Chaka Khan's 10 greatest songs, ranked
30 June 2023, 11:20
There's a reason why she's the Queen Of Funk.
Funk and Chaka Khan can't be mentioned in the same breath, given that she was the first woman to truly pioneer the genre during the beginning of her career with her band Rufus and beyond.
Not enough superlatives can be used to describe Chaka and the influence her music has had, inspiring countless artists and picking up ten Grammy Awards on the way. Not to mention selling a mammoth 70 million records worldwide.
The distinctive hair, the gleaming smile, the buckets of energy, that voice. Chaka Khan (real name Yvette Marie Stevens) is an icon of R&B, funk, and soul music in every sense of the word.
She's created a legendary body of work to prove it across her five-decade career, and is still releasing vibrant records to this day.
That said, here are the ten greatest Chaka Khan songs, ranked from top to bottom:
'What Cha' Gonna Do For Me'
Chaka Khan - What Cha' Gonna Do For Me (Official Music Video)
This swooning R&B number was Chaka Khan's most successful charting track at the time she released it in 1981.
From the album of the same name - which also featured a cover of The Beatles' 'We Can Work It Out' - 'What Cha' Gonna Do For Me' was written by members of the Average White Band which earned it two weeks at the top of the Billboard R&B charts.
'Disrespectful' (ft. Mary J.Blige)
Chaka Khan - Disrespectful (feat. Mary J. Blige) - The Official Video -
Two titanic voices of R&B joined forces for 2007 hit 'Disrespectful', with Mary J Blige guesting on the Chaka Khan song from her album Funk This.
The sassy dance track even bagged the pair the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals the following year.
'Do You Love What You Feel' (with Rufus)
Do You Love What You Feel
This Quincy Jones-produced number became a disco/soul hit for Chaka's former band Rufus, from the album Masterjam which Quincy also produced.
Peaking at the top of the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart (now known as the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart), it was the final song of the 1970s to achieve the feat whilst crossing onto the mainstream singles charts too.
'Sweet Thing' (with Rufus)
Rufus & Chaka Khan - Sweet Thing (1975)
'Sweet Thing' was one of Chaka Khan's first hits with her former band Rufus, having written the song together with the band's guitarist and her then-boyfriend Tony Maiden.
Though, she wasn't impressed when her pal Mary J Blige later covered the track saying that it was "the song Mary J Blige f***ed up" at a concert as a back-handed joke.
The pair were friends of course, and even performed 'Sweet Thing' together years later.
Chaka Khan - Like Sugar (Official Video)
The inescapably funky 'Like Sugar' came out in 2018, and proved that Chaka Khan still had the minerals to make tracks funk hard.
Its infectious rhythm made it a sleeper hit of sorts for Chaka, showing newer generations at the age of 65 why she rightly earned the title 'Queen Of Funk'.
'Tell Me Something Good' (with Rufus)
#nowwatching Chaka Khan LIVE - Tell Me Something Good
This Stevie Wonder-penned track was a major hit for Rufus in 1974 and established Chaka Khan as a talent to watch out for.
One critic commented that the song was "a rare instance of an artist like Stevie Wonder giving away a tune that he could have had a big hit with himself."
He was right - Rufus and Chaka were awarded with the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for 'Tell Me Something Good' a year later.
'Through The Fire'
Chaka Khan - Through the Fire (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]
This romantic Chaka Khan ballad is about someone so certain they've met the love of of their life, they're willing to put it through any test, even walking through fire.
That sentiment was echoed by rapper Kanye West who sampled the chorus in 2004 for his song 'Through The Wire' after recording his debut album despite having his jaw wired shut after being in a car accident.
The music video for 'Through The Fire' was filmed in a train station and featured several couples, though they were all arguing which contradicted the song's theme.
'I Feel For You'
Chaka Khan - I Feel for You (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]
Technically Chaka Khan's biggest hit, 'I Feel For You' topping the charts in the UK and Ireland, as well as the US Billboard Dance Club songs chart.
Written by Prince and originally featuring on his 1979 debut album, 'I Feel For You' was offered to Patrice Rushen who turned it down, and was even recorded by The Pointer Sisters before Chaka Khan gave it a spin.
In a twist of fate, it was Prince's epic ballad 'Purple Rain' that would keep the song off of the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, but Chaka later won two Grammys to make up for it.
'I'm Every Woman'
Chaka Khan - I'm Every Woman (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]
'I'm Every Woman' was Chaka Khan's first ever solo single, and what an absolute belter to announce herself as a bonafide solo star.
It was a major hit initially but was given a new lease of life after Whitney Houston covered it in 1992 for The Bodyguard, adding a Chaka Khan credit to the biggest-selling film soundtrack of all time.
She even invited Chaka to appear in the music video, and had to debunk theories that Whitney provided backing vocals on the original: she didn't.
'Ain't Nobody' (with Rufus)
Rufus and Chaka Khan - Ain't Nobody [HD Remaster] (Official Video)
It's hard to look past 'Ain't Nobody' as Chaka Khan's greatest-ever song - it's synonymous with the funk star.
Originally recorded and released with Rufus in 1983, it became a stratospheric hit, and was so beloved Chaka re-released it six years later in 1989.
'Ain't Nobody' was very close to not being a Chaka Khan classic however, and was nearly offered to Michael Jackson for his Thriller album after Rufus' record label didn't want to release it as a single.
Luckily it didn't turn out that way, and Chaka claimed her signature - and undoubtedly greatest - song.