Every pop-R’n’B-bop had its starting point somewhere, sitting on the musical shelf waiting to make its way out into the world, or club, near you. But of all the bangers you’ve heard over the years there’s a fair few that never quite made it to the depths of the dancefloor. *Check out these top six certified smashes that well, never quite became a smash, well um, were never even released at all actually.

1 – ‘Emergency Room’, Mario [ft. Rihanna]

Produced by late 00’s producer in demand, Soundz, this track was penned with Rihanna in mind but she never got round to (apparently) laying down the vocals. Either way, it’s a crying shame this one never got to see the light of the day. But if you’re looking for some 2008-nostalgia synth this is a safe bet. Actually you could probably sing ‘Live Your Life’ over the top and no one would even notice the difference…

Key lyrical highlights include the bizarre revelation that Mario and his mother share a very close relationship:

On the receipt that you found, I bought stockings
Some red high heels
But that was for my mama

Bit weird. But anyway, check it out here:

2 – ‘Zipper’ (and everything Christina Milian didn’t release from 2008), Christina Milian 

‘Zipper’ is forever a banger, and if you didn’t know just ask this guy. Sassy, classy and full of brass the song packs a big punch. The unreleased track was the creation of a series of sessions with former partner, The Dream, which also spawned the number-one-that-never-was, ‘Welcome to Vegas’. And given the intended album it was set to feature on, ‘Elope’, had so much buzz behind it – it’s a shame the fruits of this project never quite made it to release.

Christina Milian - Elope (Welcome To Vegas)

3 – ‘Quicksand’, Britney Spears (written by Lady Gaga)

So this is a bit of a stretch because it’s not really R’n’B but it kind of is, so its totally fine. Anyway it’s probably Britney’s best ever song and it never even got released, which totally sucks. The coat’s still on the door, she’s still looking at it, she never let any other guy do that before. If that is not enough to bring a tear to your eye… then you might be emotionally unavailable. Listen to ‘Quicksand’ here:

YouTube player

4 – ‘Locked In Love’, Jason Derulo

The LGBT anthem that Jason D never released, but not really because it was apparently just a demo for another artist. ‘Locked In Love’ is the archetypical 2008 rnb mid-tempo. And a great reminder of Jason’s old jams, before he went down the Chris-Brown-with-added-sax route.

Jason Derulo - Locked in Love with lyrics

5 – ‘Who’s The Loser Now’, Brandy

This is so Timbaland it couldn’t be more Timbaland if it tried. Think ‘Scream’ meets ‘Say It Right’. If you’re a fan of the signature Mosley post-apocalyptic-sounding instrumental then this one is definitely for you. And given Brandy is known for a backlog of unreleased jams, this is definitely one that should have made its way out of the cutting room floor and onto Spotify. And could easily sit on her magnum opus, Afrodisaic.

Brandy Who's the Loser now (Prod. by Timbaland)

6 – ‘Nasty’, Christina Aguilera [ft. CeeLo Green]

You might have heard this song already when it was released by Pixie Lott back in 2014, but it was first demo’ed by Christina and CeeLo – and as you can imagine the original version just sounds a lot better. No disrespect to Pixie or anything, it’s just a bit like gearing yourself up for fine dining at The Ritz only to be told your booking has actually been cancelled but there’s a good Frankie and Benny’s across the road. Check out the original here:

Christina Aguilera - Nasty ft. CeeLo Green

*Guest writer Ross Stebbing gives us his definitive R’n’B tracks which should have been hits but were never given a chance. Ross is a PR person & fan of all things music, celebrity and pop culture. You can find him on Twitter, and Instagram.

About the author

There’s a lot of music out there - good music. At Essentially Pop our remit is that we cover music that deserves to be heard, with a particular focus on independent artists. That doesn't mean we won't cover your old favourites - rather we hope to give you some new favourites as well.

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