You can’t ever know for sure if a song is going to be a hit or how the public will react to it. A lot of us have fallen in love with I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith but can you imagine Celine Dion singing it? Probably it would still be a major hit but it would take some time to accept it.
There are some popular songs that were written originally for a particular singer but fell into the hands of someone else. Ed Sheeran has written some songs for other artists, as has Prince, though sometimes a songwriter realizes they have a hit on their hands and decide to keep it for themselves instead. Sometimes singers regret passing on songs that turned out to be hugely popular. Also, just imagine how different their career might have been.
Here are some hit songs that were originally written for other artists that are guaranteed to boggle your mind, compiled by Ranker.
1. Shape of you – Rihanna
You’d never think a song originally written for Rihanna would fit the style of Ed Sheran. However, while writing the song the 26-year-old singer-songwriter saw the potential and decided to keep it for himself.
During an interview with BBC radio1, he said “…we were writing this song and I was like, ‘this would really work for Rihanna.’ And then I started singing lyrics like ‘putting Van The Man on the jukebox’ and I was like, ‘well she’s not really going to sing that, is she?’ And then we sort of decided halfway through that we were just going to make it for me.”
2. Baby One More Time – TLC
Even though Max Martin and Rami Yacoub wrote this smash hit to match the whole style of the 90’s and TLC vibe, the song ended up in the hands of Britney Spears. However, the 47-year-old Tionne Watkins from TLC doesn’t regret passing on the song.
“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,” T-Boz said. “It’s good for her. But was I going to say ‘hit me, baby, one more time’? Hell no!”
3. Umbrella – Britney Spears
When Britney Spears needed a hit song to come back in 2007, the American singer-songwriter Terius Nash and Christopher Stewart suggested a song that they had written; Umbrella. However, the 36-year-old declined the song. That’s how Rihanna snatched the song which caused iTunes to crash and make her the superstar she is today.
4. Rock your body – Michael Jackson
This song was originally written for the King of Pop, but he rejected it so the song appeared on Justin Timberlake’s first solo album, Justified. Also, the 36-year-old singer did this song (that he co-wrote along with the Neptunes) great justice.
5. Golden years – Elvis Presley
The legend David Bowie was a big fan of another legend, Elvis Presley, so he wrote a song for him. However, there are stories that the king of Rock n’ Roll didn’t want the song so the London-born star decided to keep it for himself. It was a great decision since Golden Years reached Top 10 status in both the United States and around the world.
6. I don’t want to miss a thing – Celine Dion
Aerosmith was supposed to write a powerful song for the movie Armageddon in the 90’s. However, they were pretty tired from promoting their Nine Lives album so they chose a song written by the American songwriter Diane Warren called – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. In the end, the song turned out to be a big hit, but originally it was written for a female voice.
The 61-year-old songwriter was inspired to write the song after watching an interview with Barbra Streisand’s husband, who said that he did not like to go to sleep because he missed his wife. “…when I wrote it I thought it would end up being like Celine Dion or somebody like that, you know, back in the day…but it’s so much cooler to hear someone like Steven Tyler – this gruff, macho rock star, this amazing tough guy – for him to say that lyric, it just brought a whole other dimension to it. I don’t think it would have been the same hit, or the same standard if it wasn’t for someone like Steven Tyler doing that song.” she explained.
7. Gold digger – Shawnna
Believe it or not, the hit Gold Digger wasn’t originally written for the 40-year-old rapper. He was producing the song for rapper Shawnna’s debut album Worth Tha Weigh but she rejected the song. “He did that beat a while before the movie Ray was even thought of. Kanye did the beat at Ludacris’ house in Atlanta and he did it for Shawnna. She passed on it, actually. I’m not sure why” producer Plain Pat said. After the 39-year-old female rapper passed on the tune, Kanye adapted the hook to work for a male singer and made one of his biggest hits.
8. Since u been gone – P!nk and Hilary Duff
This song shaped the 35-year-old singer’s career but it was originally written by Dr. Luke and the Swedish songwriter Max Martin for Pink who turned down the song. Then even Hillary Duff didn’t want it so Clive Davis convinced the writers to give the song to the American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. The song brought the Texas-born a Grammy for best female pop vocal.
9. Physical – Rod Stewart
The song Physical was originally written for the British rock singer Rod Stewart. However, songwriters Steven Kipner and Terry Shaddick gave the hit to Olivia Newton-John. The 69-year-old singer told Entertainment Weekly that she didn’t know who the song was originally written for: “Roger Davies was my manager at the time; he played it for me and I knew it was a very catchy song! Jon Farrar, my producer, and I stuck pretty close to the demo, although he added his amazing guitars. I wasn’t actually aware at the time that it was written for Rod Stewart. I must talk to him about it one day. Like, did he ever hear it?”
10. Irreplaceable – Faith Hill and Shania Twain
Singer-songwriter Ne-Yo and mega-producer duo Stargate wrote this hit with singers like Faith Hill and Shania Twain in mind because it sounded to them like a country tune. However, when Queen Bey heard the song she fell in love with it and knew she had to sing it. Tor Hermansen who is part of the a Norwegian record producing and songwriting team said about the song: “What happens sometimes, is you think about a specific artist and you put them in this box, the song has to be this way or that, and then you’re usually confining yourself to the thing they did three years ago. But she [Beyonce] heard it and did her own vocal arrangements, asked for a few changes to be made and some new drums, and she sang it much higher than the demo.”
11. Toxic – Kylie Minogue
The song that brought the Womanizer singer a Grammy was originally written for Kylie Minogue’s Body Language album. However, the Melbourne-born rejected the song but accepted that she made a mistake, saying “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.”
12. Telephone – Britney Spears
The Poker Face singer wrote this song for Britney Spears’s album Circus. After the 36-year-old passed on the song, Lady Gaga teamed up with Beyoncé and put one of the most downoladed tracks on her own album, The Fame Monster.
13. How will I know – Janet Jackson
Songwriters George Merrill and 66-year-old Shannon Rubicam wrote this song for the 51-year-old singer Janet Jackson. But after her team rejected it they gave the song to, at the time, unknown artist Whitey Houston. This song went on to be a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 for Houston.
14. Call me – Stevie Nicks
The theme song to the 1980 Richard Gere movie American Gigolo, was originally written from a male perspective and it was supposed to be for the rock bad Fleetwood Mac but it was given to Blondie and became one of her biggest hits.
15. Don’t you (forget about me) – Billy Idol and Bryan Ferry
The songwriter Keith Forsey was a big fan of the Scottish rock band Simple Minds so he wrote a song for them. The band didn’t want the track at first but finally agreed to record the song that became the Breakfast Club soundtrack and an 80s anthem.
16. Lay lady lay – The Everly Brothers
This huge hit that now belongs to Bob Dylan was once turned down by the country-influenced rock band Everly Brothers because they thought the song was overtly suggestive.
17. We can’t stop – Rihanna
We Can’t Stop was originally written for Rihanna and not for Miley Cyrus.
The song’s producer Mike WiLL Made-It told MTV News: “It was kind of crazy ’cause … when I originally worked on We Can’t Stop, we had did it for Rihanna. The idea was more towards Rihanna. And then Rihanna, she heard [her Unapologetic track] ‘Pour It Up,’ and then she got on ‘Pour It Up’ right away. And she didn’t even hear ‘We Can’t Stop.’ So then we finished up the record.”
18. Boom clap – Hilary Duff
The 25-year-old singer-songwriter told V Magazine that she originally wrote the song for Hilary Duff. “We sent the song to her people and I don’t think she ever heard it. However, they were like, ‘This song isn’t cool enough for Hilary.’ And we were really sad about that! So I was like, ‘F*** it. I’m going to sing it.”