Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Dottie West with Kenny Rogers, “What are We Doin’ in Love”

“What are We Doin’ in Love”

Dottie West with Kenny Rogers

Written by Randy Goodrum


#1 (1 week)

June 13, 1981

After having a solo No. 1 hit from Wild West with “Are You Happy Baby?”, West repeated the feat with “What are We Doin’ in Love.”

Though Kenny Rogers wasn’t officially billed on the record at his request, not wanting to take the spotlight from Dottie, this is very much a full-fledged duet.  His presence on the record was key to it becoming a sizeable crossover hit.

Their collaboration suffers from the poor production quality and strained singing that West demonstrated on the album’s first single.  The chorus comes on way too strong, making for jarring transitions from the understated verses.  Still, the two sound great together, and there’s a decent composition to work with.  It would’ve been more enjoyable if it had hewed closer to the arrangement of their earlier duet hits.

Dottie West’s remarkably long run at country radio waned after this chart-topping hit, which was also her final top ten entry.  Her 1983 single “Tulsa Ballroom” became her final top forty entry, exactly twenty years after “Let Me Off at the Corner” became her first top forty hit.

West dealt with some personal struggles as the decade progressed, but by the early nineties, she was prepping a duet project and an autobiography as she plotted a comeback.  Sadly, her efforts were cut short by a tragic car accident as she was en route to the Grand Ole Opry.  West succumbed to her injuries and died in 1991 at the age of 58.   Her legacy has lived on, and in 2018, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“What are We Doin’ in Love” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I still love belting out the chorus but you can have the song as a whole.

    The entire song sounds tinny and poorly mixed to my ears; the balance and dynamics are all off. I wonder if the entire performance would have been better better if the intensity of the verses matched that of the chorus, because it is the only memorable part of the duet.

    In case there was any doubt, the scratching synthesizer in the chorus, and weird bubble effect at the end of the song, flag this is an ’80s production.

    That being said, this is another 80’s hit that was ALL over AM and FM radio, both country and pop stations had this in heavy rotation.

    Country was definitely crossing over.

  2. I love Kenny and Dottie’s duets. They sound so good together.

    I really liked this song. So many times, you find yourself attracted to someone but you can’t understand why because of the differences you have with them.

    Kenny and Dottie have fun with this one and it’s a winner IMO. I played this one to death when it was out. Definitely an A for me.

  3. This feature has made me dive into the United Artist/Liberty era Dottie and it is by far my favorite! The songs from this period are a great mix of 60s Dottie with an 80s production. Love this song and would give it an A

  4. I like this one, but it always did sound a little harsh. Still, I like the sentiment about two very different people being in love. I also have a DVD set of country performances that includes Dottie singing this with her son Terry and that version is also quite good – I don’t find it any more weird than Frank and Nancy Sinatra. That said, there are better Kenny and Dottie duets, “Every Time Two Fools Collide” comes to mind.

  5. For the record, “What Are We Doing In Love?” got up to #14 on the Hot 100 shortly after it hit #1 on the country chart. And while it was Dottie’s only Top 40 pop hit, she still got into the Hot 100 on three other occasions: “If It’s All Right With You” (#97) and “Country Sunshine” (#49) in 1973; and “A Lesson In Leavin'” (#73) in 1980.

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