50 Aretha Franklin Songs You Better Have…Or Else

Posted October 28, 2013 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

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Fifty of the Queen of Soul’s best musical treats packaged into one definite guide

UPDATED: 8/18/2018

Aretha Franklin died at the age of 76 on August 16 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. View our exclusive feature on her passing by clicking here. We have updated this story, originally published in 2013, to include functional music links to Spotify clips and YouTube videos.


When you mention the greatest female singers of all time, Aretha Franklin has to be at the top of the list. Rolling Stone favored her the crowning title as being the “greatest singer of all time” in their all-time list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. On top of that, Franklin came in at number 9 on their list of 100 Greatest Artists of all Time. But with all the special editions that cull out for Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, they have yet to publish on Lady Soul. And there’s probably a reason for that – maybe it’s because we are certain that the aforementioned lists will probably never be modified in our lifetime. Ms. Franklin, 71, on the other hand, is still cranking out stuff. This month, it was announced that Franklin was ready to start work on her next album, one that will be supervised and executive produced by Clive Davis. “[He] said he doesn’t just want another CD,” Franklin told the media on October 16. “He wants a blockbuster event.” It was announced that she would work with producers Don Was and Babyface for the next record. She will even touch a few cover tunes, particularly Etta James’s timeless ballad “At Last.” All of this comes on the heels of public discussion concerning Franklin’s health. It’s a subject she alludes in interviews, only replying “I’m doing fine, thank you.” She’s not saying much about it, even though she’s had to cancel a number of her summer dates just to deal with her undisclosed medical issue. She’s trying to bounce back into the swing of things, performing at least twice a month. As of the present, her vocals are still a bit rusty in places due to whatever the environment is, yet it still burns with passion and swings like a gospel-trained diva. “I’m doing a lot of singing right now, just getting my voice back to where it was,” she said.

But let it be ascribed in stone that Franklin deserves some kind of retrospective on her fifty-plus years in the music world. Although she’s still writing the pieces of her history and continues to add new chapters to it yearly (In 2011, she sung with pop crooner Tony Bennett on his Duets II disc; 2007’s “Put You on Game” featuring Fantasia jumped to number 41 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart), Franklin’s glory years are worthy of being storied and shelved into catalogs of encyclopedia. She’s an eighteen-time Grammy winner, the second-winningest amongest females. She reigns superior as the number one female artist with the most Billboard chart hits during the rock era (1955-2012), with a total of 88 in her pocket.

Melisma decked, soul-blues driven, soulful piano, Ella scatting, gospel testifying, pink Cadillacs and lots of sass – we’ve done the honors in compiling Franklin’s greatest musical highlights.

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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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