Mario was a force on the Billboard charts from the early to mid-2000s, with a litany of hits like “Let Me Love You,” “Breathe” “Break Up” and “Crying Out For Me.”
On Monday (May 20), the singer treated his fans to a nostalgic set of some of his biggest hits for Billboard’s Live At-Home concert series while answering questions.
To kick things off, Mario opened with an acapella rendition of his 2002 classic, “Just a Friend.” For many those of the Y2K generation, “Just a Friend” helped put Mario on many people’s radars. However, the 33-year-old revealed his first single almost went to someone else.
“A crazy story about that song is that when I first heard the song, I was pretty much 90 percent done with my first album,” Mario said.
“My A&R walks the song into the building and he's like, ‘Yo, I got this record. It's a smash, but you gotta fly to LA and work with Warryn Campbell and Harold Lilly.’ I’m like ‘Alright, bet.’”
“So we went to LA,” he continued. “They didn't tell me the story behind the song first....I recorded the song and afterwards, they played me another version. And it happens to be Usher on the song. So ‘Just a Friend’ was Usher's single before it was mine.”
Mario revealed that Usher ultimately passed on the song. “I think it was better suited for me but he definitely did his thing on it. Usher is the goat. He turned it down and it ended up being a smash for me. So, that’s just what it is.”
He also added, “Whatever God has for you is gonna be for you, regardless of whatever so just remember that.”
Check out the video below hear what Mario said about re-recording “Let Me Love You” with superproducer Scott Storch below:
(Photo from left: Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic and Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)