This is the first single off Big Time Rush's second album, Elevate. The song features the Los Angeles rapper Mann and was first aired on Ryan Seacrest's show on October 21, 2011. It was officially released on November 1, 2011.
The boys wrote the song with Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic. Tedder is a prolific songwriter who has penned hits for the likes of Leona Lewis ("Bleeding Love"), Beyoncé ("Halo") and Kelly Clarkson ("Already Gone") as well as his own group.
The song should not be confused with Stardust's 1999 international dance hit of the same title.
Big Time Rush's James Maslow told Artist Direct that this song was something Ryan Tedder was working on and the boys hooked up with the OneRepublic hitmaker as they "wanted to expand beyond just the younger fans we have and move up to people our age as well." He continued: "We wanted to be appropriate for the parents who still listen to the music. They may have heard the sound before. We went to Denver to write with Ryan a little bit, and we wrote the bridge on the song."
James told Artist Direct why they got Mann to rap on this song: "Mann came about because we wanted the whole thing to be fresh. Snoop Dogg was on our last single and then The New Boyz," he explained. "For this, we wanted to essentially do it our own, but Mann is in the same position as we are. He's a new artist, and we thought it'd be great to have that sound. He did such an amazing job, and we went with it."
"Lean On" was originally sent by Major Lazer to both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj's camps as a slower reggae track. After both parties rejected the tune, Major Lazer recruited Danish singer MØ to supply vocals and recorded it themselves.