10 Essential Tina Turner Songs

10 Essential Tina Turner Songs

Feature Photo: Philip Spittle, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list focuses on the late great legendary singer whose career began in the late 50s. There was no artist like Tina Turner in the music industry. She had two iconic musical careers. Tina Turner rose to fame working with her ex-husband, Ike Turner. The legend achieved success as a solo artist. She’s one of the few artists who lived to see a biography about her life. Her gospel vocals mixed funk, R&B, and rock energy, which led to a fantastic career. She could make songs her own by putting her spin on them. If she heard a song, the artist knew how to change it to make it better. Tina Turner’s upbeat songs and impeccable dance moves inspired generations of artists to work the way she did.

The hitmaker was simply the best. Artists such as Beyonce, Gloria Gaynor, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Janis Joplin, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Janelle Monae credit her as their inspiration. Mick Jagger and David Bowie credit her for their stage presence. Tina Turner’s influence went beyond music. She inspired people when she left Ike Turner. The singer dealt with abuse in her marriage and decided to leave. She freed herself from abuse, and it helped her career flourish. Tina Turner became an inspiration to women suffering in abusive relationships.

Tina Turner broke racial barriers and sold millions of records throughout her career. Her albums and record sales totaled over 180 million copies. She may not have written most of her songs, but she knew how to bring them to life with her iconic vocals. The artist trusted her instincts on whether a track was right for her to record. She’s considered one of the most famous female rock artists and singers in music. Tina Turner was known for her energetic stage presence. The magnetic star knew how to perform. She was considered the Queen of Rock and Roll. Her successful tours outsold her contemporaries. In addition to singing, she appeared in movies. She starred in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) and Last Action Hero (1993), proving her talents went beyond singing.

The trailblazer’s body impressed her fans. She proved that women over 40 could be sex symbols. Tina Turner loved showing off her arms and legs. People thought she had the best legs and considered them her most famous feature. When Tina Turner was younger, the diva didn’t like her legs. She embraced them once people praised them. Tina Turner believed her legs were just as famous as her voice. It’s hard to argue with that theory since her beautiful legs stood out.

In the 60s, Tina Turner became the first African American and female artist to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Tina Turner won numerous awards throughout her career. She tied with Pat Benatar and Sheryl Crow for having the most Female Rock Vocal Performance awards. Tina Turner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted her with Ike Turner and as a solo artist. Tina Turner received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors Award. People ranked her on various lists for her vocal ability.

Anna Mae Bullock was born November 26, 1939, and died May 24, 2023. We can’t acknowledge her illustrious career without mentioning her time with Ike Turner. She began her career working with Ike Turner and his band. Her first record was “Boxtop.” She recorded the song under the name Little Ann. When Ike and Tina recorded the single “A Fool in Love,” she changed her name to Tina Turner. The single is one of the first R&B recordings to crossover to the pop charts. They released the records “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “River Deep-Mountain High,” “Proud Mary,” and “Nutbush City Limits,” as well as several albums before breaking up. During their time together, Ike and Tina Turner went through personal problems. She became a victim of domestic abuse.

When Ike and Tina Turner broke up, she had trouble regaining fame. Her solo albums didn’t match the success of her work with Ike. She made a comeback in the 80s. Her career turned around when she released the single “Let’s Stay Together.” After releasing the popular single, she recorded the album that put her back on the map. Private Dancer (1984) became her most successful album. It features her hit singles “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Better Be Good to Me,” and “Private Dancer.” “What’s Love Got to Do with It” became her biggest hit. She won Grammy Awards for the project. After the release of her album, she appeared on the benefit song “We Are the World.”

The singer appeared in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. She recorded the hit singles “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” and “One of the Living” for the soundtrack. Her follow-up album, Break Every Rule (1986), peaked at number one in different countries. It features the hit singles “Typical Male” and “Back Where You Started.” She wrote her autobiography during the same year she released Break Every Rule. The diva took time off from recording to go on tour. Her successful tours set records. She recorded three other albums during her career.

Tina Turner proved you could reinvent yourself musically. She started singing in a soul band and became a successful rock and roll artist. The legend inspired generations of artists with her dynamic vocal ability and phenomenal stage performances. Our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list spotlights her showstopping tracks. We could have filled the list with her 80s hits alone, but we wanted to include songs from various decades to show her evolution in music.

# 10 – A Fool in Love – Ike and Tina Turner

The tenth pick on our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list is “A Fool in Love” from The Soul of Ike and Tina Turner album. They recorded the track in 1960. The single is about the ups and downs of love. She talks about loving someone who doesn’t treat you right. Tina Turner explains how love feels like a rollercoaster. Love takes you up and down. You love someone, but the person disrespects you. He’s a good man but doesn’t treat her with respect. Her man makes her smile when she feels down. He makes her laugh when her heart aches. She feels like a fool but does anything he wants.

“A Fool in Love” describes a woman in a one-sided relationship. She gives him everything, but he doesn’t treat her right. People deal with one-sided love, so the timeless lyrics work today. We picked the song for our list because it helped introduce the world to Tina Turner. The essential record crossed over on the pop charts. This feat didn’t occur often in R&B music at the time. Tina Turner sings the song with intensity. Since she went through domestic abuse, it explains why she put her heart and soul into the vocals. She blends blues, R&B, and gospel music to create her sound. Her heart-stopping shrieks give the song soul that made her one of the best rock and roll singers in music.

# 9 – The Best

The ninth pick on our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list is “The Best” from the Foreign Affair album. It debuted in 1989. The single allows her to express her feelings about her boyfriend. He sets her heart on fire and gives her everything she wants. Her man loves her better than anyone. She hangs on to his every word when he talks to her. As the song continues, she gets lost in his eyes. She’s in a better place being with him. Anytime he leaves, he takes a piece of her with him.

The romantic song is a dedication to the man in her life. He makes her feel important and loved. The lyrics tell a heartfelt story about unconditional love. It resonates with anyone who loves their partner unconditionally. The record teaches you that love is possible if you don’t give up. Bonnie Tyler wrote and recorded the song, but Tina Turner took it to the next level. Tina Turner made the remake her own. She added musical changes to make it dramatic. Tina Turner felt the new arrangement gave the song a powerful finish.

The marvelous instrumentation never overwhelms the singer. It highlights her outstanding performance. Her soulful vocals set the track on fire. The essential track proved she had an ear for music and knew how to make a song work. Her instincts were right because the changes helped make the song smoking hot. It proved her winning streak wasn’t a fluke.

# 8 – GoldenEye

“GoldenEye” is the eighth pick on our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list. She recorded the track on the GoldenEye soundtrack in 1995. The song describes the villain’s point of view in the movie. A character wants to get revenge on Britain and James Bond. Alec felt abandoned when his parents died. He cried every day. The time has come for him to get revenge. He moved around within the crowd. Women became attracted to him. Alec focused on getting revenge for what happened.

The dramatic song discusses seeking revenge and the pain of feeling alone. U2 members Bono and The Edge wrote a song based on the movie, but the lyrics resonate with anyone seeking revenge. You don’t have to watch the film to appreciate the meaning behind the lyrics. Here is some trivia about the song. Tina Turner wasn’t the first person considered for the track. Depeche Mode was approached to sing the song but turned it down. The producers wanted Tina Turner to record it. It was the best decision because she turned the song into a hit.

We picked the essential song because it was one of her hits in the 90s. The song opens with the theme from James Bond. It features breathtaking instrumentation that takes listeners back to the 60s. The composers stayed faithful to the James Bond sound. It features orchestral swirls that make you sit up and take notice. Tina Turner may remind listeners of Shirley Bassey, who recorded songs for the James Bond movies. Her powerful voice shines above the mesmerizing instrumentation.

# 7 – Let’s Stay Together

“Let’s Stay Together” is from the Private Dancer album. It premiered in 1983. The lyrics tell a story about staying together no matter what. She promises her undying loyalty. He makes her feel like a new woman. She wants to spend her life with him. The singer questions why people break up to make up since she wants to stay with her man forever.

Tina Turner remade Al Green’s hit song. She had big shoes to fill because the song remains one of his signature songs. The original version reached number one on the Hot 100 and R&B charts. It appears in the US Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. If singers want to remake the track, they must bring their A-game because the original version is a masterpiece. Tina Turner took his seductive version and brought new life to it. Her version opens with minimalist synths, allowing her vocals to take center stage, while Al Green’s version opens with a saxophone. She changed the arrangement of the lyrics to make the song her own.

Tina Turner sings the song like she’s talking intimately with listeners. Once she sings the chorus, the record becomes upbeat. Her rock vocals and the synths backing make the song more than a remake. She put her stamp on the song and made it her own. Her vocal pitch makes the song come alive. Al Green’s hit is a memorable classic, but Tina Turner took it to the next level with her masterful cover. We picked this essential song because it became an important part of her career. It helped pave the way for her massive hit album. It became her first Top 40 hit since 1973.

# 6 – River Deep-Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner

“River Deep-Mountain High” is from the album of the same name. They recorded the track in 1966. The track describes the love she has for her man. Her affection for him reminds her of how she loved her doll. She reminisces about her favorite doll. Her feelings for him grow each day. If she lost him, she would cry. She would follow him like a puppy. The singer promises to be loyal and never let him down.

The romantic song paints a nostalgic picture of pure love. She cleverly compares their love to childhood memories. It tells a sweet story of love without sounding sappy. Tina Turner’s raw emotions impact the lyrics. We feel the love she has for the man in her life. She takes her time building up the story, which adds to the essence of the track. The song wasn’t initially a hit for the duo but became one over time. We picked the essential song because Ike and Tina Turner worked well together. Various artists remade the single, but the original remains the best. Her pulsating vocals reach out to us every time we hear it. From her stellar vocals to the exceptional orchestral swells, everything about the track works.

# 5 – I Don’t Wanna Fight

The fifth pick on our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list is “I Don’t Wanna Fight” from the What’s Love Got to Do with It soundtrack. She recorded the track in 1993. The lyrics talk about a woman in a failed relationship. She realizes it’s time to leave because he broke her heart. The singer refuses to keep fighting with her partner. His eyes don’t light up anymore when he sees her. Something happened between them, and she figured it out. She became empowered, and he didn’t want to deal with it.

“I Don’t Wanna Fight” is an anthem for people ready to leave toxic relationships. It reminds listeners to put their needs first in failed relationships. We learn to let go of what no longer works. The track resonates with listeners in toxic relationships. Tina Turner did not write the lyrics, but the theme reminds us of her life with Ike Turner. The universal lyrics could describe a man or woman. She recorded the single decades ago, but it remains relevant today.

Singer and songwriter Lulu penned a track that could describe Tina Turner’s life. Lulu didn’t write the song for Tina Turner. She wrote the track with Sade in mind. Sade gave the song to Tina Turner, and the rest is history. She made the right call because Tina Turner recorded a successful record. We picked the essential song because it sums up her story. It’s the sequel to “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” Tina Turner tones down her vocals in the tender ballad, allowing us to focus on the theme. We loved her choice to hold back because it made the song more impactful. It features hypnotic and melancholy instrumentation that works with the theme.

# 4 – Proud Mary – Ike and Tina Turner

“Proud Mary” is from the Workin’ Together album. They released the track in 1971. The song is about a woman named Mary who leaves a dead-end job to find excitement. She wants escapism in her life. Mary wanted to find out about the world. She kept working until she got a ride on a riverboat. As the song progresses, she talks about her life on the riverboat.

The anthem celebrates taking control of your life. It discusses liberation and living by your rules. It resonates with anyone wishing to fulfill their dreams and needing a break from their mundane lives. Ike and Tina Turner remade Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic hit song. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s monster hit reached number two on the Hot 100 charts, which gave Ike and Tina Turner big shoes to fill when they decided to remake the track. Since Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version is such a pinnacle track, Ike and Tina Turner had to do everything they could to make it their own. Ike and Tina Turner accomplished that feat.

They changed the musical arrangement of the song. Ike and Tina Turner recorded a funkier and upbeat version, which matched Tina Turner’s vocal style. They included a monologue at the beginning of the track with stripped instrumentation. After the first verse, the track goes wild. Ike and Tina Turner recorded soulful vocals, which set the song on fire. Tina Turner gives an unforgettable performance with her raw vocals. She never misses a beat. Tina Turner made the transition from mellow to frenzied effortlessly. The instrumentation invites you to the dance floor with its bouncy and irresistible beat. We picked the essential song because it’s their biggest hit. It showed the world that Tina Turner deserved recognition for her phenomenal performance. Both versions of the track remain groundbreaking to this day.

# 3 – Typical Male

Coming in at number three on our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list is “Typical Male” from the Break Every Rule album. She released the single in 1986. The song is about a woman who falls in love with her lawyer. She falls for men with clever minds, but his mind is no match for her heart. He refuses to admit that he wants her. She continues to plead her case to him. He must catch her when she falls.

“Typical Male” is a song about seduction. He plays hard to get, so she must seduce him. We picked the essential song because it allows Tina Turner to show off her seductive side. She proved she could record a hit song after the success of her Private Dancer album. We love hearing her playful side because she sounds like she’s having fun. Here is a fun fact about the track. Phil Collins plays the drums. The instrumentation contains an eighties pop sound that never gets old. It features rock, dance, and soul music to create a catchy sound. You find yourself dancing to the energetic beat. The track gets overshadowed by her other hits but remains a classic.

# 2 – We Don’t Need Another Hero

“We Don’t Need Another Hero” is from the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome album. It debuted in 1985. The single is about hope and determination in a post-apocalyptic world. It describes a younger generation picking up the pieces and rebuilding society. They refuse to live in fear despite uncertainty. The younger generation wants to build a better future for themselves.

The anthemic track talks about moving forward in the face of adversity. It features universal lyrics that apply to the movie and real life. The song encourages people to live a better life. We need tracks like this to remind us to rise above adversity. Her rich vocals capture the essence of the track. She shows versatility by singing in her lower register in the verses and belting in the chorus. No one else could have performed the song the way she did. We picked the essential record because of her versatility.

It allows listeners to hear different sides to her voice. The instrumentation combines rock, soul, and pop music to create an excellent sound. Her vocals blend well with the instrumentation. We give the track tens across the board for the spectacular vocals and musical arrangement. It could have landed in the number one spot on our list, but another song occupies the number one spot.

Read More Top 10 Ike And Tina Turner Songs

# 1 – What’s Love Got to Do with It

The number one pick on our 10 Essential Tina Turner Songs list is “What’s Love Got to Do with It” from the Private Dancer album. It hit the shelves in 1984. The track discusses a toxic relationship. She describes wanting a physical attraction instead of an emotional connection because hearts get broken. Her feelings for him grow, but she refuses to let them grow. Love hurts too much to put your heart on the line. As the song progresses, she finds herself falling for him.

“What’s Love Got to Do with It” is a captivating track about a woman denying her feelings for the man she loves. When she recorded the song, critics assumed her best years were behind her. She proved the critics wrong. Tina Turner recorded a massive single that became the biggest hit of her career. We picked the essential track for our list because she proved at the time that women over 40 could reach the top of the charts. The song peaked at number one on the Hot 100 charts for three weeks. She was the oldest female to peak at number one at the time. It spent five weeks at number two on the R&B charts. The history-making track was one of the biggest songs in 1984.

We understand why the successful track remains a classic among listeners because it features excellent instrumentation that fits with any genre. Her soulful vocals may remind listeners of her days with Ike Turner while introducing her to a new fanbase. Here is some trivia about the track. Tina Turner wasn’t the first choice to record the single. Singers Cliff Richard and Donna Summer rejected the song. Tina Turner didn’t want to record the track. She felt the track needed more rock music. Thankfully, she changed her mind and recorded the record because it went on to achieve success. The song continues to get airplay and remains one of her best tracks.

10 Essential Tina Turner Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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