In the music world, songs get passed around like a hot potato. Demo songs are sent to one artist, turned down, and recorded by another. Tracks bend gender rules, with Aerosmith snatching a power ballad from Celine Dion and Chris Brown handing over one of his tunes to Rihanna. Here are just 11 of the many songs that made it big after being turned down by other singers.
1. “TELEPHONE” — PERFORMED BY LADY GAGA, MEANT FOR BRITNEY SPEARS
Before Stefani Germanotta was known as Lady Gaga, she was a songwriter, penning songs for The Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears. Gaga originally wrote "Telephone" to be included in Spears' Circus album, but the track was left on the cutting room floor. A demo with Spears' vocals suposedly exists, but there's doubt that it's actually the "Oops!" songstress. Gaga seized the tune back up and saved it for a rainy day—better known as The Fame Monster.
Britney Spears - Telephone | LEAKED DEMO | HQ |
2. “HOW WILL I KNOW” — PERFORMED BY WHITNEY HOUSTON, MEANT FOR JANET JACKSON
Songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam wrote this Whitney Houston power ballad with Janet Jackson in mind. A&M Records asked the duo to send this song to Janet's people, but the "Rhythm Nation" singer politely passed. She was in the middle of recording Control, and the track wasn't right for the album's vision. The label held onto the song and eventually gave it to Houston, turning it into one of her signature tunes.
Whitney Houston - How Will I Know
3. “HALO” — PERFORMED BY BEYONCE, MEANT FOR LEONA LEWIS
This one's simple: Leona was too busy to record the track, so Beyonce snatched it up. Behind the scenes, Lewis' mentor Simon Cowell was working diligently to get Ryan Tedder to write the song for her, but the wait was too much for Tedder. Tedder has a different story, though, saying the song was intended for Beyonce all along; he just gave it to Lewis to make Beyonce hurry up with the recording process. His reasoning: If Beyonce thought another A-Lister wanted the single, she'd want it more.
Beyoncé - Halo
4. “HERO” — PERFORMED BY MARIAH CAREY, MEANT FOR GLORIA ESTEFAN
Carey says this U.S. Billboard No. 1 was originally intended to be used for the 1992 Dustin Hoffman film of the same name, but the film's producers went with Luther Vandross' "Heart of a Hero" instead. While writing the chart-topper, Carey was told the song would be for Gloria Estefan and even said herself that the song didn't match her own style. After playing it for record executives, they insisted that Carey keep it for herself, so she made minor adjustments to give it a more R&B style and sent it to radio stations.
Mariah Carey - Hero
Personally...I had no idea white people listened to Gloria Estefan. She came out with an English album.
5. “I DON’T WANT TO MISS A THING” — PERFORMED BY AEROSMITH, MEANT FOR CELINE DION
When Liv Tyler got her first major theatrical role in Armageddon, her father, lead singer of Aerosmith, was supposed to author a sentimental song with his band for the film. After being out on the road promoting their album Nine Lives, the band went into the studio and found it difficult to come up with an appropriate song, but the clock was ticking. Then they found a track by acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren, originally intended for Celine Dion.
Mariah Carey - Hero
6. “SINCE U BEEN GONE” — PERFORMED BY KELLY CLARKSON, MEANT FOR PINK FIRST THEN PASSED TO HILARY DUFF
Clarkson may have been the first to win American Idol, but she was third in line for this track after Pink and Hilary Duff both snubbed it.
Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone