Don't Turn Around

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"Don't Turn Around"
Song by Tina Turner
A-side"Typical Male"
Released1986
GenreDance-rock
Length4:16
LabelCapitol
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)

"Don't Turn Around" is a popular song written by Albert Hammond and Diane Warren. It was originally recorded by Tina Turner as the B-side to the single "Typical Male" in 1986. It has since been included on the rarities disc of the 1994 compilation The Collected Recordings – Sixties to Nineties, as well as featuring in the Tina musical in 2018.

It has been covered by numerous artists, most notably by Luther Ingram in 1987, Aswad in 1988, Bonnie Tyler in 1988, and Ace of Base in 1993.

Aswad version[edit]

"Don't Turn Around"
Aswad don't turn.jpg
Single by Aswad
from the album Distant Thunder
B-side"Woman"
ReleasedFebruary 10, 1988 (1988-02-10)
Recorded1987
GenreReggae fusion
Length3:25
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Chris Porter
Aswad singles chronology
"Hooked On You"
(1987)
"Don't Turn Around"
(1988)
"Give a Little Love"
(1988)

British reggae group Aswad heard Luther Ingram's version and released a cover version on February 10, 1988. The song went to number one on the UK Singles Chart in March 1988.[1] It also reached number 45 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in the US that same year.

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Silver 250,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Ace of Base version[edit]

"Don't Turn Around"
Ace of Base - Don't Turn Around.jpg
Scandinavian CD single; the artwork is used in other European releases with different title layouts
Single by Ace of Base
from the album Happy Nation (U.S. version) and The Sign
B-side"Young and Proud"
ReleasedMarch 14, 1994
Recorded1993
StudioTuffs, Gothenburg, Sweden
GenreReggae fusion
Length3:50
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Tommy Ekman
  • Per Adebratt
Ace of Base singles chronology
"The Sign"
(1993)
"Don't Turn Around"
(1994)
"Living in Danger"
(1994)
Music video
"Don't Turn Around" on YouTube

In 1993, Swedish pop group Ace of Base recorded a minor-key version of "Don't Turn Around" for their US debut album, The Sign. It was the follow-up to their very successful single, "The Sign" and was also included on the re-release of Happy Nation the same year. Their version reached number 1 in Canada, number 4 in the US and number 5 in the UK. It was the third most popular song in the United States in the summer of 1994.[18]

Background and recording[edit]

I thought it was too much in major. We thought, 'If [Arista] really wants us to do it, why not?' The lyrics were good. We thought if we can transform it a bit into minor, in the chorus and so on, it could be OK.

Jonas Berggren talking to Billboard about the song.[19]

After the huge success of the band's European debut album, Happy Nation, American label Arista wanted to release it with some new tracks for the US market. They suggested that Ace of Base should make a cover on British reggae group Aswad's 1988 version of "Don't Turn Around". It was recorded and produced at Tuff Studios in Gothenburg, Sweden.

This version by the band would also contain a rap segment made by band member Ulf Ekberg.

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine stated that with singles like "All That She Wants", "The Sign", and "Don't Turn Around", "it's easy to see why they were hits – the beat is relentless and the hooks are incessantly catchy."[20] Annie Zaleski from The A.V. Club said that Ace of Base gave the song "a brisk, breezy vibe that verges on tropical".[21] Larry Flick from Billboard wrote that the Swedish pop phenomenon "will, once again, blaze up the Hot 100 with its slick, lightweight reading of a tune popularized by Aswad." He added that "thin but inoffensive vocals are laid over the kind of synth-smart pop/reggae arrangement that top 40 programmers regularly subscribe to."[22] Troy J. Augusto from Cash Box commented, "Can these Swedish hitmakers make it three-for-three? You can bet on it, with the release of the next single from the quartet's smash The Sign, a song made popular in reggae circles by Aswad. Will follow the likes of Big Mountain, etc., up the charts with its easy-listening, synth-flavored mix of reggae and lightweight dance." He also deemed it a "potential summertime smash", adding, "One has to wonder. "What's in the water over at Arista?!"".[23] David Browne from Entertainment Weekly stated that "the jauntily forlorn" song is "preeminent Europop, all brassy hooks, rushing beats, and exuberant singing that brings to mind Swedish cheerleaders in an ABBA cabaret."[24]

Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report noted that "for their third time at the plate this sensational pop foursome is about take a trip around the bases with what is another surefire home run!"[25] Music writer James Masterton wrote in his weekly UK chart commentary, "Ace Of Base's version borrows from the Aswad arrangement but transform it still further from being the simple pop song it was originally into a mournful ballad, dark and mysterious. Whether it is as big as past hits is open to question but it gets my vote for simply daring to reinterpret the track so drastically. Are you listening Big Mountain?"[26] Mario Tarradell from Miami Herald described it as "innocuous".[27] Alan Jones from Music Week rated the song four out of five, noting that "the Aswad chart-topper is stripped of much of its melody, and given a heavily percussive workover in order to fit the Ace Of Base mould. Fans of their sound will heartily approve, and another Top 10 hit seems inevitable."[28] A reviewer from The Network Forty said that the song is "another bonafide smash", complimenting it as "pure pop".[29] Bob Waliszewski of Plugged In wrote that "Don't Turn Around" and "The Sign" "demonstrate strength in the wake of romantic rejection."[30] The Rolling Stone Album Guide described it as "a funky Diane Warren song".[31] Chuck Campbell from Scripps Howard News Service called it a "reggae-paced" number.[32]

Chart performance[edit]

"Don't Turn Around" was a huge hit around the world and remains one of Ace of Base's most successful songs to date. It reached number one on the RPM Singles Chart in Canada, and both the US Billboard Adult Contemporary and the Cash Box Singles Chart. In Europe, it managed to climb into the top-ten in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as on the Eurochart Hot 100, where it peaked at number seven. In the United Kingdom, "Don't Turn Around" reached number five in its third week at the UK Singles Chart, on June 19, 1994.[33] Additionally, it was a Top 20 hit in Belgium, France and Switzerland. Outside Europe, the single also peaked at number two on the RPM Dance/Urban Chart, number three in Israel, number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, number eight in New Zealand and number 19 in Australia. It earned a Gold certification in Germany, New Zealand and the United States with a sales of 250,000, 5,000 and 500,000 singles, respectively.

Airplay[edit]

"Don't Turn Around" entered the European airplay chart Border Breakers at number 20 on April 2, 1994, due to crossover airplay in Central Europe and peaked at number one twice, first on June 4, followed by July 23. Both times it held on to the top spot for two weeks. Together with "The Sign", "Don't Turn Around" monopolised either the number one or two spot on Border Breakers for 36 weeks.[34]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Rolling Stone listed "Don't Turn Around" at number 16 in their "20 Biggest Songs of the Summer: The 1990s" list in July 2014.[35]

Several reviewers has noted that "Don't Turn Around" might have inspired Lady Gaga for her 2010 hit single "Alejandro". Lindsey Fortier from Billboard compared "Alejandro" to "Don't Turn Around" in her review of Gaga's single.[36] And in 2014, when "Don't Turn Around" was ranked number 16 by Idolator in their ranking of "The 50 Best Pop Singles of 1994", they wrote: "From its spoken-word intro to its insanely catchy pan flute hook, the song encapsulates everything perfect about pop of that era. I can't be the only one who thinks Lady Gaga was inspired by this immortal classic for her own single, "Alejandro," can I?"[37]

In 2021, BuzzFeed ranked the song number 22 in their list of "The 50 Best '90s Songs of Summer".[38]

Music video[edit]

Ace of Base filmed a music video for the song directed by Swedish director Matt Broadley, showing scenes of a couple leaving each other intertwined with scenes of the band on the beach and in a beach house. It was shot in Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida, in December 1993.[39] The lighthouse in the video is located in Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne, one of Miami’s barrier islands. Some parts of the video are in black-and-white, but the scenes with Ace of Base members are in color. The video begins with the group performing inside the beach house. Toward the end, all four members walk along the shore. Broadley had previously directed the music videos for "All That She Wants" and "Happy Nation". "Don't Turn Around" was published on Ace of Base's official YouTube channel in January 2015. It has amassed more than 28 million views as of September 2021.[40]

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Vocals by Linn Berggren, Jenny Berggren, and Ulf Ekberg
  • Backing Vocals by Linn Berggren and Jenny Berggren
  • Written by Albert Hammond and Diane Warren
  • Produced by Tommy Ekman and Per Adebratt
  • Recorded and produced at Tuff Studios, Gothenburg
  • Mixed at Park Studios, Stockholm

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
Europe March 14, 1994 Mega / PolyGram
United States April 19, 1994 Arista
United Kingdom May 30, 1994 London Records 90

Charts and certifications[edit]

Other notable cover versions[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]