By Skinny Legend
“I don’t know her.”
It was the throwaway sentence - delivered with seeming sincerity, a simpering smile and an innocent nod of the head that was either sarcastic or supportive depending on interpretation - that went on to become one of the Internet’s first real memes. Mariah Carey’s simple proclamation, in response to an interviewer's question about Jennifer Lopez, is one of the finest textbook definitions of shade that anyone could ever ask for.
And yet, behind those four words is a world of pain, heartbreak and jealousy that most people know nothing about. It’s a world that reads like something straight out of a telenovela, populated by characters like a long-suffering wife, a controlling patriarch, and a young ingenue who tears them apart. This is the real story behind the infamous Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez feud.
Our story starts with an 18 year old Mariah Carey, who with her classically trained operatic voice and long tousled curls had big dreams of being a superstar. In 1988, Carey found her way into a record label executive's gala, where she handed her Ben Margulies-produced demo tape over to the head of Sony Records Tommy Mottola. Carey and Margulies would later go on to have a meeting with Mottola, who, believing that Margulies was Carey’s boyfriend, made it his mission to push him out of the picture as he signed her to a $350 000 recording deal for ten albums.
Mottola quickly took a large hand in Carey’s career, to the extent that it was said that the two were barely ever seen without each other. Later in life, Mottola would admit that he was “obsessive” when it came to Carey, but with the caveat that “that was the reason for her success”. Rumours of a romance began to fly about the 39 year old married man and his 18 year old muse, and it wasn’t long before they were proven to be true; Mottola proposed Carey in 1992, two years after her first album release and only shortly after the dissolution of his nineteen year marriage.
Carey and Mottola at their $500 000 wedding ceremony in 2003
Sadly, the marriage was not to be a happy one. Carey suffered from non-stop reports of favouritism, with more than one reporter suggesting that she had married Mottola only for his connections. Even more troubling was the fact that Carey, who had never been in a serious relationship prior to Mottola, was facing emotional abuse almost daily by her husband that left her "miserable, crying, and alone" and dreaming that someone would "kidnap" her. Carey would later recount that she was forced to remain "sequestered" from the outside world by Mottola, and that she had to "get permission to leave" the house. “He didn't even know why I always had my bag with me,” she would say years later. “But in my mind I thought, 'If something jumps off...I'm ready.'”
Although Carey finally managed to escape her marriage to Mottola in 1997, that wouldn’t be the end of their relationship. After all, Mottola was head of Sony Records, and still wielded great power over her career. After some conflict over the direction Carey's career would take, Butterfly was released in late 1997, introducing the sexy image and breathy vocals that would become her signature in later years. But by the time Rainbow - the last album Carey would record for Sony - was released in 1999, her relationship with the label had completely deteriorated. The label wanted a big pop song to be released as the third single to heat up the lukewarm radio play for the album, but fittingly Mariah wanted 'Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)' - a ballad about finding your inner strength based on her seperation from Mottola - to be released instead. She told her fans about the dispute and instructed they request the song on radio to force Sony into an official release, which they eventually did only half heartedly and with a limited promotional budget.
Carey would soon sign a record-breaking $100 million contract with EMI, but money couldn’t buy her happiness. By 2001, Carey had begun work on a semi-autobiographical film called Glitter, and the film and it’s accompanying soundtrack had created a workload that she couldn’t sustain. After breaking up with her boyfriend of three years Luis Miguel, Carey began posting disturbing voice messages on her official website announcing that she would quit music. An erratic appearance on Total Request Live in which Carey handed out ice cream and performed a striptease for Carson Daly did nothing to help her public image. And meanwhile, Mottola back at Sony was doing everything he could to destroy her.
Mottola had first discovered Jennifer Lopez in 1997, when she was fresh off the heels of her star turn in Selena and sending Spanish-language demos to various record labels. By this point, Mottola had recently separated from Carey, and it seemed his self-proclaimed “obsession” with her had been transferred to Lopez. Mottola sent J. Lo to the top of the charts with On the 6 and the international smash hit 'Waiting for Tonight', but he wasn’t done yet.
Lopez’s sophomore album J. Lo was released in 2001, and it featured a song entitled ‘I’m Real’. The song sampled Yellow Magic Orchestra’s ‘Firecracker’ - a song which strangely hadn’t been requested for sample at all up until three weeks before it's recording, when Mariah Carey had requested to use it for her song ‘Loverboy’.
This was a deliberate ploy by Tommy Mottola to sabotage Carey’s ‘Loverboy’ release, which was already scheduled to be the first single from the Glitter soundtrack and an instrumental part of the film itself. Unable to reshoot the scenes containing 'Loverboy', Mariah scrambled to find a new sample to base it on, settling on Cameo’s ‘Candy’. However, she would go on to release a single remix of 'Loverboy' with Da Brat which utilised ‘Firecracker’ in the melody, with Da Brat rapping, “Hate on me much as you want to/You can't do what the fuck I do/Bitches be emulating me daily.”
This wasn’t the only way in which Mottola undercut Mariah’s Glitter campaign. Mariah had recorded a track called ‘If We’ for the project with Ja Rule, which was his first foray into R&B. Irv Gotti would later recall that shortly after the record was finished, he was contacted by Mottola “obscenely early” in the morning and instructed to make a collaboration for Jennifer and Ja Rule "in the same style" of 'If We'.
“He calls me because he found out that me and [Ja] Rule cut a record with Mariah Carey,” Gotti would later say. “And at the time he hated Mariah Carey. So he was pumping Jennifer Lopez to compete.” Mottola even loaned Gotti the company jet to ensure that Ja Rule, who was on tour at the time, would be able to film scenes for the music video for this collaboration. Gotti worked with Ashanti and Ja Rule to craft ‘I’m Real (Murder Remix)’, which was released shortly after to huge success and which sounded more than a little similar to ‘If We’.
While J. Lo topped charts, Mariah began a downward spiral which started with the lukewarm reception to ‘Loverboy’ and only continued when the Glitter soundtrack was released on September 11th, 2001 (yes, that September 11). Matters only got worse when her father, who she had had little contact with since childhood, died of cancer, and she was bought out of her contract with EMI for $50 million.
Despite this, Carey didn’t speak about the situation between her, Mottola and Lopez publicly until some time later. Speaking to MTV about the ‘Firecracker’ fiasco in 2002, Carey stated “Let's just say they did me a favor. And they know who they are. And thank you, sweetie. And your friend who did it with you!" The infamous “I don’t know her” remark wasn’t uttered until an interview on the shoot of 'Bringin' on the Heartbreak' in 2003, when Carey had clearly moved from sadness onto pettiness; and since then it’s been reiterated many times in many different ways.
Which leaves us wondering: will this story ever have a happy ending for Carey and Lopez? Carey’s annoyance towards her manipulative ex-husband’s new plaything was understandable at the time, but this many years on it seems obvious that Lopez was only a pawn in Mottola’s game, and that he was the only one to blame for her career downfall. Lopez, who for her part has alternated between supportive and shady when asked about Mariah, is still on top years later, and we’re sure that Mariah could use some girl power to help her image recover from that New Year’s Eve fiasco. Here’s hoping that in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the two will someday put this feud to rest and come out with an anti-Mottola duet of their own. ‘I Never Knew Him’, perhaps?
By Skinny Legend
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.
By Skinny Legend
It's hard to believe, but as of September 30th this year living legend Britney Spears will have been driving us crazy, loving rock and roll and seeking Amy for exactly twenty years - and what a wild ride it's been. Apart from all the personal crises (think that Justin Timberlake break-up, the whole K-Fed saga and the infamous umbrella incident), Britney has also consistently wowed us with hit single after hit single, from 'Me Against the Music' to 'Make Me'.
But amidst all the brilliant releases (Britney's last single 'Slumber Party' was her forty-first), there was a multitude of songs that didn't quite make the cut. Some of them (like Gaga's 'Telephone') were recorded by Britney before being scrapped at the last minute; while others (like Rihanna's 'Umbrella') were offered to Britney but rejected for recording for one reason or another. While some of these songs would have contributed absolutely nothing to Britney's legacy and are no loss whatsoever, its interesting to see just how many more hits she could have had if she'd played her cards right, especially in the last decade.
In this list we'll be looking at twenty-four such songs which Britney decided to pass on. Keep in mind that in this list we're including only tracks that were officially released by an artist in some capacity jthat we're able to listen to, although other confirmed demos for Britney that are still stashed away in the vault (such as ones written by Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, Sky Ferreira, Dev Hynes and Danja) would undoubtedly be equally amazing.
24. Lady Gaga - Telephone (Feat. Beyoncé)
The story of Britney passing on 'Telephone' is at this point legendary, but just in case you've forgotten about the whole saga we'll give a brief recap here. 'Telephone' was originally written by a pre-fame Gaga alongside a song called 'Quicksand' to be considered for inclusion on Britney's sixth studio album and official comeback, Circus. But while 'Quicksand' was included as a bonus track on the album, 'Telephone' was scrapped due to the presence of another similiarly themed song, the Bloodshy & Avant produced 'Phonography'.
Later, the song was reworked as a duet between the two artists; but conflict arose when Gaga wanted the track to be on the tracklist of her re-release The Fame Monster while Britney's team wanted the song on her greatest hits The Singles Collection. Ultimately, Gaga took the song back and replaced Britney's part on the duet with a new verse by Beyoncé, and the Britney version was never released either as a solo song or as a duet. Thankfully, her version went on to leak in 2010 and we got a fan-made version of the duet soon after.
23. The Pussycat Dolls - When I Grow Up
'When I Grow Up' was the song of the summer back in 2008, and was a huge hit for the newly reformed Pussycat Dolls minus Carmit Bachar. The song was written by Darkchild (who also worked on 'Telephone') and Rock City, but we had no idea it was meant for Britney until a demo sent to her leaked in 2011. When it was originally written for Brit, the lyrics were tailor made to her situation, opening with, "My name is Britney and I don’t care what you say," before continuing "I swear at first that I was flippin'/When they said I looked like Debbie Gibson/And then I tried to dance like Michael Jackson/But people saw me and started laughing."
It's unknown why Brit passed on the song that would go on to be a huge hit, but it's interesting to note that she was originally confirmed to have a short cameo appearance in the music video. Originally, Britney was meant to have a blink and you'll miss it appearance in the traffic jam at the beginning of the video, waving at the Dolls before driving away. Like her version of the song, however, the cameo was scrapped for unknown reasons.
22. Charli XCX - Secret (Shh)
'Secret' is one of Charli XCX's more experimental songs, which is why it may be surprising to hear that it was originally intended for the princess of pop herself. The song's co-writer, Jesse Saint John spilled the tea when discussing another song he wrote for Britney's latest album 'Love Me Down'. "I did [a] song for Charli XCX called 'Secret'' that Karen [Kwak, Britney's A&R] really liked, and for a second she thought it could be for Britney Spears." Sadly, Britney never got around to recording the demo and Charli ended up releasing it on her own EP Vroom Vroom, but it was the strength of 'Secret' that allowed Saint John to pitch 'Love Me Down' in the first place. 'Secret' is actually the second Charli song to be considered by Britney, after she wrote a song specifically for the popstar back in 2013; but we're unsure exactly what that song was, or if it has since been released by anyone other than Brit.
21. Girls Aloud - Graffiti My Soul
If you don't live in the UK, you may not have heard of Girls Aloud. Manufactured on an English television show called Popstars: The Rivals, the group soon became a mainstay of the UK charts for over a decade until their break up in 2013. While its release as the fifth single from their album What Will The Neighbours Say? was scrapped, the song 'Graffiti My Soul' nevertheless became one of their most well known tracks, with group member Cheryl Cole later stating in 2008 that if she'd had the chance to release she song as a single she would have.
Interestingly though, the song was originally written for Britney, who recorded her own version of it for inclusion on In The Zone. "The record company loved it, but Britney's people said 'Where's the chorus? Why are there no repetitive parts?'," said Bryan Higgins, who produced the song as part of Xenomania. While we've never heard even a snippet of Britney's version of the song, we may not be missing out on that much. Whether it's jealousy or honesty, Cole stated that Britney's version was "strange" and that she sang it "in that really strange voice and it freaked me out"; although she later admitted that the source of her nervousness may have come from the fact that the version she heard was unmixed.
20. Enrique Iglesias - Maybe
'Maybe' is a song written by Enrique Iglesias, Steve Morales, Kara DioGuardi and David Siegel which was first released on his Escape album in 2001. The track was later reworked as an uptempo number for the album's reissue and released as the project's fifth single in May of 2002. What's bizarre is that a month prior to the song's single release, Britney started introducing the track under the title 'My Love Was Always There' and performing it live at her Dream Within A Dream Tour shows, even going so far as to say that she wrote the song. 'Maybe' was far from a flop, hitting #12 in the US and #3 in the UK, so it's unknown exactly why Britney thought she could get away with claiming the track as her own.
19. Jennifer Lopez - Brave
'Brave' is the title track of Jennifer Lopez's sixth album, produced by frequent Britney collaborators Bloodshy & Avant and The Clutch. Originally, the song was actually written for Britney's album Blackout, but it was rejected from the final tracklisting before release. That said, I can't say that I'm too disappointed about not hearing Britney's version - while the tracks lyrics stating "I'm not afraid/Because I am brave" definitely fit into Britney's narrative, the song is pretty typically generic R&B and doesn't really offer anything new to the pop music genre like the rest of Blackout did.
18. Momoiro Clover Z - Rock The Boat
Momoiro Clover Z released 'Rock The Boat' on the album Hakkin no Yoake in 2016; but as any true Britney stan will know, the track has been in the works for much longer than that. Britney fans first heard the song in late 2011 as part of the semi-annual Britmas leaks tradition, when it was heard under it's working title 'Dangerous'. Recorded for the Circus album, 'Dangerous' has the same songwriters as bonus track 'Rock Me In' of Greg Kurstin and Coco Morier, and apart from the translated lyrics not much changed at all between it's recording and it's reinterpretation as 'Rock The Boat'.
17. LIZ - When I Rule The World
LIZ has been open about her love for Britney, from her confession that Brit taught her "how to be a popstar" to her obsession over every stan's favourite unreleased track, 'Mona Lisa'. But she got closer to Britney than she ever could have expected with her PC Music-inspired single 'When I Rule The World'. "I heard she wanted 'When I Rule'," she told The Guardian, apparently astounded that Britney even knew who she was. LIZ was ultimately so attached to the song that she had to fight for it to be her own release; and although the track definitely would have fit in with the 'Pretty Girls' vibe and aesthetic, we can't say we're sad that she won.
16. Leah McFall - Home (Feat. will.i.am)
Leah McFall was a runner-up on the second series of The Voice UK, where she was mentored by the infamous will.i.am - a man who was at the same time taking Britney under his wing on the other side of the pond. That's why it makes total sense for any record will worked on around that time to have been shopped around to both Brit and Leah, as happened with 'Home'. The track is typical will.i.am, complete with nonsensical lyrics, an overused sample and a tacky lyric video, so we can't say we're sad that Britney never jumped on this one; although with that said it would definitely be an improvement over 'It Should Be Easy'.
13. Jordin Sparks - Shy Boy/14. Jordin Sparks - Young and In Love/15. Jordin Sparks - See My Side
It might be hard to imagine winner of the sixth season of American Idol Jordin Sparks and Queen of the Lip Sync Britney Spears being offered the same tracks, but believe it or not it happened back in 2007. 'Shy Boy', 'Young and In Love' & 'See My Side' are a handful of tracks which were originally worked on by production team Bloodshy & Avant for Britney's long-awaited Blackout album; but after they didn't make it onto that album, they were passed on to label-mate Jordin Sparks for her self-titled debut.
'Shy Boy' and 'Young and In Love' aren't much of a loss: they both sound like the typical messy 2007 R&B demo that sprouted up in the wake of Timbaland's success, although undoubtedly they would have been improved by some of Britney's vocal stylings. But 'See My Side', which like 'Piece Of Me' was worked on by pop's fairy godmother Robyn, would have worked nicely alongside 'Why Should I Be Sad?' as a lullaby end to the Blackout album.
12. Jamie Lynn Spears - Follow Me
Remember Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney's little sister who made a name for herself on Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 before being fired for her unexpected teenage pregnancy? Well, she also sang the theme song for that show, titled 'Follow Me', which just so happened to be written by her big sister Brit and frequent collaborators Bloodshy & Avant. Weirdly the song was never officially released in full on any soundtrack album, although we did get an official instrumental as well as dozens of snippets of the song played throughout the show which has allowed fans to compile their own versions of the song. A demo also leaked in 2014, but it wasn't sung by either Britney or Jamie Lynn which makes Britney's writing credits and the original intent for the song a total mystery.
11. Rachel Stevens - Sweet Dreams My LA Ex
A reunion of 'Toxic' producers Bloodshy & Avant and songwriter Cathy Dennis, 'Sweet Dreams My LA Ex' was actually a pretty big hit for English popstar Rachel Stevens back in 2003, hitting #2 in the UK charts and selling 210 000 copies that year. Originally, like 'Everytime', the track was intended to be a response to Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River', which was long rumoured to be about Britney; but when Stevens sang it, it was to break out from her role as a singer in S Club 7. Britney apparently passed on the track because she found the lyrics just a little too obvious, which is a real shame because the western R&B sound in the song would have worked perfectly on In The Zone.
10. f(x) - Chocolate Love/Girls' Generation - Chocolate Love
Another K-Pop convert, 'Chocolate Love' was first heard back in 2009 as a dual release for K-Pop supergroups f(x) and Girls' Generation. The song was used to promote the LG Cyon Chcolate phone in commercials, with f(x) jumping on the 'Electronic Pop Version' and Girls' Generation singing the 'Retro Pop Version'. Also worth noting is that f(x) alone recorded an English version of the song entitled 'Topbillin' Love', which was performed live during their international tour in 2010.
What's interesting is that this version of 'Topbillin' Love' was actually a throwaway track that had been written years before by Karen Poole as a demo for Britney which got rejected. Poole tried her hand at writing to the instrumental after Cathy Dennis's attempt, called at that point 'Phony Lullaby', was also rejected due to it's inclusion of lyrics Britney apparently found objectionable. Britney even tried her hand at writing to this instrumental alongside Michelle Bell, which resulted in the unreleased track 'Take Off', a song which discussed Brit's anti-war and anti-discrimination views. Cathy Dennis would later reclaim the song and morph it's instrumental into 'Sweet Dreams My LA EX', the Rachel Stevens hit mentioned above; but that didn't stop the K-Pop groups from reusing it's demo years later.
9. BoA - Look Who's Talkin'
'Look Who's Talkin'' is a song originally written by Britney alongside Bloodshy & Avant, Henrik Jonback and Michelle Bell in 2003 during the same sessions that produced songs like 'Chaotic' and 'I've Just Begun (Having My Fun)'. Later, it resurfaced on Korean superstar BoA's debut English album, also titled BoA, as the second single from the R&B-pop project. The Britney demo leaked just a little later on as 'Look Who's Talking Now', and features almost exactly the same lyrics and production; although the words are a little more meaningful coming from a popstar who spent a lot of her early life silenced by her record label or management. Britney's version of the song was probably never strong enough to be a single, but it could have worked well as an an additional track for the Chaotic EP.
8. Pitbull & J Balvin - Hey Ma (Feat. Camila Cabello)
'Hey Ma' was released last year for the The Fate of The Furious soundtrack album as a collaboration between Pitbull, J Balvin and Camila Cabello; but if things had gone differently, the song could have had a twist from the Holy Spearit. When it was originally recorded, 'Hey Ma' featured Romeo Santos and Britney in the Balvin and Cabello parts, with Britney cooing "If you touch me right, I might stay the night" over a Latin-inspired beat.
But when the song was pitched for The Fate of The Furious, the producers requested that they be replaced, presumably to appeal to a younger audience and capitalise on the Latin American vibe of the film. While we'd generally cringe at the idea of Pitbull releasing a song with with Britney (or Pitbull releasing any song full stop), we have to admit that 'Hey Ma' featuring Britney is an absolute bop, thanks to the fact that her version was leaked as a Christmas present to the fans. We can only imagine how great this song would have sounded in a mash-up with 'Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)' on the Piece of Me shows.
7. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Pulse
'Pulse' was published on the ASCAP registry back during the In The Zone era as a potential candidate for Britney's album, but it didn't end up making the cut there. Instead, it was released in 2010 on the Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark album History of Modern. While we're unsure if anything was changed over that seven year period, we can definitely imagine Britney's vocals on the current version of the track, which has the same breakbeat R&B kind of style she explored on ITZ tracks such as '(I Got That) Boom Boom' and 'Me Against the Music'.
5. Kylie Minogue - Nu-Di-Ty/6. Kylie Minogue - Speakerphone
Britney and Kylie have a long history of working with the same producers and thus swapping tracks, with Kylie even turning down the demo that would go on to be a hit for Britney with 'Toxic'. "I wasn't at all angry when it worked for her," she said of the track. "It's like the fish that got away. You just have to accept it." Let's hope the feeling is mutual, because Kylie took two tracks that Britney worked on for Blackout for her own album X, both of which were produced by longtime collaborators Bloodshy & Avant.
'Nu-Di-Ty' is a quirky, fragmented pop song with a hint of R&B and tropicana which plays out like a more light-hearted version of Britney's own 'Freakshow'. While we don't have a Britney version of the track, she definitely did record one as some of her background vocals can be heard in the final version, and are even clearer when filtered out from the other vocals. Then there's 'Speakerphone', a precursor to 'Telephone' with a dreamy Euro-pop production which was definitely an album highlight. We've never heard anything of the Britney version of this one but it's safe to say she would slay it.
4. Kylie Minogue - Get Outta My Way
'Get Outta My Way' is not just one of Kylie Minogue's best songs: it's one of the best pop songs of this decade full-stop. The perfect slice of dance-pop for the summer season, 'Get Outta My Way' was originally shopped around to several artists including Britney, Alexandra Burke and Pixie Lott, and Wynter Gordon also wrote a song to the Cutfather-produced instrumental. But ultimately it was Kylie who nabbed the song, apparently due to the fact that the other potential candidates were too slow to respond. This is one of the few times where we're happy the song went to it's original artist: Britney's version of the track would probably have worked well on Femme Fatale, but Kylie needed the hit desperately and she put way more energy into the choreography than Brit could have at that point.
3. Nelly - Tilt Ya Head Back (Feat. Christina Aguilera)
The rivalry between Britney and Christina is basically a tale as old as time at this point, so it's no surprise that they'd both be put up for the same part on Nelly's 'Tilt Ya Head Back', which was a moderate hit when it was released back in 2004. Britney actually recorded vocals for this song, some of which were leaked in 2016; but according to producer Dorian Moore, her label nixed the idea of Britney collaborating with Nelly, finding the song "too urban". Janet Jackson was also considered before XTina took the final spot. It's not entirely surprising given that in 2004 Brit was still fighting for creative control with her record label, leading to the Original Doll saga that would begin her downwards spiral in 2007.
2. Selena Gomez - Whiplash
'Whiplash' is definitely not one of Selena's better known songs, and at the end of the day it is just album filler; but for a non-single track, it's surprisingly fun. Alternating between a silly metaphor-ridden chorus and a bouncy rap part spoken with an English accent, 'Whiplash' was highlighted as a standout track from When The Sun Goes Down and was performed on tour alongside a medley of Britney's own hits.
But if things had gone differently, the song may actually have ended up on Brit's comeback vehicle Circus. Britney wrote and recorded the song alongside Coco Morier and Greg Kurstin at the same time as she worked on 'Mmm Papi' and 'Rock Me In', but it failed to make the cut for unknown reasons. So far we haven't heard the demo of the song, which is a shame because I'm dying to know if the English accent was a Selena addition or if it was present in the original version as well. Judging by Englishney's raps in 'Scream & Shout', I wouldn't be surprised if that was something Brit came up with all on her own.
1. Rihanna - Umbrella
What more needs to be said about 'Umbrella', the monster hit which launched Rihanna's career properly and transitioned her from Bajan Princess to Bad Girl? Tricky Stewart, who had previously worked on 'Me Against The Music', wrote the track alongside The-Dream intending for it to be a comeback single for the troubled Spears; but when they sent the track to her label, it was rejected without Britney even hearing the track. After Mary J. Blige passed on it too, the song ended up in Rihanna's lap, at which time she utilised her accent to create that signature "ella ella eh eh eh" chorus which made the song such a hit. It's a credit to Rih that her stamp on the song is so huge that we can't even imagine Britney singing this one.
Which of these songs would you most like to hear Britney's vocals on? Let us know in the comments down below!
Editor's Note: This is an updated version of an article that was originally posted on 04/01/2018.