- Stars like Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, and Sia got their start in the music business writing for others before they became big stars themselves.
- Sometimes covers of older songs, like Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” become so famous that the public forgets they were ever a cover.
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It’s no secret that not all musicians write their own songs. Plenty of major award-winning artists got their start as songwriters. Others like to shop their songs around, trying to find the highest bidder before attempting to sing it themselves.
Here are some major hit songs that were written by other celebrities.
Ed Sheeran wrote One Direction’s “Little Things” when he was just 17 years old.
Ed Sheeran wrote “Little Things” as a teenager with his co-writer and friend, Fiona Bevan.
The song was lost over time, but Bevan found it again in 2012 and sent it back to Sheeran, who played it for One Direction. The band then claimed it for their album, “Take Me Home.”
Miley Cyrus’ hit “Party in the USA” paid Jessie J’s rent for three years.
In 2015, she told Glamour UK, “‘Party In The USA’ paid my rent for, like, three years. Actually it was way longer than that. That’s where I get most of my money. I write songs. I’m a singer. I love endorsements and stuff, but that’s all added on.”
Kesha’s been writing for artists like Britney Spears since before she became a household name.
Kesha wrote for The Veronicas and K-pop artists before Britney Spears snapped up her song “Till the World Ends” for her 2011 album “Femme Fatale.” With carefree lyrics like, “Keep on dancin’ till the world ends,” the song bears the mark of a Kesha classic.
Two huge stars passed on Sia’s song, “Pretty Hurts,” before it was recorded by Beyoncé.
Sia didn’t get a response from Perry, so she sent the song to Rihanna’s manager, who sat on it for eight months without making a move.
“When Beyoncé heard it, she slid into home base and just closed the deal,” Furler said.
When Perry eventually heard the song, she allegedly told Furler, “I’m pretty hurt you never sent me this song.” Furler responded, “Check your email.”
Ed Sheeran wrote the pop song “Trust Fund Baby” for Why Don’t We.
Bruno Mars let Cee Lo Green take “Forget You.”
Kelly Clarkson’s big hit, “Miss Independent,” was supposed to be on Christina Aguilera’s album.
Pop queen Christina Aguilera abandoned “Miss Independent” during the production process of her 2002 album, “Stripped.” The half-finished Aguilera track was revamped for “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson’s very first single.
Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is a Dolly Parton creation.
The sweeping ballad “I Will Always Love You” topped the country charts when Dolly Parton’s original debuted in 1974 and then again when Whitney Houston recorded it for “The Bodyguard” in 1992.
According to MTV News, Houston’s version was the “best-selling single of all time by a female artist” and stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 14 consecutive weeks becoming “the longest-running No. 1 single ever by a female artist.”
Sia wrote Rihanna’s hit “Diamonds” in just 14 minutes.
With help from Benny Blanco, Sia wrote the famous track at Rihanna’s studio in only 14 minutes. Rihanna loved the demo so much she imitated Sia’s inflections on the vocals for her recording.
Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” was co-written by Ed Sheeran and “Eastside” producer Benny Blanco.
Justin Bieber’s popular single, “Love Yourself,” about saying goodbye to a narcissistic lover, was penned by Bieber, Sheeran, and Blanco. It was originally slated for Ed Sheeran’s album, “Divide,” but after finding it too personal and harsh, he gave it to Bieber for 2015’s “Purpose.” Sheeran also provides back-up vocals on the stripped down break-up song.