There are many factors involved in creating a hit song. Two of the main ones are good songwriting and a powerful vocal performance. When those two elements combine, a big hit is guaranteed.
Certain artists' names become so attached to their big hits, that it's hard to imagine anyone else singing them. But as it turns out, some of the biggest hits in country music history were originally considered by different artists than the ones who eventually recorded the tunes.
Imagine one of today's rising stars singing what was a big hit for Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins. Or just think of what it would have been like if someone other than Luke Bryan sang "Drink a Beer." You're going to learn about the artists who originally considered those songs and six others when you scroll through this list.
Released in 1971, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" was a major chart hit and eventually became John Denver's signature song. The state anthem of West Virginia and one of the main sampled songs in the "Forever Country" mashup,"Take Me Home, Country Roads" is as iconic as it gets.
But Denver wasn't the intended artist for the song. Originally, the songwriters Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert were shopping the song to Johnny Cash with the hopes that "The Man in Black" would record it.
Once Denver heard the song, he knew he had to have it for himself. He convinced Danoff and Nivert to hold off on selling it to Cash. The three worked together to rewrite the song to fit Denver's taste, and Denver debuted his version during a live performance a few days later. The rest, as they say it, is history.
The world was first introduced to Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried" when the group included it on the self-released album, Home Grown in 2005. However, it was three years before the song became a single.
During that time, "Chicken Fried" was recorded by country band The Lost Trailers. A major country music star was also considering the tune, but ended up passing on it. That country music star was Alan Jackson.
Speaking to The Boot, Jackson explained the reason why he passed on the song, which became a number one hit for the Zac Brown Band after they re-released it in 2008.
"I liked the song," he said. "But I told [my producer], 'Man, I just had a song about cornbread and chicken, and I had a song about bologna. Every album I’ve got has these songs about food, so I just don't think I want to do one about chicken fried right now.' In retrospect I should have done it."
Jackson may have missed his opportunity then, but Brown said he's "welcome to any song" he has. Since Jackson hasn't recorded a food-related song in a while, maybe he'll still consider "Chicken Fried."
Miranda Lambert's emotion-filled performance in "The House That Built Me" made the song a number one hit on the country chart. It also crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at the 28th spot.
The song has since become one of Lambert's signatures, but it was originally intended for someone else entirely...Blake Shelton. Lambert and Shelton were dating at the time, and when Lambert heard the song she knew she had to record it.
Lambert ended up recording the song, and it became her fastest-rising single ever. Seems like she knew a hit when she heard it!
Speaking of Shelton, someone else was originally supposed to record a song that eventually ended up on his plate. That song was "Hillbilly Bone," which Shelton turned into a number one hit with the help of his mentor and friend, Trace Adkins.
It's hard to imagine "Hillbilly Bone" without Shelton's signature twang or Adkins' deep baritone. But if things had gone according to plan, the song would have gone to Frankie Ballard instead.
One of country music's rising stars, Ballard is known for number one hits such as "Helluva Life" and "Sunshine & Whiskey." Who can say if Ballard would have added another number one to his collection with "Hillbilly Bone"?
It seems like Ballard doesn't have any regrets about passing up the song. During a media event in 2015, he said "I couldn’t do it because it’s just not me."
Who can forget Lee Brice's heartbreaking song "I Drive Your Truck"? Released in 2012, the emotional single was a number one country hit for Brice and a crossover success. It remains one of Brice's most well-known works.
But the song was originally lined up for another singer. As Dierks Bentley revealed once during a small concert, he was actually prepared to record the song before Brice did.
For whatever reason, Bentley ended up passing on the song, and it went to Brice. Bet Bentley's kicking himself over that one!
You'll notice a pattern with this song and the next one. It seems that Bentley has a thing for passing up on songs that eventually become big hits. Another one of those songs was "Whiskey Lullaby."
Believe it or not, "Whiskey Lullaby" sat on a shelf gathering dust for three years before Brad Paisley eventually snatched it up. During those three years, the Dixie Chicks had the song on hold while Paisley kept a secondary hold in case they changed their minds.
Meanwhile, Bentley listened to the song but decided it wasn't the right one for him."I turned down 'Whiskey Lullaby' (because) I never heard it as a duet," Bentley told The Boot.
But Paisley did, and once the Dixie Chicks dropped their hold, he invited Alison Krauss to sing it with him as a duet. Although he passed on the song himself, Bentley is a big fan of Paisley and Krauss' recording. "I love 'Whiskey Lullaby,'" he said. "It's one of my favorite songs that Brad sings.”
Listening to Luke Bryan sing "Drink a Beer," you'd swear that it was autobiographical. After losing his brother and sister, Bryan has been able to pour his real-life emotions into every performance of "Drink a Beer."
But the song wasn't written by Bryan. In fact, someone else actually considered the song before he recorded it. Once again, that someone was Bentley.
According to CMT, Bentley thought about recording "Drink a Beer" but decided to pass on it. We love Bentley, but we feel like Bryan was the perfect person for the song!
Fresh off of American Idol, Carrie Underwood picked "Jesus, Take the Wheel" to record. The song perfectly showcased Underwood's talent, and reminded the country why they chose her as their "Idol."
In total, "Jesus, Take the Wheel" spent six weeks at the top of the Hot Country Songs chart. It was also a major crossover hit, and climbed to the 20th spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
It goes without saying that the song launched Underwood into her current superstar status. But the song was originally pitched to someone else who was already a big country star at the time.
Everything ended up working out well for Underwood, who remains a major star thanks in large part to the success she experienced with "Jesus, Take the Wheel."
Were you surprised to hear about the artists who originally considered some of the songs on this list? Let us know which ones shocked you the most!
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