Miley Cyrus’ latest single “Flowers” references her relationship with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth in a candid light, and she took inspiration from some of Bruno Mars’ lyrics in the process.
Cyrus rewrote the chorus of Mars’ “When I Was Your Man”: “I should have bought you flowers and held your hand. I should have given you all my lessons when I had the chance. Take you to every party because all you wanted to do was dance” to: “I can buy flowers, write my name in the sand. Talking to myself for hours, saying things you don’t understand. I can dance, and I can hold my own hand – yes, I can love myself better than you.”
When Christina Aguilera recorded her hit “Beautiful” in 2002, the opening line “Don’t look at me” was completely made up. Linda Perry, the songwriter behind Beautiful, told Rolling Stone in 2019: “[Christina] stood there in my studio with the lyrics in her hands and then said to this friend who brought them in that little whispery voice, ‘don’t look at me’.
“I knew I was going to keep that on the record, and I knew she was the right person for the song,” Perry said. “I was like, ‘Oh, she’s insecure. She’s one of those beautiful people who has everything but is super insecure. Okay, this song is hers.'”
TLC had won two Grammys in 1996 and was the best-selling female group at the time (10 million albums sold worldwide), but they were actually bankrupt and barely getting paid for their big hits.
In 1996, the LA Times reported, “The trio has received less than 1% of the estimated $175 million in revenue generated by the group’s music worldwide from the management, production and record companies representing TLC.”
In her high school yearbook, Nicki Minaj used Lauryn Hill’s lyrics from Hill’s 1998 song “Forgive Them Father.” The quote reads, “To survive is to stay alive in the face of opposition.”
Years later, in 2016, Nicki Minaj met her heroine Lauryn Hill backstage after a concert. “I’m in love with you – your spirit, your mind and everything about you,” she gushed to Hill.
You can watch Nicki Minaj meet Lauryn Hill here:
Ashanti sang demo vocals on one of Jennifer Lopez’s greatest hits: The Murder Inc. Remix of “I’m Real.” She also claimed that she helped write Lopez’s second major remix, Ain’t It Funny. Ja Rule (who was also featured on both remixes) said the producers kept Ashanti’s demo vocals on “I’m Real”.
“It’s weird because obviously you’re frustrated because you can’t get credit or you’re not labeled properly,” Ashanti told Metro UK last year. “But then that becomes something to be admired for.”
Missy Elliott was drunk while filming this scene for the “Work It” music video because director Dave Meyers accidentally refilled her glass with wine instead of water.
“We shot that take maybe seven times from different angles, so when that was over, [Missy] was devastated,” recalls Dave Meyers. “She smiled so much. Then Janet Jackson came to bless us with her presence and Missy talked all sorts of gibberish to her – it really was a good time.”
Before making it big as members of Fleetwood Mac in 1975, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham formed a rock band called Fritz in the late ’60s. In their early twenties they played every gig they could get their hands on – and one of their most notable gigs was opening for legendary singer Janis Joplin in Cleveland in 1970.
Janis Joplin yelled at Stevie Nicks and the rest of Fritz from the stage because their set exceeded their allotted time. “Being shouted off stage by Janis Joplin was one of the greatest honors of my life,” Nicks said. “On walks this girl in silk bell bottoms, beautiful top, lots of beautiful jewelry, feathers in her crazy big natural hair. Lots of attitude, arrogance, the crowd in the palm of your hand. She wasn’t a beautiful woman, but she was very attractive. I was very taken with her.”
Dionne Warwick hosted an intervention with Snoop Dogg and Tupac over their misogynistic music lyrics in the ’90s. “We were a little scared and shattered. We’re powerful now, but she’s always been powerful,” Snoop Dogg said. “Over thirty years in the game, in the big house with lots of money and success.”
Dionne Warwick told Snoop Dogg and Tupac, “You’re going to have families, you’re going to have kids, you’re going to have little girls. One day this little girl is going to look at you and be like, ‘Daddy, did you really say that? Is that really you?'”
Taylor Swift’s favorite lyrics of all time are “I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee” from Carly Simon’s 1972 hit You’re So Vain.
Swift is a huge admirer of Simon, so much so that she brought her out Red toured with You’re So Vain in 2013. It was an iconic moment in music history and a performance I will never live to see. always Get out of my noggin.
In 1989, the Grammys created a new category: Best Rap Performance. DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith (then The Fresh Prince) won the award. The Grammys didn’t plan to televise the category, so to show their support, rappers like Salt-N-Pepa didn’t attend the ceremony (although they were nominated in the same category for their song “Push It”) .
“We boycotted the Grammys way back in 1989,” Pepa told Billboard in 2020. “Other music was televised – everyone could walk and accept their awards visually, and we championed that.”
After a career spanning six decades and pioneering achievements that have shaped today’s music landscape, Diana Ross was shockingly disfellowshipped from the Grammys.
Other notable women in music who have never received a Grammy Award include Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Lopez, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Debbie Harry, Bjork and Nina Simone.
In 1971, Carole King and Joni Mitchell each recorded iconic albums in the same Los Angeles studio. King recorded tapestry and Mitchell recorded Blue. Because they were so close, these famous musicians have appeared on each other’s albums.
The most iconic collaboration was on Carole King’s Will You Love Me Tomorrow tapestry. King sang lead vocals and played piano while Mitchell sang background vocals (along with James Taylor). As a teenager in the early ’60s, Joni Mitchell’s favorite song was Will You Love Me Tomorrow (a song King originally wrote for the Shirelles with her then-husband Gerry Goffin). Nearly 10 years later, singing backing vocals to her favorite song with the original songwriter herself feels like a true coming full circle.
Yoko Ono co-wrote Imagine for John Lennon’s 1971 album Introduce, but Lennon gave her no credit when it came to songwriting. Ono eventually received songwriting credit for “Imagine” at the NMPA’s Centennial Annual Meeting in 2017, when it was revealed that Lennon had taken the bulk of the lyrics from her 1964 book of poetry Grapefruit.
In a 1980 BBC interview, Lennon was quoted as saying: “[‘Imagine’] should be credited as a Lennon Ono song as much of it is by Yoko. But back then I was a bit more egotistical, a bit more macho, and I kinda neglected to mention her contribution. But it was straight out Grapefruither book.”
And finally, Sia wrote “Invincible” for Kelly Clarkson’s 2015 album, bit by bit. Clarkson told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2015, “It was the last song we recorded for the album — I was done with the album — and Jesse[Clarkson’s producer]emailed me and said, ‘Sia has this song written – you have to hear it! ‘”
“We texted a bit and she’s just so nice — that’s rare, which is kind of sad because it’s a competitive world and people like to pit women against each other [music] Industry. I don’t feel that way, so it was nice because she was so uplifting.”