Top 15 demo songs that were turned into hits after being rejected by established artists

Demo songs – the hunt for the next hit

The potential of a hit song can be underestimated when presented as a demo song

There were countless situations where top artists that were originally intended to perform certain songs, rejected the demo versions. Fortunately for some of those demos, they were accepted by other established artists that turned them into hits. We have compiled a list of the most popular ones:

  1. Jessie J – “Do It Like A Dude”, written by herself, was originally presented to Rihanna, which passed it by; Jessie J decided to turn it into her debut single, which was a very wise decision, since it ranked no.2 in the UK charts;

  2.  Even though Rihanna missed the shot with “Do it like a dude”, it was her time for huge succes with a demo song that we all know: “Umbrella” (written by singer-songwriter Taio Cruz)  which was intended to be sung by Britney Spears, which didn’t trust its potential, so it was passed to Mary J Blige, which didn’t find if appropriate to her style.

  3. Do you remember Rihanna’s “Disturbia”? It was actually meant to have its first time fixation with Chris Brown, since he also loved it and it was meant for his Exclusive album, but he was a gentleman enough to leave it to Riri, since he found it to be more appropriate for a female version.
  4. Rihanna has missed a no.1, too – “Timber” was turned into a hit by Pitbull feat. Ke$ha, after the Barbados-born singer passed it by when listening to it as a demo.
  5. Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow” would initially was intended as a featuring with Katy Perry (especially after her success with “Dark Horse”), but Katy turned it down, so the featuring was made with Rita Ora, in the end.
  6. Oh, this one is heavy – and we think that  Cee Lo Green was not to “Happy” about it, in the end –  since Cee Lo actually wanted the song, but their managers decided it would not fit its musical persona. That’s what it happens when you overthink it!
  7. Leona Lewis also turned down a no.1 hit (actually the official reason was that she didn’t had the time to record it) – it is about “Halo” (written by Ryan Tedder – lead singer for One Republic) that made it into a hit after Beyonce heard it, recognized the huge potential behind the demo and recorded it right away.
  8. The A-listers that were undecided when hearing a demo song goes on with Britney Spears, which said didn’t pick up the “Telephone”, written by Lady Gaga, when she was more of a songwriter, but turned up pretty well for her second album.
  9. And since we mentioned Britney, she was a little bit more on time with “Toxic”, (which also won a Grammy), after its demo version was rejected by Kylie Minogue, which probably couldn’t get it out of her head for a while, when it hit the Billboard.
  10. Back to Rihanna, since she seems to be pretty picky – this time with “Pretty Hurts”, which was not good enough for her and it didn’t get Katy Perry’s attention, either. Fortunately for Sia, which wrote it, it got Beyonce’s attention, which was also implied in co-writing it in the form that we all know it.
  11. Talking about Sia, we couldn’t not to mention “Chandelier”. As songwriters, we know that this type of song would more than probably would be written for a certain vocalists, with a huge vocal range. Actually, we would have swear that Sia wrote this song for her, like a masterpiece, but this was not the case. It was actually meant for Rihanna, which passed it by, so Sia, just as Lady Gaga with “Telephone”, made it one of her greatest hits.
  12. This would be one of our favourite’s – Sia – “Elastic Heart” that was actually intended and proposed to Katy Perry, but she turned it down. Actually Sia declared that she gathered up all of the songs that she believed in to have that hit potential and those finally into her own studio album.
  13. What does Adele and Rihanna have in common? Well, besides some obvious things, the fact that they both refused Sia’s “Alive”.
  14. Another one: what does Adele and Beyonce have in common? Yeah, you guessed it: the fact that they both refused Meghan Trainor’s smashing hit “All about that bass”.
  15. And the last one for this time being: “Miss Independent” was actually intended to be on Christina Aguilera’s Stripped album – it was also recorded for that purpose, but the track didn’t make in on the album – so it was Kelly Clarkson that dressed it up in pretty clothes and made it kind of a feminist anthem.

Choosing your next single as an artists

So, you got it – we are only humans and so are the superstars. But sometimes some decisions can make it or break it for an artist, especially when we are talking about an upcoming artists. The way the singles are chosen in an artists’ carrer  is a decision that’s most of the time left to the manager or the label a&r. Since music tends to be such a complex phenomena, and would rather be described as a “transfer of emotions”, it’s hard for a hit song to be accurately  predicted on marketing algorithms basis. Maybe that’s why some of the greatest hits in musical history was those that were chosen by the artists or their managers by the only criteria that they fit the artists’ musical persona rather than judging on purely marketing reasons, and this made the audience connect with them, and overthinking is one of the most common mistakes that a musician could encounter within their career – we have even made a special article dedicated to this topic.

demo songs that were turned into hits by major artists

If you happen to be an artist looking for his/hers next single, have a look on our pop demo songs page, you will find a lot of potential hit songs ready to be licensed for their first fixation, and, as a team of songwriters, we are writing and producing in almost any genre imaginable, from pop to edm, mainstream to indie, orchestral to electronic.

Also, if you’d rather want to co-write a song together (maybe you need professional lyrics writing services or the topline, or maybe you have these already written and you need the backing track (instrumental)), please have a look on our page dedicated to custom songwriting and co-writing.

Until next time, we wish you plenty of inspiration and, why not, good luck in choosing your next hit song!

Summary
Top 15 Demo Songs rejected by A-list Billboard artists and turned into hits by others
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Top 15 Demo Songs rejected by A-list Billboard artists and turned into hits by others
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The potential of a hit song can be easily overlooked when presented as a demo. We've made a top 10 of demo songs that were rejected by some huge artist but turned into smashing hits by some other major artists.
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SongwritingExperts.com
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