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Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It (1984)

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“What’s Love Got to Do with It” is a song recorded by the American singer Tina Turner, released in 1984. It ...

“What’s Love Got to Do with It” is a song recorded by the American singer Tina Turner, released in 1984. It was taken from her fifth solo album, Private Dancer and became Turner’s most successful single.

Although Turner had already scored a UK Top 10 and US Top 30 hit some months earlier with her rendition of “Let’s Stay Together”, “What’s Love Got to Do with It” gave Turner her first and only US number one. The song ranked number 309 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It also ranked number 38 on the Songs of the Century list. It was the second-biggest single of 1984 in the US and the 17th-biggest in the United Kingdom. In 1993, the song’s title was used as the title for the biographical film about Turner’s life.

In 2012, “What’s Love Got to Do with It” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame giving Turner her third Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

Background

The song was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, who originally offered it to Cliff Richard, but it was rejected. It was then given to Phyllis Hyman, who wanted to do the song, but Arista Records head Clive Davis would not allow her. The song then was offered to Donna Summer, who has stated that she sat with it for a couple of years but never recorded it. Some months before Turner recorded the song, the British pop group Bucks Fizz were offered it. Member Jay Aston requested to sing lead on the track after hearing the demo, but was told by the producer that it was unsuitable for a female lead vocal. The group went on to record it in February 1984, but sung by male groupmember Bobby G. Aston recalls that the demo was very similar to the eventual Tina Turner version, but their finished version was in a very different style. It was intended for possible inclusion on their next album I Hear Talk but was shelved when Turner released her version first. The Bucks Fizz version went unreleased until it was included on a re-issue of their Are You Ready album in 2000. The Original Bucks Fizz went on to include the song in their reunion concert tour in October 2009.

The name of the song was used as the title of a 1993 film depicting the early career of Tina Turner, in which the abusive relationship between Tina and Ike Turner was depicted.

Chart performance

Up until the release of “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, Tina Turner had not had a US top-ten single since the early 1970s. The single went to number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for three weeks, giving Turner her first and only solo number-one hit in the U.S. Turner was 44 when the song hit number one, at the time making her the oldest female solo artist to place a number-one single on the US Hot 100. Grace Slick, who is older than Turner by about one month, hit number one in 1985, 1986 and 1987 with “We Built This City”, “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, respectively, as a member of Starship. In 1999, Cher, at age 53, became the oldest woman – solo or as part of a group – to have a US number-one hit with her song “Believe”. The song also spent five weeks at number 2 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, from July 14 to August 18, 1984; it was kept from the top spot by “When Doves Cry” by Prince (another Hot 100 number-one single). At the end of the year, the song was ranked the second-best performing song of 1984 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 behind “When Doves Cry”.

Worldwide, the song did well on the music charts, reaching number one in Australia and Canada. It peaked at number 3 in New Zealand and on the UK Singles Chart, becoming her highest-charting single on the latter chart alongside “River Deep – Mountain High” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”. Elsewhere, the song reached the top 10 in many European countries, including the top 5 in Ireland, Sweden, and Austria. It also reached number 2 in South Africa.

Music video

The music video features Turner walking down the street in a leather miniskirt engaging with the public, intercut with scenes where she is singing directly to camera. The video was shot in New York City during the spring of 1984. The music video also features Sleepaway Camp 2’s Pamela Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen’s sister, as a street dancer. The video was directed by Mark Robinson.

An alternate black and white video directed by Bud Schaetzle features Tina singing the song against a black background while couples argue in a bar.

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