The Essential Aretha Franklin Playlist

Lauren is a former Deputy Editor of The Root.

'Respect' (1967)

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Originally recorded in 1965 by Otis Redding, the song, which Franklin won two Grammys for in 1968, truly came alive when she sang it. In 2002 the Library of Congress added her "Respect" to the National Recording Registry, and it's been named, by Rolling Stone and others, one of the top songs of the 20th century. Just reading about it is making you want to listen to it … just a little bit … right?

Captions by Lauren Williams

'Chain of Fools' (1967)

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This tune is also on Rolling Stone's list of the best songs of the 20th century, and it earned Franklin not only a Grammy in 1968 but also a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. The bluesy ode to a bad boyfriend is classic Aretha.

'You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)' (1967)

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It's been remade — by Carole King, who wrote it; Mary J. Blige; and Celine Dion, to name a few — but there's nothing like Aretha's original.

'Think' (1968)

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A feminist anthem (one of many that Franklin would belt out over the course of her career), "Think" was Franklin's seventh top 10 pop hit.

'Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves,' With the Eurythmics (1985)

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Did we mention feminist anthems? Franklin teamed up with Annie Lennox to prove to the world exactly what sisters could do for themselves.

'Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)' (1973)

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A song about persevering even when it looks like hope is gone, "Until You Come Back to Me" was also recorded by Stevie Wonder, who co-wrote the song. But Franklin's celebrated version is by far the best known.

'Spanish Harlem' (1971)

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A cover that outperformed the 1960 original, Franklin's "Spanish Harlem" switches up the lyrics from "a red rose in Spanish Harlem" to "a rose in black and Spanish Harlem." Gotta keep it relevant!

'Freeway of Love' (1985)

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The fun, fast-paced and oh-so-'80s "Freeway of Love" was Franklin's first single off her album Who's Zoomin' Who? Please try to listen to it once without singing it for the rest of the day.

'Baby, I Love You' (1967)

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One of the many hits from the album Aretha Arrives that have stood the test of time, the soulful "Baby, I Love You" is a must on any Franklin playlist.

'A Rose Is Still a Rose,' featuring Lauryn Hill (1998)

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The title track off the Grammy-nominated album, this duet pairs Franklin's famous voice with Lauryn Hill's hip-hop-inflected vocals. The result: a top 40 pop hit.

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