4 Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" Was Originally a Country Song
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Even if you could not give less of a shit about Beyonce and had no idea why Twitter was blowing up about her a few months ago, you know "Irreplaceable." You know this song because its hook -- "to the left, to the left" -- became the go-to catchphrase of every fake-tanned, acrylic-nailed, selfie-taking woman when she wanted to express displeasure with her mate, because coming up with your own "fuck yous" is hard. It also won a Grammy and stuff.
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And may have subliminally gotten Obama elected.
In its early incarnation, however, it's likely those lovely ladies would never have even heard the song, unless it was in the two seconds between accidentally tuning to a country music station and realizing you accidentally tuned to a country music station. Yep, "Irreplaceable" was originally meant for the likes of Shania Twain or Faith Hill.
The song and its famous refrain had a long, weird journey into the zeitgeist. When it was first conceived by R&B star and ridiculous name haver Ne-Yo, it was from a man's perspective, as he intended to sing the song himself. Eventually, Yo decided that it was better suited not only for a feminine voice, but a much whiter one. Exactly how white? Think cowboy boots, big hair, and unreasonable romantic double standards. With Twain or Hill in mind (Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton were unavailable), Ne-Yo had tweaked "Irreplaceable" into a foot-stomping, twangy country style. It sounds insane, but if you focus hard on your peripheral vision and believe in magic, you can totally hear it. Or you can just check out this cover by Sugarland at the American Music Awards in the style of the original arrangement.
Fate stepped in when Beyonce did, barging in and demanding the song in that way you just know she has, but Ne-Yo producer Tor Hermansen claims that if they had been putting together a song knowing it was for her, "Irreplaceable" is light-years away from what they would have come up with. Hermansen is adamant in his belief that the song would have been a country classic and honestly seems kind of annoyed about it being such an R&B smash hit, but all those royalty checks are probably good consolation.
3 "Margaritaville" Was Supposed to Be a Hit for Elvis
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Without "Margaritaville," Jimmy Buffett is pretty much just the creepy old man at the tiki bar, but that enormous hit made him a professional creepy old man at the tiki bar. He's built an empire on the song, with all kinds of tacky theme restaurants, resorts, and pieces of outdoor furniture sporting the "Margaritaville" name. And it all happened because of one incredibly lucky stroke. Namely, this:
The Los Angeles Times
"Peanut butter, sequin industries file for bankruptcy."
Perhaps we should elaborate. When the King of Rock and Roll keeled over on his throne (perhaps literally), it changed music history in a lot of ways, but this is one of the weirder ones. We'll never know if he would have cleaned up his act or descended ever further into gaudy-jumpsuited madness, but we actually do have an idea where he was immediately headed, and it points pretty decisively to the latter, considering what his next hit was supposed to be. Yep, Buffett wrote "Margaritaville" not for himself, but for Elvis.
If you're thinking that Elvis would have never gone near a Caribbean country ballad, you're clearly not on the same drugs he was, because amazingly, he agreed to record it -- and promptly died on us. Buffett was sad (and just a little bit offended by the implication), but then promptly recorded the song himself.
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Jimmy Buffett, looking as sad as he humanly can.
Of course, country ballads were actually not unfamiliar to the King, and we have every reason to believe he would have rocked that shit, but it is undeniably weird to think of Elvis as the "Margaritaville" guy instead of Buffett. For starters, it would have been impossible for late-era Elvis to sing "Watching the sun bake / All of those tourists covered in oil" without sounding just a tiny bit cannibalistic.
Buffett seems to realize that the King's fatal lust for fried peanut butter is the only reason he has a career. Before playing the song in an episode of CMT Crossroads, he comments, "This song was written the same year that Elvis died, and Elvis was supposed to do this song, [but] Elvis went on to the Graceland in the sky and I got to do it, so ... thanks, King." Wait, did he really just thank a legend for dying because it made him a lot of money?