Alicia Keys nearly gave her 2003 hit ballad “If I Ain’t Got You” to Christina Aguilera. In an interview with Stereogum, the Grammy award-winning musician revealed it was her A&R at who put a halt to the move.
Aguilera was working on her 2002 project Stripped at the time and wanted to work with Keys.
“I think we were on the same label at the time,” Keys recalled. “She ‘Would you write something for me?’ And then it came through so many emails. What a voice! I know I could write something fire for her. So time passed and I hadn’t written the song yet. And [the label] was like, ‘Do you have anything for Christina’ I remember I had just recently written ‘If I Ain’t Got You.’”
When Keys told her A&R at the time to play the track for her and he profusely opposed.
“He said, ‘Are you fucking crazy? We’re not giving her that song. Are you out your mind?’ I was like, ‘Why not? I’ll write a hundred more of those, it’s fine. I think she should hear it. I don’t really think it’s a big deal,’” she said. “But I thought, ‘Fine, I’ll go write another song.’ So I went off and wrote ‘Impossible.’”
“If I Ain’t Got You” lived on Keys’ Grammy award-winning album The Diary of Alicia Keys and landed at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. Keys also won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the moving song.
“I will never forget that I would have given away ‘If I Ain’t Got You,’” she noted during the interview while acknowledging how much things would be different if the song did become Aguilera’s.
“Isn’t that crazy? So that’s a good story,” she added.
Alicia Keys just released her seventh studio album ALICIA which includes 17 tracks and production from 1500 or Nothin’ and Sampha.