‘The Middle’, the infectious collaboration between Zedd, Grey and Maren Morris, has been climbing the charts worldwide ever since its release in January. Following its visual premiere during the 60th GRAMMY Awards, the track has peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and is currently on its third week at No. 1 on pop radio. ‘The Middle’ has also reached number seven in the UK, and has been certified silver.
Whilst we cannot imagine anyone but Maren providing the anthemic vocals, it turns out that the song could have taken a very different route indeed. In an interview with Variety, Stefan Johnson, one-fifth of the song’s production team Monsters & Strangerz, revealed that no fewer than 10 of our favourite females had provided vocals for ‘The Middle’ before Maren eventually wrapped up the track.
Demi Lovato was the first artist to be involved with the track, listening to a demo and cutting vocals back in April/May 2017, with the intention of releasing it as a single. However, as she wanted to follow a more “soulful and urban” sound (as heard on her recent album Tell Me You Love Me), Demi turned down the song as it was “too pop”.
In July 2017, Grey and Zedd took control of the song and put together a wish list of artists, which included Camila Cabello. The ‘Never Be The Same Again’ songstress also cut vocals for the track, however, due to the success of her global hit ‘Havana’ at the time, she also decided to pull out from releasing ‘The Middle’.
A string of artists later gave the song a go, including Carly Rae Jepsen, Tove Lo, Bishop Briggs, Bebe Rexha, Lauren Jauregui, Daya and Elle King. In November, Anne-Marie came on board to cut vocals. By this point, the single artwork had been completed and a January 6 release date was set. However, come December, Anne-Marie had to pull out due to the release of her track ‘FRIENDS’ with Marshmello. According to Stefan, there was a “reticence by Zedd to have a track out with the same singer at the same time”, and as ‘FRIENDS’ was through Anne-Marie’s label Warner/Chappell, it had to take priority.
Thankfully, come January 2018, Maren Morris was “the angel that saved us all” and came on board just a few weeks before its new release date of January 26 – phew!
Take a listen to the final and official version of ‘The Middle’ below.
Whilst it might have been a painfully long process, it was definitely worth it in the end. ‘The Middle’ is set to continue its rise over the summer, and thanks to Maren’s country background, the track appeals to fans of various genres and acts as the perfect dance/pop/country musical crossover.