Lyrics by Christie Eliezer
What do Kylie Minogue, CeeLo Green, TLC and Janet Jackson have in common?
They all goofed off by turning down songs that became empowering mega-hits for others. While we know there are other factors at play and the songs won’t have been the same, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
That’s exactly what we use to bring you 10 of the greatest mega hits initially turned down by other artists.
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‘Happy’ – Pharrell Williams (2014)
A No. 1 hit in 24 countries, including Australia, where it reached 11 times platinum for 770,000 sales, global sales of 14 million and a Grammy-winning video with a billion views during its run. first four years.
Pharrell wrote it for CeeLo Green but CeeLo’s label wanted him to continue working on a Christmas album (which, oh my God, stiffened).
Williams maintains that “CeeLo’s version burned mine”. CeeLo disagrees. “I won’t say that. It is he who is modest. I respect that.”
‘Umbrella’ – Rihanna (2007)
Terius “The-Dream” Nash and Tricky Stewart wrote the words in 15 minutes.
“The-Dream” thought a song about needing a helping hand should go to Britney Spears, who he helped write “Me Against The Music” for and who was going through a hellish time in her life.
A demo sent to her management was rejected because the album she was working on, Blackout, was full. Spears has never heard the song.
It was then introduced to Mary J. Blige and Rihanna, both of whom were praised that it was written for them. Things culminated at the Grammys of the year.
Blige was hot for the song (“it’s a hit. I love that song”) but being very busy with the Grammys, she figured she’d accept it afterwards.
But Rihanna, irritated that the song was peddled, literally took matters into her own hands.
Spotting ‘The-Dream’ at the Grammys, she told him, “‘Umbrella’ is mine.” He chuckled. She grabbed his face, “No, you can’t hear me, ‘Umbrella’ is my record.”
It was No. 1 worldwide with 350,000 sales (5x platinum) in Australia.
‘Happy Together’ – The Turtles (1967)
Number 1 in its time, “Happy Together” continues to be used at weddings (although it is actually an imaginary love), on advertisements (Big W in Oz, Tiffany, Nintendo) and covers by Simple Plan, Filter, Weezer, Mark Ronson, Leningrad Cowboys and members of My Chemical Romance.
It was first canceled in the 60s by 12 bands…more because the demo by writers Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon was badly sung and was a failed recording.
But the Turtles had just flopped five in a row and were even thinking about splitting up. After receiving a good response to “Happy Together” at their concerts, they went into the studio with it.
‘Happy Together’ was released in the key of E minor but The Turtles’ recording is in F♯ minor during the verses and F♯ major on the chorus.
“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” – Kylie Minogue (2001)
British singer-songwriter Cathy Dennis and English singer-songwriter Rob Davis have been brought together by Universal Publishing to work on new music.
“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” was released in three and a half hours, beginning with Davis generating a 125 bpm drum loop using the Cubase program.
The song was first unsuccessfully pitched to S Club 7 for their Sunshine album.
Minogue’s A&R manager, Jamie Nelson, liked it and passed it on to Minogue.
Twenty seconds after hearing the demo she wanted it for herself Fever album. It sold five million copies worldwide in 2018, reached number 1 in 21 countries and was the most played on UK radio during that decade.
According to folklore, Sophie Ellis-Bextor also refused, but she refutes it, insisting that the first time she heard the song was Kylie’s version on the radio.
“It was always meant to be Kylie’s song, she was perfect for it, she sang it like she owned it.”
Years later, Dennis told her that they wrote the song with her (Ellis-Bextor) in mind.
“Toxic” – Britney Spears (2004)
“Toxic” was written by a consortium including British singer Cathy Dennis, with Janet Jackson leading the way.
Dennis first gifted it to Kylie Minogue. She laid it flat, after which Spears cut it in Stockholm and Los Angeles, saying, “It’s really different, that’s why I like it so much.”
‘For Your Love’ – The Yardbirds (1965)
In 1964, future 10cc co-founder Graham Gouldman was 18 and working a day job at a men’s clothing store in Manchester.
He dug into how the animals’ rendition of “The House of the Rising Sun” reversed the common chord sequence of C, A minor, F and G.
“It starts on a minor and goes to relative major instead of the other way around, and I really responded to that, it resonated with me,” Gouldman said. Song Facts.
“I fell in love with the sequence so much that I used it on the first two chords of ‘For Your Love’.”
It was an interesting song but its unorthodox structure saw the label of Gouldman’s band, The Mockingbirds, kill it off as a single. Herman’s animals and hermits also said no.
The Yardbirds, desperate for a hit, redid Gouldman’s arrangement, added a harpsichord, and saw it rise to No. 1 across Europe.
Its success lost them blues purist Eric Clapton who also hated having to play the harpsichord lines live with a 12-string.
Gouldman wrote two more Yardbirds hits “Heart Full of Soul” and “Evil Hearted You”, as well as “Bus Stop” and “Look Through Any Window” for The Hollies; “No Milk Today”, “East West” and “Listen People” for Herman’s Hermits; and ‘I’m Not In Love’, ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me’ and ‘Art For Art’s Sake’ for 10cc.
“SOS” – Rihanna (2006)
Rihanna’s “SOS” went to number 1 in various countries, including Australia and the United States.
But it was written for singer-actress Christina Milian for her third studio album, So incredible (2006). She Mutomboed the song and Rihanna’s pals made a move to get it instead.
Milian also turned down Justin Bieber’s 2010 album “Baby” and Paula DeAnda’s “Walk Away” and lost her contract with Def Jam because her records weren’t hits.
‘…Baby Again’ – Britney Spears (1999)
Swedish hitmaker Max Martin had a strange understanding of American pop slang.
He thought “hit me” meant “call me,” so when he introduced it to American R&B trio TLC with the track “Hit Me Baby,” the response was decidedly cold.
T-Boz explained on MTV News: “I was like, I like the song, but do I think it’s a hit? Do I think it’s TLC? …Was I going to say, ‘Hit ‘me baby one more time’? Surely not!”
The song was sent to Swedish pop singer Robyn but she found it too “teenage”.
Which was perfect for an unknown teenager called Britney Spears who was looking for a hit.
“How Shall I Know” – Whitney Houston (1985)
George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam were a Seattle duo signed to A&M Records as Boy Meets Girl.
The label asked them to write a song for Janet Jackson, which they consistently did.
But by the time he got to Jackson’s management, she was in the middle of the heavy Control album. “How Will I Know” was bombarded as light compared to his other songs.
While they were depressed, their editor sent it to A&R manager Gerry Griffith, who was gathering material for an unknown Whitney Houston.
He sent it to the legendary Clive Davis who had signed her to Arista and had been looking for the right songs for his debut album for 18 months.
“We must have it!” Davis said. Merrill and Rubicam said, “Clive who? Whitney who?
It became Houston’s first US No. 1 and sold 2 million, and reached No. 2 in Australia.
Merrill & Rubicam also wrote Whitney’s hit “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”.
Janet kebbed “I’m a Slave 4 U” which was a hit for Britney.
Spears unplugged ‘Telephone’ which Lady Gaga wrote for her. So Gaga did it with Beyoncé, turning it into a smash. Britney’s version has mysteriously leaked online.
“Forget Me Not” – Simple Minds (1985)
When English songwriter and producer Keith Forsey composed the soundtrack for a film about American teenage rites of passage The breakfast clubhe had Simple Minds in mind when he wrote “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.
But the Scottish band said no, saying they write their own songs.
Forsey also asked Bryan Ferry, Cy Curnin of Fixx, Billy Idol and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders who, incidentally, was married at the time to Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr.
All refused it. He kept trying spirits.
“We turned it down six times,” Kerr told this writer. “Finally, we felt so sorry for him that we thought we’d go through the recording stages thinking the record company would hate him and we’d be off the hook.”
Alas for Simple Minds, their label loved it, American radio aired them for the first time and the group was rocketed into stadium pop stardom.
It went to No. 1 in America and top 10 in Australia, the single was a top 10 in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand.
Kerr told the Guardian“I added the big ending ‘la, la-la-la-la’ because I had no lyrics. I said I would write some, but Keith said, ‘Over my corpse. We keep that”.
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