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The Best Stories from 28 Musicians Who Turned Down Hit Songs


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Mike Will Made It penned Miley Cyrus' single "We Can't Stop" with another pop princess in mind: Rihanna. 

But Rihanna ended up recording "Pour It Up" instead, so Miley took the song and made it her own. 

No word on whether the drug references ("lines in the bathroom," "dancing with Molly") were in the original lyrics.

Plenty of smash hit songs were once passed over by big-name artists.

Below are my favorite stories from the page.

Britney Spears Turned Down 'Umbrella'...

Britney Spears Turned Down 'Umbrella'...

When one Googles "Britney umbrella," some unfortunate paparazzi shots of a bald pop princess show up. But things could have been different. Terius "The Dream" Nash explained Rihanna's critical and commercial triumph "Umbrella" was written with Britney Spears in mind, but the demo never got to her (this was, of course, around the time of the head-shaving incident).

... and Lady Gaga hit 'Telephone'

... and Lady Gaga hit 'Telephone'

The anti-clingy boyfriend anthem "Telephone" was originally written for Britney Spears. Though Spears recorded a heavily autotuned demo of the song, she eventually passed, paving the way for songwriter Lady Gaga's collaboration with Beyonce Knowles. Gaga has since admitted, "I hate ‘Telephone’. Is that terrible to say? It’s the song I have the most difficult time listening to."

Nicole Scherzinger Turned Down 'We Found Love'

Nicole Scherzinger Turned Down 'We Found Love'Ex-Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger let a hit single slip away because she was over dance music. "I passed on 'We Found Love," Scherzinger told Notion magazine of Rihanna's Calvin Harris-penned club banger. "I was like, 'Oh, there’s so much dance and I want to take a break from it'. That was my fault. I slept on it.

Kylie Minogue Turned Down 'Toxic'

Kylie Minogue Turned Down 'Toxic'

Songwriter Cathy Dennis penned "Toxic" for Kylie Minogue, who had previously scored a smash hit with Dennis' song "Can't Get You Out of My Head." Kylie passed. She says she didn't mind when "Toxic" proved a career booster for Britney, explaining, "It's like the fish that got away. You just have to accept it."

Christina Aguilera Turned Down 'Miss Independent'

Christina Aguilera Turned Down 'Miss Independent'

Christina Aguilera shares a writing credit on Kelly Clarkson's hit "Miss Independent," as she had worked on the song with songwriters Rhett Lawrence and Matt Morris for her album, Stripped. When the song failed to make the cut for Aguilera's album, it was passed on to Kelly Clarkson, who made it her own.

Hilary Duff Turned Down 'Since U Been Gone'

Hilary Duff Turned Down 'Since U Been Gone'

The insanely likeable breakup anthem "Since U Been Gone" was offered to both Pink and Hilary Duff before it ended up on Kelly Clarkson's radar. According to hitmaker Dr. Luke, Duff's management was concerned about her ability to hit the tune's glass-shattering high notes.

Gloria Estefan Turned Down 'Let's Get Loud'

Gloria Estefan Turned Down 'Let's Get Loud'

Gloria Estefan co-wrote "Let's Get Loud" with the intention of including it on her 1998 album Gloria!, but passed it on to burgeoning star Jennifer Lopez. Now it's practically a jock jam, thanks to its popularity among cheerleaders.

Michael Jackson Turned Down 'Rock Your Body'

Michael Jackson Turned Down 'Rock Your Body'

Justin Timberlake's solo career was bolstered by a bunch of songs originally intended to launch the comeback of his idol, Michael Jackson. The Neptunes-produced tracks "Rock Your Body" and "Señorita" were among the songs Jackson's management rejected, giving Timberlake the chance to craft his own sound on Justified.

Donny Osmond Turned Down 'Ben'

Donny Osmond Turned Down 'Ben'

"Ben" wasn't Michael Jackson's most memorable solo hit, but it was his first. Jackson recorded the song in 1972 after it was rejected by Mormon wunderkind Donny Osmond, who was too busy with tour obligations. Featured in the film of the same name, "Ben" won a Golden Globe for Best Song and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Diana Ross Turned Down 'It's Raining Men'

Diana Ross Turned Down 'It's Raining Men'

Diana Ross was one of several divas to pass on the glittery disco anthem "It's Raining Men," as Donna Summer, Cher, and Barbra Streisand all refused the tune before The Weather Girls made it their own mega-hit in 1982. The song performed well on the charts almost two decades later, when Geri Halliwell recorded a cover for the Bridget Jones' Diary soundtrack.

Meat Loaf Turned Down 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'

Meat Loaf Turned Down 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'

Meat Loaf claims Jim Steinman wrote both "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Making Love (Out of Nothing at All)" for his album Midnight at the Lost and Found, but that his record company was unwilling to pony up the cash for the tracks.Bonnie Tyler nabbed her biggest hit ever with "Total Eclipse," while Air Supply rocked "Making Love." Poor Meat.

Stevie Nicks Turned Down 'These Dreams'

Stevie Nicks Turned Down 'These Dreams'

Heart's smash hit "These Dreams" is notable for a couple of reasons: It was the first single to feature Nancy Wilson on lead vocals, and it was one of the first singles that the Wilson sisters didn't write themselves. It was also rejected hardcore by Stevie Nicks.

Cyndi Lauper Turned Down 'Open Your Heart'

Cyndi Lauper Turned Down 'Open Your Heart'

Cyndi Lauper never got a chance to hear the original rock-flavored incarnation of "Open Your Heart," despite the fact that it was written with her in mind. The Temptations also passed on the song before it ended up on Madonna's 1985 album True Blue.

Mary Wilson Turned Down 'Holiday'

Mary Wilson Turned Down 'Holiday'

Both Phyllis Hyman and Mary Wilson had passed on the club track "Holiday" before Madonna picked it up for her eponymous debut album. Hilariously, execs chose to keep the cover of the single Madonna-free as they were worried her image wouldn't suit the song's R&B roots.

Christina Milian Turned Down 'S.O.S'

Christina Milian Turned Down 'S.O.S'

Christina Milian, who was offered the song for her third full-length album So Amazin'. In an interview with Rap-Up, Milian explained that she was dropped a week after her album's release: “It was a budget cut, I believe. [Def Jam] probably got rid of projects like mine to spend the money on [Rihanna].” 

TLC Turned Down '...Baby One More Time'

TLC Turned Down '...Baby One More Time'

Britney Spears might have gotten off to a very different start had TLC chosen to include "...Baby One More Time" on the album FanMail. There wouldn't have been any schoolgirl skirts, which is unfathomable considering Britney's entire early career hinged on schoolgirl skirts and belly-baring tops.

Belinda Carlisle Turned Down 'Waiting for a Star to Fall'

Belinda Carlisle Turned Down 'Waiting for a Star to Fall'

"Waiting for a Star to Fall" was rejected by not one, but two pop divas before songwriters Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill decided to record it for themselves as Boy Meets Girl. The song, originally written for Whitney Houston, was rejected by executive Clive Davis before being recorded by Belinda Carlisle, who reportedly hated it.

Janet Jackson Turned Down 'How Will I Know'

Janet Jackson Turned Down 'How Will I Know'

Whitney Houston scored a couple of her biggest hits with songs passed on from her R&B contemporaries. Among them: "How Will I Know," which George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam wrote for Janet Jackson. It became Houston's first pop crossover hit and her second No. 1 single.

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