10 bangers originally meant for other stars

Rejected by the likes of Rihanna and Kylie Minogue, these are the hits that got away

In the fast-moving, hot-footed pop factory, some bangers take a trip around the houses before they end up with their final owner. Gigantic hits can be rejected before becoming chart mainstays.

Imagine a world where Justin Timberlake wasn’t crooning ‘Rock Your Body’, or where Stevie Nicks was belting out ‘Call Me’. This is an alternative universe, but one not far away from the truth, where songs ended up being performed by whoever they were first written for.

Here are some of the biggest hits that ended up in the arms of totally different stars to who they were first intended for.

Song: ‘Rock Your Body’


Originally written for: Michael Jackson
Who released it: Justin Timberlake
Why the switch? JT originally co-wrote the R&B banger with Pharrell Williams’ The Neptunes for MJ’s tenth studio album, ‘Invincible’. Jackson eventually rejected ‘Rock Your Body’, along with a handful of other tracks, which all ended up on Timberlake’s debut ‘Justified’.

Song: ‘…Baby One More Time’

Who it was written for: Backstreet Boys & TLC
Who released it: Britney Spears
Why the switch? The song was initially submitted to the Backstreet Boys and TLC, who both rejected it. It was then offered to a young, the unknown American teen, who snapped it up. After recording sessions in Sweden, the track was released a few months later, where it soared to number one across the globe, and made the then 16-year-old Britney Spears a household name.

Song: ‘Telephone’

Who was it written for: Britney Spears
Who released it: Lady Gaga
Why the switch? Originally written by Stefani Germanotta aka a young Lady Gaga in 2008 for Britney’s ‘Circus’ album, Brit rejected the track, as she couldn’t find a place for it on her sixth record. Gaga then took it for her own, turning it into the bombastic collaboration with Beyoncé we know today. Supposedly a leaked version of an early demo with Brit singing exists, but it’s never been confirmed if those are actually her vocals.

Song: ‘Gold Digger’


Who was it written for: Shawnna
Who released it: Kanye West
Why the switch? In 2004, Yeezy went round his mate Ludacris’ house to work on a track for Shawnna’s debut album. The chorus was originally a first-person female account (with lyrics: “I’m not sayin’ I’m a gold digger”), however Shawnna ended up passing on the song. Not wanting to waste the beat, Kanye kept it for himself, and released it in 2005. Meanwhile Shawnna watched on as it sold millions of copies and won a Grammy.

Song: ‘Happy’

Who was it written for: CeeLo Green
Who released it: Pharrell Williams
Why the switch? ‘Happy’ was nominated for an Oscar, won a Grammy and sold over 10 million copies – but Pharrell didn’t initially write the song for himself. The meteoric pop hit was originally penned for CeeLo Green, but the Gnarls Barkley star’s record label decided against releasing it due to his Christmas album ‘Cee Lo’s Magic Moment’ coming out. Strange priorities…

Song: ‘Call Me’

Who was it written for: Stevie Nicks
Who released it: Blondie
Why the switch? Producer Giorgio Moroder initially asked Stevie Nicks to help out writing the tune, but she had to pass because of her current contract. Moroder then turned to Debbie Harry to write the lyrics and melody – which she did in a matter of hours – and the rest is history.

Song: ‘Toxic’

Who was it written for: Kylie Minogue
Who released it: Britney Spears
Why the switch? ‘Toxic’ could have been the smash-hit follow up to ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’. But after listening to a short snippet, Kylie gave it a pass. Britney then snapped it up and it became one of her most iconic hits. Minogue later commented: “I wasn’t at all angry when it worked for her. It’s like the fish that got away. You just have to accept it.”

Song: ‘Umbrella’

Who was it written for: Britney Spears
Who released it: Rihanna
Why the switch? Written with Britney Spears in mind, her management rejected the song as they already had enough tunes for her new album. It was then offered to Taio Cruz, and Mary J. Blige who’s team seemed interested, however the writers finally settled with Rihanna.

Song: ‘Find Your Love’

Who was it written for: Rihanna
Who released it: Drake
Why the switch? Written and co-produced with Kanye, ‘Find Your Love’ was first penned for Rihanna. Drake went on to say that the song should have been performed by a woman, but he was glad he ended up with it all the same.

Song: ‘We Can’t Stop’

Who was it written for: Rihanna
Who released it: Miley Cyrus
Why the switch? Before Miley released ode to partying ‘’We Can’t Stop’, in turn shedding her squeaky clean Disney-fied image, the pop anthem was intended for Rihanna. But producer Mike Will Made It ultimately decided it would work best for Miley as the start of her new era.


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