In commemoration of the extraordinary life and enduring legacy of Tina Turner, we've curated a selection of six of her most magnificent songs.
The world of music mourns the loss of an icon as Tina Turner, the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll", passed away at the age of 83.
Her electrifying performances, powerful voice, and indomitable spirit left an indelible mark on the music industry, inspiring generations of artists and fans alike.
As we reflect on her incredible career and the legacy she leaves behind, the Euronews Culture team has decided to pay homage to this extraordinary artist by sharing its favourite Tina Turner songs.
From her soulful ballads to her energetic anthems, each track captures a different facet of Turner's unparalleled talent and resilience.
"A Fool In Love" (1960)
In the year 1960, a poor little microphone found itself in a rather precarious situation. It was tasked with recording the sheer power and strength of Tina Turner's voice for "A Fool in Love." I can only imagine the microphone trembling in fear, praying it wouldn't explode from the sheer force of Tina's vocal prowess in this recording. “A Fool in Love” was Ike & Tina Turner’s debut single and it’s not hard to see why it immediately captured widespread attention. It exudes rawness, fiery energy, and serves as a showcase of Tina's undeniable talent. The song was initially written for Art Lassiter, but he failed to appear on the day of the recording. So Ike turned to Tina (who was then known as “Little Ann”) and asked her to record a demo of the track. Upon hearing Tina's rendition, the record executive at Sue Records urged Ike to retain the female lead vocal for the final release. The rest, as they say, is history. TF
"Proud Mary" (1970)
When it comes to Tina Turner, there's one song that immediately comes to my mind. Of course it’s “Proud Mary." Sure, it was originally written and performed by John Fogerty and his Creedence Clearwater Revival crew back in 1969, but let's face it, Tina took the track to a whole new level. With all due respect to John and the boys, but this is one of those instances where the cover surpasses the original in every way. Tina’s electric rendition, released in 1970 during her tenure as one half of the married duo Ike and Tina Turner, played a pivotal role in propelling her to global stardom. Tina tears into "Proud Mary" with a sassy, soulful ferocity that demands the listener’s attention. The lyrics convey the idea of leaving behind painful and stressful situations in order to embrace a better life - something which Tina would go on to achieve in her own tumultuous relationship with Ike. After the single’s release, it swiftly rose to the No.4 spot on Billboard’s pop chart, sold more than 1 million copies, and secured Turner her first of an astonishing eight Grammy Awards. TF
"What's Love Got to Do With It" (1984)
“What’s Love Got to Do With It” defined Tina Turner’s career in the 1980s, reviving her popularity and becoming one of her greatest hits. Despite securing her comeback after a career lull, Turner admitted to disliking the song, written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, at the beginning. “Did you know that when I first read the lyrics for ‘What’s love got to do with it,’ I rejected the song? Crazy to think about that now,” she wrote on Instagram in 2021. It was apparently too ‘pop’ for her rock and roll sensibilities. Luckily she stuck with it, producing a profound, heartfelt track in a raw, throaty rasp that has the power to move listeners to tears. It would become her best-selling song with over 2,000,000 copies sold worldwide and earn her three Grammys. There is also a climbing route named after the song on the south face of Cerro Torre in Patagonia. RAH
"Private Dancer" (1985)
There is some kind of poetic justice for me in the fact that Tina Turner’s big comeback album, after divorcing her abusive husband Ike Turner and an entire career that they brought about together, has "Private Dancer" as the title track.
We are in 1984, the song literally could be about a hooker or a stripper, but the way Tina sings it makes me think that it is just about any woman who knows the need to do things they despise with a smile on their face because that is the way to go. As the singer wrote in her autobiography "I think most of us have been in situations where we had to sell ourselves, one way or another.”
Eventually, the album with this title was an overwhelming success, tens of millions have resonated with it. It was the ‘middle finger’ to those who thought Tina Turner was who she was because of Ike. Tina, against all odds, re-started her career in her 40’s, which became history and if you ask me, this album with the song of a "Private Dancer" seems to have brought very good luck. DK
"The Best" (1989)
Another cover that Tina took and transformed into something else entirely. Bonnie Tyler’s first version of "The Best" is an undeniable banger. When the Welsh singer took on the Mike Chapman and Holly Knight-written song for her 1988 album, it was already bursting with personality but it didn’t make much of an impression on the charts.
That all changed when Tina came across the song. Released a year later for her 1989 album "Foreign Affair", Tina’s version is filled to the brim with late 80s production, from the guitars shredding, the synth keyboards and the iconic saxophone solos. Where it stands out though is in the quality only Tina could provide – that voice. Her rock-god croon that howls out the chorus line “You’re Simply the Best” carries world-weary charm, emphatic euphoria and it dares you to try and sing along with her.
An international hit, the popularity of Tina’s version convinced Tyler to keep it in her repertoire and be more confident in her song choices. Quickly the song became one of Tina’s signatures to the extent that – quite fairly – its title became synonymous with Tina herself. Tina Turner is quite simply, the best. JW
Last year, Euronews Culture did a list of some of the greatest Bond songs for the film series’ 60th anniversary. By some terrible omission, Tina’s contribution to the Bond canon didn’t feature. I’m righting that wrong now. For Pierce Brosnan’s first film in the title role, 1994’s Goldeneye was somewhat of a departure for the series. A new Bond in the 90s came with a slightly grittier tone while keeping the core aesthetic that made Sean Connery’s original so iconic. It was only fitting that a similarly iconic Bond song accompanied the film.
Written by Bono and The Edge from U2, "Goldeneye" was a purposeful reference to the classic theme tunes by Shirley Bassey. While Bassey recorded the themes which defined the tone of the 60s and 70s films in her 30s and 40s, Tina who was only a couple years younger than Bassey came to the series in her mid-50s. Yet, the song still oozes with vitality. It’s a perfect combination of the talents of Tina and the allure of the Bond series. Grandiose instrumentation, promiscuous snarling vocals, and operatic overtones. Tina earned her licence to kill without a doubt. JW