What's Love Got To Do With It

Album: Private Dancer (1984)
Charted: 3 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This was Tina Turner's comeback song. She first hit the pop charts with her husband Ike in 1960, and their biggest hit came in 1971 with a cover of "Proud Mary." After enduring years of spousal abuse, Tina split from Ike in the mid-'70s and her career was in limbo until this song thrust her back in the spotlight 13 years after "Proud Mary." More hit singles followed, cementing her status as a music icon. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • In this song, Tina Turner plays the part of a woman who enjoys the carnal encounters with her lover, but feels no emotional attachment. She wants him to know that there's nothing more to it, as for her it's purely physical. Their relationship has nothing to do with love, which she dismisses as "a sweet, old-fashioned notion."

    It's really an anti-love song, and Turner hated it. She balked at recording it, but had the good sense to defer to her manager, Roger Davies, who was engineering her comeback and was sure the song would be a hit. Davis got the song from his friends, the songwriters Terry Britten and Graham Lyle (who was in the duo Gallagher and Lyle), and it was Britten who produced the track.

    Turner could sell a song as well as anyone, so she could deliver a convincing vocal even if she didn't have a personal connection to the track. Outside of "Nutbush City Limits," her hits were written by others and interpreted by Tina, who could always get into character. She was never anyone's "Private Dancer," but she managed to make a song about one a hit as well.
  • This won Grammys in 1985 for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Female Vocal Performance. Turner gave one of the awards to Davies, whom she credited with reviving her career. Davies, an Australian who was new to the business, met Turner in 1979 after she had released a series of failed solo albums.
  • The video was directed by Mark Robinson, who also did the Ashford & Simpson promo for "Solid." In the video, Turner walks confidently around New York City with big hair, high heels and a short skirt. MTV put it in heavy rotation, and for many, it was their first look at Turner, who provided a striking visual.

    At the second MTV Video Music Awards in 1985, it won for Best Female Video.
  • Private Dancer was Turner's first album for Capitol Records. They took a chance on her when it appeared she was no longer marketable, and it paid off big, as the album was a huge hit. Recording the album was no easy task, as several producers, songwriters and musicians were used to assemble the various songs. One of the producers was Rupert Hine, who worked on the tracks "Better Be Good To Me" and "I Might Have Been Queen." Hine told us that it was Turner's professionalism and ungodly talent that made it work. Said Hine: "She approaches things in such a diligent way and she 'owns the song' - that's the phrase she used to use, which basically means she sings along with it at home. I give her a songwriter's demo and then she'll sing it in her key. And then the point where she sings along with the tape and she feels she's got it, it's now her song."
  • In 1993, the title was used for a movie about her life starring Angela Bassett as Turner. Bassett lip-synched to Turner's songs.
  • Turner set some records when this song went to #1 on the Hot 100. At 44, she became the oldest female solo artist ever to top the chart. Her first song to chart was "A Fool In Love" with her husband Ike in 1960, at 24 years, she set the mark for longest time between first song to chart and first #1 hit.

    These records were both broken by Cher, who was 52 when her song "Believe" went to #1, and whose first chart hit was in 1965 with "I Got You Babe" (with Sonny & Cher).
  • Turner's comeback on the charts began when she released a version of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" - her first Columbia single - in 1983. It did surprisingly well in the UK, where it went to #6 in December. It America, it was a slower climb, reaching #26 in March. This piqued interest, and "What's Love Got To Do With It" was released in May a few weeks before the Private Dancer album. Turner got lots of positive press and her comeback story helped her build momentum. In September, the song hit #1 and Tuner was once again a headline act.
  • This was one of many popular songs to appear in the TV series Miami Vice; it was used in the first season episode "Calderone's Return: Part 2 - Calderone's Demise" in 1984. Later that season, Turner's "Better Be Good To Me" was used in the episode "Give a Little, Take a Little" and included on the season 1 soundtrack album, which sold over 4 million copies.

    The song also appeared in episodes of Desperate Housewives ("Silly People" - 2006), Perfect Strangers ("Knock Knock, Who's There?" - 1986) and Knight Rider ("Custom Made Killer" - 1985). It can also be heard in the 2015 movie Pitch Perfect 2.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 14

  • George from Louisville, KyNo one does it better than Tina. Do it baby!!!
  • Edwin from Vancouver, BcFor a woman who could sing circles 'round Aretha's histrionic fat arse - this isn't bad but Tina could do so much more. Still waiting for that raw blues collection.
  • Mark from Dublin, IrelandCliff Richard was origally offered this song from the same writter who penned cliffs hits "devil woman" and "carrie" but someone at cliffs office turned the song down because "it wasnt right for cliff" cliff now jokes in concert saying that that person does not work for him anymore,cliff finally did get a chance to record it on his 2003 album "wanted" but i think even cliff fans would have to admit that tinas version is much better and that is coming from a Cliff fan.
  • Nunzio from Darwin, AustraliaForget this ballad crap, go back to 1975 & discover Tina's version of ACID QUEEN from the "TOMMY" soundtrack. She belts it out like she did the 60's R & B stuff & "Nutbush City Limits" wich was a hit in 1975.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThis song is an anthem for me. It is incredibly honest for a popular song: It's right up there in that category with Carole King's "It's Too Late Baby." Even if you didn't know about Tina's struggles, you can draw strength from her voice and the energy she radiates with it in this song.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrI HOPE she's stronger emotionally than she's talented musically.
  • Neil from MiddlesbroughWaren G Featuring Adina Howard did a rap cover version in 1996 which got to number 2 in the U.K.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScNever knew it was a synthesizer. Cool!
  • Chris from Charleston, ScA Yamaha DX-7 Synthesizer was used for the harmonica solo.
  • Sarah Floyd from Bloomingdale, Ilwhen i first heard this i didnt know my mom liked this song. and i like this song now. and i wish i had her cd and i hope my mom buys me her cd someday.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InI was 15 when this was a hit and discovered love for the 1st time, but also had my heart broken as well. This song says it all, and I still consider it a personal tune in my emotional acrhives
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumIt all began for Tina Turner with Phil Spector's masterpiece "River deep, mountain high". Phil Spector created a great "Wall of Sound" around Tina's voice, I think it's one of his best productions and for Tina the start of her career.
    "River deep, mountain high" and Phil Spector, SUPER, SUPER GOOD!!!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScHey Josie. I know right. tina seems like she's a strong woman, even with all the trouble whe went through.
  • Josie from Colchester, EnglandI think tina is a very strong woman and i admire her for her strength. although she got badly beaten by her husband she got up and carried on. She's great.
see more comments

Jon Foreman of SwitchfootSongwriter Interviews

Switchfoot's frontman and main songwriter on what inspires the songs and how he got the freedom to say exactly what he means.

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")Song Writing

Nick made some of the biggest videos on MTV, including "The Final Countdown," "Heaven" and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)."

Bass Player Scott EdwardsSong Writing

Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."

The Truth Is Out There: A History of Alien SongsSong Writing

The trail runs from flying saucer songs in the '50s, through Bowie, blink-182 and Katy Perry.

John Doe of XSongwriter Interviews

With his X-wife Exene, John fronts the band X and writes their songs.

Boz ScaggsSongwriter Interviews

The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.