Aretha Franklin wrote this song with the songwriter Preston Glass (whose brother Alan is also a songwriter), and her producer Narada Michael Walden. Narada was working on the Who's Zoomin' Who?
album around the same time he and Glass were producing the song "How Will I Know
" for a young singer named Whitney Houston. While Houston was fresh on the scene, Aretha Franklin was a soul legend looking for a contemporary sound.
"Who's Zoomin' Who" was the first song they recorded for the album. It came out of a conversation Walden had with Franklin. When we spoke with Narada Michael Walden in 2012, he said, "I tape recorded her phone call and I'm so glad I did because she talks so eloquent, beautiful, street, hip, and wise that I couldn't remember it all at the same time. So I asked her, what do you do at night to have fun? She said, 'Oh, I go out to night clubs. Maybe I see someone in the corner who looks kind of cool. He looks at me, I look at him, and it's like who's zooming who. But as soon as he thinks he's got me, the fish jumps off the hook.' Then she started laughing.
After I hung up the phone, I said that's kind of a cool concept for a song. So we started writing that. But after it was done she didn't really like the song. Clive Davis had to convince her to do it."