Hit-making is a collaborative process, with many hands and minds going into the mix to create a finish product. Don’t believe us? Check the credits for your favorite song in the charts today! In among the seemingly dozens of names you’ll find the one tunesmith who had the original germ of the melodic hook…and sometimes even the whole song! Most of these songwriters are unsung heroes (see what we did there?), names and faces unfamiliar to the masses despite the hours of pure pop pleasure they’ve given us over the years. Today we’ve decided to honor them by sharing their original demo versions of some of their greatest hits. Read on and enjoy the original voices behind the songs!
“Beautiful” by Linda Perry (better known from Christina Aguilera’s 2002 album Stripped)
The modern classic ode to self-acceptance was originally written (and produced!) by the great Linda Perry. Formerly of 4 Non Blondes, she has penned hits for P!nk, Gwen Stefani, and Alicia Keys, to name just a few!
“Umbrella” by The-Dream (better known from Rihanna’s 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad)
It’s not news that Dream is a hit making machine, writing Rihanna’s coming-of-age cut (and collaborating on a ton of others!), as well as Beyonce’s show-stopping power ballad “1+1,” the Rolls Royce-shakin'”Partition” and Justin Bieber’s breakout hit “Baby.”
“Rude Boy” by Ester Dean (better known from Rihanna’s 2009 album Rated R)
Ester is all over the place these days, responsible for not only this Riri hit, but also “S&M,” and “What’s My Name,” “You Da One,” and many others, as well as Beyonce’s “Countdown” and Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”…and we’re just getting started. Bow down, b-tches!
“Love The Way You Lie” by Skylar Grey (better known from Eminem’s Recovery)
The hook singer has written the bones for this Eminem comeback track, as well as Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor,” EDM masterpiece “Clarity” by Zedd, and songs for Cee Lo Green.
“Halo” by Ryan Tedder (better known from Beyonce’s 2008 album I Am…Sasha Fierce)
In addition to being the lead singer for One Republic, Tedder also moonlights as an uber-successful songwriter, penning Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” and ’Yonce’s latest, “XO.”
“Irreplaceable” by Ne-Yo (better known from Beyonce’s 2006 album B’Day)
We have to admit, it’s a little jarring to hear this breakup-song-to-end-all-breakup-songs sung from the male perspective! The smooth R&B star also helped out with “Flaws and All,” another stand-out track from Bey’s sophomore disc.
“Breakaway” by Avril Lavigne (better known from Kelly Clarkson’s 2004 album of the same name)
Avril wrote the tune for herself way back in 2002 for inclusion on her album Let Go, but was determined to be “unsuitable.” But it was certainly good enough for freshly minted American Idol star Kelly, who turned it into a massive hit!
“Toxic” by Cathy Dennis (better known from Britney Spears’ 2003 album In The Zone)
Dennis has given us some of the tastiest pop confection of the 21st century, helping to created this modern Britney classic, as well as Katy Perry’s first smash “I Kissed A Girl,” Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” and even the Jonas Brother’s “Paranoid.”
“Telephone” by Britney Spears (better known from Lady Gaga’s 2009 album The Fame Monster)
REMIX! Now for a little variation on the theme: Lady Gaga indeed wrote her duet with Beyonce, but not before offering it to Britney Spears years earlier for year Circus album. Brit apparently passed after cutting a rough vocal demo, but it all worked out fine for Mother Monster in the end. “It’s fine because I love the song and I get to perform it now,” she said later.
“Party In The U.S.A.” by Jessie J (better known from Miley Cyrus’ 2009 version)
This isn’t exactly a demo (sadly, we’ve been unable to find it), but we’d love to hear the British pop queen’s original take on our favorite Miley song!
“Hold It Against Me/Teenage Dream/Dynamite/Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)/Part Of Me/California Gurls/Wide Awake” by Bonnie McKee (better known from Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Taio Cruz)
Ms. McKee has written everything…and we mean EVERYTHING! And she demonstrates it with this killer medley of a sampling of her hits from in the studio. She’s written 8 number one songs worldwide (selling over 30 million copies) and shows no signs of slowing down.
“Starships” by Mohombi (better known from Nicki Minaj’s 2012 album Roman Reloaded)
“Loved Me Back To Life” by Sia (better known from Celine Dion’s 2013 album of the same name)
Here’s a collabo we never expected! Sia’s tone steers the tune away from Celine’s adult contemporary country, and back into the pop world (where it belongs). The Australian singer also penned “Pretty Hurts” from Beyonce’s latest, as well as Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”