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Songs Intended For Someone Else

May 05, 2014 -- 10:24am

Thought I'd share this since Pharrell Williams recently admitted that his song "Happy" was actually intended to be sung by Cee-lo Green.  Here are songs that were originally intended to be sung by someone other than the person who ended up recording them...

Shawnna: Kanye West's "Gold Digger"
West's 2005 take on this track, which features an appearance by Jamie Foxx, sailed to number on Billboard's Hot 100 and was, at the time, the fastest selling digital download of all time. The song was originally meant for female MC Shawnna, who passed on it. Kanye tweaked the hook a bit, and the rest is history. Much like Shawnna.

Elvis: David Bowie's "Golden Years"
Way back in the cocaine-fueled, disco dancing mid-70s, Bowie offered this track, which he claims was inspired by the glitz of Broadway, to the rapidly fading star, or rapidly speeding train wreck, depending on how you look at it, that was Elvis Presley. Presley passed, and Bowie went on to record it for his album Station to Station.

Billy Idol: Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)"
Before becoming the soundtrack to every 80s teenager's Molly Ringwald fantasies, the song was offered to The Fixx, Bryan Ferry, and, finally, Billy Idol, all of whom took a pass. Simple Minds almost said no, too, but cooler heads at their label prevailed and they recorded the track in just a few hours. The song took off after appearing in The Breakfast Club, and they high-fived all the way to the new wave bank.

Janet Jackson: Britney Spears' "I'm A Slave 4 U"
In 2001, Britney was trying to separate herself from her Disney-fied good girl image and went on to outrage uptight people everywhere when she performed the song at the VMAs-sound like a familiar scenario, anyone?- and danced suggestively with a giant python. It almost never happened, however, as the song was originally intended for Janet Jackson's All For You album, but didn't make the cut. Luckily it did, and a roadmap for pop queen status was laid for...

Rihanna: Miley Cyrus' "Can't Stop"
Just what does "dancing with Molly" really mean? Is there actually still any doubt over this? Does it even score a blip on the Richter scale of Miley controversy anymore? Well, it almost didn't happen, as the song was meant for Rihanna for Unapologetic, but was skipped over so producer Mike WiLL Made It offered it up to his next project, a singer who was sick of having the best of both worlds and wanted to break on into a new, more adult, one. Which she did, especially during last year's arguably most WTF moment / brilliant pop transformation as she gyrated with Robin Thicke at the VMAs and made "twerk" so ubiquitous a term it became a real word.

The Ramones: Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart"
"Hungry Heart" was almost a punk rock anthem instead of the Boss' first top ten hit. Joey Ramone had asked Springsteen to write the Ramones a song, and he did, but decided afterwards to keep it for himself on the advice of his manager.

Pusha T: Jay-Z and Kanye's "Ni**as In Paris"
Pusha T didn't like the now-famous beat from this track, kicking it to the curb for "sounding like a video game," where it was discovered by label-owner Kanye, who immediately recognized the potential and used it for his collaboration with Jay-Z.

Celine Dion: Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"
Originally penned for Celine Dion, this Aerosmith power ballad was for the ensemble apocalypse flick Armageddon. Steven Tyler so channels his inner diva on the track one has to wonder if it would really sound much different had she done it.

Michael Jackson: Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body"
This song was just one of several songs originally destined for Michael Jackson's Invincible album that were passed down to the former 'N Sync-er's debut solo album. In a fit of meta-ness, Timberlake would go on to perform the song with Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl half time show, during which he exposed her breast and caused the coining of the term "wardrobe malfunction."

Lynryd Skynyrd: Neil Young's "Powderfinger"
Young wrote this song in 1975 for his album Chrome Dreams, but when it went unreleased instead sent it to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant, who was going to use it on the band's next record. When he died in a plane crash in 1977, Young released it on Rust Never Sleeps.

Marianne Faithfull: The Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By"
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 1964, "As Tears Go By" was given to young Marianne Faithfull, who released it to pop success. The Stones then re-appropriated it for their 1965 release December's Children (And Everybod's). Jagger then proceeded to appropriate Faithfull, whom he dated until 1970, and inspired the Stones' hit "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

The Pussycat Dolls: The Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps"
Peas member will.i.am penned this track for burlesque-troup-come-girl-pop-group the Pussycat Dolls for their debit album, but decided to give them another song instead. The Black Eyed Peas then released it, on 2005's Monkey Business, where it was the record's most successful single, going double platinum.

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