The death of pop icon Whitney Houston still has the world reeling. The pop superstar was making history before she even had a record deal. Houston was the first black model on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. When Clive Davis introduced her on The Merv Griffin Show in 1985, there wasn’t any doubt she would become the template of what a glamorous pop singer was supposed to be.
The Urban Daily decided to pay homage to Whitney “The Voice” Houston by highlighting some of her best songs and videos. Take a moment to listen and remember Whitney Houston’s career and legacy. Please feel free to share your favorite memories of her in our comments. Rest In Peace Whitney Houston!
10. I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Whitney received a lot of flack during her career for having massive crossover appeal. Though she was booed at black award shows for not catering to a black audience, no audience-black or white- could front on “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” That record could come on in a club in the most hood part of America and thugs with face tatts will sing along like it’s a Pac record. Yes, Whitney, we want to dance with you!
9. Heartbreak Hotel
The lead single from her comeback album, My Love Is Your Love, “Heartbreak Hotel” found Kelly Price and Faith Evans helping Whitney Houston lay the smackdown on a no good lover. Faith and Kelly are vocal powerhouses in their own right, however, this song is still a Whitney Houston song. Whitney’s voice cut to the bone when she started ad libbing, “I aint gon take it! I aint gon take it no more!”
8. All The Man I Need
Released as the second single from the I’m Your Baby Tonight album, “All The Man I Need” reached number one also. Originally written as an R&B song, Whitney’s vocal gymnastics gave it so much crossover appeal, pop radio couldn’t do anything but spin it when requested. Whitney’s male counterpart, Luther Vandross, recorded his own version and it didn’t quite measure up. That’s serious vocal prowess if you’re out singing Luther Vandross. No further explanation needed.
7. Run To You
“Run To You” is an awesome ballad, but it’s one of Whitney Houston’s best songs because of the gauntlet she threw down for other singers. Nowadays, anybody can label themselves a singer. However, you aren’t a true VOCALIST if you can’t sing this. Whitney hitting the high E over middle C repeatedly separates the true vocalists from the pretty girls with limited vocal talent. Put in that vocal training, singers!
6. I’m Every Woman
After singing background vocals when she was 15, Whitney did her own version of the Chaka Khan classic for The Bodyguard soundtrack. The song’s video featured a pregnant Houston getting down with the likes of TLC, Valerie Simpson, and her mother, Cissy Houston. Whitney never forgot who inspired her and calls Khan’s name for the last few moments of the track. Real singers recognize real singers.
5. I’m Your Baby Tonight
“I’m Your Baby Tonight” is one of those songs you recognize as soon as the instrumental kicks in. Many speculated this was about the early stages of her and Bobby Brown’s relationship, though Whitney never confirmed or denied the rumor. In an interview, Kelly Rowland stated she got a spot in an early version of Destiny’s Child by performing the 1990 smash hit.
4. I Believe In You And Me
For her 1996 film, The Preacher’s Wife, Whitney recorded “I Believe In You And Me.” As she did with every other song she remade, Whitney Houston turned it into a Whitney standard. She added deeper meaning to the lyrics by knowing when to be strong and tender. Honestly, most people watch the film just for the scene she sings this in the club. We too, like Denzel Washington, just stare in amazement.
3. Greatest Love Of All
As Don Lemon pointed out on CNN, “Greatest Love Of All” is a remake. George Benson originally recorded it in the late 70s. No disrespect to George Benson, but nobody remembers his version. Whitney released it in 1986, her vocals dispelled any memories of any other renditions. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called Houston’s version “a compelling assertion of spiritual devotion, black pride, and family loyalty, all at once.” To put it plainly, Whitney took pop music to church on this song.
2. Exhale (Shoop Shoop)
Part of the mystique of Whitney Houston’s voice is the control she wielded. That was on full display on the Babyface penned “Exhale (Shoop Shoop).” A ballad of finding the courage and strength to move on could have been a diva scream fest if given to the wrong artist. Whitney knew when and where to hit you with the power and when to restrain it. The Waiting To Exhale theme had every heartbroken person thinking, “Damn, I need to exhale and move on.”
1. I Will Always Love You
There is something to be said about a singer who can take an already iconic song and elevate it. That’s exactly what Whitney did with Dolly Parton’s country hit. Houston’s voice and range was on full display as she sat in a chair and belted. There is no greater moment in female pop music greater than this, period. Many can try, but they can never match this vocal performance.