The Tina Turner Duet That Carlos Santana Had To Hide For Years
Santana released ‘The Game of Love’ in their 18th studio album titled ‘Shaman’ in 2002. Michelle Branch accompanied the band in this song, and they put it out as a single on September 23, 2002. Their fans and music critics loved the track so much that it won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals,’ peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Though Carlos Santana and Michelle Branch’s vocals together were undoubtedly a hit, the song could’ve been entirely different. Santana had initially recorded the track with New Radicals frontman, Gregg Alexander. However, the producer of ‘Shaman,’ Clive Davis, thought female vocals could better contribute to the song’s theme as opposed to Alexander’s voice.
That’s when Tina Turner joined the band for their song, but she declined to participate in the music video. As a result, Davis recruited Macy Gray to record a replacement vocal, but he wasn’t satisfied with that version. Eventually, Michelle Branch was asked to record the song and spoke about it in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer in 2002.
Branch said, “It was the first time for me to sing somebody else’s song. Usually, I’m like: ‘Oh, I want it this way,’ and I’m in charge. I didn’t meet Carlos Santana at the recording session. I didn’t know what was going on. It felt to me like, wow, it seems like there’s so much at stake, I’m going to go in there and just sing my heart out and just cross my fingers.”
As for Tina Turner’s version of ‘The Game of Love,’ the band released it with the 2007 retrospective ‘Ultimate Santana.’ When fans finally got to hear the Turner Version, Carlos Santana spoke to the Associated Press and said, “Queens come and go – there’s only one Tina Turner.”
He continued and compared Branch to Turner, “I love Michelle, and she did a great interpretation of it. It’s just that with all honor and respect for Michelle, there’s the girl, and there’s the woman, and Michelle is unfolding into a woman. But it takes time to go from a girl to a woman.”
Although both versions have achieved critical acclaim, the resurfacing of the Tina Turner version definitely stirred the pot. Most fans have praised both versions, but they seem to agree with Carlos as they also noted that the vocals of Michelle Branch and Tina Turner are so different that they change the song’s tone. Many have proposed that Michelle’s version sounds more refreshing and young, while Turner’s gives a sense of maturity.