We here at HipHollywood are among the many who are sending our love and prayers to Aretha Franklin. And as we wish her well, we’ve also been engulfed in listening to her greatest hits. There’s almost too many to name, but each one of us on staff have picked our top two to create “HH’s Ultimate Aretha Franklin Playlist”. Take a look below — who are you vibin’ with most?
Kevin Frazier’ s Faves:
Daydreamin’ – This to me is the ultimate song about new love. When you are so wrapped up you can’t even concentrate. When I was in college this was a mixtape go to. And I rediscovered it when I met my wife. Between the perfect vibe of the music and the message you can’t help but sit back and day dream about some magical moment in your past with a very perfect person. BTW if your significant other is playing this song, they damn sure better be thinking about you.
Aretha has admitted she wrote the song about Temptations great Dennis Edwards. The two dated in the early 70’s and she told Oprah she quote “liked him a lot”. The song went onto sell over 1 million records and hit number 1.
Until You Come Back To Me – We have all been there, dumped or dissed and willing to do anything to get a lover back. The song really is borderline about love bubbling over and how a person is willing to stalk an ex until they come back. But here’s the thing, this song is as beautiful as it is crazy. Stevie Wonder wrote the song, and originally recorded it but didn’t release it. According to legend Stevie promised UNTIL YOU COME BACK TO ME to Gladys Knight but instead gave it to Aretha after playing it for her. The song went on to peak at number 3 on the billboard hot 100.
Vanessa Barnett’s Top Picks:
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – ‘Retha was out here singing about some deep, intense, soul-shaking love — I feel that. With lyrics like, “When my soul was in the lost and found / You came along to claim it / I didn’t know just what was wrong with me /
Till your kiss helped me name it,” it was clear that the Queen of Soul found the man who completed her — or so it would seem. Actually, Franklin told Oprah Winfrey in 1999 it was quite the opposite. When Lady O asked Aretha who made her feel like “A Natural Woman”, the soulful singer responded, “I was just singing the song, it wasn’t about anyone.” But get this, the song also made Franklin tap into her most natural state, “I stopped the eyebrow pencil, stopped plucking the eyebrows, I had a huge freedom ‘fro … just doing my thing,” Franklin told Winfrey. Yet another reason why I love this song! In a day and age where “natural” women are as rare as a four leaf clover, it feels good to hear natural beauty, not surgically-engineered backsides, be celebrated.
Think – Ever have somebody try to get over on you? Yea, we’ve all been there and Aretha gave us the perfect song to sing to them. When I hear this song I feel empowered, emboldened — I feel like a damn lioness! And when Ms. Franklin belts out “Freeeeedom”, I feel like I can conquer the world, don’t you? This chart-topping single came soon after ‘Retha turned Otis Redding’s “Respect” into a smash hit. It was the perfect follow-up; a song that further cemented Aretha’s demand for female and ethnic empowerment. The Queen of Soul also performed the song herself in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers.
Jasmine Simpkins’ Ri Ri Go To’s:
Respect – In 1967 Franklin covered Otis Redding’s “Respect” and in the words of Jay Z “made it a hot song.” While Redding’s version was good, Franklin’s soulful vocals blew the roof off the record making it soar to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and helping her win her first of 18 Grammy’s. At the time the song not only became a feminist anthem but also an anthem for a country in the thick of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the movement for gender equality. In her 1998 autobiography Franklin said “Respect” was the “need of the nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher, everyone wanted respect.”
Ain’t No Way – Ri Ri (as I like to affectionately call her) has many songs that touch your soul, but if there’s one that collectively women across the world could feel, it’s “Ain’t No Way.” The ballad written by Aretha’s sister Carolyn conveys her pain about an unreciprocated love and starts off with a softer tone until she goes off during the last third — skillfully showcasing her operatic range. You can no doubt feel Aretha’s pain when she belts out those finally Ain’t No Way’s in rapid succession as a plea to her man to stop his low down shenanigans. Then there are those background vocals (that send chills down your spine) performed by Carolyn and members of the Sweet Inspirations which included Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy Houston who also performed the song on “The Merv Griffin Show” with Whitney back in 1983.
Debra Oh’s Aretha Bangers:
Chain of Fools – Originally written by R&B singer/ songwriter Don Covey in 1953, “Chain of Fools” was initially a Blues song about Southern field workers before he revamped it for Franklin in 1968. “Chain, chain, chain/Chain of fools/For five long years/I thought you were my man/But I found out I’m just a link in your chain.” It became a song about a woman who was loyal to a man who was unfortunately for everybody, making her just another link in his long chain of women. To me, “Chain of Fools” arguably became one of the first female anthems to put men on notice for their f*ck boy antics while also keeping it real about her love for him. “One of these mornings/The chain is gonna break/But up until the day/I’m gonna take all I can take.” I feel like every woman has felt her on this at some point of her life. The song became so successful it went on to earn Aretha a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance that same year and it was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.
Something He Can Feel – The movie “Sparkle” will always go down as a classic so it’s no surprise the hit song “Something He Can Feel” off the movie’s soundtrack would also be a fave. Written by Curtis Mayfield in 1976, “Something He Can Feel” became number one on Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart and number 28 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Aretha’s vocals made the song’s title ring true in real life because she definitely gave her fans something to feel!! From the way she belted out every note to the sweet melodic beat, Aretha could do no wrong with this song! EnVogue would later remake the tune in 1991, introducing it to a younger generation and bringing it back to number 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart … but Retha’s version in my opinion still reigns supreme.
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