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In the music industry, sometimes a song becomes tangled in a game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe before it lands in the right hands. Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” could’ve been Pink’s had she not passed; Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” was originally intended for Janet Jackson, and Sia originally reached out to Katy Perry for “Pretty Hurts” before it went to Beyoncé. Then, there’s Rihanna’s massive hit “Umbrella” that floated around to several artists, including Mary J. Blige, who confirmed the rumor during a recent appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live.
WWHL host Andy Cohen asked Mary J. Blige a fan-submitted question about why she turned down “Umbrella,” the single that helped propel Rihanna to pop stardom during her Good Girl Gone Bad era. Blige said the song came to her at a time when she was simply too busy to commit to it.
“It was during Grammy time for me, it was a big Grammy time. I was nominated for eight Grammys and I was trying to get myself together for that. And during that time, that’s when ‘Umbrella’ came to me and I couldn’t do anything with it because I was so busy with my own life and I was like, you know what? It doesn’t even sound like me anyway,” she said.
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When Rihanna took the song, Blige knew she made the right call. Did she regret passing on the now six-time platinum song? “No, because everything about that song was so tailor-made for Rihanna and nothing about that song was Mary J. Blige,” she added.
Blige wasn’t the only one who turned down “Umbrella.” Famed songwriter The Dream, who has penned hits for Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and Rihanna, previously told Revolt’s Drink Champs that he wrote “Umbrella” with Britney Spears in mind.
“I watched myself walk in and write that record. The record was written for Britney Spears,” he explained, adding that Spears’ camp wasn’t convinced “Umbrella” would be a hit. But when Rihanna heard it, she boldly declared “Umbrella” as hers. “She walked up to my manager and said ‘that’s my fucking record,” he said. “Of course when I heard she had said that in that way, I said ‘that’s the muthafucka who should have the record.'”
Now, Blige has her own umbrella to worry about—Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, the superhero TV series where Blige plays time-traveling assassin Cha-Cha.
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