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  • Nine Hits Leona Lewis Passed On


    Skinny Legend

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    Watch the video version of this article here!

    There are some popstars who seem to simply go from strength to strength, to the point where it seems as though the sky is the limit for the amount of talent and commercial success they can achieve in a lifetime. Some, like Justin Bieber, may have started from a particularly low base in which they repeat the word "baby" two hundred times in succession; while others, like Beyoncé, take the time to break out as solo stars, free from girl group politics or the dark shadows of their husbands empires. But then there are others who, try as they might, never seem to be able to match the success of their very first single. Such is the case for Leona Lewis, the X Factor UK winner who stunned the United Kingdom with her amazing vocals and the world with her debut single 'Bleeding Love', but who has failed to make as huge of an impact with each successive follow up to the song.

    Sure, she's had 'Run', the UK #1 which still gives listeners goosebumps every time it's performed live; and 'One More Sleep', the best holiday themed single since 'All I Want For Christmas Is You!'. And there's a plethora of under-appreciated tracks which could have done great on radio, such as the Guetta-esque 'Can't Fight It' or the DJ Poet collaboration 'Catch Me When I Fall'. But nothing has ever captured the imagination of the public quite like 'Bleeding Love', the hit first single which topped charts worldwide and soundtracked the lives of many teens going through their first heartbreaks.

    But that's not to say that Leona hasn't had the chance. For over the course of her career, there's been at least nine tracks which we know of that she's turned down which have gone on to be hits for other artists ranging from John Legend to Christina Aguilera. Some of them were timed poorly, while others were victims of internal record label drama; but almost all of them would have sounded brilliant had they been sung by Leona. Read on to find out more!

    9. Rihanna - We Found Love (Feat. Calvin Harris)

    Like Nicole Scherzinger before her, Leona was also offered 'We Found Love', one of the biggest hits of 2011 and the song which made a bonafide star out of Calvin Harris on the international scene. Leona even recorded her own version of the track, which was finalised and set for release along with the rest of her dance-oriented Glassheart album, and which apparently sounded identical in production to the final released version. However, she wanted to release 'Trouble', her collaboration with Childish Gambino, as the first single from the project; while Harris wanted 'We Found Love' to be the lead. Ultimately, when Harris went on tour with Rihanna she recorded her own version of the song, which she was happy to release as the first single from her own album Talk That Talk, and Leona's finalised version was left to rot on Calvin's enviable external hard drive full of unheard hits.

    8. John Legend - All of Me

    John Legend's 'All of Me' was the sleeper hit of 2014, spending 59 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 chart since it's release in August 2013 and going on to become the second best selling song of the year in the US and the third best selling song in the UK. And weirdly enough, the original version of the track was actually a duet between Legend and Lewis. We had no idea about the collaboration until a superfan posted about it online after hearing the original version for themselves. "This version was recorded before the original JL version but Syco and US label couldn't get their shit together and released the solo version," they said, adding, "One of the reasons Leona left Syco, lots of opportunities wasted, Leona picked all her songs for the album but were rejected". Sadly, the duet has never been heard, but we do have this fan-made version of the track which combines Legend's finalised version with a short live cover Leona filmed in her car.

    7. Shontelle - Impossible

    Shontelle's 'Impossible' was a minor hit when it was first released back in 2010, hitting #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 in the UK; but it only really blew up a couple of years later when The X Factor winner James Arthur released his cover version of the song, which went straight to the top of the UK charts. The track could have been an earlier hit for an X Factor contestant if Leona had recorded it back in 2010 though, when it was originally sent to her by her 'Come Alive' and 'My Hands' collaborator Ina Wroldsen. "I don't know what her reasons were - maybe she couldn't relate to it at the time," opined Shontelle when asked about Lewis's refusal to record the track, before going on to thank her for the hit. "I was like, 'Wow! I'm glad you turned it down, because I got to sing it!'"

    6. Christina Aguilera - Blank Page

    When a snippet of Sia's demo for 'Blank Page' first leaked in 2012, it was labelled as a demo for Leona Lewis; a charge Sia later rebuked on her official Twitter account, where she stated it was intended for another artist entirely. But a version of the song sung by Leona definitely does exist, as it was confirmed before the snippet leaked to be a contender for the final tracklisting of Glassheart. Sadly, Lewis received a mediocre reception to the first single off the album 'Collide', and the entire project was delayed from an expected release date of November 2011 to November 2012. In the meantime, the demo was shopped around to other artists for a quicker release, and Christina jumped on the track to add her trademark touch of strain to the vocals. While we leaked the Sia demo several years ago, we've heard nothing more about the Leona version of the track since it was initially confirmed; and given that it's already been released by someone else, it's unlikely we ever will.

    5. Ellie Goulding - Burn

    A collaboration of songwriting between freuqent Lewis collaborators Ryan Tedder and Greg Kurstin, 'Burn' could have been the perfect track for Leona during the Glassheart era to keep her true to her roots while still progressing her sound further into the dance-pop realm. While she did record a version of the track that went on to leak in 2013, the song ultimately didn't make the cut for her album and was instead passed on to fellow Brit Ellie Goulding. Goulding's version lit up the charts worldwide, hitting #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in the UK and Scotland; while the lead single from Glassheart, 'Trouble', hit #7 in the UK and failed to chart in the US. Choices.

    4. Emeli Sandé - Mountains

    It was hardly a hit and was never even released as a single, but 'Mountains', the heartfelt ballad released on Emeli Sandé's debut album Our Version of Events, was originally recorded by Lewis for her Glassheart album. The song was actually written three years before its ultimate release in 2012, but when Sandé began working with Leona for her album on tracks such as 'I To You', she revived it once again for an appearance on Glassheart. Sadly, during the period of delay that the album experienced, Sandé decided to reclaim the track and release it on her own project; one that debuted at #1 on the UK charts and ultimately went double platinum. It's not all bad, though: the same sessions which brought to fruition the Leona version of 'Mountains' also brought us 'Trouble', Leona's lead single, which ended up hitting a pretty decent #7 on the UK charts.

    3. Kelly Clarkson - What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)

    'What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)' is well known as the comeback single which sent American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson back to the top of the charts, but it could easily have gone to another singing reality show competition winner. According to songwriter Ali Tamposi, the track was initially offered to Lewis before Clarkson's label even knew of it's existence, but the songstress turned it down without a second thought. But before you get too excited about the thought of Leona rocking out to the pop-rock anthem, remember this: the song at this point was in early stages and had a completely different tempo, beat, chord progression and vibe. It wasn't until frequent Sia producer Greg Kurstin stepped in to tailor make the song for Clarkson that it took on the stadium rock quality it now has.

    2. Beyoncé - I Was Here

    A cult hit from a cult album, 'I Was Here' is a song from Beyoncé's 4 album which, despite never being released as a single, managed to chart in the top twenty in Hungary and Belgium thanks to a well publicised and much viewed music video in support of the United Nations' World Humanitarian Day efforts. And while it may not have been such a hit in Lewis's capable hands, it almost certainly would have tugged at the heartstrings just as well if she had chosen to record it. Diane Warren, who would later go on to work with Lewis on the animal rights charity single '(We All Are) Looking for Home' in 2016, sent the track to both Jay-Z and Simon Cowell back when it was first demoed for consideration by both Bey and Leona. But while Bey jumped at the chance to record the track, halting production on her album just to record the vocals, Cowell's office rejected the song, apparently telling Warren "This song just doesn’t go all the way for us." According to Warren, she responded via e-mail to Cowell with the ultimate comeback saying, "That’s okay. I’m in the studio with the biggest artist on the planet and it kind of went all the way for her. All good."

    1. Beyoncé - Halo

    Probably the most infamous of all of Leona's unrealised songs, 'Halo' caused a scandal when it's co-writer Ryan Tedder was accused of penning similiar songs for Lewis, Beyoncé and Clarkson all in the space of a few months. Some of this scandal could have been averted, of course, if Leona had snagged 'Halo' when she had the chance. According to Tedder, the song was always intended for Beyoncé as an ode to her marriage with Jay-Z, but it spent a long time on hold while Bey waited to record it in between albums. While she slept on the song, it somehow found its way into the inbox of Syco Entertainment, the record label owned by Simon Cowell which manages Leona; but due to her tight schedule she was unable record the song immediately. By the time Lewis had gotten around to wanting to record the song, Bey had taken it back and released it as the iconic power ballad we all know and love today. Looks like this was a case of bad timing.

    Which of these songs do you think Leona would have slayed the most? Would they even have been as successful if she'd released them as singles? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!



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    I've met a guy who has We Found Love and Blank Page, but if it's up to him we'll never get to hear them, which is really sad :'(

    I don't care much about All of Me, but Leona really needed that hit! Also, i love her versions of Burn and Mountains, especially the last one. I might be the only person who hates Halo, but it would be interesting to hear Leona's version of it. 

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    I have heard most of the demos described above, except Impossible which she never recorded and Halo. Don't know about the Kelly Clarkson one.

     

    Interesting fact, Leona was offered I Was Here (Beyonce) too but Syco rejected it too:

    "I Was Here,” Beyonce (2011): It’s really become this graduation anthem, so it’s kind of cool for someone who got kicked out of two schools and barely graduated to have a graduation theme. I played it on the phone for Jay Z and he loved it. At the same time, I sent it to Simon Cowell, thinking it could be for Leona Lewis or Susan Boyle. Jay Z said, "I’m going to have Beyonce call you." It was on a Monday. The album was due to be turned in that Friday. She said, "I’m stopping my whole album and I’m coming to record the vocal." I was in the studio with her, and in the morning I got a rejection letter from someone at Simon’s office [saying], "This song just doesn’t go all the way for us." It was my favorite email to write back because I was like, "That’s ok. I’m in the studio with the biggest artist on the planet and it kind of went all the way for her. All good"

    I'm currently trying to find out more known songs she has recorded or they've passed on.. Will add here or in her thread

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    As a Leona fan I'm actually quite frustrated at how many hits Leona missed. How can this happen????? I would absolutely love to hear her versions of the songs mentioned above. I always say this but We Found Love has Leonas voice written all over it.

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    3 hours ago, Feather said:

    Imagine those songs on one album though.. What a fucking insane album would that have been!

    I never thought of that. It would have been a monster of an album! I could see it smashing around the globe like Bleeding Love.

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    unfortunately, even a hit like We Found Love would've gone unnoticed if sung by her

    she has 0 personality and no xfactor (8)

    her music has always been mediocre (except for a few songs)...

    she's just a pretty voice, but a dull singer. She's not able to convey any emotions through her voice whatsoever

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    1 hour ago, lanadelrey said:

    unfortunately, even a hit like We Found Love would've gone unnoticed if sung by her

    she has 0 personality and no xfactor (8)

    her music has always been mediocre (except for a few songs)...

    she's just a pretty voice, but a dull singer. She's not able to convey any emotions through her voice whatsoever

    Tbh, whether you feel emotions or not, is an opinion. I feel it and other people feel it.

    I wouldn't say WLF would have gone unnoticed because Collide sold 110k of one performance. And she was still relevant that time.

    It's a little bit rich calling Leona dull coming from a Lana fan though 8) Like, I find Lana extremely boring and I feel like every song is the same. I also don't feel anything listening to her songs except that she's so depressive. 

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    On 5/19/2017 at 2:38 AM, lightyears said:

    I've met a guy who has We Found Love and Blank Page, but if it's up to him we'll never get to hear them, which is really sad :'(

    I don't care much about All of Me, but Leona really needed that hit! Also, i love her versions of Burn and Mountains, especially the last one. I might be the only person who hates Halo, but it would be interesting to hear Leona's version of it. 

    That really sucks, I can just imagine Leona's voice slaying 'Blank Page'! But don't worry, I feel the same way about both 'All of Me' and 'Halo'. ;) They're pretty songs for like a wedding or something but nothing more...

    On 5/19/2017 at 4:14 AM, Feather said:

    I have heard most of the demos described above, except Impossible which she never recorded and Halo. Don't know about the Kelly Clarkson one.

     

    Interesting fact, Leona was offered I Was Here (Beyonce) too but Syco rejected it too:

    "I Was Here,” Beyonce (2011): It’s really become this graduation anthem, so it’s kind of cool for someone who got kicked out of two schools and barely graduated to have a graduation theme. I played it on the phone for Jay Z and he loved it. At the same time, I sent it to Simon Cowell, thinking it could be for Leona Lewis or Susan Boyle. Jay Z said, "I’m going to have Beyonce call you." It was on a Monday. The album was due to be turned in that Friday. She said, "I’m stopping my whole album and I’m coming to record the vocal." I was in the studio with her, and in the morning I got a rejection letter from someone at Simon’s office [saying], "This song just doesn’t go all the way for us." It was my favorite email to write back because I was like, "That’s ok. I’m in the studio with the biggest artist on the planet and it kind of went all the way for her. All good"

    I'm currently trying to find out more known songs she has recorded or they've passed on.. Will add here or in her thread

    I didn't know about the 'I Was Here' pitch, that's really cool! I might add it into the article if you don't mind? Unless there's another seven songs you can find that she passed on, then I can just write another article. :cackle: 

    On 5/19/2017 at 2:11 PM, lanadelrey said:

    unfortunately, even a hit like We Found Love would've gone unnoticed if sung by her

    she has 0 personality and no xfactor (8)

    her music has always been mediocre (except for a few songs)...

    she's just a pretty voice, but a dull singer. She's not able to convey any emotions through her voice whatsoever

    :orly: 

    I can kind of understand what you mean tbh. I think she's a very reserved person in general and she seems very shy and quiet in interviews, and I think that mindset travels over to her songs as well. But I really do think she has a gorgeous voice and with the right production (for example with 'Run' or 'Bleeding Love') she can definitely tug at those heartstrings. ;) 

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    Great article, there are two more:

     

    A year without rain: Yes, it was written for Leona ( even if the demos that have been leaked are fake ).

    Turning Tables: Adele said she wrote it for Leona but decided to keep it at the last moment

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    5 hours ago, Guest Lefan said:

    Great article, there are two more:

     

    A year without rain: Yes, it was written for Leona ( even if the demos that have been leaked are fake ).

    Turning Tables: Adele said she wrote it for Leona but decided to keep it at the last moment

    I never heard about 'A Year Without Rain', but I can definitely imagine Leona singing those "oooh"s at the beginning! She would sound great on 'Turning Tables' too, although honestly the song wouldn't have been anywhere near as big with her singing it.

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      13. Beyoncé - Pretty Hurts
      'Pretty Hurts' is often regarded as the standout from Beyoncé's self-titled 2013 album, and even it's lead songwriter Sia considers it to be her "best song". As such, it makes some sense that the track was in demand by multiple musicians before Bey finally snagged it for herself. The track was originally written by Sia alongside producer Ammo on the same day as she recorded 'Titanium' for David Guetta in 2011, and as with 'Titanium' first dibs for the song went to Katy Perry. Somehow, Katy ended up missing the e-mail that 'Pretty Hurts' was attached to, and the track was instead passed onto Rihanna's team. Rihanna, who was at the time recording for Talk That Talk, showed interest in the song and placed it on hold; but after she failed to pay the track's fee for a whopping eight months, Sia continued to shop it around once more. 
      While 'Pretty Hurts' remained in limbo, Beyoncé heard it and labelled it as "my song". She would later go on to state, "The second I heard the song, I'm like, 'I have to sing this song, I don't care how hard I have to fight for this song!'". Ultimately, she paid the fee to make the song hers and stole the track right out from under Rihanna's nose. Given that 'Pretty Hurts' originally had a very different composition from the version that Bey released, it's hard to say how Rihanna's vocals would have worked on the track; although given that the song is a statement on the beauty industrial complex, we can't imagine that her Fenty Beauty company would have gone on to great success after she recorded it.
      14. Jordin Sparks - Battlefield
      2009 was the year of Ryan Tedder, with the English-born songwriter penning hits for balladeers ranging from Beyoncé to Kelly Clarkson: and if things had played out differently, he may just have added Rihanna to that list. 'Battlefield', which was ultimately released by Jordin Sparks as the first single from her album of the same name, was initially written with the intention of pitching it to Christina Aguilera. After a demo was recorded it was then considered as a duet for Rihanna and Chris Brown, but after news of Brown's physical assault broke these plans were scrapped. Instead, Sparks went on to nab the song and turn it into a moderate success, with the song hitting #10 on the US charts.
      15. Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude
      Jessie J had success with writing on Miley Cyrus's 'Party In The U.S.A.', and it didn't take long before she tried to replicate the hit when she wrote 'Do It Like A Dude' for Rihanna. Jessie had Rihanna on the mind at the time due to the prominence of 'Rude Boy' on the radio, and she thought that the "tongue-in-cheek" and "empowering" nature of 'Dude' would be perfect for Rih to embody. After her completion of the song, Jessie sent it to both Rih's management and her own record label Island Records; and while she received no response from the former, an enthusiastic review from the latter encouraged her to release the song as her first single. Although Rih would have undoubtedly improved the song just by her very presence, we're kind of glad she didn't lend her vocals to this one; I'm pretty sure even Rihanna couldn't have saved this tryhard mess of a song.
      16. Ariana Grande - Dangerous Woman
      'Dangerous Woman' is a favourite among not only Ariana Grande fans, but also the popstar herself, who liked the track so much that she ended up scrapping her original lead single 'Focus' in it's favour and reworking her entire album to fit it's theme. Despite this, writers Johan Carlsson and Ross Golan had a very different artist in mind when they penned the song. Initially, the song was written with the intention of sending it to Carrie Underwood, who passed; and following this, it was also sent to Alicia Keys. Rihanna was third on the list of artists who were sent the song, and it was only after she rejected it that Grande got sloppy...fourths? While it would have been cool to hear Rih do her thing on this thumping mid-tempo, we're honestly more interested to hear what Carrie Underwood could have done with the song. She's never headed in such an R&B direction before, and it could definitely be an interesting change of pace for the country singer.
      17. Major Lazer & DJ Snake - Lean On (Feat. MØ)
      'Lean On' was one of the biggest songs of 2015, and one of the largest hits of the streaming era. Despite only peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song reached #1 in nine other countries, and went on to become the most streamed song of all time, as well as selling over 13 million copies worldwide. Surprisingly though, the track was offered to multiple artists who turned it down before it became the smash we know it as today. Major Lazer and MØ wrote the track together as a slower reggae song, pitching it to Nicki Minaj who turned it down. Later, they reworked the track into a more upbeat version with the help of DJ Snake, and went on to pitch this version to Rihanna. "I played her 'Lean On,'" Diplo would later recount. "She was like, 'I don't do house music.' I face-palmed so hard on that one." Weirdly enough though, despite the song's tropical influences, we think MØ is way more suited for the track than Rihanna would ever be. Ultimately, this track went to just the singer who needed it most.
      18. Pitbull - Timber (Feat. Ke$ha)
      Out of all of the songs that Rihanna turned down, this has to be the one we're most happy to see her let go of. Although Pitbull was always (unfortunately) intended to rap over the 'Timber' beat, he had initially wanted Rihanna to sing the chorus later made famous by Kesha. Fortunately, due to Rihanna's focus on her Shakira duet 'Can't Remember To Forget You', she was unable to find time to record vocals for the song. This was a positive thing for two reasons: one, because Rih didn't have to besmirch her good name by working with a rent-a-rapper like Pitbull; and two, because Kesha's southern roots and party girl image were perfect for the chorus of 'Timber', which gave her a greatly-needed hit at the perfect moment in time. We just wish she'd been given the chance to rap the verses herself.
      Which of these songs would you most like to hear Rihanna's vocals on? Let us know in the comments down below!
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  • What are your predictions for the 2019 Grammy Awards?   18 members have voted

    1. 1. Which song will win Record of the Year at the Grammy's?


      • Cardi B - I Like It (Feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
      • Brandi Carlisle - The Joke
      • Childish Gambino - This Is America
      • Drake - God's Plan
      • Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - Shallow
      • Kendrick Lamar & SZA - All The Stars
      • Post Malone - Rockstar (Feat. 21 Savage)
      • Zedd, Marin Morris & Grey - The Middle
    2. 2. Which album will win Album of the Year at the Grammy's?


      • Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy
      • Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
      • Drake - Scorpion
      • H.E.R. - H.E.R.
      • Post Malone - Beerbongs & Bentleys
      • Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
      • Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
      • Various Artists - Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic
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