First Hit #1: June 3, 1967
Respect is an example of what a good cover can do for a song. This was originally recorded by Otis Redding, and lots of people don’t realize this because Aretha Franklin now owns the song. She took it and made it into a kind of feminist anthem by bringing her powerful voice to the party and utterly dominating anyone who dares to not give her the respect she deserves. Now, admittedly, in the 40-some years since release the song has hit a bit of a saturation point, it’s pretty much become shorthand used when film, television and advertising wants to draw attention to a strong, confident woman, which means that most people have heard it a billion different times by now. As a result, I’m not sure I ever need to hear it again, not really. But that’s not the song’s fault, and just the transformation of meaning of the song is a credit to Franklin’s ability. Someone with a weaker voice could not make the same effect, Franklin does it by demanding respect not merely through the words, but through the way she sings them.