What It Takes (Aerosmith song)

"What It Takes"
What It Takes (Aerosmith single) cover art.jpg
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Pump
B-side"Monkey on My Back"
ReleasedDecember 19, 1989
FormatCassette, CD, Vinyl
GenreBlues rock, hard rock, country rock
Length6:28 (Album Version With Hidden Track)
5:11 (Single Version)
4:08 (CHR Remix-Edit) (From the Album: Devil's Got a New Disguise)
Songwriter(s)Steven Tyler
Joe Perry
Desmond Child
Producer(s)Bruce Fairbairn
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Janie's Got a Gun"
"What It Takes"
"The Other Side"

"What It Takes" is a power ballad by American hard rock band Aerosmith. Written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Desmond Child, it was released in 1989 as the third single from the critically and commercially successful 1989 album Pump. "I'll put some ballads on an album," Tyler remarked, "if that's what it takes so that some young kid can get to hear a 'Young Lust' or 'F.I.N.E.*'."[1]

In the video The Making of Pump, A&R man John Kalodner described the song as "a fuckin’ masterpiece". During live performances, Tyler sings the first verse a cappella and belts out a signature scream right before the chorus.

The album version of the song is followed by an untitled hidden track.

Music video[edit]

There are two videos for the song. One features the band performing in the Longhorn Ballroom. The other is culled from scenes from The Making of Pump, a film which documented the recording process of the Pump album. The latter received much greater airplay, and was also the version the band chose to include on their video collection Big Ones You Can Look At. The videos were directed by Keith Garde and Martin Torgoff.

References to other Aerosmith songs[edit]

The song contained numerous references to other Aerosmith songs in its lyrics. Tyler spells "F.I.N.E." in the second verse and mentions that his "heart's been doing time" ("Heart's Done Time"). Another lyric, "leave your life to the toss of the dice," relates to the "Love in an Elevator" lyric, "betting on the dice I'm tossing." The song contains other, smaller references. It is not uncommon for Aerosmith to reference their own songs within their songs (for example, "Eat The Rich", "Legendary Child", and "Just Push Play" all contain references to "Walk This Way").

Chart performance[edit]

The single reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1990) Position
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[2] 91


  1. ^ Ingham, Chris (June 2001). "Play for today". Classic Rock #28. p. 50.
  2. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (December 22, 1990). "1990 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 102 (51): YE-14.

External links[edit]