After attending the funeral of his little brother -- the second of two Bell brothers that were murdered -- Stax vice-president Al Bell walked to a bus in his father's back yard and thought about heavenly ascent. "I sat on the hood of that bus, thinking about my brother's death, and all of a sudden, I started hearing in my head the bass lines of 'I'll Take You There,' and I started hearing the music, and all of the words came next." He gave the song to the Staple Singers, a former gospel act that went mainstream to reach a wider audience.
In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."