Tina Turner in five covers

Tina Turner
Tina Turner / Gary Merrin/GettyImages
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"1984" (originally by David Bowie)

Given their friendship, it was inevitable that Tina Turner would cover a David Bowie song. At this point Bowie was in his mainstream pop period, and so there were plenty of choices for Turner to cover for her major label comeback. Just as Bowie had, recently at the time, pivoted from prickly art rock to a more poppy sound, Tina’s comeback album, Private Dancer was also a switch to up-tempo pop and ballads. Given that, it was a bold choice to cover 1984, a track Bowie wrote for a glam disco stage musical of George Orwell’s dystopian novel. 

"1984" may have not been prickly art rock, but it still was a weird choice. Weirder still was the choices she made with it. Bowie recorded "1984" when his plastic soul stage was nascent, the album that it came from, Diamond Dogs caught Bowie mid-transition, making it a glam rock/soul fusion, but with the layer of artifice that defined the plastic soul stage. On paper, glam rock/soul fusion sounds like a perfect fit for Tina Turner, and one would think that her soulful delivery would subvert that artifice. Instead, she played the artifice up; Private Dancer was Tina Turner’s belated introduction to the 80s, and she embraced the new decade’s trends, giving "1984" the sleek 80s production, and over-the-top synths. The power of her voice cuts through the sheen, making for an incredible dynamic. 

Maybe she just wanted to be the one to cover "1984" in 1984.