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11 Hit Songs Originally Intended for Other Artists

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In the music world, songs get passed around like a hot potato. Demo songs are sent to one artist, turned down, and recorded by another. Tracks bend gender rules, with Aerosmith snatching a power ballad from Celine Dion and Chris Brown handing over one of his tunes to Rihanna. Here are just 11 of the many songs that made it big after being turned down by other singers.

1. “Telephone” — Performed by Lady Gaga, meant for Britney Spears

Before Stefani Germanotta was known as Lady Gaga, she was a songwriter, penning songs for The Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears. Gaga originally wrote "Telephone" to be included in Spears' Circus album, but the track was left on the cutting room floor. A demo with Spears' vocals suposedly exists, but there's doubt that it's actually the "Oops!" songstress. Gaga seized the tune back up and saved it for a rainy day—better known as The Fame Monster.

2. “How Will I know” — Performed by Whitney Houston, meant for Janet Jackson

Songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam wrote this Whitney Houston power ballad with Janet Jackson in mind. A&M Records asked the duo to send this song to Janet's people, but the "Rhythm Nation" singer politely passed. She was in the middle of recording Control, and the track wasn't right for the album's vision. The label held onto the song and eventually gave it to Houston, turning it into one of her signature tunes.

3. “Halo” — Performed by Beyonce, meant for Leona Lewis

This one's simple: Leona was too busy to record the track, so Beyonce snatched it up. Behind the scenes, Lewis' mentor Simon Cowell was working diligently to get Ryan Tedder to write the song for her, but the wait was too much for Tedder. Tedder has a different story, though, saying the song was intended for Beyonce all along; he just gave it to Lewis to make Beyonce hurry up with the recording process. His reasoning: If Beyonce thought another A-Lister wanted the single, she'd want it more.

4. “Hero” — Performed by Mariah Carey, meant for Gloria Estefan

Carey says this U.S. Billboard No. 1 was originally intended to be used for the 1992 Dustin Hoffman film of the same name, but the film's producers went with Luther Vandross' "Heart of a Hero" instead. While writing the chart-topper, Carey was told the song would be for Gloria Estefan and even said herself that the song didn't match her own style. After playing it for record executives, they insisted that Carey keep it for herself, so she made minor adjustments to give it a more R&B style and sent it to radio stations.

5. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” — Performed by Aerosmith, meant for Celine Dion

When Liv Tyler got her first major theatrical role in Armageddon, her father, lead singer of Aerosmith, was supposed to author a sentimental song with his band for the film. After being out on the road promoting their album Nine Lives, the band went into the studio and found it difficult to come up with an appropriate song, but the clock was ticking. Then they found a track by acclaimed songwriter Diane Warren, originally intended for Celine Dion.

6. “Since U Been Gone” — Performed by Kelly Clarkson, meant for Pink first then passed to Hilary Duff

Clarkson may have been the first to win American Idol, but she was third in line for this track after Pink and Hilary Duff both snubbed it.

7. “Miss Independent” — Performed by Kelly Clarkson, meant for Destiny’s Child first then passed to Christina Aguilera

It looks like Clarkson has been accustomed to getting the left-overs from the very beginning. Featured on her first album, this tune was first offered to Destiny's Child and then to Christina Aguilera, who added lyrics but then decided not to use it for her Stripped album. Clarkson wrote the bridge and finished it before recording. Aguilera admits that Clarkson nailed the cobbled-together track.

8. “I’m A Slave 4 U” — Performed by Britney Spears, meant for Janet Jackson

Spears almost missed out on traipsing around the VMA stage with a python wrapped around her neck. Well, she may have done that, just not to the tune of "Slave." Producers The Neptunes originally conceptualized the song to fit for Janet Jackson's typically sexually-charged direction, but eventually gave it to the girl next door for her upcoming mature album.

9. “Toxic” — Performed by Britney Spears, meant for Kylie Minogue

"Toxic" was written by the same person who gave Minogue her well-known "Can't Get You Out of My Head" chart-topper. She's never elaborated much on why she turned down the song, but the tune got Spears her first (and only) Grammy.

10. “Umbrella” — Performed by Rihanna, meant for Britney Spears first then passed to Mary J. Blige

In the beginnings of Rihanna's career, she got the scraps (including "S.O.S.," which was turned down by Christina Milian). Spears was finished recording her album, so label executives turned down "Umbrella," sending it over to Mary J. Blige. Blige turned it away, too, so it ended up in the hands of the Barbados-born singer. Rihanna took the song and was awarded a Grammy in 2008.

11. “Disturbia” — Performed by Rihanna, meant for Chris Brown

This song was originally intended for the re-release of Chris Brown's Exclusive album—but once Rihanna heard it, it was hers. Brown handed it over, saying it would serve better as a female-oriented song.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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