Aretha Franklin Songs Ranked

Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, actress, pianist, and civil rights, activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was a minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin’s career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, and “I Say a Little Prayer” propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as the “Queen of Soul”. Here are all of Aretha Franklin’s songs ranked.

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20. Do Right Woman – Do Right Man (I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, 1967)

“The reason anyone cares about anything Aretha Franklin has done in the last ~40 years is because of releases like this. This is legitimately one of the greatest singles ever released. Both songs pair her amazing voice with material that puts it to use.”

19. Drown in My Own Tears (I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, 1967)

“This is one of my favorite songs. I would recommend this to all the women of the world. All of her songs are great. Such a bluesy, soulful song. Incredible!”

18. Son of a Preacher Man (This Girl’s in Love with You, 1970)

“The real interest here is of course Aretha’s reading of the song that she originally turned down, and only recorded a year after Dusty Springfield had scored a huge hit with it, “Son of a Preacher Man”.

17. Willing to Forgive (Greatest Hits: 1980–1994, 1994)

“This song is absolutely perfect. Her voice is amazing, and I love that the lyrics actually mean something. Can’t even believe how much I can relate to what she says!”

See more: Aretha Franklin Albums Ranked

16. Pitiful (Soul ’69, 1969)

“I can’t stop singing this song… I love this song… She is so different but yet unique at the same time in a good way… She one my favorite singers”

15. Freeway of Love (Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, 1985)

“Aretha Franklin never stopped recording. She was always on the R&B charts,  but in 1985, this release was sort of a comeback smash pop hit for her on the pop charts. She had been in the  pop Top 40 during the early eighties, but this record, along with the video (made in and around Detroit, particularly at a then popular bar called Doug’s Body Shop in Royal Oak), returned her to the stratosphere.”

14. Who’s Zoomin’ Who (Who’s Zoomin’ Who?, 1985)

“Overly slick mid-80s soul number that isn’t without its charms. Aretha sings the lyrics almost randomly – sounding suave and seductive here, yelping “oh!” there, nearly babbling at a couple other places. Not bad but not really worth revisiting.”

13. Rock Steady ( Young, Gifted and Black, 1972)

“The first self-penned Aretha single in some years and what a scorcher it is. Here she effortlessly adapts the influence of ska and conjures up an authentic Caribbean feel which drives the song from its almost misfire of a beginning. Aretha sings with confidence, the bustling horn section is absolutely inspired but it’s all about that rock steady rhythm section.

12. A Rose Is Still a Rose (A Rose Is Still a Rose, 1998)

“Aretha Franklin is one of those rare singers whose voice is as fine, if not better as decades roll by. This CD single teaser for the album of the same name boasts an artist in total control of her chords, with lush subdued production values in the title track, a poignant up-tempo self examination of advancing and fading beauty with age.”

11. The Weight (This Girl’s in Love with You, 1970)

“It’s a pretty pointless cover version coming so fast on the heels of The Band’s original, but its well sung and there’s some nice guitar work on it to make it interesting. The b-side however, has nothing redeeming it.”

10. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) (I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), 1967)

“Words will always fail to describe the voice of Aretha Franklin. Something in those poignant and rigorous tones resists the limitations that mere syllables impose upon all things transcendental, ineffable and miraculous. That voice helped shape popular music and even aspects of American culture throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries and it will always speak loudly and clearly for itself. “

9. Baby, I Love You (Aretha Arrives, 1967)

“Ronnie Shannon who wrote Aretha’s breakthrough hit “I Never Loved A Man”, also penned this equally fine song, the lead track on the superb “Aretha Arrives” L.P. Again the band is superb, just listen to the snap of the guitars and those cool horns breezing through but it’s Aretha’s dynamite vocal, especially when she repeatedly proclaims her love at the end of the chorus.”

8. The House that Jack Built (Aretha’s Gold, 1968)

“Aretha intuitively reins in her powerful voice to more effectively characterise her performance and does a beautiful job. Jerry Wexler takes the song out of the wine bar and into the open by abandoning the slightly cheesy horn arrangement that Bacharach fitted around the original and plays up the the parts of both the piano and background vocalists, the superb Sweet Inspirations.”

7. I Say a Little Prayer (Aretha Now, 1968)

“Make a brilliant song, great. But execute it with such casual elegance, then we’re really cooking with gas. Aretha makes so small a meal out of this ingenious bit of songwriting that its power seems almost accidental.”

See more: Barry White Albums Ranked

6. Think (Aretha Now, 1968)

“This isn’t exactly the kind of voice I like, but the song is overall pleasant and VERY contagious and catchy. It’s a song that gives you energy.”

5. Dr. Feelgood (I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, 1967)

“Perhaps overplayed, and after all it is a cover, but overall i still feel this is a pretty amazing soul song. Very impressive vocal delivery and good catchy sax and backing vocals.”

4. Chain of Fools (Lady Soul, 1968)

“I love her version of this song, plus the band sound great. Amazing mix of rock ‘n’ roll, soul and blues this is a masterpiece and one of the greatest songs of all-time.”

3. Ain’t No Way (Lady Soul, 1968)

“Ironically the most memorable part of the song is undoubtedly Cissy Houston’s gorgeous soprano background vocal, with which Aretha sagely declines to compete, instead subtly enmeshing her still stirring vocal with the Jerry Wexler production and the rest of The Sweet Inspirations in support.”

2. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Lady Soul, 1968

“Untouchable song… I always avoid singing with her so that I do not mess up the beauty of it… Truly amazing!”

1. Respect (I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, 1967)

“This is not only the best song by Aretha, but one of the best songs in the world of all time. Aretha Franklin has existed in the public consciousness as the grande dame of the soul for so long that it’s surprising to really listen back on “Respect” and hear how young she sounded. She was confident, she was empowered, she was suggestive, she was bold.”