We take a look at just some of the huge hits that very nearly ended up as part of someone else’s chart story.
Pharrell – Happy
It’s officially the most downloaded track ever in the UK, gave Pharrell his third million seller in just 12 months and was the first track in 57 years to hit Number 1 three times over.
However, all these chart records could very well have belonged to someone else, as when Pharrell penned the feelgood tune, he had Gnarls Barkley singer CeeLo Green in mind. Green recorded the track, but decided to concentrate on his own album rather than release Happy.
When Pharrell co-wrote the score to Despicable Me 2, the film company insisted that Pharrell himself record the tune, and the rest is record-breaking chart history – over 1.6 million copies sold so far.
Britney Spears – Toxic
Britney’s smash hit fourth Number 1 featured one of her most memorable videos, but those memories could very nearly have been Kylie Minogue’s had she taken up the offer to sing the song.
Co-written by Cathy Dennis, who also had a hand in Kylie’s million-selling Number 1 Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, Toxic was thought to be the perfect song for Kylie to carry on her chart domination.
On hearing a demo, Kylie wasn’t so sure, so the song was passed on to Britney, who made it her own – it’s one of her biggest hits, shifting over 400,000 copies. Kylie has since said “stupidity” led to her turning the song down, but went on to say: ““Hey, Britney did a fantastic job. Maybe it wouldn’t have been the same with me.”
Rachel Stevens – Sweet Dreams My LA Ex
Speaking of Britney, this superb slice of revenge pop from ex S Clubber Rachel Stevens was originally written with Ms Spears in mind. Following her breakup from Justin Timberlake and his allegedly autobiographical acidic takedown Cry Me A River, Toxic writer Cathy Dennis (yes, again!) thought this would be a great comeback for Britney.
Brit was determined to turn the other cheek and not get drawn into a pop spat, which was probably the best decision for her, but it would’ve made for some very interesting reply songs! Anyway, Rachel certainly didn’t waste the opportunity, taking Sweet Dreams My LA Ex to Number 2 in 2003.
Ellie Goulding – Burn
2013 was a big year for Ellie Goulding. She scored her first ever Official Singles Chart Number 1 with Burn, whose writers included OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and Lily Allen collaborator Greg Kurstin. But that chart-topper could very well have been Leona Lewis’s!
Leona recorded the track for her third album Glassheart, but when the project took a different direction, Burn was left off the eventual release. Leona’s loss was Ellie’s gain – Miss Goulding’s version really heated things up! It topped the charts for three weeks and sold over 720,000 copies, landing as one of the Top 20 sellers of 2013.
Justin Timberlake – Rock Your Body
Former N*Sync body-popper Justin’s first solo album contained quite a few songs that were meant for none other than the King Of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Rock Your Body, penned by Pharrell and Neptunes pal Chad Hugo, was originally slated to appear on Michael’s 2001 chart-topping album Invincible, but the star decided it wasn’t to be.
When his debut solo outing Justified was being put together, producer Pharrell thought JT would be perfect for Rock Your Body, and it ended up being the hit album’s third single. Like the two hits before it, it peaked at Number 2. Rock Your Body sold over 240,000 copies.
Kelly Clarkson – Miss Independent
Miss Independent was Kelly’s breakthrough hit in the UK back in 2003, but the tune was originally earmarked for Destiny’s Child, under the title Miss Independence.
Perhaps Beyoncé thought that she and the girls had already covered the independence tip with their Number 1 Independent Women, as it was then passed on to Christina Aguilera. Even though Miss Independent sounds tailor-made for Xtina, the power-lunged diva passed on the track, so it was Kelly’s in the end!
Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
It was the record that changed everything for former Disney sweetheart Miley, but can you imagine Rihanna on vocal duties? She was the intended artist when writer and producer Mike Will Made It was putting it together. It wasn’t to be, however, and RiRi didn’t get to record the song.
Miley did, of course, and banished those ghosts of Hannah Montana for good, scoring her first ever UK Number 1 single, selling over 490,000 copies and proving 2013 really was the Year of Miley.
Rihanna FT Calvin Harris – We Found Love
She may not have got to lend her lungs to We Can’t Stop, but she did eventually get her hands on this Calvin Harris-penned melancholy rave-up. We Found Love, thanks to its irresistible beat, super catchy lyrics and a brilliant video, gave Rihanna a million-seller (she has four altogether) and a massive Number 1. But it could all have been so different…
Two leading ladies claimed the song was originally theirs. First Leona Lewis, who lost out on Ellie Goulding’s Burn, laid claim to We Found Love, saying in an interview: “It was the same version and production but mine’s better”. Ooh, fighting talk indeed.
Former X Factor judge and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger also reckons she very nearly found love herself – “I’ve got the demo of the song and I was busy at the time”.
We’re sure they’re both very pleased for RiRi: We Found Love was Number 1 for six weeks and, with a sales tally of over 1.3 million copies, is one of the bestselling singles of all time in the UK.
David Guetta FT Sia – Titanium
Onto another million-seller now, superstar DJ David Guetta’s hit with super secretive songstress Sia (try saying that after selling a few million records down the pub).
Sia wrote the track with David and put down the guide vocals, with the intention the song would feature someone else on vocal duties. Mary J Blige and Katy Perry were in the frame, but when Katy, a CPF of Sia, heard the demo, she refused to do it as she thought Sia’s voice was just perfect for it.
And when Katy Perry says that’s what should be on the song, that’s what you do. So they did. And it was a wise move, really – Titanium topped the Official Singles Chart, sold over 1.1 million copies and is one of the UK’s most downloaded tracks ever ever ever.
Lady Gaga & Beyoncé – Telephone
One of the ladies’ most iconic videos and, interestingly, the most recent UK chart-topper for both of them, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s collaboration was a mammoth event. And yet Telephone was never intended to be Gaga’s at all.
Sure, Mother Monster wrote it, but originally planned to transfer the call – or the song, rather – to Britney Spears (again). Britney stepped up and put down a demo of the track but didn’t finish it, deciding it wasn’t for her.
Realising it was too good to waste, Gaga recorded it herself and, on the advice of co-producer Darkchild, got Beyoncé on board to turn up the heat even more. It was a recipe for success; Telephone sold over 700,000 copies.
Any more for any more?
Got any more songs that were actually meant for other artists? We'll be doing another roundup of pop's near misses soon, so comment below with any you'd like us to feature and if we pick yours, you''ll be in with a chance of some OfficialCharts.com merch!