1. “Bad,” Michael Jackson
Recorded in 1986, “Bad,” the single and title track from Michael Jackson’s best-selling record of the same name, was originally intended as a duet between MJ and Prince, but obviously those plans didn’t work out so well. After the phenomenal success of MJ’s career defining Thriller, which has sold more than 40 million copies since its release in 1982 (think about that for a second), “Bad” continued to push MJ’s image in an edgy direction. You have to wonder what that duet would have been like though. Like which one of those queens would have had the highest heels? It is a valid concern.
2. “It’s Raining Men,” Weather Girls
Did you know that this sassy 1982 gay classic, which still makes me yassss today, was actually offered to Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Cher and even Barbra Streisand before being recorded by the Weather Girls. It’s funny because like no matter who from that list recorded this song it was still going to be gay as shit! So, work!
3. “Miss Independent,” Kelly Clarkson
I admit that I watched the first season of American Idol, and I was so excited about this new show and I loved me some Kelly Clarkson. Her runaway hit, “Miss Independent,” did great things for showcasing her powerful vocal capabilities. But this joint was originally titled “Miss Independence” and meant for Destiny’s Child who turned down the opportunity to record the song. Then it got slipped to Christina Aguilera and was slated for her second record. You can TOTALLY imagine her singing it, right? But when she decided not to finish it, it got passed down to Kelly Clarkson as “Miss Independent.”
4. “How Will I Know,” Whitney Houston
I love this video if only just for the fabulous headpiece Whitney is giving us. “How Will I Know,” from her 1985 self-titled debut album, was originally slated for Janet Jackson, but she passed on the song because she was working on Control, which had a different tone.
5. “Halo,” Beyoncé
“Halo,” one of the best songs for showing Beyoncé’s vocal prowess, was originally recorded for Beyoncé but she took too long to get to it and the song was put “on hold.” When the song was sent to Roc Nation, they begged the producers not to give it to anyone else. Too much time passed, though, and the producers approached Leona Lewis and said the song was hers if Beyoncé passed.
6. “Umbrella,” Rihanna
This classic Rihanna jam, which I lost my mind to at the gay club when I was in college, was originally intended for Britney Spears. Brit Brit was in the middle of her head-shaving melt down and the producers, Tricky Stweart and The-Dream tried to offer a hand by giving Britney a hit single. The demo was sent back unopened because the producers said she had enough material for her record. So then it went to Mary J. Blige! What a different song it would have been had she recorded it. Rihanna was just at the beginning of her career and needed a smash hit to cement her reputation. Blige was offered the song but it was during Grammy time and she didn’t have the time to record it.
7. “I’m A Slave 4 U,” Britney Spears
Originally intended for Janet Jackson for her All For You which, to keep things stylistically sound, would have needed to be called All 4 U. Anyway. Can you imagine what a Janet Jackson-tinged “Slave” would have sounded like? The mind boggles.
8. “Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears
Now this one you might have to sit down for. Britney Spears’ first song, the song that made her a household name, was originally intended for TLC. But the band passed on the song because they didn’t think it represented them properly.
9. “Telephone,” Lady Gaga
“Telephone” is, in my mind, still Lady Gaga’s best song to date. But this song was intended for Britney Spears, who didn’t include it on her record. After she rejected the song in 2010, her demo version leaked on the internet. Check it out below.
Britney Spears Demo
10. “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus
“We Can’t Stop,” the song of Miley’s career, was originally intended for Rihanna. If you listen to the Cyrus version and squint hard you can imagine it being sung by Rihanna without too much difference. To me, imagining how different a song would have been is the exciting thing about songs that were intended for other people. To me, a Cyrus version and a Rihanna version would have been pretty similar.
11. “Don’t Cha,” The Pussycat Dolls
This Pussy Cat Dolls classic was, to me, a huge missed opportunity. It was originally offered to PARIS HILTON who turned it down because she didn’t think it sounded like a hit. So now for the rest of our lives we will all wonder what would have happened if Paris Hilton had recorded this iconic song. Would she have become “a thing”? Honestly I love Paris Hilton as an idea, and I CAN’T WAIT FOR HER NEW ALBUM TO DROP.
12. “Burn,” Ellie Goulding
“Burn” was originally intended for Leona Lewis, who ditched the track because she was going for a more ballad-induced record. Check out her demo below. Which version do you prefer?
Leona Lewis Demo
More than anything, it’s fascinating to see how pop songs are imagined for one person and get written and passed on from pop star to pop star, who often sing themselves into the top of the charts. You can’t help but wonder what could have been.