| June 18, 2013

If there's one statement that applies equally to both dumpster-divers and songwriters, it's that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

READ: Upcycling: Turning Trash Into Treasure

MTV News recently reported that Miley Cyrus' newest single, "We Can't Stop," was first offered to Rihanna for her 2012 album "Unapologetic." But according to songwriter Mike Will Made It, Rihanna was more interested in "Pour It Up," another song he brought along for her consideration. "She didn't even hear 'We Can't Stop,'" he added.

But seeing as Rihanna currently has a huge crossover hit with "Stay," we're pretty sure she isn't too bummed. We're not so sure about the singers who missed out on singing the following songs, though:


Tricky Stewart and The Dream, who wrote "Umbrella," originally sent it off to one of Stewart's former collaborators, Britney Spears. Her label rejected the song because she already had enough material for her upcoming "Blackout" album. Taio Cruz reportedly took a stab at recording the tune instead, but his label wouldn't release it. It ended up before both Rihanna and Mary J. Blige — but the latter was too busy with Grammy obligations to give it a listen. Rihanna won out and "Umbrella" made her a household name.

'Rock Your Body' and Other 'Justified' Songs

Record producer Pharell Williams wrote a bunch of songs for Michael Jackson's comeback album in 2001, but Jackson's manager said the King of Pop preferred a different sound. He showed the tracks to Justin Timberlake, who was working with The Neptunes (Pharell's production duo with Chad Hugo) on his debut solo album "Justified." Timberlake loved them and used some for his album. As Pharell would later find out, Jackson apparently loved them too, because when they met up after "Justified" was released, Jackson told Pharell, "You should have given those songs to me."

'… Baby One More Time'

Britney Spears had already recorded her debut album, but her manager Larry Rudolph thought it lacked a hit single. He'd previously tried to hire Swedish producer and songwriter Max Martin to pen something for her, but Martin dealt almost elusively with established artists. Luckily for Rudolph and Spears, TLC rejected one of the songs Martin wrote for them — specifically, the song that would become "… Baby One More Time" — and Martin agreed to let Spears have it.


Lady Gaga wrote the song "Telephone," but she didn't intend to sing it herself. She gave it to Britney Spears to use on 2008's "Circus," but Spears only got as far as recording a demo, and never included it on her album. "It's fine because I love the song and I get to perform it now," said Gaga, who snatched "Telephone" back, recorded it with Beyonce, and included it on "The Fame Monster." (Spears' demo of the song leaked to the internet anyway.)

'Open Your Heart'

When songwriters Gardner Cole and Peter Rafelson wrote "Follow Your Heart," they originally intended to give it to Cyndi Lauper. However, they didn't get around to showing her the track before Madonna grabbed it. She changed some of the lyrics (as well as the title) and included the song on her third album, "True Blue."

'Only the Lonely'

Roy Orbison and his songwriting partner Joe Melson traveled to Graceland to show "Only the Lonely" to Elvis, but they got there too early and he was still asleep. The three planned to meet up later in Nashville, yet Orbison and Melson ran into Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers and played the demo for him instead (although Orbison claimed he was too shy to ask Everly to record it). Orbison ended up making the record himself, and it was his first national hit.

'Call Me'

Disco producer Giorgio Moroder was tasked with creating the theme for the 1980 film "American Gigolo," so began by writing an outline for a tune he called "Man Machine." He wanted Stevie Nicks to fill in the words and melody, but her contract wouldn't allow it. Moroder turned to Blondie's Debbie Harry, who wrote the lyrics in just a few hours. The song, retitled "Call Me," became one of 1980's biggest hits.

'Gold Digger'

Despite writing the song, Kanye West didn't intend on including "Gold Digger" on his "Late Registration" album. Instead, he wrote the song for Atlanta-based rapper Shawnna, probably best known for singing the hook to Ludacris' "What's Your Fantasy." She ultimately decided not to include the song on her 2004 debut album "Worth Tha Weight," so West reworded the hook to make sense from a male perspective. It remains one of his biggest hits.


Kelly Clarkson's 2004 song "Breakaway" was actually written a few years earlier by Avril Lavigne, Matthew Gerrard and Bridget Benenate. They had intended to include it on Lavigne's debut album, "Let Go," but it didn't fit with the rest of the songs. Clarkson was eventually tapped to record it for the soundtrack to "The Princess Diaries: A Royal Engagement." It turned out to be such a standout hit that Clarkson included it on her second album, which she also titled "Breakaway."


During the writing process, songwriters Ne-Yo, Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen imagined Shania Twain or Faith Hill singing the vocals on their country song "Irreplaceable." When Beyonce heard it, she decided it would fit better on her second album "B'Day," and she made changes to the drums parts, the key, and some of the vocal arrangements. (Grammy-winning singer Chrisette Michele reportedly passed up the chance to record it before Beyonce, too.)