Not just JoJo Siwa: 30 songs made for an artist & released by another

Lady Gaga in Telephone; JoJo Siwa in Karma; Miley Cyrus in We Can't Stop
Lady Gaga in Telephone; JoJo Siwa in Karma; Miley Cyrus in We Can't Stop
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Not just JoJo!

JoJo Siwa - Karma (Official Video)

JoJo Siwa has faced a lot of criticism for her new "bad pop girlie" era kickstarted in 2024. After announcing her new single, "Karma," Siwa started dressing up in what can best be described as "Power Rangers villain drag." Unsurprisingly, the internet quickly started dragging her for these new looks and aesthetics.

As the promo cycle continued, Siwa has caught flack for comparing her new era to Miley Cyrus' Bangerz and claiming in an interview that she's the "inventor of gay pop" (later correcting it to the "CEO of gay pop," which wasn't well-received, either). Siwa was then accused of "stealing" her new single, "Karma," from a different artist.

The artist in question is Brit Smith, who reportedly recorded a song named "Karma's a B*tch" and shot a music video for it in 2012. Smith's song and video were ultimately scrapped before anything was officially released, but fans are now accusing Siwa of "stealing" or "copying" Smith.

It appears that music enthusiasts aren't aware of how songs can be made for an original artist, then rejected and/or not released by them on an official basis, and subsequently live on to get pitched to other musicians. That appears to be the case with Siwa's "Karma" — which is a very common occurrence even for the biggest pop stars of all time.

Scroll through to check out other songs made for a particular artist that ended up being released by someone else!

'We Can't Stop' by Miley Cyrus (originally made for Rihanna)

Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop (Official Video)

In 2013, "We Can't Stop" producer Mike WiLL Made-It told Billboard that the Miley Cyrus hit single was originally made for Rihanna. "We Can't Stop" happened to be Cyrus' lead single from Bangerz, which really feels like a full-circle moment in this discourse about Siwa's "Karma."

'…Baby One More Time' by Britney Spears (originally made for TLC)

Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time (Official Video)

Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins and Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas explained why TLC passed on "…Baby One More Time" in an interview with MTV News. "I was like, 'I like the song, but do I think it's a hit? Do I think it's TLC?' I'm not saying 'hit me baby.' No disrespect to Britney," T-Boz said. "It's good for her… but was I going to say 'hit me baby one more time'? Hell no!"

'Pretty Hurts' by Beyoncé (originally made for Katy Perry, then Rihanna)

Beyoncé - Pretty Hurts (Video)

Sia is a well-known songwriter for pop music, and the story behind "Pretty Hurts" is actually quite fascinating. Steve Knopper wrote for The New York Times that Sia first emailed the song to Katy Perry, who seemingly didn't see the email. Sia then sent "Pretty Hurts" to Rihanna, but her team sat on the song for eight months without paying any fees to secure the track.

"When Beyoncé heard it, she slid into home base and just closed the deal," Sia told the Times. Upon listening to the final track, Perry told Sia that she was "pretty hurt" that Sia didn't send her the song for consideration. "Check your email," Sia responded.

'Whataya Want From Me' by Adam Lambert (originally made for Pink)

Adam Lambert - Whataya Want from Me

Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me" is the singer's highest-charting song of all time on the Billboard Hot 100. But what many fans may not know is that the song was originally written by Pink for one of her own projects.

"Pink wrote 'Whataya Want From Me' and then decided she didn't want to put it on her album for personal reasons," Lambert told Billboard. "I think she was quoted saying she didn't want to go into the sentiment of the song. I did! A great song is a song that means different things to different people. It was a really honest sentiment and a great hook."

'Boom Clap' by Charli XCX (originally made for Hilary Duff)

Charli XCX - Boom Clap (The Fault In Our Stars Soundtrack) [Official Video]

It might be hard to imagine it, but Charli XCX actually wrote "Boom Clap" for Hilary Duff to record it. "You know who doesn't like that record? Which I was really bummed out about because I really wanted to give it to her? HILARY DUFF," XCX told Pop Justice. "I sent it to her… well I didn't — Patrick Berger actually sent it to her because his first-ever production was a Hilary Duff album track called something like 'Punk Rock Kiss.' Anyway, we sent it over and her people were like, 'This is NOT cool enough for Hilary.' And now I'm glad she didn't want to take it."

'Come & Get It' by Selena Gomez (originally made for Rihanna)

Selena Gomez - Come & Get It

It doesn't take a music expert to hear the Rihanna-isms of "Come & Get It" by Selena Gomez, but publications like Billboard have literally reported that the song was, indeed, originally made with Bad Gal Rih Rih in mind.

'Telephone' by Lady Gaga (originally made for Britney Spears)

Lady Gaga - Telephone ft. Beyoncé (Official Music Video)

A demo version of "Telephone" by Britney Spears leaked in 2010, and it had the pop music universe spiraling. As reported by Rolling Stone, producer Rodney Jerkins confirmed that the demo was real, but the song wasn't released by Spears. Instead, it became one of Lady Gaga's biggest hit songs in the early days of her career.

'Can't Get You Out of My Head' by Kylie Minogue (originally made for S Club 7, then Sophie Ellis-Bextor)

Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head (Official Video)

A 2011 report from the BBC reflected on Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" being the most-played song of the last decade. The story then recalled how this song was originally pitched to S Club 7, and then to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who both turned it down.

On the other hand, Ellis-Bextor has claimed that this story isn't true. "I'll tell you my story, but it won't make any difference to the folklore," the singer told Double J. "The rumor is that I was offered that song and I turned it down, but it's actually not true. It doesn't matter that it's not true. I've always said what the truth is, but I don't think anyone cares. I promise you it will make no difference."

'Don't Cha' by the Pussycat Dolls (originally made for Paris Hilton)

The Pussycat Dolls - Don't Cha (Official Music Video) ft. Busta Rhymes

Paris Hilton released her debut album, Paris, in 2006. At the time, Digital Spy reported that the Pussycat Dolls' hit song "Don't Cha" was originally made for Hilton's album — and the socialite shared an interesting explanation as to why she turned it down. "I think I did hear the song, but not in the format that we all came to know and love," Hilton said. "If I'd heard that, of course I'd have jumped at the chance."

'How Will I Know' by Whitney Houston (originally made for Janet Jackson)

Whitney Houston - How Will I Know (Official HD Video)

American Songwriter has reported that Whitney Houston's legendary anthem "How Will I Know" was initially made for Janet Jackson. "When Jackson's management team heard the song, they passed on it for their client. The reasoning? The song wasn't strong enough compared to the other work Jackson was releasing and planning to release at the time," the publication wrote.

'Toxic' by Britney Spears (originally made for Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue)

Britney Spears - Toxic (Official HD Video)

There's a long-documented story of Britney Spears' "Toxic" being made for Kylie Minogue, who reportedly turned it down (as detailed in the Financial Times). However, a more recent interview with "Toxic" songwriter Cathy Dennis added another layer to the mythos of this massive pop hit.

"That was written in Sweden with Bloodshy & Avant and Henrik Jonback," Dennis told Ivors Academy in 2018. "I went over there to write with Janet Jackson in mind. I was there for about 10 days in total. I'd had a meeting with Janet, I think in London, but it may have been in New York. I thought I'd have a go at writing something that would work for her."

'Shape of You' by Ed Sheeran (originally made for Rihanna)

Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)

Songs made for pop girlies are typically passed around between other pop girlies, but isn't necessarily a rule! In the case of "Shape of You," Glamour reported that Ed Sheeran had originally crafted the song for Rihanna. Along the way, though, circumstances changed Sheeran's original plan and the song ended up on his own catalog.

'Miss Independent' by Kelly Clarkson (originally made for Christina Aguilera)

Kelly Clarkson - Miss Independent

Christina Aguilera originally worked on "Miss Independent" for 2002's Stripped, but she wasn't able to finish the song prior to the album release (via MTV News). The track was then pitched to Kelly Clarkson, and it became a massive hit for the OG American Idol winner following its release.

'Prisoner' by Miley Cyrus feat. Dua Lipa (originally made for Shawn Mendes as a featured artist)

Miley Cyrus - Prisoner (Official Video) ft. Dua Lipa

In 2021, Miley Cyrus revealed that her "Prisoner" duet with Dua Lipa was initially created with Shawn Mendes in mind as the featured artist. As reported by, a leaked version of the song featuring Mendes' vocals leaked on the internet and had tweaked lyrics to fit him.

'We Found Love' by Rihanna (originally made for Nicole Scherzinger)

Rihanna - We Found Love ft. Calvin Harris

Nicole Scherzinger has gone on record to say that Rihanna's "We Found Love" was offered to her first. "I passed on 'We Found Love.' I got the demo of that song and I was busy at the time," Scherzinger told Notion, as reported by HuffPost. "They'd sent me a few dance tracks and I wasn't able to get to them. I was like, 'Oh there's so much dance and I want to take a break from it. That was my fault. I slept on it."

'All About That Bass' by Meghan Trainor (originally made for Adele and Beyoncé)

Meghan Trainor - All About That Bass (Official Video)

Meghan Trainor was just a songwriter before she became a pop star herself. And as detailed by Capital FM, Trainor seemingly offered "All About That Bass" to Adele and Beyoncé before she released it as her debut single.

"Some artists get thousands of songs pitched and they never know, so Beyoncé herself probably never heard it," Trainor said. "There weren't any singers at the time [who fit the song]. Adele was the only one, but she wasn't rapping and singing sassy songs with swears in them."

'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' by Aerosmith (originally made for Céline Dion)

Aerosmith - I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Official HD Video)

Diane Warren wrote "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for the movie Armageddon, and the song was recorded by Aerosmith. However, that wasn't always the original idea.

"When Steven Tyler sang it, it became a different thing," Warren told Shortlist. "Because if you hear a girl singing that… when I wrote it, I thought it would end up being like Céline Dion or somebody like that. But it's so much cooler to hear someone like Steven Tyler: this gruff, macho rock star, this amazing tough guy. For him to say that lyric, it just brought a whole other dimension to it."

'Umbrella' by Rihanna (originally made for Britney Spears)

Rihanna - Umbrella (Orange Version) (Official Music Video) ft. JAY-Z

Per Billboard, songwriter/co-producer The-Dream offered "Umbrella" to Britney Spears first, but the song was rejected by the pop stars' management team. Considering that the song went on to become a no. 1 hit for Rihanna, we often wonder if Spears' team made the right call in this instance.

'Hero' by Mariah Carey (originally made for Gloria Estefan)

Mariah Carey - Hero (Official HD Video)

A recent feature on Vulture looking back at 13 of Mariah Carey's biggest hits included a story about "Hero" being intended as a song for Gloria Estefan that would be included in the Dustin Hoffman-starring film Heroes.

"The initial trepidation I felt about singing it live for the first time in front of an audience was melting away as I thought about all the people who had lined the streets and packed the theater to see me that night," Carey wrote in her memoir. "I decided that this song did not actually belong to Gloria Estefan, a movie, Tommy, or me. 'Hero' belonged to my fans, and I was going to deliver it to them with all I had."

'Since U Been Gone' by Kelly Clarkson (originally made for Pink, then Hilary Duff)

Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone (VIDEO)

Another pop song that changed hands before its release was "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. A report from American Songwriter describes how producer Max Martin first pitched the song to Pink, who rejected it, and then to Hilary Duff, who also turned it down.

'Under You' by Nick Jonas (originally made for Rihanna, then Usher)

Nick Jonas - Under You

Bebe Rexha told Official Charts in an interview that she first pitched "Under You" to Rihanna, who declined. Rexha then sent it over to Usher, but "a year later Usher hadn't cut the track because he'd decided he didn't want to put new music out." This resulted in Rexha finally sending the song to Nick Jonas, who did include the track in his solo album.

'R.E.M' by Ariana Grande (originally made for Beyoncé, then called 'Wake Up')

Ariana Grande - R.E.M. (Official Audio)

A well-known tale among pop music enthusiasts is that Ariana Grande's "R.E.M" was initially crafted as a song for Beyoncé titled "Wake Up." Us Weekly notes that the Beyoncé version was going on her self-titled album. But as Beyoncé passed on the song, it ended up getting pitched to Grande and entered the singer's Sweetener album.

'Who Says' by Selena Gomez (originally made for Jordin Sparks)

Selena Gomez & The Scene - Who Says

Jordin Sparks herself shared a TikTok video to tell the story of how Selena Gomez's "Who Says" was originally recorded by her back in 2010. "I loved the message of this one," Sparks said in the post. "It ended up being a great fit for Selena Gomez."

'S.O.S.' by Rihanna (originally made for Christina Milian)

Rihanna - SOS (Official Music Video)

According to Stereogum, Rihanna's "S.O.S." was first made by JR Rotem and Evan Bogart for Christina Milian, who rejected the song. L.A. Reid then brought the song to Rihanna, who turned it into a big hit for herself at the time.

'Burn' by Ellie Goulding (originally made for Leona Lewis)

Ellie Goulding - Burn (Official Video)

Ellie Goulding made waves with "Burn," which helped skyrocket her career in the 2010s. But what many fans don't know is that the song was originally meant for Leona Lewis — as detailed in a report from Idolator that included Lewis' demo version of the track.

'Open Your Heart' by Madonna (originally made for Cyndi Lauper)

Madonna - Open Your Heart (Official Video) [HD]

It's been long documented that Madonna's "Open Your Heart," off of her legendary True Blue album, was originally pitched to Cyndi Lauper — a story recalled by writer/producer Peter Rafelson in a 2019 interview with Billboard.

'Breakaway' by Kelly Clarkson (originally made for Avril Lavigne)

Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway (VIDEO)

Another huge gag in the pop music universe is that Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" happened to be an outtake from Avril Lavigne's debut studio album Let Go. "I wrote this song, [but] it didn't end up on the album. It was an outtake,” Lavigne said in a behind-the-scenes video of her recording the song. "It took on a life of its own when it went to Kelly. Kelly Clarkson's had this huge career… It was one of her earlier singles."

'Go' by Grimes (originally made for Rihanna)

Grimes - Go ft. Blood Diamonds

In 2014, Pitchfork reported that Grimes' "Go" was crafted for Rihanna but got turned down by the singer, which led Grimes herself to release it under her name.

'God Is a Woman' by Ariana Grade (originally made for Camila Cabello)

Ariana Grande - God is a woman (Official Video)

Camila Cabello told Andy Cohen in an interview for Radio Andy that "God Is a Woman" was originally planned for her to record it. "I think they had a chorus for the song, and then I wrote verses to it. It didn't end up sounding right for me," Cabello said. "So then Ariana and everybody wrote to her version and it sounded amazing!"

'Party in the U.S.A.' by Miley Cyrus (originally made for Jessie J)

Miley Cyrus - Party In The U.S.A. (Official Video)

There have been many reports about Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." being originally intended for Jessie J. Specifically, American Songwriter wrote that the original song "followed the journey of a girl moving from London to Los Angeles, soaking in the vastly different sights of her new home in America."

And yet, Jessie J's label rejected the song, which prompted its songwriters to pitch it to Cyrus. This is arguably one of the most instantly-recognizable pop songs of all time — and a huge hit on Cyrus' catalog, even with all the other successes she's had — so it's hard to imagine anyone else singing it.