Tina Turner can turn a sweet whisper into a fiery roar, giving us heaven and hell in one powerful breath. From her early days stealing the spotlight from Ike Turner to her sensational solo career, she has shone across a variety of stages, genres, and decades, more than earning her nickname, The Queen of Rock and Roll.
Along the way, she’s also become a powerful symbol of resilience, escaping an abusive relationship, rebuilding her career from scratch, and overcoming industry skepticism. Multiple surgeries and a stroke in 2013 slowed her down temporarily, but she returned to the stage with renewed energy and the same determined, indomitable spirit.
Turner passed away on May 24 at the age of 83, but her vocal innovations can be heard in every new generation of singers, even as her songs continue to grace dance floors and appear on playlists. Narrowing her accomplishments down to just 10 songs was no easy feat, and Turner fans could easily come up with five or six different songs to round out the back half of the list. But when it comes to the best of the best, we don’t expect much debate, as they are locks to making any list of the best tracks of the 20th century. Check out Tina Turner’s top 10 songs below.
– Wren Graves
10. “Golden Eye” (GoldenEye: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1995)
The best Bond movie starring Pierce Brosnan also came with one of the all-time great songs, and that’s less due to Bono and The Edge’s composition than Turner’s towering performance. She practically chomps on the word “golden” and disappears into the word “eye,” adding in the process just as much texture as those famous trumpet bangs. Her conversational verses are masterful lessons in self-control, and the wrenching quip of “You’ll Never Know” is like pulling a hammer before unleashing, “Now I’ve got you in my sight!” Few people can claim, as Turner can, to outsmart Bond in his own movie. – W. Graves
09. “A typical male” (Break every rule1986)
With Phil Collins on drums and a perfect red dress guaranteed for the music video, Turner had a huge hit on her hands with “Typical Male,” a 1986 release that landed at No. 1 on the charts, peaking at No. 2 in three consecutive weeks. Turner’s disc, and its story as a whole, is closely linked to themes of empowerment and liberation, and “Typical Male” hinges on a cheeky, self-confident admission: “I just use my female attraction on a typical male.” The fact that the song leaves room for a saxophone solo is enough to earn it its place on this list. – Mary Siroke
08. “The Best” (foreign affairs, 1989)
Bonnie Tyler may have sung it first, but only Tina Turner’s version lives up to the promise of the title. The lead single from 1989 foreign affairs is an explosion of jubilation, the kind of thing church hymns strive for. Her vocal prowess can be heard in the little stutter she puts into “I’m stuck in your heart,” and the dizzy whirl of “Wash Me.” When she gets off the hook, it’s so dramatic that fans for decades have shouted those words, “You’re simply the best,” right in her face. – W. Graves
07. “Nutbush City Limits” (nutbush city limits1973)
Turner may have grown up in a “quiet little old community/one-horse town,” but it’s her story that was built for big-city stomping. The track, full of horns and Moog squeaks, hit No. 22 on the painting Hot 100 with a pop-funk rock genre that bridged the gap between 60s soul and 70s disco. Turner has been recording multiple versions over the course of his career, but he’s hit the hardest when performing live, bowing deep in his Southern rock exclamations. “Nutbush City Limits” remains a staple of Australian dance culture, with “The Nutbush” line dance even making its way into the TikTok trend in recent years. – Ben Kay
06. “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunder)” (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, 1985)
Tracks like this are why people of a certain age miss a song with a good original soundtrack. Does a post-apocalyptic desert gamer centered in a town run on pig poo and features a two-person character named MasterBlaster that summons a powerful song? It sure did as hell in the ’80s, and Turner delivered a classic performance along with her breakout performance as Aunty Kian in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Granted, the lyrics don’t make sense outside of the film’s context (a feat in and of itself for capturing the thematic subtext of the movie in song), but this chorus always hits. – B. Kay
05. “I can’t stand the rain” (private dancer1984)
Few have done a cover like Tina Turner. “I Can’t Stand the Rain” was originally written and recorded by Ann Peebles in 1973, becoming the soul singer’s biggest hit. When Turner put her hand on him private dancer However, in 1984, he became a new wave like no other. We all know Turner’s voice is one of the most powerful instruments in music history, and the control she has on this track is one of the best performances in his collection. Even if the beat wasn’t a total blaze, Turner’s work on the chorus alone would make this an easy inclusion on our Top 10 list. B. Kay
04. “River Deep – Mountain High” (High deep mountain river1966)
Among Turner’s great gifts – and to be clear there were many – the sheer emotion she was able to convey with her voice is certainly one of the most memorable. While she’s forever been the queen of rock and roll, there’s a lot of Tennessee spirit woven into much of Turner’s music, including the imagery found in the lyrics of this classic track. “When I was a little girl, I only had a rag/doll I’d owned before,” she sings, offering a fleeting window into her humble origins in the small town of Nutbush. Although now considered a classic, “River Deep – Mountain High” did not initially do well in the United States, first settling in Europe before slowly gaining recognition, eventually cementing itself as one of the standout songs of its era. . – Mr Siroke
03. “Proud Maryam” (work together, 1971)
“We never do something nice and easy,” Turner promises at the beginning of “Proud Mary,” a phrase she delivers well over the next five minutes. “Proud Mary” delivers one of the most exciting song constructions of all time, building up the momentum until it reaches a high pitch that only Turner can achieve on stage. During a cover of a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the track will forever be linked to the single by Tina Turner; It’s a perfect showcase for her vocal ability, her musical sensibility, and her incredibly powerful energy that comes through even in the soundtrack. – Mr Siroke
02. “Private Dancer” (private dancer, 1984)
“Private Dancer” is an epic seven-minute song that somehow still ends sooner than we’d like. Originally penned by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits for their 1982 album, love is more important than gold, It was held for a singer who could do it justice. Turner did more than that. “Private Dancer” shows off her incredible vocal range as she sings in a low register before the song builds to her epic guitar solo and powerful belting riff. – Sun of light
01. “What does love have to do with it” (private dancer, 1984)
“What’s Love Got to Do With It” is, without a doubt, one of the greatest songs ever written, and for many, it is the track that introduced them to the joyous Turner discs. The Queen of Rock and Roll is back in a big way with her chart topping album singles private dancer, which brought her back into the spotlight, bigger than ever. Turner expanded her vocal palette by exploring contemporary pop sounds and incorporating synth elements into the mix that, along with every other instrument ever created, paired well with her passionate and soulful vocals. The song “What’s Love Got to Do” may have an ambivalent attitude towards love itself, but after one listen, the song will take all of your heart. – S. Noor