‘Un-Rih-Leased’: 9 Hit Songs Rihanna Passed On
Her leftovers have gone to Drake, Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus.
Rihanna is the hit maker of our generation. From “Umbrella” to “We Found Love,” RiRi’s had 14 singles make it to No. 1 over the last decade — putting her in third place for the most chart-toppers of all time.
So it’s no surprise that every producer, rapper and songwriter is vying for a credit on her next record. Though, of course, not all industry leaches are worthy of bad gal Ri — not even, say, one of the biggest DJs in the world.
“I just want her on a Major Lazer song,” Diplo told GQ in a new interview, adding, “She’s like the one artist we can’t ever get.”
The music producer and DJ, who has worked with everyone from Justin Bieber to Beyoncé to Snoop Dog, went on to explain that he’s pitched to Rihanna multiple times, only to be savagely shut down.
“I played her ‘Lean On.’ She was like, I don’t do house music,” he said. “I face-palmed so hard on that one.” Another time Diplo has a session with the “Work” singer, she told him, “this sounds like a reggae song at an airport.” Ummm… ouch. Rihanna responded to the viral story in the most Rihanna way.
Don’t worry Diplo, yours is not the first (or last) song to be passed on by Rihanna. Over the past few years, an entire list of Rihanna rejects have been breathed new life and made their way into the top 100. For those interested in playing a game of “What if?!”, here are nine massive hit songs that could have been sung by Rihanna.
“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeren
Sheeren told BBC Radio 1 that he wrote his hit single with Rihanna in mind. “But then I was singing some of the lyrics and was like Rihanna is not going to sing these words so kept it to myself,” he laughed.
“Cheap Thrills” by Sia
Sia wrote “Diamonds” for Rihanna, and thought she might have another No. 1 for the singer when she wrote “Cheap Thrills.” Rihanna passed on the track, and Sia loved it so much she decided to record it her self. “For some reason, I really liked listening to it which makes me feel masturbatory,”Sia told Rolling Stone. “I wouldn’t normally be just jamming out to my own tunes.”
“Find Your Love” by Drake
Producer Jeff Bhasker revealed to Complex that Drake’s “Find Your Love” was co-written with Kanye West, and that Rihanna recorded the original demo of the song. When she dropped it from her 2009 Rated R album, Drake picked it up and turned it into an R&B smash.
“Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé
In a NY Times profile on Sia, the superstar songwriter herself revealed that “Pretty Hurts” was offered to both Rihanna and Katy Perry before it ended up as the opening track on Beyoncé’s surprise self-titled album.
“DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” Usher ft. Pitbull
Max Martin (who FYI wrote “…Baby One More Time” and “Backstreet’s Back”) was one of the songsmiths invited to pitch songs for Rihanna’s 2010 album, Loud. “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” wasn’t one of the 200 prospected songs to make the final cut, but it did pretty well in Usher’s hands.
“We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus
Producer Mike Will Made-It is credited for Rihanna’s 2013 hit “Pour It Up” — but it’s not the song he had planned for her. “The idea [of ‘We Can’t Stop’] was more towards Rihanna. And then Rihanna, she heard ‘Pour It Up,’ and then she got on ‘Pour It Up’ right away. And she didn’t even hear ‘We Can’t Stop.’ So then we finished up the record,” Mike told MTV News.
“Don’t Let Me Down” The Chainsmokers
Alex Pall told Rolling Stone it was okay Rihanna rejected their demo, “because young unknown artists have this hunger – they’re willing to work really hard.” They recorded the track with up-and-comer Daya, and it went to No 3.
“Battlefield” Jordin Sparks
The song was shopped around to the Backstreet Boys and Christina Aguilera before the writers were told it being considered as a duet for Rihanna and Chris Brown. Later that day, it became breaking news that Brown had physically assaulted Rihanna.
“Timber” by Pitbull ft. Ke$ha
“Timber” has always been Pitbull’s song, but that catchy hook by Ke$ha was originally going to be sung by Rihanna. According to Pitbull, Ri passed on the song to record “Can’t Remember to Forget You” with Shakira. She may have missed out on another No. 1, but we wouldn’t trade anything for that steamy Shakira x Rihanna music video.