Top 10 Hit Songs Rejected by Other Artists

Script written by Liam Hillery How lucky we were these songs fell into the right hands. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hit Songs Rejected by Other Artists. For this list, we're considering songs that became major hits after first being passed on by other artists. Special thanks to our users dave_macintyre or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Liam Hillery

Top 10 Hit Songs Rejected by Other Artists


How lucky we were these songs fell into the right hands. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hit Songs Rejected by Other Artists.

For this list, we’re considering songs that became major hits after first being passed on by other artists. We’re also considering songs that were recorded by other artists, but for one reason or another went unreleased, and a different artist swooped in to make a hit.

#10: Lean On (2015)
Major Lazer and DJ Snake feat. MØ, offered to Rihanna and Nicki Minaj

This electronic collab and club favorite peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and spent 10 consecutive weeks inside the top 10 for Major Lazer and crew. Released in March 2015, it not only became one of the biggest hits of the summer, but also one of the biggest hits of the year, as its international appeal made it the fifth best-selling song of 2015 worldwide. Who passed on this gold mine? None other than both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Co-writer Diplo first offered Rihanna a slower reggae version, and then offered the same to Nicki. Both rejected it, and instead the world got this amazing version when Danish singer MØ put her creative stamp on it.

#9: “Whataya Want from Me” (2009)
Adam Lambert, offered to P!nk

Though he was already relatively well known from his American Idol days, and he’d had a controversial moment or two from his first single “For Your Entertainment”, it was this song that propelled Adam Lambert to stardom. The second single off his debut album, “Whataya Want from Me” eventually peaked at number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Lambert, however, was lucky to have the song. Originally co-written and recorded by P!nk for her album Funhouse, it didn’t make the final cut. She instead gave it to Lambert, but released her own original recording on the international version of her greatest hits album.


#8: “How Will I Know” (1985)
Whitney Houston, offered to Janet Jackson

This hit was originally intended for Janet Jackson, however she passed on it, considering it weaker than her other material. It was soon given to Houston, who, with some altered lyrics, turned “How Will I Know” into a pop crossover smash hit. Earning Houston her second number one hit, it spent two weeks topping the Hot 100. Certified Gold in the US, this jam finished as the number six song on the Billboard year end chart. While Jackson did well that year, compared to Whitney her chart performance was a bit... weak.

#7: “Rock Your Body” (2003)
Justin Timberlake, offered to Michael Jackson

Written by Neptunes duo Chad Hugo and Pharrell, this song was originally intended for Michael Jackson’s final studio album, Invincible. However, he passed on the song, as well as several others, all of which were promptly sent Timberlake’s way. “Rock Your Body” became Timberlake’s second solo Top 10 hit. Released as the third single off his debut album Justified, “Rock Your Body” peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard Top 100 and charted incredibly well internationally. Meanwhile, Jackson’s most successful song off Invincible only charted at 10. Of course, there’s no guaranteeing Jackson’s version would have been as smooth as Justin’s.

#6: “Gold Digger” (2005)
Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx, offered to Shawnna

It’s hard to imagine this song from a female perspective, but that was Kanye’s original intention. He first made the beat and wrote the hook for Atlanta rapper Shawnna’s 2004 debut album, Worth Tha Weight. However, she passed on it, and, not wanting to waste a great beat, Kanye saved it for himself, rewriting the chorus to reflect a male perspective. It was a great decision, as “Gold Digger” went on to be break the record for most digital downloads in one week, spend 10 weeks atop the Billboard charts, and earn a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance.

#5: “Umbrella” (2007)
Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, offered to Britney Spears

Original writers Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, and Kuk Harrell originally had Britney Spears in mind for this hit. Tricky, having previously worked with Spears, hoped to help Britney move past her personal problems to a musical breakthrough, however, the song never reached her, as label execs believed she didn't need more material. After being floated around, a demo of Umbrella eventually reached Rihanna, who immediately loved the song. It reached the right person, as her version was not only critically acclaimed but was a worldwide chart topper and Grammy winner. Yes, Chris Brown also rejected “Disturbia”, but that pales in comparison to Spears and Umbrella.

#4: “Happy” (2014)
Pharrell, offered to Cee-Lo Green

In the summer of 2014 it seemed like everyone couldn’t help but sing along to this ultra-catchy number one hit. And yes, it was one hell of hit, as it was the best-selling song of 2014 with 6.45 million copies sold. Happy was Billboard’s year end number-one single while earning a Grammy Award for Best Music Video. With such success, it’s hard to imagine the song may have been bigger in the hands of Cee-Lo Green. Pharrell originally wrote “Happy” for Green, and claims Cee-Lo’s recording is far better, but we’ll never know, as Green’s label scrapped the song in favour of his Christmas album, Cee Lo's Magic Moment.


#3: “Since U Been Gone” (2004)
Kelly Clarkson, offered to P!nk and Hilary Duff

Released as the lead single off her sophomore effort, Breakaway, “Since U Been Gone” peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained in the top 10 for 20 weeks. More than that, however, it was her most important hitsince her Idol days. She almost didn’t have the song, though as it had to pass not one, but two artists, to reach her. Originally written for P!nk, she gave up the song to Hilary Duff, who also passed as she couldn’t hit the necessary high notes. Finally in Clarkson’s hands, she added some heavier guitar riffs and made this a signature standout hit.

#2: “… Baby One More Time” (1998)
Britney Spears, offered to TLC

This song reached number one in every country it charted in, was Billboard’s number five song of the year, went certified 14 x platinum internationally, was nominated for a Grammy, and yes, like all the others on this list, it was also rejected by another artist first. It was first offered to hip-hop trio TLC, but they rejected it… and pretty hard too, with T-Boz objecting to the lyrics. Instead this song launched Britney’s career, who strangely enough later benefited from another rejected song, Toxic, turned down by Kylie Minogue.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Thinkin Bout You” (2012)
Frank Ocean, offered to Bridget Kelly

“Let’s Get Loud” (2000)
Jennifer Lopez, offered to Gloria Estefan

“Alive” (2015)
Sia, offered to Adele

“Telephone” (2010)
Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce, offered to Britney Spears

#1: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1998)
Aerosmith, offered to Celine Dion

When Liv Tyler was cast in the Michael Bay film “Armageddon,” Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, Liv's dad, needed a single for the soundtrack, but struggled to come up with the goods. Instead he chose this Diane Warren-written song. Originally intended for Celine Dion, Tyler swooped in to secure the rights. The single went on to earn an Academy Award nomination, but more importantly it became Aerosmith’s first ever number one hit, ahead of classics like “Walk This Way”, “Dream On”, and “Sweet Emotion”. It was this rejected song that finally gave Aerosmith the number one hit the historic band always deserved.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the biggest hit rejected by another artist? For more fascinating Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com

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