For most people - especially including fans of the late Selena and Hispanic people looking for representation - Jennifer Lopez is seen as some kind of ethereal goddess: a jack of all trades who bounces from dancing to acting to singing as successfully as she bounces up off the floor during an accidental fall in her choreography. But for others - particularly fans of J. Lo's rival Mariah Carey, who's been outspoken in her shade of the Latina diva - Jenny is a fraud who's entire success has come from ripping off other artists and dirty business tactics.
Of course, neither of these sides are accurate, and the murky truth lies somewhere between both of them. But one thing that's undeniable is that J. Lo's musical success is incredibly reliant on a group of unsung heroes who ironically often did more singing than she did. Over the course of her career - but particularly before 2007's Brave album - Jenny's had a particularly nasty habit of "borrowing" vocals from other female artists to pass off as her own. The trend started with her first ever single, and generally consisted of other females singing the choruses - and occasionally the verses and bridges - of her song in their entirety for her, without any credit as a featured artist.
Naturally, using artists vocals without credit is wrong, but that doesn't change the fact that it happens. Beyoncé is known to have stolen Kelly Rowland's vocals for her solo single 'Check On It', and Britney has long been rumoured to be using sound-a-like Myah Marie for all of her recordings since 2011. The trend was especially common in hip-hop, although in these cases it was generally obvious that the male rapping wasn't also the female on the chorus.
But what makes Jennifer's tactics notable is not only how many times she did this, but also the lack of recognition regarding it. Jenny would lip sync to these vocals in music videos and on stage, and no one would bat an eyelash, even in cases where the vocals were clearly not hers. Aside from that, it's interesting to see how many popular artists - including Ashanti, Christina Milian and Brandy - were involved in taking over vocal duties, and how many of them could have had hits if they'd have been able to sing these songs themselves.
Something we should note is that while we're only including fifteen songs on this particular list, there's many many more we're not referencing which J. Lo definitely "appropriated" some vocals for. In fact, the vast majority of the entire J. Lo album features other singers on the choruses, with Jenny only occasionally chiming in for some vocal acrobatics when necessary. We've included our personal favourites down below, but make sure to let us know in the comments if we're missing any songs you love.
Stolen From: Christina Milian
'Play' was the second single from 2000's J. Lo, following the huge success of lead 'Love Don't Cost a Thing'. While it isn't as memorable as that bop, it did hit #18 on the US charts and make top ten in ten other countries when it was first released. However, what most people probably didn't notice when they were telling the DJ to play their favourite song is that a good half of it wasn't sung by Jennifer at all.
'Play' was co-written by Christina Milian, a talented singer in her own right who's probably most well known for her #5 hit 'Dip It Low', and who's since become a reality TV star on E. Her vocals are also all over the finished version of 'Play', most prominently in the chorus where J. Lo doesn't actually sing a single note. Given that Christina helped write the song, we'd guess that she also demoed it in the studio to shop around to artists like J. Lo, and that for some reason - perhaps time constraints, or perhaps just because they preferred Christina's vocals - the producers made the choice to keep her voice on the finished version of the song. Christina does get credited for background vocals on the track, but given that she sings the most memorable part of it you'd think she'd at least be worth a feature.
2. I'm Real
Stolen From: Shalene Thomas
'I'm Real' was so popular that it was actually released as as single twice, albeit in very different forms. It was first released as the fourth single from J. Lo, where it was a typical bubblegum pop track of the early 2000s. This version of the song sampled the song 'Firecracker' by Yellow Magic Orchestra, in what was later revealed to be a diss towards J. Lo's ongoing rival Mariah Carey. 'Firecracker' had never been sampled before 2001, when Mariah made the first attempt to license a sample of it for her song 'Loverboy'. Out of spite, Carey's former husband and reigning executive at J. Lo's label Tommy Mottola applied for the same license and beat her to the punch by releasing it on 'I'm Real' first, ruining the sample for Carey and contributing to her well-publicised mental breakdown of the time.
Once again, J. Lo apparently couldn't find time in her schedule to lay down vocals for the 'I'm Real' chorus. Instead, Shalene Thomas's vocals took their place, possibly appropriated from the demo. No wonder Mariah claims not to know her.
3. I'm Real (Murder Remix) (Feat. Ja Rule)
Stolen From: Ashanti
Later, in an attempt to appeal to a more "urban" market and give her album a boost on the charts, Jennifer's team remixed 'I'm Real' with Ja Rule, with this version being released as a single from both J. Lo and her first remix album, J to tha L–O! The Remixes. Despite being marketed as a "remix", this version of the song bears little resemblance to the original 'I'm Real' apart from a slight similarity in the chorus. The majority was rewritten by R&B star Ashanti, who would later become famous for her features on Fat Joe's 'What's Luv?' and Ja Rule's 'Always on Time'. For this version of the song, the 'Firecracker' sample was also removed and replaced with samples of 'All Night Long' by Mary Jane Girls and 'Mary Jane' by Rick James.
Possibly to suit the more urban vibe of the song, Ashanti's demo vocals were kept for the song's final mix, with the R&B singer taking over chorus duties and recording ad-libs to offset Ja Rule's verses. Weirdly though, although she received credit for her "background vocals", Ashanti never received a co-writers credit on the track. Jenny singing the lyrics another wrote for her went on to become controversial when the media picked up on her using the word "nigga" in the line, "I tell them niggas, mind they biz, but they don't hear me, though." Angry fans even protested one of her New York concerts with banners, forcing responses from both J. Lo and Ja Rule. Given that the whole premise of the track is how "real" Jenny is, we can't help but find the whole situation a little ironic.
4. Jenny From the Block
Stolen From: Natasha Ramos
'Jenny From the Block' is such a trademark J. Lo song that it's hard to think of anyone else singing it: but believe it or not, someone else actually has been the entire time. In continuing efforts to prove J. Lo's "street cred", 'Jenny from the Block' was released as the first single from This Is Me... Then in 2002, featuring rappers Jadakiss and Styles P. And yet again, the chorus was sung by someone other than herself.
This time, it was Natasha Ramos whose voice was appropriated for the song, after she demoed the track that was apparently especially written for Lopez. Ramos' voice is actually quite similiar to Jenny's, and we probably wouldn't have noticed if the demo for 'Jenny From the Block' hadn't leaked featuring some of the exact same vocals that popped up in the final song. Ramos sings the entire chorus and bridge, which makes us wonder: should we have been fooled by the rocks that she's got, after all?
5. Ryde Or Die
Stolen From: Brandy
'Ryde or Die' is an album track from Jen's fourth album Rebirth, written by 'The Boy Is Mine' singer Brandy. The song was originally intended for Brandy's album, but when that suffered from multiple delays it was passed on to Jennifer's project instead.
Once again, it seems as though Jen didn't have time to record vocals for the full song, because Brandy can still be heard in the chorus as well as in backing vocals throughout. Her original version featuring rapper Posta Boy would later go on to leak, and we have to say we like her version a lot more than Jen's officially released one.
6. Ain't It Funny
Stolen From: Shalene Thomas
Like 'I'm Real', 'Ain't It Funny' was originally written for the J. Lo album, and was released as it's third single. Although it didn't chart in America, it's Latin influence made it popular in certain countries such as Spain and Portugal and it hit #1 in Poland, #2 in the Netherlands and #3 in the UK, Sweden and Romania.
Like 'I'm Real', 'Ain't It Funny' also has "background vocals" from Shalene Thomas, which as we all know means that she sings the entire chorus. Honestly though, we're not too mad about this one: Thomas's vocals definitely do sound mixed in a "background vocals" kinda way, and J. Lo could at least be bothered throwing a few ad-libs over them throughout the song.
7. Ain't It Funny (Murder Remix) (Feat. Ja Rule and Caddillac Tah)
Stolen From: Ashanti
After the 'I'm Real' remix successfully topped the Hot 100 for several weeks, J. Lo's label decided to capitalise on her newfound urban market, and requested another hip-hop remix from Ja Rule. This time they needed a verse for an 'Ain't It Funny' "remix", which in reality had no connection to the original song other than by name, with Ashanti returning once again to write brand new lyrics over an entirely different beat. This in itself was controversial, with music critics interpreting the move as plotting to allow two completely seperate songs to chart as one and be pushed up the charts unfairly. It would eventually force Billboard to change their policy regarding remixes so that only songs which are sufficiently similar to each other can combine their sales.
It should come as no surprise given her involvement in the writing of the song that Ashanti once again sings the entire chorus, along with ad-libs, for this track. She even cameos in the music video for the song as a guest at J. Lo's party. Ashanti puts on a happy face in the video, but we can't imagine she was all too happy with the situation in reality.
8. If You Had My Love
Stolen From: Shawnyette Harrell
'If You Had My Love' is Lopez's debut single and one of her signature songs, which makes the fact that she was stealing from other singers even then particularly worrying. Released in 1999, the song peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks straight and became one of the best selling singles of the year with 1.2 million units sold in the US alone.
Once again, J. Lo passed chorus duties off for this song, this time to Shawnyette Harrell. That said, we again can't be too mad about this one: Harrell's vocals definitely are mixed like background vocals, and J. Lo did find the time to record some ad-libs, so we can't call out her trickery too much in this track.
9. Feelin' So Good (Feat. Fat Joe & Big Pun)
Stolen From: Jennifer Karr
'Feelin' So Good' is Jenny's fourth single to be released, and probably the most R&B song she had recorded up until that point. Featuring Fat Joe and Big Pun, the song's music video would later be dedicated to the memory of the latter who died of a heart attack soon after the single was released.
Despite finding the time to record two other artist's vocals for the song, Jenny was unable to record it all herself. Chorus duties instead went to Jennifer Karr, who has also written songs for the likes of Paris Hilton, ATB and Paul Van Dyk, as well as co-writing 'If You Had My Love'.
10. All I Have (Feat. LL Cool J)
Stolen From: Debra Laws & Makeba Riddick
'All I Have' is the second single from This Is Me...Then, and was an even bigger hit than 'Jenny From The Block'. The song managed to go top ten in nine countries, including the US where it peaked at #1 for four weeks and became Jenny's latest #1 to date. But like most J. Lo songs of the era, 'All I Have' wasn't without controversy. Most of the chorus of 'All I Have' is based around a vocal sample of Debra Laws' 'Very Special', a 1981 single which hit #31 back when it was first released. Although Sony had received consent from the writers of the song to appropriate it's chorus, it's singer was unaware of the sample and ended up taking J. Lo's label to court over it. Somewhat unfairly in our eyes, her lawsuit was ultimately dismissed twice.
When it's not Debra Laws or LL Cool J singing on 'All I Have', the voice you hear most prominently (especially in the chorus) is that of a young Makeba Riddick, a current Roc Nation signee who's written songs such as Rihanna's 'Unfaithful', Beyoncé's 'Déjà Vu' and Eminem's 'Love the Way You Lie'. To be honest, after Laws, Coolio and Makeba all have their way with the song, Jenny ends up barely contributing enough vocals to be a featured artist on her own track.
11. Love Don't Cost a Thing
Stolen From: Georgette Franklin
'Love Don't Cost a Thing' was the first single from J. Lo, and marked Jenny's official transition into a sex symbol. Purportedly about the singer's ongoing relationship with Diddy and the gifts he incessantly bought her, the song was allegedly later a reason for their split - at least if gossip columns are to be believed. Just several months after the single's release and her breakup from Diddy, Jenny would go on to marry one of the music video's backup dancers Cris Judd, who she was allegedly having an affair with during the Diddy relationship.
Yet again, there's no background singer listed for 'Love', so it's a little hard to say whose vocals could be all over that chorus. Word on the street is that a certain Canela Cox is the one gracing the song with her tones, although the fact that she's uncredited (and possibly unpaid) for her role as background vocalist makes that hard to verify.
12. I'm Glad
Stolen From: Natasha Ramos
'I'm Glad' is the third single from 2003's This Is Me...Then, and is one of the least successful singles from the album peaking only at #32 on the US charts. Like most of the album, the song is allegedly referring to Jen's relationship with Ben Affleck, which dominated news coverage in the early 2000s as "Bennifer" became a power couple. Unsurprisingly, the music video for the song proved controversial and made Lopez once again the subject of a lawsuit. A homage to the classic musical film Flashdance, the music video for 'I'm Glad' featured Lopez striking iconic poses from the film, rocking a leotard and curly hair as she douses herself in water, strips in a skimpy red top and recreates the iconic dance audition scene from the end of the film. Paramount Pictures ultimately sued Sony for copyright infringement, a suit which was settled out of court; but Maureen Marder, the dancer whose life inspired Flashdance sued both Lopez and Sony for the same thing in 2003. In 2006, all of her claims were dismissed.
Natasha Ramos, who sang backup on almost all of the This Is Me...Then album once again contributes her vocals to the chorus this time around, although to be fair to Jenny she can be heard peaking through once or twice in the hook.
13. I'm Gonna Be Alright (Remix) (Feat. Nas & Track Masters)
Stolen From: Lorraine Cheryl Cook
'I'm Gonna Be Alright' originally appeared on the J. Lo album before being remixed for J to tha L-O! The Remixes, being released as that album's second single. When it was first recorded for the album, the remix featured 50 Cent; but before sending it to radio, Epic Records replaced him with Nas, leading to a longstanding feud between the two rappers. "The first thing that started feeling a little off with him was the Jennifer Lopez shit," 50 would later go on to say.
There's no one listed as a background vocalist for 'I'm Gonna Be Alright', which is confusing since the vocals during the chorus definitely aren't J. Lo's. If we're honest, the vocals sound a lot like something Michael Jackson would put out, but it's a lot more likely that Lorraine Cheryl Cook, a listed writer in the song, is the voice behind the chorus.
14. Loving You
Stolen From: Natasha Ramos
Although 'Loving You' was never released as a single, it was given pride of place as track #2 on This Is Me... Then. Like many of J. Lo's songs, this one has prominent samples, which are in this case Mtume's 'Juicy Fruit' and George Benson's 'Never Give Up on a Good Thing'.
Like 'Jenny From The Block', 'Loving You' was masterminded by Cory Rooney and Troy Oliver. It seems as though Natasha Ramos is the go to demo singer for these two, because she sang extremely prominent vocals all through the chorus of 'Loving You' as well as that song.
15. Get Right
Stolen From: Rudaina Haddad
'Get Right' is my personal favourite J. Lo song, thanks in large part to the old school jazz and funk vibe it has. The lead single from her album Rebirth, the song revolutionised her sound courtesy of producer Rich Harrison, who wrote the song along with Usher. 'Get Right' was originally demoed as 'Ride' for Usher's 2004 album Confessions, but after it failed to make the cut Harrison passed it on to Lopez as an apology for giving another track, '1 Thing', to Amerie instead of her. This was all done apparently without the permission of Usher, who gave the ultimatum "I'd better get some of the publishing rights or else." In reality, though, very few of Usher's lyrics were used, with only the bridge reusing the lyrics from 'Ride'.
Once again, J. Lo isn't too prominent on the chorus of 'Get Right', with most of the vocals apparently being handled by background singer Rudaina Haddad. To be fair though, the production here is quite nicely harmonised, so it's entirely possible that J. Lo does have a line of vocals in there somewhere we're just not hearing.