Bette Midler was born on December 1, 1945, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Growing up, she was shy; this was one reason she gravitated towards performing because it allowed her to be someone she wasn’t and break out of her shell. After graduating high school, Midler studied drama at the University of Hawaii and decided to pursue her dream, being a performer on Broadway. After one success, performing in Fiddler on the Roof in 1966, she didn’t see any opportunities on the horizon, so she decided to create her own type of style. She started performing at the Continental Baths under the name The Divine Miss M. According to Biography, her unique style began to be noticed. Eventually, Ahmet Ertegun, president of Atlantic Records, heard her sing and signed her. Midler’s first album, 1972s The Divine Miss M, went platinum, and she received her first Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
She released her next album, Bette Midler, in 1973. The following year, she won a Tony Award for a series of concerts. The same year, she did another show, Bette Midler’s Clams On The Halfshell Revue, which ran for several weeks in 1975. During the late 70s, she began a career in Hollywood. In 1979 and 1988, she won Grammys for songs in the movies The Rose and Beaches and recorded a holiday album, Cool Yule, in 2006. In 2008, she started a two-year-long performance at Ceasar’s Palace, Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On. Midler returned to Broadway in 2014s. I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers. The same year, she released It’s the Girls!, an album of covers by famous girl groups. Hello, Dolly! was revived in 2017, and Midler took on the lead role, which received a Tony for best musical. These are the 10 best Bette Midler songs of all time.
10. When A Man Loves A Woman
Midler covered the 1966 Percy Sledge on her first album. Unlike his version, she adds a touch of bluesy sass, creating a song about the things women hope the man they love will do for them to show their love. Additionally, her voice sounds gravely on the music, much like Janis Joplin on Take Another Piece of My Heart.
9. La Vie En Rose
Edith Piaf initially performed this song in French Cabarets, living up to her nickname, The Sparrow. In Midler’s hands, she sings the English version and creates a simplistic tune about falling in love. The background music in the song sounds distinctly French overlayed with a classic symphony arrangement.
8. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Even though Midler made her name with outrageous bawdiness, she tones down her style in this song, executing a sentimental ballad about a season typically associated with growth and renewal. However, the lyrics evoke a season that feels more like the insolation of winter. Nonetheless, the song remains upbeat with intermittent bells and lilting violins that keep it from being a morbid reflection on loneliness and melancholy.
7. Some People’s Lives
The simplicity of the piano and Midler’s voice, along with well-written lyrics, create an emotional ballad about people who spend their entire lives indecision and paralyzed by their own thoughts and end up letting all their dreams slip away. Additionally, they fake being okay, so no one could encourage them or help them see their potential. As the song progresses, the addition of the violin adds another layer of mournful regret that the person in the song is loved unconditionally. Still, many people aren’t lucky enough to experience the same.
6. Miss Otis Regrets
Midler brings back her earliest style in this song with music that sounds like a jazz romp in a smokey club. Her voice dances through the campy lyrics. The song is about a woman who became so jaded that she found her lover and killed him. However, it’s more like a song from the play Chicago than a haunting song about love gone wrong. It’s a twisted situation for someone to come to the door and be casually told this tale. Yet, it’s vintage Midler in all her glorious outrageousness.
5. Otis Titsling
Midler plays CC Bloom, an actress in Beaches. During the movie, her career takes many ups and downs, much like Midler. One of the plays she does is a tongue-in-cheek ode to the brazier. Although moviegoers don’t get to see them play in their entirety, this hilarious song is enough of a taste of the theatre production to get a glimpse into the insanity of the play.
4. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
One of the most poignant parts of Beaches is when Hilary Whitney, CC Blooms best friend, is diagnosed with a rare heart disorder. The movie breaks from the dialogue. Instead, the heartbreaking news is conveyed with a song about how a bad day can happen so quickly. The imagery of rain typically leans towards sadness and the moment. Another piece in Midler’s catalog relies on her shining voice and light instrumentation that highlights her versatile voice.
3. The Rose
Midler’s first hit was part of the movie by the same title, partially based on the life of Janis Joplin. According to Genius, in 1977, singer-songwriter Amanda Broom wrote the song because her manager wanted her to write something that would help her get signed. She wrote The Rose as a personal challenge. When she wrote it, she felt it was about love and taking chances. However, after being released, the movie had a slightly sadder feel since the movie was about a singer struggling with alcoholism and addiction.
2. From A Distance
There is a hopeful beauty in this song. It’s about looking at the world with bright eyes instead of seeing the sadness and destruction happening more often than we would like. Moreover, it’s a song about banding together for the common good and working towards harmony instead of discord.
1. Wind Beneath My Wings
This song has been a long-standing theme at weddings and funerals alike. It’s a sad scene in one of the best movies of the 80s that no matter how many times you see it, it will always require Kleenex. Midler’s diverse set of talents were showcased in Beaches, and this song was the pinnacle of a collection of songs that chronicled years of friendship and the ups and downs of life.