1980’s Aretha was meant to be something of a rebirth for her Aretha Franklin. It was her first LP under Clive Davis’ Arista Records, and she hoped to break the slump she’d been experiencing since the mid-70’s at Atlantic Records.
The album had bright spots, but it also set the tone for what the next decade of music would hold: positioning Aretha as a dominant figure in music who could also keep up with the kids. The album contains a few bigger ballads with a revamped style for Aretha. “Whatever It Is” being one of them.
It’s a straightforward song of love and devotion, featuring just Aretha; no background vocals or doubled vocals. Her opening line, which follows a lush piano introduction is simple and light, yet compelling. “Whatever it is, it’s only the beginning”, she breathes as she begins. The song builds in tandem with Aretha’s vocal, although she does show some restraint at the final turns.
Stream “Whatever It Is”