It's half-forgotten now but, in the early 1980s, Aerosmith were completely washed up. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford had left the band and Steven Tyler was a strung-out mess. They seemed like one of many 1970s bands sleepwalking through their old hits on the club circuit and releasing albums that were dead on arrival.
Unlike, say, Grand Funk Railroad, Aerosmith were unwilling to roll over and die. They caught a lucky break when Rick Rubin brought them into the studio with Run-DMC for a remake of "Walk This Way," and they followed it up with a series of increasingly popular albums for Geffen. Their success was partially explained by a willingness to work with outside songwriters. Desmond Child helped Bon Jovi craft "Livin' on a Prayer," and shortly after that, he co-write the ballad "What It Takes" with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. It was the fourth single on Pump, and it shot to Number Nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Even many Aerosmith fans who hate the ballads tend to make an exception for this one.