“What It Takes” was released as the third single from Aerosmith’s 1989 album, Pump. The single was released on February 27, 1990, and peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this song was released as a single. It grabbed me right away, due in large part to the fact that it sounded so different than other songs that I knew from the band at that point in my life. Now that I’m older, I can better understand that there was a strong blues influence on “What It Takes,” which accounts for some of why the song sounded so different to me. There’s also the noticeable accordion that shows up at least twice in the song. The other thing that helped grabbed my attention with the song were the lyrics, because it seemed like I could respond to the words that focused on a breakup, even though I hadn’t personally been in a relationship in that point in my life.
I’ve continued to enjoy “What It Takes” over the years, and to me, the song is still just as strong today as it was 25 years ago. The song has withstood the test of time, and I enjoy it just as much now as I did when it was first released.
There were two music videos released for “What It Takes.” The first one shows the band becoming a “surprise band” performing at a bar, and a bar room brawl breaks out while they’re performing. The other video shows the band in the studio, with footage taken from a making-of film. Personally, I’ve always preferred the bar video to the studio one. Sure, the one in the bar is rather cheesy, but it’s more interesting to watch than the band in the studio.