Thanks to hackers and YouTube, pop fans are now able to listen to a slew of unfinished demo material that was probably never meant for public consumption. It’s great (for us…not the artists). Sometimes, a demo ends up being way more awesome than the finished product. Sometimes, a demo never sees the light of day and it’s a massive injustice! Check out a list of some of my favorite demos and unreleased jams after the jump.
Rosette — “Girl Gone Wild” (demo for Madonna)
I was really excited for Madonna’s last studio album, MDNA, but it ended up kind of sucking. Madge’s voice has one mode these days: breathy indifference. This didn’t help her sell the dance-y, Benny Benassi-produced second single from the project, “Girl Gone Wild.” More like, “Girl Gone Comatose”! (Got ‘er!) And that’s not a Madonna-is-old joke, she just honestly doesn’t sound like she’s having any fun anymore. The demo, sung by Rosette (nope, I don’t know who that is either), is great and it doesn’t have that bizarre confessional intro.
Nikki Williams — “Heart Attack” (demo for Demi Lovato)
I’m waiting for Nikki Williams to happen. The gorgeous South African singer has already worked with some pretty big names on her debut album (Sia, Stargate, Sandy Vee, etc.), but we haven’t heard much from her lately. Anyway, Nikki recorded “Heart Attack” before Demi “Eyebrows” Lovato got her paws on it. Nikki’s vocals are less shrill and the lyrics are better. It loses a couple of points for its predictable pop-step breakdown (which thankfully did not appear in Demi’s version), but it’s a minor blemish.
Sia — “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” (demo for Ne-Yo)
My jaw hit the floor when I first heard this little snippet of Sia performing what would eventually become Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself).” It’s honest, beautiful, and heartbreaking. By the time Ne-Yo and producers Stargate got done with it, it was boring, repetitive, and annoying. I’m dying to hear Sia’s take on the full track — get to work, hackers!
Lana Del Rey — “National Anthem” (demo)
Based on the demo, I thought “National Anthem” was going to be Lana’s breakthrough hit. Just listen to it! It’s so funky and cool! But then Lana’s debut album, Born to Die, came out and I was HORRIFIED to discover that the song had been given an eerie, funeral procession-style makeover. Woof. Seriously, it sounds like music to stab to. How could Lana let this happen??
Livvi Franc — “Save the Day” (demo for Selena Gomez)
I already touched on this one briefly during my review of “Stars Dance,” but it bears repeating: Livvi Franc sounds excited singing “Save the Day” — Selena sounds sedated.
Ryan Tedder — “DJ is My Lover” (rumored demo for Britney Spears)
No one knows for SURE for sure that “DJ is My Lover” was intended for Britney Spears, but I like to think that it was (rumors started flying around winter 2011 when Spears was working on Femme Fatale). The extremely catchy, carefree track samples Australian duo Bag Raider’s song, “Shooting Stars.”
The Outsyders — “Tear the Club Up” (demo for Britney Spears)
Lyrically, this one’s kind of ridiculous, but it has so much potential! The Outsyders produced “Womanizer,” the chart-topping lead single from Spears’s sixth studio album, Circus. I’m guessing that “Tear the Club Up” was just another song that they pitched for the album that didn’t end up getting recorded.
Ke$ha — “Booty Call” (Unreleased demo — a single that never was)
There are a LOT of unreleased Ke$ha demos out there, and many of them are terrible, but “Booty Call,” produced by Max Martin protégé Shellback, is not one of them. I think “Booty Call” was recorded for Ke$ha’s debut album, Animal, but I’m not 100 percent sure. If it was, I don’t know how it was passed up in favor of musical farts like, “Stephen,” and, “Dinosaur” (though “Dinosaur” is kind of hilarious).
Ester Dean — “I Need a Change” (demo for Britney Spears)
This demo KNOCKS. And it would’ve fit Britney like a GLOVE. Queen of hooks, Ester Dean (“Firework,” “Super Bass”), lends her vocals to this Stargate-produced demo for Femme Fatale. It never fails to make me lose my mind on the treadmill.
Katy Perry — “Hook Up”
This one only kind of counts, so I’m listing it last in hopes that you’ll forgive me. Katy co-wrote and released this chastity anthem (that would later become Kelly Clarkson’s “I Do Not Hook Up”) around 2005…so it is neither a demo nor is it unreleased, but hardly anybody knows about Katy’s version so I’m including it! Before Katy was a polished pop princess, she was a grungy pop rock street rat. Or at least I think that’s what she was going for (seriously, her vocals are almost unrecognizable here). Katy’s version is superior mostly because it includes the line, “So if you want me, I don’t come cheap / Keep your thing in your pants, your heart on your sleeve.”