Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’ Was Almost a Rihanna Song
"Lean On," a onetime PopCrush Song of Summer contender that reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, is a clear smash that features vocals from Danish singer-songwriter MØ. But Diplo, who's the driving force behind the dancehall-pop group, says he initially shopped the track to two pop queens: Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.
Yet "Lean On," which Diplo says was initially written as a slow reggae track, must have been destined for MØ (who's credited as a co-writer on the track alongside Diplo and DJ Snake). He calls Rihanna and Nicki's respective disinterest a "blessing in disguise," and maintains that "[MØ] sounds better than anybody was going to sound on that record.”
"All we want to do is make the records feel like classics, even though they’re feeling progressive and strange to a normal ear," Diplo continued. While we'd all love nothing more than another new Rihanna song right now, as RiRi's extra-curricular projects have vastly eclipsed her musical output in recent years, "Lean On" does sound perfect just the way it is.
The producer told Time that Justin Bieber's work with him and Skrillex on "Where Are U Now" was another less-than-straightforward path to chart success — for Bieber in particular, as the pop star aimed for musical credibility following a long spell of bad press. “We opened him to a lot of new ideas,” Diplo says. “His whole management team, his whole team of writers, [they’re] like, ‘Woah, we don’t have to do this formulaic music anymore.'”
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