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The A to Z of Whitney Houston
Order Just Whitney, the new studio album at CDNOW.
A is for... Latest Album
The world, and Whitney Houston fans in particular, have eagerly awaited the long-promised Greatest Hits collection which was released in mid-May. Several suggested track-listings had appeared at internet music sites but the album contains all the favourite ballads in their original versions on the first CD called Cool Down, and new and old remixes of the uptempo songs on the second CD Throw Down. Three new duets are also included and a previously unreleased song Fine. The first single in the US is Could I Have This Kiss Forever with latin star, and son of Julio, Enrique Iglesias. It's a smooth and lush ballad. Internationally the album is trumpeted by a duet with George Michael, If I Told You That which features some of the funkiest piano you will ever hear. The third duet is Same Script, Different Cast with Deborah Cox, a song that wouldn't sound out of place in a musical. Any Whitney Houston fan big or small will love the collection. My only criticism is that as a lover of Whitney's faster tracks the ballad CD is a little long for me. The album debuted straight at no 1 in the UK album charts beating teen queen Britney Spears' latest by one place.
B is for... Bobby Brown
When Whitney married bad-boy of R&B and ex-New Edition hitmaker, Bobby Brown, on July 18, 1992, the media instantly predicted that the marriage wouldn't last and have been quick to jump on every whisper of disharmony and argument as sign of an imminent break-up. However the union seems to be lasting and the couple are seen regularly out in public. There have been moments of upset in the relationship, most notably the alleged slapping of Whitney by Brown in a car-park incident in Hawaii in 1997, but also moments of joy, such as the birth of their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, on March 4th, 1993... However the success of Whitney's Greatest Hits has been marred by the fact that Brown had been arrested and held without bail throughout the early summer for violating his parole last year.
C is for... Cinderella
In November 1997 ABC in the USA aired what was to be the TV event of the year, the first showing of the made-for-TV special, "Cinderella", produced by Brownhouse, the production company created by Whitney and husband Bobby Brown. The version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starred Brandy as Cinderella with Whitney Houston cast as the Fairy Godmother. The sets and costumes were visually stunning, and while critics wondered if the dialogue between songs was a little dull, they also admitted that the songs were extremely well done and that the previous TV-versions of the musical (1957 Julie Andrews, 1965 Lesley Ann Warren) had suffered in a similiar vein. The production was nominated for several Emmys and also starred Bernadette Peters and Whoopi Goldberg.
D is for... I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Whitney Houston's second album, simply entitled Whitney, had a lot to live up to but once again careful choice of songs and production teams led to success, and in fact the album out-sold the diva's debut album. It also was the first album by a female artist to debut at no 1 on the US album chart. The first single, I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) was her fourth number 1 in the US and her second in the UK and was promoted by a great video, in fact for me one of my favourites from the eighties. Whitney looks superb and accompanied by various dancers trying to impress her, it's fun, light-hearted and remains great to watch even today. Songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam (who also recorded material under the name Boy Meets Girl) had already penned a previous no 1 for Whitney, How Will I Know. The original arrangement of the song however didn't impress producer Narada Michael Walden, who thought it was too country and western - he made it much more funkier and danceable. Strangely, when asked recently if she has regretted anything she's done in her career Whitney pointed to the videos for I Wanna Dance and How Will I Know. She hates the hair and the clothes in both. Other hits from "Whitney" included Didn't We Almost Have It All, So Emotional, Where Do Broken Hearts Go and Love Will Save The Day.
E is for... So Emotional
The third single from the album Whitney, So Emotional, was a no 5 hit in the UK and the sixth number 1 in the USA. The song was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the team behind Madonna's chart topping Like A Virgin. Their original sound for the track was more Prince-like whom they admired greatly, and when they first heard the Narada Michael Walden production of the song, they were rather concerned the "bite" had been taken out of it. So Emotional is also a good way to describe Whitney's talent - whether it's an uptempo, happy song like I Wanna Dance, a torch ballad like Saving All My Love For You or I Learned From The Best, or the soulful and bitter It's Not Right But It's OK, each track is enhanced by the emotion instilled in the vocal.
F is for... First Album
Whitney Houston's eponymous first album was released on St Valentine's day in 1985 and although it was slow selling to start with, it soon reached no 1 in the US and no 2 in the UK on the back of several hit singles. The first release in the US, You Give Good Love was a no 3 hit. In the UK Someone For Me was the first single followed by You Give Good Love. Neither charted. The next single on both sides of the Atlantic was Saving All My Love For You, and it was to prove the beginning of a seven no 1 chart run in the states and her first no 1 in the UK. Other hits from the album include How Will I Know and...
G is for... the Greatest Love Of All
While touring with her mother as a backing singer, Whitney had a solo spot in the show - her rendition of The Greatest Love Of All. The song had been written for the film biography of Mohammed Ali, The Greatest, and had been a hit for George Benson in 1977. The writers were Michael Masser and Linda Creed, who was recovering from breast-cancer surgery at the time, and whose experience is perhaps evident in the lyric. When considering songs for the album, Clive Davis was not keen on this track at all but was talked round by Masser. The single was a phenomenal success in the states where it was no 1, while it peaked at no 8 in the UK. Strangely the song had already been released as the b-sides of the first UK and US singles.
H is for... Cissy Houston
Whitney's mother Emily 'Cissy' Drinkard Houston was a successful backing singer and artist in her own right in the 60s and 70s. She was lead singer and arranger for the Sweet Inspirations who backed artists such as Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, Neil Diamond and Paul Simon on many of their hits. Cissy also recorded material on Private Stock records as well as singing on many jingles and commercials. Cissy, the Sweet Inspirations, and cousin Dionne Warwick, all began their singing careers in the New Hope Baptist Church Choir, Newark, which Whitney, who was born on August 9th, 1963, would also later join.
I is for... I'm Your Baby Tonight
I'm Your Baby Tonight, Whitney's third album, was released in November 1990. Davis had added two younger producers to the line-up, Antonio 'L.A.' Reid and Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds to give the album a more R&B feel. Although less of a success than her previous albums, the title track and All The Man That I Need gave Whitney another two US number one's, catching up with Madonna who had only recently scored her ninth chart topper as well. Other singles did less well with only Miracle reaching the Top 10. Even worse only the title track reached the Top 10 in Britain, peaking at no 5. Another chart-topping female singer seemed to be taking over the field that Whitney had dominated - Mariah Carey.
J is for... Jermaine Jackson and other Duets
As well as producer for three tracks on Whitney's debut album, Jermaine Jackson also sang on two of the songs, Nobody Loves Me Like You Do and Take Good Care of My Heart. Duets have been a feature throughout Whitney's career, although with few exceptions it's been the solo songs that have scored the biggest hits. Her first duet was Hold Me with Teddy Pendergrass, a hit before her first album was released, and others have been with Stevie Wonder, Bobby Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ce Ce Winans and of course Mariah... The Greatest Hits will extend this side of Whitney's recordings...
K is for... Kevin Costner
The script for The Bodyguard had sat around for twenty five years until Kevin Costner decided to make it. He immediately wanted Whitney Houston to play the leading female but while Whitney liked the script, she wasn't sure if she was capable of the role. Costner convinced her to play the part and when released in 1992 the film became a box-office smash. The soundtrack also became the biggest selling album of its kind. Whitney's version of I Will Always Love You was number one on both sides of the atlantic, a massive ten weeks in the UK alone, a record which has only been bettered three times in chart history. However I have never been totally convinced by either the plot or the so-called chemistry between Costner and Houston. Still the movie has its moments.
L is for... My Love Is Your Love
In 1998 Whitney Houston went into the studio to record a few extra tracks for a Greatest Hits release. However recording went so well, and the material was of such high quality, that the first non-movie album in eight years was produced in two months. My Love Is Your Love is of a diverse nature, with ballads to soothe those who loved the Whitney of old such as I Learned From The Best and a new sound, more R&B than ever before. New producers included Wyclef Jean, Missy Elliott, David Foster and Rodney Jerkins while Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds returned to carry on the work began on Whitney's third album. The title track and the acidic It's Not Right But I'm OK were successful singles as was the power duet from The Prince of Egypt.
M is for... the Moonies
A wedding is a romantic affair and what could be more romantic than to be wedding singer at the marriage of hundreds of couples in love? This was exactly what Whitney signed up to in 1997 although the million dollar appearance fee must have been another incentive... However, when the press found out that Whitney was singing for Reverend Moon of the One World Unification Church, the cult nicknamed the Moonies, there was uproar... At the last moment Whitney, who insists she was unaware of the Cult connection, did the right thing and decided not to sing leaving the Moonies and her band who had already set up in the lurch... Obviously the date had been a bad management choice and one that the press keep mentioning whenever they want to write a bad report...
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|© 2000, Compiled by Alan J Stuart|