single ‘Miss Independent’. Except, maybe the diehard Aggy and Clarkson fans. I’m not diehard for any of them but I knew this as I purchased Clarkson’s debut album ‘Thank You’ the week it was released, and did so for ‘Stripped’ as well, the very album that ‘Miss Independent’ was suppose to appear on. Aggy worked on the song with songwriters Rhett Lawrence and Matt Morris for the project but Aguilera passed on it paving way for Clarkson to put her own spin on the record.