“Happy” For Cee Lo, “Irreplaceable” For Faith Hill? Hit Songs Originally Meant For Other Artists (Part II)

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Can you imagine if your favorite songs by your favorite artists were sung by someone completely different? Well, before the following songs were topping the charts and making us dance (or cry in one case), they were in the hands of other popular artists, who for some reason, decided that they wanted or needed to pass on the track. Here are 10 such examples of hit songs that were originally meant for other artists, but when they were rejected, became some of the biggest hits in the careers of these artists…

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Cee Lo – “Happy”

In an interview with Howard Stern recently, Pharrell Williams revealed that the song that made him America’s black sweetheart was originally intended for Cee Lo, though it was written and produced by Williams. Not only was it originally intended for the “Forget You” singer, Cee Lo actually recorded a version of the song and everything, but his people weren’t feeling it:

“[Cee Lo Green] wanted to do it…and he did do it.
He burns my version! But…how do I say this diplomatically? The powers that be, at the time, did not see it fit for him…they elected not to do that song.”

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Celine Dion – “Unbreak My Heart”

The Toni Braxton cut (which she said in her “Behind The Music” episode she wasn’t originally feeling), which was her biggest hit, was originally intended for Celine Dion. Written by Diane Warren, the famed songwriter created hit songs for Dion in the past, including “Because You Loved Me.”

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Donna Summer – “What’s Love Got To Do With It”

Can you imagine? Summer was offered the song (after Clive Davis wouldn’t allow the late Phyllis Hyman to record it), and had it in her possession for years, though she never recorded it. Eventually, Turner got her hands on the song and the rest is history. The late disco queen probably would have sounded great on such a song, but of course, nobody does it better than Ms. Turner (and it ended up being Turner’s biggest hit).

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Christina Milian – “S.O.S.”

Milian was originally given the song “S.O.S.” to record, but she turned it down for her third album, So Amazin’. It was given to Rihanna, who went on to make it a hit. “S.O.S.” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and was Ri Ri’s FIRST number one song. As for Milian, she released  So Amazin’ with the lead single “Say I” featuring Young Jeezy. The album didn’t perform well and she was dropped from Def Jam because of poor sales…

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Gloria Estefan – “Hero”

The song “Hero” was originally intended to be written for and performed by Gloria Estefan for the 1992 movie, Hero, starring Dustin Hoffman. But when working on Mariah Carey’s Music Box album, songwriter Walter Afanasieff told Carey about the movie, and while playing around, they created the song “Hero.” Carey didn’t want it initially, but Tommy Mottola told her she needed to make it her own.

Afanasieff once said this about the songwriting process:

“It was never meant for Mariah to sing. In her mind, we were writing a song for Gloria Estefan for this movie. And we went into an area that Mariah didn’t really go into – in her words, it was a little bit too schmaltzy or too pop ballady or too old-fashioned as far as melody and lyrics.”

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Shawnna – “Gold Digger”

That’s right, this song was supposed to be for a woman, particularly “Gettin Some” singer Shawnna. But for some reason, when she didn’t record the song for her debut album, Worth Tha Weight, West kept it for himself, changed the hook to a man’s perspective, and rode the track to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

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Rihanna – “We Can’t Stop”

If you thought there was something familiar about Miley Cyrus’ new look and sound, it’s probably because the former Disney star’s big hit, “We Can’t Stop,” was originally intended for Ri Ri. Production duo Rock City wrote it with Rihanna in mind, but after the success of her song “Diamonds,” they thought it would be a good first single for someone else, and producer Mike Will Made It ended it up offering it to Cyrus.

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Faith Hill – “Irreplaceable”

While “Irreplaceable” is one of Beyoncé’s biggest hits, Ne-Yo actually originally wrote the song in the style of country. And not only that, but he had Faith Hill AND Shania Twain in mind for the song in the beginning. But once drums were added, he thought it could be an “R&B-country western” song. It was finally passed to Beyoncé, who made major adjustments to it to make it flow better with the rest of the song selections from B’Day. In the end, the song spent a whopping 10 weeks at the number one spot on the Hot 100. 

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Ciara – “Drop It Low”

The song, which was from the More Than A Game soundtrack, was a hit that put songwriter Ester Dean on people’s radar. It was such a well-made song, one of the biggest names in pop wanted it. Dean previously said the following: “‘Drop It Low,’ honestly, was for Ciara, but she didn’t come get the song. Then Britney wanted it.” In the end, with motivation from producer Polow da Don, Dean went ahead and recorded it for herself.

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Lupe Fiasco – “Airplanes”

Interesting, right? The original version of “Airplanes” was written by rapper Lupe Fiasco, and it did still feature vocals from Paramore chanteuse Hayley Williams. For some reason, Lupe Fiasco decided against doing the song altogether, and the framework of the track was given to B.O.B. He went on to write his own verses for the hit song.

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