Strange Facts That Might Change How You Feel About Pop Stars

By Jake SchroederLast Updated Apr 2, 2020 5:31:37 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: celebrityabc/Flickr

Pop stars may live in the spotlight, but that doesn't always mean every detail about their lives is common knowledge. Certain information about the rich and famous doesn't surface immediately for many reasons, but sooner or later, the more interesting facts about their lives tend to leak out.

Whether it's the juicy details behind what inspired some of their best songs or strange news of an authoritarian dictator who has taken a liking to a particular song, some little nuggets of information about everyone's favorite pop stars feel like solid gold when you find them. Take a look at some of the most entertaining bits!

Whitney Houston’s Weird Connection to Saddam Hussein

During Saddam Hussein's Iraqi presidential campaign in 2002, his campaign song was "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. While this might seem like a strange song choice for a Muslim authoritarian leader, Hussein was actually part of Iraq's secular Baath party, so using American pop music in his campaign didn't pose a problem.

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Photo Courtesy: Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

In the end, he "won" the presidency with 100% of the vote. What are the odds, right? After the win, his campaign song, "I Will Always Love You," played over and over (and over) on the radio to celebrate his victory.

Kesha Got Gypped by Flo Rida

Kesha's producer, who was also working with Flo Rida at the time, got her to sing on Flo Rida's song "Right Round," which turned into an international hit immediately after it was released. However, she was not credited for her work on the song — and she wasn't paid for it either.

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Photo Courtesy: Jeff Denberg/Wikimedia Commons

Despite that, it’s likely that Kesha's role in "Right Round" led to her fame, which was at least compensation in a roundabout kind of way. Shortly thereafter, huge name labels like Atlantic, RCA and Universal started taking an interest in her. She eventually signed with RCA.

Lily Allen Isn’t the Only Star in Her Family

Grammy-nominated British pop star Lily Allen is related to the guy most of the world knows and loves (or hates) as Theon Greyjoy, which was his character’s name in Game of Thrones. His real name is Alfie Allen. Perhaps some Game of Thrones and Lily Allen fans already figured it out, considering they do look strikingly similar.

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Photo Courtesy: Thesupermat/Wikimedia Commons

Their parents are probably beyond proud that two of their offspring have become big stars, one in the music industry and the other in Hollywood. Lily and Alfie must have inherited some pretty great genes, as talent clearly runs in the family.

Britney Spears Got an Election Rescheduled

Britney Spears was scheduled to perform on July 3, 2017, in Tel Aviv. That day also happened to be the Israeli Labor Party's primary election, so they decided to postpone it until July 4. Apparently, because voting isn’t compulsory in Israel, officials of the party were afraid a lot of people would skip voting because of the concert.

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Photo Courtesy: hnkkk/Flickr

Another reason they rescheduled the election had to do with logistics. They needed lots of security for both the Spears concert and the election, and it must have been easier to reschedule the election. Perhaps the star was booked somewhere else the next day.

Maroon 5 Had a Horrible First Band Name

Maroon 5 wasn’t always known by such a cool name. In their early days, they were a four-piece band called Kara's Flowers. Their first album was even released under that name. The origin of the name was simple: They had a high school classmate named Kara. (Sorry, Kara, but it’s an awful band name.)

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Photo Courtesy: Justin Higuchi/Wikimedia Commons

The band operated under that name for six years. In 2000, when they added a guitarist and signed to Octone Records, the label pressured them to change their name and separate themselves from their humble beginnings. No one ever really said why Maroon 5 was chosen as the new name, but we love it!

A Newly Discovered Insect Was Named After Beyonce

A species of horse fly that was discovered in 1981 but not scientifically classified until 2011 was named after Beyonce. This horse fly, found in Queensland, Australia, now bears the scientific name scaptia beyonceae. What prompted this? Why would scientists name an insect after Beyonce?

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Photo Courtesy: Franklin Heijnen/Wikimedia Commons

The horse fly happens to have a very impressive and unusual, golden-colored rear end. To show the world there is a fun side to taxonomy — the process for naming species — scientists decided to name the insect after the famous bootylicious pop star. The fly is now referred to by researchers as the diva of flies.

Ed Sheeran Is a Concert Machine

In 2009, early in his music career and before he was signed to a major record label, Ed Sheeran played an exhausting 312 shows over the course of a year. His hard work got him the attention he deserved, and in January 2011, Asylum Records signed him to a contract that ultimately led to major international success.

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Photo Courtesy: Drew de F Fawkes/Wikimedia Commons

A small part of Sheeran's original motive for his numerous concerts that year was to beat James Morrison's record of 200 shows in a year. He beat him by a long shot in the end.

Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling Are Almost Brothers

Even though they don't have a great relationship anymore, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling used to be kind-of brothers back when they were kids. Timberlake's mom was Gosling's legal guardian for a year-long stint when they were both in the Mickey Mouse Club as kids.

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Photo Courtesy: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Gosling is Canadian, so in order for him to stay in the U.S. during one of the Disney shows the boys did together, Timberlake's mom took Gosling in, and he stayed with them. It seems strange that they are no longer friends after such a bonding experience growing up, but that's just the way life goes sometimes. Maybe their relationship wasn’t so brother-like after all.


Rihanna Wasn’t the First Choice for "Umbrella"

Back in 2007, Rihanna wasn't quite the big shot she is today. Perhaps that’s why she wasn’t the songwriters' first choice for "Umbrella," a song that eventually became an iTunes-crashing hit single. Initially, the songwriters wanted Britney Spears to sing it, and their second choice was Mary J. Blige.

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Photo Courtesy: daily sunny/Flickr

That’s right, the Barbadian beauty was their third choice. When both Spears and Blige rejected the song, Island Def Jam bought it for Rihanna in what turned out to be a career-changing move. A few months after it came out, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 — and the rest is history.


Jessie J May Be the Most Dedicated Songwriter Around

English singer-songwriter Jessie J has been in the music scene since she won Best Pop Singer on a British TV show in 2003 at the age of 15. She graduated from BRIT School for singing in 2006 alongside Adele and Leona Lewis. However, it wasn't until 2011 that her debut album, Who You Are, was released.

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Photo Courtesy: Drew de F Fawkes/Wikimedia Commons

In the years between getting into music as a teen and her expanding success in 2011, Jessie J wrote more than 600 songs. She was certainly busy sharpening her craft. Eventually, 13 of those tunes ended up on her debut album.


The Spice Girls Got Their Names from an Article

The Spice Girls each had really cool, catchy stage names to go along with the theme of their band name. They were famously known as Scary Spice, Sporty Spice, Baby Spice, Posh Spice and Ginger Spice. However, they didn't come up with the names themselves. Apparently, a journalist is behind the genius of their "spice" names.

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Photo Courtesy: Spice_Girls_2008_02/Wikimedia Commons

Even the journalist didn’t put a lot of effort into it. She couldn't remember the Spice Girls' actual names, so she just called them by the vibes she got from them. The girls weren't offended and instead found the names very catchy, so they kept them.


Snoop Dogg Is Closely Related to Another Pop Star

As it turns out, Snoop Dogg and R&B star Brandy are first cousins. They didn't think it was a big enough deal to widely publicize it, but they are family. This also means that Snoop Dogg is the first cousin of Brandy's brother Ray J, a famous rapper as well.

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Photo Courtesy: TechCrunch/Wikimedia Commons

Their fairly close familial ties may or may not have been the reason Brandy was featured on Snoop Dogg's song "Special," which came out in 2009. Regardless, it seems clear that musical talent runs strong in this family tree.


Bruno Mars Wrote Cee-Lo Green's Most Famous Song

Cee-Lo Green's most famous song "Forget You," which turned into a huge hit, was not actually his own creation. It was written by another extremely famous pop star, Bruno Mars, and Green was a co-writer. Released in 2010, the song significantly contributed to Green's rise to fame.

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Photo Courtesy: slgckgc/Flickr

Bruno Mars also played instruments in the recording of "Forget You," so he was definitely an integral part of it. Aside from that, his producing team, known as The Smeezingtons, produced it. It's highly probable that Green is eternally grateful to the Mars team for helping him rise in the music industry.


Google Images Exists Because of Jennifer Lopez

The dress Jennifer Lopez wore at the 2000 Grammys sparked the creation of Google Images, as crazy as that may seem. Because a ridiculous number of people went on the internet to find pictures of it after the fact and couldn’t find a consistent source, Google decided to design its own database.

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Photo Courtesy: DVSROSS/Flickr

That database is what we now know and love as Google Images, which allows us to easily find images on the internet using a quick search. Who would have thought a dress could be the catalyst for such a genius invention?


Adele Has MySpace to Thank for Her Success

A friend of Adele's posted her demo on MySpace in the summer of 2006. It consisted of three apparently very impressive songs, impressive enough that a producer from XL Recordings signed Adele shorter after hearing them. One of those original three tracks, "Hometown Glory," became her first single.

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Photo Courtesy: Kristopher Harris/Wikimedia Commons

This just goes to show that social media has been influential in the success of musical artists for a very long time. Now, it has become one of the primary ways for producers to discover new musicians. Adele is one of the original examples of the potential of social media to turn newcomers into hugely successful international pop stars.


"Torn" Isn’t Natalie Imbruglia's Song

As shocking as it may be, "Torn," which was a ‘90s pop sensation and hugely famous song for Natalie Imbruglia, is actually a cover of another artist. What's even more incredible is that most people don't know the original version of the song, which was recorded by an artist called Ednaswap.

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Photo Courtesy: Manfred Werner/Wikimedia Commons

It’s primarily because of this song that Imbruglia shot to fame. In the U.K., her 1997 version surged to more than 1 million copies in sales. This just goes to show that sometimes, as rare as it may be, a cover does turn out to be better than the original.


Katy Perry's Debut Was Much More Wholesome Than "I Kissed a Girl"

It's true that Katy Perry got famous from many hit singles, including "I Kissed a Girl," released in 2008. That song ended up on top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for seven weeks in a row and sold nearly 5 million copies in the U.S., even more internationally. It was also at the top of the charts in many other countries, including Australia, Canada and the U.K.

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Photo Courtesy: slgckgc/Wikimedia Commons

However, before "I Kissed a Girl" was popular, Perry released her first album, which consisted of gospel music. If you want to check it out, it was released under her given name, Katy Hudson. Apparently, the song was inspired by Scarlett Johansson's lips.


Christina Aguilera Is the Youngest Rolling Stone “Greatest Singer of All Time”

In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine created a list of the 100 greatest singers of all time with the help of 179 experts in the music industry. Coming in at #58 was the vocal powerhouse Christina Aguilera.

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Photo Courtesy: @xtina/Twitter

At the time of publication, Aguilera was the only singer on the list who was younger than 30. "I knew she could really sing," Herbie Hancock said of his 2005 collaboration with teen pop's most accomplished vocalist, "but I didn't know she could sing like that."


Taylor Swift Turned White Noise into a Number One Hit

It's one thing to top the charts with a catchy song. It's another thing entirely to top the charts with nothing but white noise. However, that's what happened when Taylor Swift "released" an eight-second clip of static on iTunes. The "song" topped iTunes Canada pretty much immediately.

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Photo Courtesy: Jana Beamer/Flickr

Apparently, the release of the white noise was an accident, but what a happy accident that must have been for Swift. People must have thought the track, simply called "Track 3," was some kind of artistic statement, and they were clearly beyond impressed.


Justin Bieber Was Offered a Hockey Contract

Justin Bieber has been one of the biggest pop stars on the planet for more than a decade, but apparently singing isn’t his only skill. The Canadian pop sensation also happens to be very good at hockey — good enough that the Bakersfield Condors offered him a spot on their AA minor league team.

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Photo Courtesy: Joe Bielawa/Wikimedia Commons

The Bakersfield team even reserved Bieber's favorite number for him, number 6, in case he took them up on their offer. Of course, he never joined the team, but it probably felt good to be recognized for this other secret talent for a change.


Elvis Presley Bought a Limo for a Stranger

Elvis Presley is famous for many things, notably his amazing music career, but he was also known to be a very generous person. One of his most famous acts of generosity involved a limo and his limo driver. Presley asked his driver if he owned the limo or if he worked for a company that owned the limo.

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Photo Courtesy: Steve Morley/Getty Images

The driver told Presley that he worked for the company, and Presley's response was every driver's dream. He told him the limo was now his because he would buy it for him, so he could be independent. What an outstanding and heartwarming act of generosity.


Garth Brooks Changed the Super Bowl Forever

When Garth Brooks didn’t pre-record the national anthem for the Super Bowl in 1993, it turned into a problem when he refused to sing live when the moment came. Rumor has it there was some kind of dispute over debuting a music video during the game. The kickoff then had to be delayed.

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Photo Courtesy: fatherspoon/Flickr

Since then, the Super Bowl absolutely requires the national anthem to be pre-recorded in order to avoid any other issues like this. As a result, the incident with Brooks was the last time a musician caused a national-anthem-related delayed kickoff.


Semisonic Didn’t Write "Closing Time" About a Bar Closing

It may seem like the song "Closing Time" by ‘90s sensation Semisonic is about being asked to leave a bar at the end of the night, but as it turns out, there's a much deeper meaning behind the song. Semisonic's lead singer Dan Wilson actually wrote the song about being born.

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Photo Courtesy: Jgmgt/Wikimedia Commons

It was inspired by his first daughter's birth and reflects closing the chapter of life that exists in the womb and entering the world outside. Listening to the lyrics after knowing this, they certainly take on a much deeper — and perhaps much stranger — meaning.


Gwen Stefani's Feud with Courtney Love Inspired a Huge Hit Song

In an interview with the magazine Seventeen, Courtney Love called Gwen Stefani a "cheerleader." Stefani didn’t take too kindly to that and responded by writing the song "Hollaback Girl." The two women were never friends, and this just put fuel on the fire of their rivalry.

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Photo Courtesy: Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons

Love fired back on Howard Stern's radio show, announcing that she had an affair with Stefani's then-boyfriend Gavin Rossdale while they were dating. Stefani claimed she already knew about Rossdales' infidelities, so she wasn't hurt by the intended insult. Stefani got the last word in the face-off — as well as all the talent.


Janet Jackson Inspired the Creation of YouTube

YouTube was created in 2004 by co-founders Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim and Steve Chen after an interesting turn of events that involved Janet Jackson. Their idea for starting the company came from two specific occurrences, and Jackson's wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl was one of them.

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Photo Courtesy: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Jackson's "nipple slip" on live television was seen by millions of people. However, millions more wanted to see it, and they didn't really have a way to easily find the footage. Between that and the tsunami in Asia that inspired tons of internet video searches, YouTube was born.


Little Richard's Backup Singers Became More Famous Than Him

Little Richard's musical talent is undeniable, but he clearly had another hidden skill as well: his amazing ability to pick out talent. Two of his back-up singers ended up becoming more famous than Little Richard himself. Maybe you’ve heard of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown? Exactly.

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Photo Courtesy: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Working for Little Richard was early in the musical careers of Hendrix and Brown, and it was a huge catalyst to their later success. In fact, Brown probably got the hang of being in the spotlight while on the job, sometimes even filling in at shows and impersonating Little Richard.


Jack Johnson Really Cares About the Environment

Jack Johnson has a lot more going for him than just being a super talented musician — as if that weren't enough. He has also made a habit out of donating profits from his tours to charity, particularly charities to support environmental causes. In 2008, he donated every last penny of his tour profits to charity.

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Photo Courtesy: Theresa C. Sanchez/Flickr

Since then, Johnson hasn’t donated every dollar of his tour profits to charities — a man’s gotta eat, you know — but he has continued to donate a fair amount. He is a true humanitarian, and the world needs more wealthy people like him who are willing to use their money for more than personal gain.


Coldplay’s Chris Martin Studied the Classics

Chris Martin, the lead singer of hugely successful pop band Coldplay, has more talents than just music. When he was studying at University College London, he earned a degree in Latin and Greek and graduated with honors. What's more, he uses his knowledge of those languages, cultures and literature in his songwriting.

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Photo Courtesy: Conan/IMDb

In Coldplay's song "Something Just Like This," you hear references to Achilles and Heracles, which knowing Martin’s educational background, clearly came from his prior studies. It's pretty cool to know that some of Coldplay's songs have been inspired by history.


Prince Played at George Lucas' Wedding

Director George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, didn't know Prince personally, but they still wanted him to play at their wedding reception. They loved his music so much, and they certainly had the money with Lucas' $700 billion box office sales from Star Wars, so they asked Prince if he would do it.

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Photo Courtesy: Richard E. Aaron/Getty Images

They were honored to have such a moving artist perform at their nuptials. They had danced to him their entire lives. Seeing him perform at any time would have been amazing. To have it happen for something as private and personal as their wedding was the icing on the (wedding) cake.


Alanis Morissette Wrote a Song About a Full House Actor

Alanis Morissette's hit song "You Oughta Know" was not about some unknown boyfriend off the grid. It was about "Uncle Joey," or actor Dave Coulier, from Full House. Because of the funny, light-hearted character Coulier played, it might seem hard to believe that such an aggressive song could be about him, but it is.

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Photo Courtesy: David Wolff - Patrick/Getty Images

There was always speculation and rumors that this information was true ever since the song came out, and fans were curious about its origin. Morissette and Coulier dated in the ‘90s, so it was only natural to suspect the song might be about him — and it was.