Ever passed up on an opportunity and come to regret it? This weekend saw news emerge that one of 2013’s biggest selling singles, Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’, was originally intended for Beyonce. While the former Destiny’s Child hit maker probably had enough ‘bangers’ of her own on her recent self-titled fifth studio album to not rue missing out on the track too much, others haven’t been so lucky. For example, did you know X Factor winner Leona Lewis had first dibs on the Calvin Harris-penned ‘We Found Love’, only to turn it down and watch Rihanna score ten consecutive weeks atop the US Billboard chart with it? You might not be bothered about hearing that alternative version (even if Leona last year claimed “mine’s better”) but these five tracks meant for other artists might be worth be hearing sung by their original suitors…
Michael Jackson – ‘Rock Your Body’ (Justin Timberlake)
No wonder critics hailed JT’s 2002 smash as a homage to the irresistible disco of Jackson in his 70th pomp – it was later revealed the track was originally offered to the King of Pop for what transpired to be his final album, ‘Invincible’. Jackson passed on the song, which came almost full circle at the 2004 Superbowl event, when Timberlake performed the track with Michael’s sister, Janet.
Pusha T – ‘Niggas In Paris’ (Watch the Throne)
The infectious Hit-Boy beat that spanned the biggest hip-hop track of the decade so far was originally offered to Pusha T, who felt it wasn’t “demonic” enough for his brand of rap. Instead, it was his mentor Kanye West who used the beat, on his 2011 collaboration with Jay Z. “I tell people all the time that I don’t know if I would’ve attacked it that way which means the record might not have been as special once I got on it,” explained Pusha, who hit the rap big leagues last year with breakout album ‘My Name Is My Name’. You wonder if he’d have got there quicker with this now-iconic production behind him.
TLC – ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ (Britney Spears)
R&B trio TLC almost recorded the song that launched Britney Spears and became the defining pop song of the ’90s – but felt the song didn’t fit with their proto-feminist message. TLC’s T-Boz explained: “I was like, I like the song but do I think it’s a hit? Do I think it’s TLC? I’m not saying ‘hit me baby’. No disrespect to Britney. It’s good for her. But was I going to say ‘hit me baby one more time’? Hell no!” The song sold 1.52m copies in the UK alone for Spears. It’s easy to admire TLC’s stance on its implied violence towards women but hard not to wonder about the sleeker, more soulful take on the track the trio would have served up.
Elvis – ‘Golden Years’ (David Bowie)
Written during the peak of his ’70s cocaine addiction, Bowie wrote the intoxicating ‘Golden Years’ with Elvis in mind. When Presley declined the track, Bowie reworked the song to fit his ‘Station to Station’ album. While it didn’t reach ‘Fame’ levels of adoration, the track charted for 16 weeks in the UK and became a cult favourite among fans. Listening to it, you can easily imagine the King’s dulcet baritone wrapped around its lyrics.
Stevie Nicks – ‘Call Me’ (Blondie)
Number 1 for six weeks running in the States, becoming the biggest selling song of 1980, Blondie scored a huge hit when Giorgio Moroder handed them the jaunty ‘Call Me’. He’d first tried to give the song to Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks though, who reportedly liked the demo she’d heard but was unable to use it because of inter-label politics (Nicks had just signed a deal with Modern Records, which made working with Moroder difficult). Debbie Harry’s new wave edge gave the song a welcome grittiness, but a Nicks rendition would be very compelling.