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By Skinny Legend
In December 2004, a 22 year old Britney Spears walked into the KIIS FM offices in Burbank carrying an unmarked CD to meet radio host Jesse Lozano. The meeting was pre-planned, but only barely; Spears had called about an hour before to ask whether she could play her new song live, a phone call that Lozano had immediately thought was a prank. “Usually, you don’t believe that,” he would later state. In other words: usually, this kind of meeting would have to be cleared by layer upon layer of managers, PR agents and radio executives before it could ever come to fruition.
But on that particular day, Britney had gone rogue. Following the worldwide success of her 2003 album In The Zone, Britney had gone on to release Greatest Hits: My Prerogative the month before, and was still promoting the titular Bobby Brown cover as the album’s first single when she showed up at KIIS. But that wasn’t all that had happened in her life recently. In 2004 alone, Britney had joined the religion Kabbalah on recommendation of her friend Madonna; eloped to Vegas with childhood friend Jason Alexander only to annul the marriage 55 hours later; cancelled The Onyx Hotel Tour after breaking her knee and having to go through arthroscopic surgery; married backup dancer Kevin Federline after five months of knowing him; and announced an extremely short-lived career break to start a family.
Later, Britney would backtrack from her planned “break” in a letter posted to her official fansite. “I think I should rephrase myself from my previous letters when I was talking about taking a 'break'. What I meant was I am taking a break from being told what to do [...] It's cool when you look at someone and don't know whether they are at work or play since it's all the same to them. The things I've been doing for work lately have been so much fun, because it's not like work to me anymore.” After a year of huge career highs and personal lows, Britney was headed to KIIS to take control of a situation and prove her own independence, despite what her management team may have wanted.
The song that Britney played on that day was ‘Mona Lisa’, a strangely introspective and prophetic song which would go on to launch a thousand fan theories. Using da Vinci’s famous artwork as it’s subject, the song discusses a character on the verge of a nervous brakdown. “Now see everyone's watching as she starts to fall/They want her to breakdown, be a legend of her fall,” Britney sings, her voice unusually shaky, sharp and unproduced; before launching into an unexpected hymnal during the bridge.
Britney’s choice to compare herself to ‘Mona Lisa’ is an interesting one, and one that she would maintain when she directed her next music video for ‘Do Somethin’’ under the pseudonym ‘Mona Lisa’ a few months later. "I kinda think she's like my alter ego whenever I feel like being mean or possibly like bustin' people around to get stuff right," she told TRL at the time. "It's kinda easier to be called 'Mona Lisa' instead of Britney."
But as much as Britney stated that Mona Lisa was an alter ego, in many ways it seemed as though that was the real her. da Vinci’s artwork is one of the most well-known images in the world, yet with its with it’s enigmatic smile and mysterious backstory it's also one of the most hotly debated. Moreover, it’s one of the most commonly reproduced artworks in history, with innumerable copies being made for placement on office walls, handbags and phone cases. Britney related to ‘Mona Lisa’ as a public figure who was ready to tear down her reproductions and let people finally see the real her.
This interest in “originals” and “copies” was one Britney clearly intended to explore more, as she let slip in a short interview following the ‘Mona Lisa’ premiere. “[The album is] probably going to be called Original Doll,” Britney told Lozano on air. “It’s halfway done right now.” The title of the album was a sly dig towards Britney’s management, who at the time was in the process of seeking “Britney Spears types” for an up-and-coming girl group, The Pussycat Dolls. Later, it would be used by fans in dark corners of the Internet as evidence that the “original” Britney had been replaced with an emotionless clone around this time to fulfill the rest of her career duties.
But despite the excitement Britney expressed during her impromptu announcement of the album, her record label was adamant that there were no concrete plans to release anything officially. At the time, no one involved in the recording of the song had even been paid yet. “No album is scheduled at the moment, but Britney is in the studio working on some material,” Jive Records said in a statement to Billboard. “There are no plans to service ‘Mona Lisa’ to the radio.”
Ultimately, ‘Mona Lisa’ was the only song that was ever officially confirmed for Original Doll, and when that album didn’t come to fruition it was reworked for the Chaotic EP, the soundtrack to Britney and Federline’s short-lived reality show. Also on the EP was 'Chaotic', which was recorded with Bloodshy & Avant (producers of 'Mona Lisa'), Henrik Jonback and Michelle Bell; and ‘Someday (I Will Understand)’, which Britney wrote herself. Of all the songs that have been speculated to appear on Original Doll, these two are the most likely choices: Henrik Jonback confirmed that he had written with Britney on her German Onyx Hotel Tour bus in 2004, which was around the same time that ‘Mona Lisa’ was recorded, and ‘Someday’ was written in early 2005 before Spears learned of her first pregnancy, just a month or two after the Original Doll announcement. The EP’s bonus track, ‘Over To You Now’, is another possible inclusion on the album, although many fans speculate that the album was instead an In The Zone outtake due to its sound.
It’s also possible that the new recordings on Greatest Hits: My Prerogative had at one point been considered for Original Doll. ‘My Prerogative’ and ‘Do Somethin’’ were both recorded on different legs of the Onyx Hotel Tour, around the same time as ‘Mona Lisa’, and feature a similar percussive R&B style. 'I've Just Begun (Having My Fun)', which was also on the album, had already been released nine months earlier alongside 'Don't Hang Up', 'The Answer' and 'Girls and Boys' as bonus tracks on Britney's DVD for In The Zone, but these were all recorded pre-Onyx Hotel and are generally considered to be from a different era.
On top of this, there’s several songs which have leaked in recent years which fans attribute to Original Doll, even though in reality they were recorded prior to In The Zone. These songs include ‘Look Who’s Talking’, a song about Britney’s ex Justin Timberlake; ‘Like I’m Fallin’', a country inspired song; ‘Take Off’, an anti-war and pro-gay rights anthem; ‘Money, Love, and Happiness’, produced by a young RedOne; ‘Welcome to Me’, a sex kitten anthem which asks Britney’s lover to "take control"; ‘Peep Show’, which we’ve only heard a snippet of; ‘Ouch’, a song about heartbreak; and ‘Conscience’, known alternatively as ‘Conscious’. While all of these songs in their demo form are quite stripped back and could sit nicely alongside ‘Mona Lisa’, there’s no suggestion that they were ever brought out of the vault to be reworked after In The Zone.
Fan-made album artwork for Original Doll
With fans eagerly awaiting the 2005 release date of Original Doll, the hot dry summer days seemed so stretch on endlessly with only the announcement of B In The Mix: The Remixes Vol. 1 to keep them satiated. Britney's only label release in 2006 was 'Crazy', a collaboration with her husband that ended up on Federline's laughable Playing With Fire album; but she did record 'All That She Wants', based on a piece of poetry that she had posted on her website; ‘For My Sister’, a soulful guitar track; and ‘Rebellion’, a dark track which lead to its own conspiracy theories. While all of these songs explored variations on the R&B genre, they are notable for all featuring intensely personal lyrics about love, family and fame.
But by 2007, it seemed as though Britney had officially given up the fight for Original Doll. By this point she had instead turned her attention to recording Blackout, which had a markedly different sound. While ‘Mona Lisa’ focused on the raw vulnerability in Britney’s voice with percussive, funky production, Blackout cuts like ‘Gimme More’ used Spears’ voice as just another processed instrument to layer atop heavy EDM beats, and their lyrics were for the most part a world away from any of Britney’s earlier more personal cuts. Despite being a revolutionary album, Blackout lacked the emotional connection that Spears had teased two years prior with ‘Mona Lisa’.
Of course, Blackout wasn’t the only thing to happen to Spears in 2007. Britney’s mental breakdown is at this point stuff of legend, with images of her shaving her head, wielding an umbrella as she smashes car windshields and crying in a British accent all taking a permanent place in pop culture history.
A bald Britney Spears wields an umbrella
Looking back at Original Doll retroactively, we can’t help but wonder: would Spears’ breakdown have even happened if she’d been able to release the album of her dreams? Celebrities nowadays have unprecedented allowance to express themselves however they want, with social media like Twitter and Instagram allowing them to speak directly to fans without interference from management. But Britney didn’t have that luxury: the only way she could tell the world how she was feeling was through her music, and, if she was up for the risk, through impromptu KIIS FM interviews. With both of those avenues taken away from her, it seems like it was almost inevitable for Britney to crack under pressure the way she did.
With the Britney Spears of 2018 more overprotected and inaccessible than ever, it seems likely that fans yearning for information on Original Doll will only intensify. But it’s not just the music that has them hungry for more; it’s the promise of a Spears who was breaking out of her shell to be exactly who she wanted to be fo the first time in her life. In October of 2004, around the time she became engaged to Federline and two months before she premiered ‘Mona Lisa’, Britney wrote a letter to her fansite alluding to the release of Greatest Hits: My Prerogative. It’s charming in a “little girl writes in her diary” kind of way, but it’s also an incredible insight into Britney’s mindset at the time.
By Skinny Legend
You can look at this one of two ways...Either he's a loving father who's looking out for her daughter and deserves to be paid as a manager, or he's a money hungry thief who wants to keep her spaced out and under the conservatorship so he can keep taking money from her. What do y'all think?
By Skinny Legend
Lady Gaga is well known for making promises to her fans which she doesn't always come through on. Between a handful of unreleased music videos and an entire scrapped album, Little Monsters have gotten used to taking every announcement with a grain of salt and waiting for concrete releases before jumping on the hype bandwagon. But out of all of her broken promises, most likely the hardest for Gaga's fans to digest are the failed collaborations which she's teased before their ultimate cancellation.
There are endless reasons for such cancellations, but it's safe to say that many stem from Gaga's own pickiness when it comes to her musical output. Although Gaga has worked with legends like Cher, Elton John and Britney Spears, none of these collaborations were ultimately released due to Gaga's displeasure with the material; while songs featuring rent-a-rappers such as Flo Rida and Too $hort and alleged child molester R. Kelly have been pushed by Gaga as potential hits. In other cases, behind the scenes dramas seem to have been the major contributing factor to cancellations, while yet others appear to simply be a case of bad timing.
In this list, we'll be looking at eighteen of Gaga's most high-profile features which have remained unheard. Is anyone else as excited as I am to hear #9?
1. T.I. - Lick It (Feat. Lady Gaga)
T.I. and Gaga worked together on the infamous 'Jewels and Drugs' for Gaga's ill-fated ARTPOP album, but if T.I. had had his way they would have done so a lot sooner. Back in 2010, T.I. teased that he and Gaga had worked together on a song called 'Lick It', intended at that point for his album No Mercy. "The one we have right now is entitled 'Lick It'," he stated, teasing, "I think we both have a tendency to shock the world in a lot of different ways." He further hinted that the two may continue to work together, saying "[We're] gonna go back in [the studio] and record some more songs." Ultimately, any collaboration they worked on for the album remained unreleased. According to former RadioARTPOP host Derek, who had ties to Gaga's team, Gaga found the song too "raunchy" and had never truly intended to release it with her vocals, even sending it to other singers to feature on.
2. T.I. - New National Anthem (Feat. Lady Gaga)
Following the release of 'Jewels and Drugs', T.I. later mentioned that he was in the "final stages" of having Gaga record the chorus vocals for 'New National Anthem', a song later released as a single off Paperwork. Originally featuring demo vocals from Victoria Monet, the song would later go on to feature frequent collaborator Skylar Grey, with T.I. stating that Gaga was too "busy with her current project" to record vocals for the song.
3. Britney Spears - Telephone (Feat. Lady Gaga)
You may remember that 'Telephone' was one of many hits offered to Britney that she eventually turned down for the Circus album, apparently because of the presence of another phone-themed song 'Phonography' on the project. But what you may not realise is that 'Telephone' was eventually reworked in duet form for Gaga and Britney, before debate over who owned the song halted it's release. At the time, Britney's team wanted the track for her upcoming greatest hits compilation The Singles Collection, while Gaga wanted it for The Fame Monster. After failing to come to a compromise over who the song belonged to, Gaga ended up taking it back and adding Beyoncé as a featured artist instead, leading to the hit we all know and love today.
4. Lady Gaga - TBA (Feat. Britney Spears)
It was later hinted that Gaga and Britney may have had something in the works following the release of ARTPOP. When asked who she would like to work with next, Britney stated, "I would do a duet with Lady Gaga. I think that would be a lot of fun," continuing, "I think she's very different and interesting and intricate." Gaga then took to Twitter to publicly support the duet, stating:
Although it was never officially confirmed that they worked on anything together, Gaga did attend Britney's Piece of Me show soon after, which may have been a way for them to further discuss the duet. Sadly, nothing ever eventuated.
5. Elton John & Lady Gaga - Hello Hello
'Hello Hello' was the first of many Elton and Gaga duets, and was recorded for the release of the 2011 Elton-funded musical animation Gnomeo & Juliet. Originally, the duet was meant to be included on the official soundtrack to the film; but possibly due to label disputes, the duet version was cut from the soundtrack and can now only be heard in the full film. While Elton's solo version appears on the album, the duet did leak several months later.
6. Lady Gaga - Room In My Heart (Feat. Elton John)
In an interview with Zane Lowe prior to the release of Joanne, Elton confirmed that he had a writing session with Gaga scheduled for the next day, saying "I'm writing with Lady Gaga tomorrow". He stated that while he wasn't a fan of ARTPOP, he had heard several songs from Joanne and found them to be a return to form. Several months later, a title named 'Room In My Heart' was registered to publishing sites, with the writers listed as Gaga and Elton and the performer as Gaga alone. A song with the same title, but this time written by Diane Warren, was also registered at the same time. Unfortunately, any Elton collaboration that may have existed remains unreleased, despite the fact that it doubtless would have worked well on the rockabilly-inspired album.
7. Kendrick Lamar - PARTYNAUSEOUS (Feat. Lady Gaga)
'PARTYNAUSEOUS' was originally conceived as a song by Kendrick Lamar featuring Gaga back in 2012. It was planned to be released as a single on September 6th of that year from Lamar's album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, but was cut due to creative differences on which direction the song should take. This led to two different versions of the song existing: one, a slow R&B version which leaked in 2015; and another, an EDM-styled rave track which Gaga reworked as an interlude for the ARTPOP Ball tour. The song, from Gaga's perspective, details her efforts to make peace with the country of Indonesia, which banned her from performing during The Born This Way Ball Tour in 2012.
8. Kendrick Lamar - Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe (Feat. Lady Gaga)
'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' was another Kendrick Lamar collaboration which Gaga sang the chorus for. After their creative relationship ended, Kendrick released a solo version of the track on his album (later recruiting Jay-Z for the single release), while Gaga later leaked her contribution to the song online. "We had a date, but we had to meet the deadline for the pre-order date," Kendrick explained when asked why the song went unreleased. "That’s just the business side coming through and messing things up. But you know it’s God’s plan. I’m not really too tight about it because I know we have something special."
9. Paul McCartney - TBA (Feat. Lady Gaga)
Paul McCartney has had a song with Gaga in the can since 2015, when Gaga announced via Instagram that they had been in a session alongside instrumentalists such as Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.
It was later revealed that the track, described as a "rollicking tune", was in fact a soundtrack selection for McCartney's long-awaited film High in the Clouds. An adaptation of his 2005 book on capitalism, High in the Clouds has been in the works since 2009 and has only just gotten a writer, so it's unlikely to be released anytime soon; but as far as we know, this duet is still planned for release at some point in the future.
10. The Midway State - Don't Give Up (Feat. Lady Gaga)
'Don't Give Up' is a cover of a duet originally recorded by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. The idea for the collaboration came from Gaga's producer Martin Kierszenbaum, who introduced The Midway State and Gaga in 2008. "When we finished [recording], we were both super into it so shortly thereafter we recorded a video for the song [in L.A.]," said the band's Nathan Ferraro. The video itself was a homage to the original video by Gabriel and Bush, and features a still shot of Gaga and Ferraro embracing as the camera moves around them. The video, along with the song, leaked in 2008. "I didn't cry but I was disappointed," said Ferraro. "In this business you get used to that, it's just a snap of the fingers. It was just a matter of she was blowing up at the time and they can't put a huge push or millions of dollars behind every single artistic thing she does".
11. Cher - The Greatest Thing (Feat. Lady Gaga)
'The Greatest Thing' is a song originally recorded in 2007 by Gaga and longtime producer RedOne under the name 'Greatest'. "I wrote that song a long time ago, and I've never put it on one of my own albums for, really, no particular reason," Gaga said in an MTV interview. "I always write these concept records, and it just didn't fit in. But it's always been, like, this big, massive, beautiful hit record and everyone always says, 'Why don't you put that on your album?' And I said, 'I don't know, it just doesn't fit with everything else.'" Later, in 2011, when RedOne and Cher were collaborating, he pitched her the song for potential inclusion on her 25th studio album Closer To The Truth. Originally, the song was meant to be a solo track; but it was later revealed that Gaga wanted to appear on a remix "for the gays", before being convinced by RedOne to appear on the original. While the song was at one point intended to be the second single from the album, Gaga ultimately decided that she didn't like her vocals on the song, and Cher ended up axing it entirely after RedOne failed to get in contact with her in time. The song would later leak in 2013.
12. Trina - Let Dem Hoes Fight (Feat. Lady Gaga & Kalenna)
'Let Dem Hoes Fight' was one of three songs Gaga worked on alongside Kalenna, Jim Jonsin and The JAM in 2008. "We started writing a song called 'Freezer Burn' and that song turned out really good, so we did another song called 'Kaboom.'," explained Jonsin. "We were playing the songs back, trying to figure out who to give them to. So I said, ‘As far as the labels are concerned, just let them hoes fight over who gets the song.’ Everyone was like, 'Jim, that’s a great song title!' And in like 20 minutes, we had that song with Lady Gaga." A year later, when Trina was working on her album Amazin, Jonsin suggested that she rework the track for herself featuring Gaga for release on the album. While Gaga was featured on the song when the album was sent out for review, she was removed from the track by the time the album was officially released, possibly due to label conflicts. However, her version did later leak.
13. Barbra Streisand - TBA (Feat. Lady Gaga)
Barbra Streisand's thirty fourth album Partners, an all-male duet album, was in the works for over two years before it was ultimately released. When it was first announced in 2012, producer Walter Afanasieff teased that the album would include collaborations with Robin Thicke, Usher, Yo Yo Ma, Willie Nelson and Babyface - although ultimately, only the Babyface duet would make the cut. Two years later he teased that "Lionel Richie, [...] Blake Shelton, Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban, Michael Bublè, Lady Gaga, Bette Midler, Andrea Bocelli, Beyoncè, Billy Joel [and] John Mayer" would all appear on the album, but ultimately the three females made mention of were not included on the final tracklisting. It's unknown if a duet was ever recorded, but it's possible that Barbra and Gaga recorded a song together which was scrapped when she decided to go with an all-male list of partners.
14. Lady Gaga - Ratchet (Feat. Azealia Banks)
'Ratchet' was a collaboration recorded with Azealia Banks, intended for the ARTPOP project. Ultimately, after some untimely Twitter beefs on Banks's part, the song was cut from ARTPOP with Gaga stating that Banks had a "bad attitude". We have a small snippet of Gaga performing the track live, and an official instrumental was later released by producer DJ White Shadow on his Clock Is Ticking EP in 2013; but as of yet, the full version of the song has yet to be heard.
15. Lady Gaga - Red Flame (Feat. Azealia Banks)
'Red Flame' was another collaboration recorded with Azealia Banks for ARTPOP, which was cut for the same reason as 'Ratchet'. A sister song to 'Mary Jane Holland', the song explores the 'Princess High' persona Gaga was embodying at the time. A watermarked version of the song went on to leak in 2016, but it seemed to be in an unfinished state.
16. Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett - Paradise
'Paradise' was initially announced for Gaga's collaborative album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek, as one of several original songs on the album. Like much of Joanne after it, the song was a dedication to Gaga's aunt who passed away of lupus, and was intended to mark the conversation she had with her brother before she passed. Ultimately, the song went unreleased due to Gaga's nervousness over her jazz composition abilities, although she hinted that she may release the song in the future. It's unknown if Gaga was the sole artist to feature on the song or if Bennett was also involved.
17. Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett - TBA
When Cheek to Cheek was first announced, it was initially only going to include songs by one songwriter. "I can't mention the composer because I don't want anybody to do it before we do it, but there's a great composer that's very underrated, very famous, but not as famous as Gershwin or Porter," Bennett stated. "But he did as many hit songs as anybody, and so we're gonna do a big swinging album." Ultimately, the album featured a collection of songs from the Great American Songbook (including cuts from Gershwin and Porter), and only a few of them were written by the same composers. Given that recording for Cheek to Cheek occured quite a while after it's announcement, it's unlikely that a full album of songs by just one songwriter was ever recorded.
18. Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett - TBA
Immediately after the release of Cheek to Cheek, Bennett announced that he and Gaga were planning a potential sequel to the album inspired by Cole Porter's musical Red, Hot and Blue, a statement he echoed a year later when he revealed that they were releasing an album full of Porter renditions. According to Bennett, Gaga wanted to record a follow-up "right away". While giving a performance in Idaho in 2015, Bennett announced that the album would drop in 2016; and a year later, Bennett stated that the two had continued discussions regarding a second album, and that they would begin recording in 2017. In late 2017, he stated that he and Gaga had a duet that would drop on New Year's Eve, but this also did not occur. It's currently unknown if the two have recorded anything beyond their first album together.
Which of Lady Gaga's unreleased collaborations do you most want to hear? Who are you most interested in hearing her collaborate with next? Let us know in the comments down below!