On May 24th, the world sadly bade farewell to the legendary Tina Turner, who left an indelible mark on the music industry. Her influence is indisputably felt in every successive generation of singers, from her timeless classics to her iconic vocal techniques. Her treasured hits never cease to captivate audiences and fill dance floors. Above all, she became an embodiment of strength, a living testament to the power of resilience.
After battling multiple operations and a debilitating stroke, Turner returned to the stage a force to be reckoned with. Her legacy lives on, inspiring generations of artists, while her classic hits remain timeless club staples. Paring down her discography to only a few songs proved challenging, as a list of fan favorites could easily span twice as long. Yet, indisputably, these tracks showcase the best of Turner - the cream of the crop that continues to mark global charts even decades past their release date.
7. "River Deep - Mountain High" (1966)
Tina Turner's unmistakable vocal power epitomized her incomparable talent. Resonant with native Tennessean soul, her music often included vivid reflections of her life in the rural town of Nutbush. This song conveys a unique, if brief, snapshot of Turner's upbringing as she celebrates her beloved "rag doll." Despite its universal appeal, "River Deep - Mountain High" was not initially successful in the US, yet it gradually gained recognition. Presently, it stands among the most well-known songs of its time.
6. "Nutbush City Limits" (1973)
Tina Turner belts a vibrant, funky ode to her birthplace, "Nutbush City Limits." Filled with brassy horns and powerful guitar, the track transcends its Southern roots as it forges between classic soul and early disco. Despite its 'little old community' origins, the song resonated around the globe. Consequently, it climbed the charts to reach No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. Captivating audiences live, it has become an integral part of Australian dance culture. Conversely, even inspired a popular TikTok dance known as "The Nutbush".
5. "Private Dancer" (1984)
Mark Knopfler's masterpiece, "Private Dancer," is a melancholy seven-minute ode to unachievable dreams. In the track's middle eight, Tina Turner delicately conveys the forlorn sentiments of the protagonist with her astounding vocal range. Her calming yet powerful approach delivers an eloquent reminder that no matter how hard one strives, their hopes may never come to fruition. Presenting listeners with a lasting impression, the piece builds to a spellbinding guitar solo before abruptly fading away.
4. "Proud Mary" (1971)
Tina Turner's rousing rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" became the archetype for all future covers. She infused her performance with infectious energy, boldly proclaiming the transition from soft dynamics to hard power with a spoken-word introduction. "We'll start this song off nice and easy, then finish strong." Her fervor and finesse created a masterpiece that gave new life to the classic.
3. "Typical Male" (1986)
Tina Turner's 1986 album Break Every Rule made a valiant effort to replicate the success of "Private Dancer," enlisting the same production team with additional songwriting input from Mark Knopfler and David Bowie, as well as a dreamy cover of an Al Green classic (although ultimately omitted). Commencing with the memorable "Typical Male," this record explores an empowering take on little-me coquetry with a self-assured resolve palpable in the refrain.
Donning Phil Collins on drums and a fiery red dress for the music video, Tina Turner's 1986 single "Typical Male" found immense success, climbing to No. 2 on the charts and becoming a pop culture staple. Championing female empowerment, the song speaks of an independent woman confidently turning the tables on men, its tone playful yet unwavering in its message. Boosted by a blazing saxophone solo, this classic track truly sparked an era of liberation.
2. "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" (1985)
Exploring the desert wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was an iconic film in its era. Featuring the enthralling performance of Aunty Entity by Tina Turner, and her heartfelt contribution to the soundtrack, the song "We Don't Need Another Hero" resonated with viewers of all ages. Though the lyrics seem disconnected from the movie plot, they encapsulate the narrative's thematic subtext. Its chorus carries a power that still holds today.
1. "What's Love Got to Do With It" (1984)
Tina Turner's later work often fails to capture the dynamism and gritty energy of her iconic '60s and '70s hits. Her iconic smash hit, "What's Love Got to Do with It," exudes a fiery energy that truly embodies the essence of Rock 'n' Roll. The track catapulted her back into the limelight from her triumphant Private Dancer album and astonished audiences everywhere.
By weaving together crisp synth sounds with her signature soulful vocals, the Queen of Rock injected new life into her soundscape, a tapestry of countless instruments and heart-wrenching emotion. While lyrics may paradoxically reflect a cynical perspective on love, their vigor and vivacity instantly capture one's heart.