Late legend Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly one of the greatest singers and performers in music history. As previously reported, the singer earned 73 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 and an even 100 songs on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
One of Franklin’s many talents was covering songs originally written and performed by other artists, subsequently reinventing prior recordings by adding her own inimitable soulful spin.
Earlier this decade, Franklin covered Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” (the Hot 100’s No. 1 song of 2011), which reached No. 47 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 2014, marking Franklin’s last entry on the list. Franklin also recorded notable covers of The Band’s “The Weight,” The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.”
But the following hits were on another level. Many of these outshone the originals by not just reaching higher chart positions, but becoming arguably the signature versions.
Below, check out Franklin’s biggest covers on the Billboard Hot 100:
10. “Share Your Love With Me”
Originally recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland
Blues singer Bobby “Blue” Bland originally recorded the song in 1963 for his third LP Call on Me. His version reached No. 42 on the Hot 100 in July 1964. Franklin recorded a cover for her album This Girl‘s in Love With You, which hit No. 13 on the Hot 100 in September 1969. Kenny Rogers also reinterpreted the song, taking his remake to No. 14 on the Hot 100 in October 1981.
9. “See Saw”
Originally recorded by Don Covay and the Goodtimers
Covay performed and co-wrote the track with renowned guitarist/producer Steve Cropper in 1965. His original recording reached a modest No. 44 on the Hot 100 in December 1965. Three years later, Franklin’s cover hit No. 14.
8. “I‘m in Love”
Originally written by Bobby Womack & performed by Wilson Pickett
Although Bobby Womack originally wrote the song, he gave it to Wilson Pickett, who sent his version to No. 45 on the Hot 100 in December 1967. Franklin released her version as a single in 1974 and it reached No. 19 that June.
7. “Son of a Preacher Man”
Originally recorded by Dusty Springfield
Springfield’s highly-acclaimed church anthem already reached legendary status, hitting No. 10 on the Hot 100 in 1968. Franklin’s 1970 version rose to No. 13.
6. “Don‘t Play That Song”
Originally recorded by Ben E. King
King’s original recording, billed as “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied),” peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 in June 1962. Franklin followed suit, as her version also peaked at No. 11, in September 1970.
5. “I Say a Little Prayer”
Originally recorded by Dionne Warwick
Both Warwick and Franklin’s versions were massive successes. Warwick’s original reached No. 4 in December 1967, while Franklin’s cover also earned her a top 10, climbing to No. 10 in October 1968.
4. “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Originally recorded by Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel’s iconic ballad became the duo’s biggest hit, spending six weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1970. Franklin delivered a gospel cover of the track that ascended to No. 6 in June 1971.
3. “Spanish Harlem”
Originally recorded by Ben E. King
King’s first Hot 100 top 10 reached No. 10 in March 1961 and catapulted him to stardom, ahead of his classic follow-up, “Stand By Me.” Franklin added her own spin to the former 11 years later, and it reached No. 2 on the Hot 100.
2. “Until You Come Back to Me (That‘s What I‘m Gonna Do)”
Originally recorded by Stevie Wonder
Which version is better? It’s a win-win when it’s Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. Wonder wrote and originally recorded the song in 1967, but it was not released as a single and did not make an album of his until 1977’s retrospective Looking Back. By then, Franklin’s version had reached No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 1974.
Originally recorded by Otis Redding
Franklin’s signature song has become so iconic that you might forget that Otis Redding was the original mastermind behind the tune, also since Franklin added the element of spelling out “r-e-s-p-e-c-t” as the undeniable hook (along with her “take care, TCB/ sock it to me” runs). Redding wrote and released it in 1965, and it reached No. 35 on the Hot 100 that November. Franklin’s version also took on an entirely new meaning, becoming a feminist anthem and, ultimately, a defining song of the century. It became Franklin’s first Hot 100 No. 1, for two weeks beginning on June 3, 1967.
Aretha Franklin’s biggest covers on the Billboard Hot 100 is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100, through the Aug. 18, 2018, ranking. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted to account for different chart turnover rates over various periods.