Cee Lo Green

Cee Lo Green, shown recording in a tree house for an Animal Planet show earlier this year, recorded the song "Happy" before Pharrell Williams' version turned into a monster pop hit, but Green's team chose not to release it, Williams says. (Matt Mills McKnight / Animal Planet)

Cee Lo Green nearly beat Pharrell Williams to the punch on “Happy,” a song that the former coach on “The Voice” recorded but didn’t release, paving the way for the song’s co-composer to put out his own version that’s became the zeitgeist song of 2014.

Green “wanted to do it … and he did do it,” Williams told Howard Stern on Wednesday. “He sounded amazing on it. I mean, he burns my version! 

“But the ... how do I say this diplomatically? The powers that be at the time did not see it fit for him," Williams said. "Some folks on his team just felt that the priority should be on his album at the time, so they elected not to [release] that song.”

When Williams’ own version came out, initially as part of the soundtrack from “Despicable Me 2,” Williams said: “He was totally down with it. He was one of the most gracious people when [my version] came out.”

Here’s Williams' interview on “The Howard Stern Show”: