Alright, so I’ve seen magazines do this with Taylor Swift, Madonna, Michael Jackson and a few others. I was waiting for the Whitney Houston one to come out (so I could discuss my opinion of it, obviously). For some reason, no one has written it yet, so I figured ‘why not just make mine right now?’ So, here is my totally scientific list of the definitive ranking of Whitney Houston’s songs.
Please note: The photo says 126, because that’s how many I thought she had at the time. Someone in the comments pointed out an extra four, and one is in The Preacher’s Wife movie but doesn’t exist as a release anywhere that I could find. So, the correct number is 129, but I’m not changing this photo because it took a ton of work you guys. Seriously.
NEW EDIT: I DISCOVERED 3 MORE WHITNEY SONGS! So, the grand total is now 132, but again I’m not changing the cover so just bear with me. Also, the 3 songs are really, really bad, so you’ll find them early on in this post.
NEWER EDIT: OH MY GOD I FORGOT “ONE MOMENT IN TIME” I’M SO DUMB! So the running total is 133. Let’s continue to see how many times I screw up, shall we?
Whitney’s Songs in Order
Before we get started, I need you to know two things:
- I am obsessed with Whitney Houston, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go easy on her. If I’m not a fan of a song, I’m not afraid to say it.
- I tend to dislike songs the more I hear them. That means that if a song has been way overplayed, I’m likely to drop it lower in my rankings. I will not be rating remixes of songs, but I will factor in the remix version into my overall ranking of the song.
I can’t stress enough that these are just opinions, so let me say it again: These are subjective opinions that are solely my own. On some of these, I kept changing their position right up until I hit “Publish,” so that should let you know how subjective it is. I really would love to know your thoughts though, so please comment or tweet me and let me know:My favorite Whitney Houston song: Click To Tweet
Originally I was only going to do her album songs, but then I realized I know pretty much every song she’s ever done, so why not just include them all? That way, you might learn about some new songs, and I get to throw around my Whitney knowledge like the over-intense fan that I am.
You can click on each title to open a new tab with the song, so you can listen to it while you read my review. I’ve also included cover art if the song was a single, as well as any known writer and producer credits.
133). Memories (with Material for their “One Down” album)
Not only is this by far the worst Whitney Houston song ever, it may, in fact, be the worst song ever. It’s a cover of the original by The Wilde Flowers but holy god, this cover is just…I mean, just listen to it. It’s terrible from the very first instrument notes and the weird chime/gong. It’s not at all Whitney’s fault. She was 19 when she sang this. You can tell she’s really trying her hardest, but she can’t do much with it. Also, that saxophone? I’m pretty confident I could play that exact same performance, and I’ve never touched a saxophone in my life. This one is a great lesson for session singers: You may do some terrible songs in your career. If your good material outweighs the bad, most people won’t care.
132). Family First (with Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick and The Family for the “Daddy’s Little Girls” soundtrack)
131). King Holiday (with Stephanie Mills and other 80’s Celebrities)
130). Stop The Madness (with many 80’s Celebrities)
This is an anti-drug campaign from Ronald Reagan. Again, I have no idea who most of these singers are, so you’ll have to forgive me, but let’s all agree that this song is terrible. The video itself looks like it glorifies drugs more than anything (random shots of money and glamorous people snorting coke in a hot tub). If anything, this video makes me want to do drugs just to escape from how bad it is. Whitney comes in at 1:37, with the line “drugs are causing pain.” The fact that she was likely experimenting with drugs during this time, as well as how bad the song is, makes this a pretty hard fail for me. Sorry Reagan.
129). Eternal Love (with Paul Jabara for his “Paul Jabara & Friends” album)
Listen, here’s the thing. Whitney was 19 and pretty unknown at this point. She was doing session work and modeling. Her talent is apparent throughout, but again, the song is just not strong. Whitney herself sounds bored at times, and I can’t fully blame her. She has bursts of energy throughout, which is enough to make you think, “wow, she’s good!” and that’s it. The background singers also sound bored at some points. I feel bad even ranking these because they shouldn’t be considered part of her body of work. However, as a true Whitney fan I feel it’s my duty to let you know about these. It’s better than “Memories” only because there’s no god-awful saxophone in it.
128). Light of Love (with Angie & Debbie Winans)
Honestly, I would have no idea Whitney was even in this song if they didn’t put her name in huge letters on the video (you can see my ranking of all her music videos here). She gets no adlibs or any chance to shine and her voice seems mixed way into the back. I wouldn’t have included it but I’m trying to make this list exhaustive, so here it is. The song overall is fine, very old-school (read: pre-autotune) so it has its moments where it really could have used some Whitney magic. She’s in the video though, so we get to look at her at least. And they make SURE you know it’s her, because when she comes in at 2:28, they put her name on the video. However, when you’re gearing up to hear some stunning vocals, you hear her barely whisper something and then it cuts back to one of the Winans again. It’s like they used her for her name only, which makes little sense.
127). I Was Made to Love Him
This is a cover of Stevie Wonder, but it sounds so much worse. He actually plays the harmonica and sings with soul. This cover has a harmonica but it’s a bad interpretation (and probably isn’t real? I’m not sure but it doesn’t sound nearly as good as Stevie Wonder’s playing). The backing vocals are way too loud, and it has a totally different flow and vibe from the original. I’m all about making covers sound totally different than the original (I do it all the time), but this cover really just doesn’t do the original justice.
126). Never Give Up
From the beginning, the rap is kind of annoying. It’s almost like a mosquito in your ear, especially if you’re listening with headphones. The lyrics are both sappy and cliche: “Single mother, two jobs/working her fingers to the bone/Putting her daughter’s mouth before her own.” Whitney herself seems tired and bored throughout, falling in pitch here and there. You can tell it’s one of her later songs, but she had some great moments on her later albums so I can’t use that as an excuse. Another laughable lyric: “Look what she go through/to stay in law school.” Might wanna head back to elementary school for a bit and learn verbs, amirite? It’s just sad to me that with all of the incredible unreleased or rare tracks she has, they chose to put this one on her album.
This is from Whitney’s last album, and her voice actually sounds clear and powerful. However, I had to take major points away for this line: “You think that your shit don’t stink, well it do.” Seriously, that’s an actual lyric. I’m very confused as to how no one thought to revise that. The song was written by R. Kelly, so I guess that actually explains a lot.
124). Nobody Does It Better (with Bobby Brown for his “Forever” album)
This isn’t technically a song but I’m including it because Mercury pointed it out to me in the comments. I actually did know about it before but thought “eh, it’s an intro so whatever.” But Mercury is right, if I’m going to be thorough, let’s do it. This is a very loose cover of a Carly Simon song, but it’s the intro of Bobby Brown’s “Forever” album (Interesting side note: Bobby Brown was going to be the voice of “Powerline” in A Goofy Movie, but that role went to Tevin Campbell. Some of the songs that didn’t get used for the movie ended up on this album). But anyway, it’s a sort of bizarre, rambling ode to how much Whitney loves Bobby with him shouting random sentence fragments while she’s singing, pretty much as he’s done for her entire career. At the end when it’s supposed to go, “baby you’re the best,” she ends it with “Bobby you’re the best.” GET IT? HOW CLEVER RIGHT?? Literally the entire reason for this intro is to remind us why we know who Bobby Brown is in the first place.
123). It’ll Be Okay (with Ray J for his “UndeRayted” album)
This was off of Ray J’s mixtape, UndeRayted (get it?) and Whitney doesn’t do much but provide ad-libs here and there. It seems like a pretty big waste of Whitney’s talent. I mean, you’ve got her there in the booth, you were apparently dating her at the time, you couldn’t have had her sing a hook or something? I don’t know. Also, I know a lot of people were bothered by their relationship, with her being 17 years older than him and knowing him since he was 10, but whatever. If they made each other happy in her last years of life, who cares at this point, you know? Anyway, this song is just okay.
122). Life’s A Party (with The Michael Zager Band for the “Life’s A Party” album)
This is a super cheesy disco song, but it has 15-year-old Whitney on it and for that reason alone it’s pretty amazing. This was one of her FIRST SONGS, you guys. I mean, it’s not great, but it’s groundbreaking for that reason alone. Play this video and go to 1:02, 1:56 and 5:10, where you can hear her solos. So cute! So good! The rest of the singers are pitchy as hell and having a hard time gelling with each other, but who cares, it’s Whitney’s debut!
121). Dear John Letter
It’s kind of an up-tempo song with attitude, which is something Whitney does well. However, the beginning automatically puts me off. It’s a weird note progression with space between each note for Whitney to go “ooo, ah, yeah, what?” which made me want to turn it instantly, but I didn’t because it’s Whitney and that would be sacrilege. There’s also the line “Got my number 2, and I’m writing you” which took me a minute to realize she was singing about a pencil. Maybe rethink any songs that make your audience think of poop (although Eminem does it on almost every song, so who am I to judge?)
120). Million Dollar Bill
I know this was a single from this album, but I’m confused as to why. Her beginning notes (just long “ooooh”s held out) are kind of grating, and they set the tone for the whole song. It’s a generally upbeat song, but the kind of upbeat song your grandma would like because she can dance to it without breaking her hip. It’s mild, is all I’m saying. Also, I don’t know who was responsible for the vocal tuning on this track but I’m assuming it was an intern on their first day because some of these harmonies are just, no.
This was a single from this album, and again I’m kinda confused as to why. It’s a song about how people need to stay out of her business. And of course, the way to keep people out of your business is to be a major recording artist and release a single about staying out of your business. Her vocals seem to be mixed lower than the drums, which is odd to begin with but it’s even odder when the drums sound like a free Garageband loop. I also am not a fan of purposely spelling things wrong, and this title makes my eye twitch.
I actually kind of like this song, but the weird random string parts are kind of annoying. The part that brought it this low on my list is the following lyrics: “I would stick up for you/Cause I did adore you/While my dogs would chew you out” followed immediately by a strange string slide that accentuates that she just said something really weird. Like, is she saying her dogs ate her lover? Is she in love with an actual stick that her dogs found in the backyard? Or is she seriously bringing up a reference from the 90s and still thinks “dogs” mean “friends”? This song came out in 2000, far past anytime someone would have said something like this.
117). The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
I know, you’re probably thinking “it’s a Christmas song, how bad could it be?” but this is one of those songs where the vocal runs and ad-libs just derail the entire song. And I love Whitney’s runs, but it’s just so much overkill on this that you really wouldn’t even know what song it is at some points. I get that it’s hard to cover a song that hundreds of other artists have done. However, most of One Wish was really good, so that makes this song even more confusing. I forced my best friend to listen to this song, and her response was “Well…it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…” which is pretty much all I can say for it as well.
116). Believe in Love (with Sunday for the “Down in the Delta” soundtrack)
I had no idea this group or movie or song existed, so thanks again to Mercury for pointing that out! Sunday was a group that was very hard to track down, but according to their own Myspace page, they were signed to a record deal by Robyn Crawford. When they appeared on Soul Train, Whitney got all the credit for signing them, so I don’t know what is correct. Anyway, let’s talk about the song: It’s okay. The first half is extremely long and kind of bland, but that might be because I was waiting for Whitney to come in. When she finally does (at 3:11 if you want to skip ahead) – she wakes you right up and you know it’s her instantly. I don’t want to be mean to these girls; you can hear they have great voices. It’s not their fault, the song is just kind of boring until Whitney comes in. I haven’t seen the movie though and I am definitely adding it to my watch list.
115). Something in Common (with Bobby Brown for his “Bobby” album)
I want to like this song. It’s a fun, upbeat R&B jam, but you guys. The words are so dumb. Bobby’s actual lyrics include, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush/but one look is all it took.” Like, what are you even talking about? That doesn’t even rhyme, so it’s not like you sacrificed meaning for the rhyme. Both Whitney and Bobby are credited as writers on this, along with Bernard Belle and Teddy Riley. You’d think someone in that team would raise their hand and say, “Hey, this makes no sense though…” Musically, it’s decent. If you ignore the words and focus on the singing and music, you can get through it. Their voices sound really good together, it’s just a pity it’s so dumb.
114). Diet Coke
I wasn’t going to include this, but I know all of her songs so why not? She did several Diet Coke commercials in 1986. Here is the first one with a bass line that is louder than her vocals in a sad attempt to be funky. There are a bunch of other 80s celebrities in this but I’m not sure who they are, both because the video is so blurry and it was before my time. This is a different spin on the first commercial, with much better sound and mixing:
This is a 15-second clip from apparently 1988?
And a 30 second
And a 60 second
The last one seems like two 30-second ones pasted together, but you get Whitney scatting in the second half so it’s worth it.
She also did one for regular Coke. They use “The Greatest Love of All” for this one so it doesn’t count as a new song, I just wanted to mention it.
113). Thinking About You
Whitney’s voice is stellar on this entire album (Whitney Houston), so the ranking of this song isn’t really her fault. I’m just not a big fan of the “HUH” that is placed throughout the intro, and the random male vocal in the back. There is also this bizarre lyric: “Late at night, I run to you/Being such a lovesick fool/It might be pouring rain (it will be pouring rain)” and I mean…what? Are you saying you’re a fool for running in the rain, or are you simply providing your lover with the weather forecast? The rain doesn’t seem to be connected to the rest of the story. She even raps it later: “It might be pouring rain/Like a fool insane” I understand that rain and insane rhyme, but it seems like that’s the only reason for the “rain” lyric.
112). I Know Him So Well (with Cissy Houston)
Whitney’s voice on this is pure and beautiful, so it would have been ranked a lot higher if it wasn’t for the cringe factor. I mean, ugh. I hate saying this because I know how much we’re all supposed to love Cissy Houston, but like, there’s no need for her to be in this song. It’s a cover song from “Chess,” originally done by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson. I had no idea this was ever a single because it was the last song on the Whitney album and I was too young to remember. But yes, it was a single, and unlike the other singles from this album, it failed to reach the top 10. Whaaaaaat? You mean a mother-daughter duet about loving the same guy, that was released only to give the mother some attention, FAILED TO CHART?!? Get out of here.
111). Your True Voice (AT&T Commercial)
Her vocal abilities are so obvious here. She packs so much soul and grace into less than one minute of music. The song wasn’t commercially available anywhere but was released in 1994. If my memory serves me correctly, she did not want to be in this commercial unless she could sing an actual song. I could not find any information to confirm this, but I am almost sure I heard or read it somewhere. She didn’t want to sing something that sounded like a commercial, so this was written for her by Charles Morrow, Dwight Batteau Jr., Jeffrey Southworth and Keith Barnhart. If you want to see the actual commercial, check it out here:
The sound is terrible, but it’s kind of funny to see AT&T bragging about how much ‘better’ she sounds when they compare. The part they claim is better (at 0:43) is clearly much louder vocally, both with Whitney belting it out and the full choir coming in at that moment. But whatever, the song, though short, is an incredible example of Whitney’s vocal talent.
110). Things You Say
This is an okay song, it’s just very very slow and kinda boring in my opinion. Whitney is such an incredible vocalist that it’s hard to find a song that doesn’t excite me, but here it is. I don’t even have a lot to say about it honestly. It’s from her “Just Whitney” album, and, yeah.
109). Take Me To Your Heart
It was very difficult to find any confirmed information on this one. From what I could find, it was recorded for either the Whitney Houston or Whitney album, either in 1984 or 1987. It didn’t make it onto either obviously. It was written by Dan Mountain “and a friend,” but I couldn’t confirm a date. I read that she sang it on her 1988 Japan tour, but I couldn’t find a live version. It’s an okay song, but the melody on both the verses and chorus starts strangely. The intro to the song does not lead into where you think the voice will go on the verse, and the pre-chorus escalates only to drop suddenly down in the chorus. It’s kinda weird. Not a strong song and I can kinda see why it didn’t make the cut, but it’s still worth checking out if you haven’t.
108). It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be – (with Aretha Franklin on her “Through the Storm” album)
Aretha has made some questionable comments about Whitney that make me side-eye her pretty hard, but this is a duet from 1989 and they were apparently friends then. If you’re out of the Whitney drama loop: Dionne Warwick mentioned that Aretha Franklin was Whitney’s godmother at Whitney’s funeral. For some reason, Aretha was furious about this, claiming that she was “too busy” to be her godmother (she didn’t even go to the funeral due to swollen feet). She also threatened to sue Warwick for libel, for claiming she was Whitney Houston’s godmother. Ok.
Weird drama aside, they seem to have fun on this song. They have a friendly little spat at the end where Aretha tells Whitney to “shut up” and Whitney says “Oh, this is funny.” It sounds genuine and cute at the time. I don’t know what happened between them, but it seems like Aretha didn’t get along with a great many female singers, so I’m not too worried about it.
I just feel like everyone involved in this one phoned it in. Even Whitney sounds like she’s not really that into it. It’s filled with awkward cliches and is just pretty skippable on an otherwise incredible album (I’m Your Baby Tonight). Its attempt at being upbeat is a slew of drum machines and synths, which sound incredibly dated today but even back then I remember thinking it was too much.
106). Love Is a Contact Sport
“You’ve been avoiding me like a cat trying to dodge a dog” is the first lyric of this, and it doesn’t get much better after that. I will give Whitney major props for putting as much soul and power into this as she possibly can, but yeah. I used to listen to it a lot as a kid, until my mother came downstairs one day screaming at me to “shut that shit off” and I realized hey…she’s kinda right. I think I just loved songs about animals back then so that’s my excuse.
105). Shock Me (with Jermaine Jackson on the “Perfect” Soundtrack)
Jermaine and Whitney did a ton of duets together. This one is the most upbeat by far, and the cheesy synths are stupid and amazing at the same time. I have never seen this movie, but it looks like a true gem:
It was released in 1985, which is the same year Whitney’s first album came out. My biggest critique of this song is that Whitney doesn’t really do much vocally. She delivers the right amount of upbeat attitude, but we don’t get any fun ad-libs or anything. Still, if you want to dance around to an 80s jam in your kitchen in socks, this is great.
104). I Got You
This is an attempt to be an uplifting song, but honestly, this album (I Look to You) is FULL of uplifting songs. This album was Whitney’s comeback, and with amazing tracks like “I Look to You” and “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” this pales in comparison. Whitney’s voice is poorly tuned on this one, especially her drop off notes (“no matter where you are…” the “are” falls flat every single time). She also insists on singing “I Got CHU” every time instead of “I Got You.” It’s fine sometimes, but when she does it throughout the whole song it just sounds like she’s having an allergy attack.
103). Love Will Save the Day
I’m pretty sure I wrote lyrics very similar to this when I was 6 years old, and that’s not a brag on my skills. “When you’re feeling down and out/and you’ve got troubles on your mind/love will save the day.” It’s just a giant pseudo-religious bumper sticker packed into one song. Again, I loved it as a kid, but that’s because I could only afford one CD and this was it. #Old
102). I Bow Out
This song is kinda cute. It draws a metaphor between stage acting and singing, and as a former theater actor I can definitely geek out on it. However, I had to consider people who aren’t theater actors and have no idea what she’s talking about. In that case, this would be a pretty confusing and possibly annoying song. Also, my singer-songwriter friend Todd Alsup has a stage metaphor song called “Houselights” and in my completely biased opinion, it’s better than this one.
101). Oh Yes
This is a good song, but it’s another one of those songs that’s just soooooo…sloooooowwwww. The chorus attempts to step it up by using a lot of words to increase the tempo, but the overall vibe of it just makes me want to sleep. But that’s the problem with being so great: even your average songs are going to pale in comparison.
I feel bad for even thinking of putting this song this low, but here’s the thing you guys: it’s way too much, even for Whitney. This movie (Sparkle) came out in 2012, three years after Whitney’s final album. To say her voice had changed by then is a massive understatement. She could still sing far better than most, but her voice in 2012 compared to her voice in 1990 is that of a completely different person. So, she’s doing this gospel song, and trying her best to be ‘Whitney.’ She does a phenomenal job, but there are just so many runs and ad-libs in this that it’s hard to even remember the original song’s melody. Still, huge props to Whitney for doing her thing on this.
99). After We Make Love
The verse melody on this is beautiful. “I’ve been waiting/Such a long time” the major 6th jump in “a long” is gorgeous and she does it with minimal effort. Her voice sounds vulnerable yet powerful, which is something she’s always been the queen of doing. The weird part of this song to me is that it turns “love making” into a Lifetime movie or Hallmark card. Songs that turn the act of screwing into a life-changing and holy experience kind of freak me out.
98). My Name Is Not Susan
This was a single off of this album, and I’m sure it was a banger then, but to be honest it hasn’t really withstood the test of time. The title is more suitable for a country song, and the attitude in the lyrics is laughable at times. She sings the hell out of it, but “She was one from your past/One of the few/You said it didn’t last” these are literally lyrics I would have written in like 8th grade, you guys. Again, this is not a brag about my skills. There’s also a version that includes a rap. The first lyrics of the rap are “Susan’s not my name/My name’s not Susan” which sounds like something you would write if you showed up to the studio and forgot you had to write something that day.
97). If I Told You That
There are two versions of this, one as a duet with George Michael and one solo. The duet was part of her Whitney: The Greatest Hits album and the solo version was on My Love is Your Love. The duet is better but overall it’s got a weird melody, specifically the “if I told you that” part, which is the focal point of the song. Both Whitney and George did a nice job vocally but there’s only so much a great singer can do with a mediocre song.
It hurts to put this one this low, mostly because the incredible Mervyn Warren sings backup on it and kills it. This is also one of my favorite holiday songs ever. I think if Whitney had done less vocal acrobatics on it, it could have been one of the best songs on the album. However, she does a ton of adlibs, scats and trails off of the melody so much that it’s more of a freestyle jazz song loosely based off of the carol.
95). You’re Still My Man
The chorus on this one is so strong, and she sounds amazing as she soars into her belting range. The verses are not as powerful, like they were trying to create a contrast. The very first line of the song, “On the day that you left me…” Whitney sounds unsure if those are the right words. I think she was trying to be soft to gear up for the chorus. The lyrics “There’s a bond between us/That hasn’t been broken yet” that last line she sings so effortlessly and it gives me chills. By the end of the song, she’s singing with all the power she has and it takes you through a full ride of emotions. I subtracted a few points for the sappiness, but hey…a little sap is good every now and then. This was on her Whitney album, written by Michael Masser and Will Jennings.
94). Could I Have This Kiss Forever (with Enrique Iglesias)
This song was also released on Iglesias’ Enrique album. It’s an okay song. They seem to have a good singing chemistry, and the runs are frequent but not overbearing. I liked the fact that they put a few originals on the Greatest Hits album because I already owned all of the previously released ones so these were something new to enjoy. My only issue is the watered-down ‘latin’ vibe to it. There’s an attempt by Whitney to say “Para Siempre” where she doesn’t even try to pronounce it correctly. The drums are also really mild, which drove my drummer dad nuts.
93). One Wish (For Christmas)
This is a cover of Freddie Jackson’s original version, and it’s a good song. I’m now getting into the part of the list where it’s hard to choose what comes next. The song is good, it’s just lower on my list because it’s hard to outsing Freddie Jackson on a good day, and Whitney’s voice was iffy on this album. Some songs were incredible, but you could hear some wear and tear. The intent is there, and Whitney sells it like she means it, but it’s not a comparison. Freddie Jackson’s runs are extremely tight, each note perfect and crisp. Whitney’s runs on this song especially are kind of melted together and it gets muddy at times. It’s still a good song and she sounds good on it, but I also recommend checking out the original.
92). My Love (with Bobby Brown)
This is one of those OUR MARRIAGE IS PERFECT SO DON’T THINK OTHERWISE type of songs. Bobby has a weird speaking monologue at the beginning where he announces that they’ve been married for ten years and no one thought they would make it. It’s supposed to sound like they’re talking to each other, but if no one is trying to hear it, who cares? Also, she does not respond. It’s very apparent that she is way more talented than he is, and that’s not an insult to Bobby Brown. Whitney is way more talented than I could ever hope to be if I live a million lifetimes, but also I wouldn’t attempt to duet with her and be on her album. There really is no reason for this song other than to remind us that Bobby Brown still exists. Which is fine, because we might forget otherwise.
91). In My Business (with Missy Elliott)
Again, I do not understand the songs that say EVERYONE STAY OUT OF MY BUSINESS BUT HERE’S MY NEW ALBUM SO PAY ATTENTION TO ME. It reminds me of this scene in Family Guy where they perfectly illustrate celebrities who want to remain private:
I totally understand that celebrities deserve privacy and shouldn’t have every aspect of their lives open for debate, but this is just kind of bizarre. That being said, I kind of love this song. Whitney’s runs are solid, Missy Elliott is in it, it’s pretty great. It’s petty and shady and sort of a reality show rolled into a song. If the topic wasn’t so weird it would be higher. Also, we were blessed by this gem from Missy Elliott:'Tell me why these hoes, they don't even like me' - Missy Elliott Click To Tweet
This is getting hard now, you guys! I’m having a tough time figuring out what comes next, but stick with me and let’s power through.
90). Get It Back
I like this song a lot. My one issue with it is the way they produced her voice so that the last word of each phrase repeats. “Remember when (when) it all began (gan)” and it’s not a soft or subtle echo. They pan them alternately all the way to the right or left. If you’re listening with headphones, it sounds like Whitney is yelling random word fragments into your ear. Which I wouldn’t mind honestly. The background singers are also difficult to understand at times, but this is mostly me being jealous that I wasn’t one of them. I don’t know, I feel like I have to give these at least one critique, right? But overall, Whitney sounds great and powerful. The song is interesting and emotive. I relate to this emotion of wishing a relationship could work out, but ultimately realizing it probably won’t, but still…what if it could? Also, Whitney’s run after the bridge? So good.
89). We Didn’t Know (with Stevie Wonder)
I met Stevie Wonder at a club in L.A. when I was 18 or 19. He was huge, both physically (he towered over me and my friends) and just the fact that people were going nuts to try to get near him. Stevie Wonder is huge, Whitney was huge, and I feel like they’re both dialing it way back on this song. It’s a cute song, very sweet, about two friends falling in love. It’s got a catchy feel to it, it just seems like they’re both holding back so much and I don’t understand why. We all know what they’re both capable of doing. I like this song, but I feel like it could have been a lot stronger vocally.
88). He’s All Over Me
I’m only putting this one this low because if you didn’t know this was from a gospel album, you might not know she’s talking about God. “He’s in my hands he’s in my feet, I can hardly keep my seat” does not sound pleasant. It sounds like a rash. The song, however, is incredible. The Georgia Mass Choir and Shirley Caesar join her in this. This whole album is so great. Even if, like me, you’re not particularly religious, you’ll still love the musicianship of it. It’s a masterpiece. This song was not actually in The Preacher’s Wife anywhere, but I’m glad they put it on the album.
87). Nobody Loves Me Like You Do (with Jermaine Jackson)
This song is cute. It’s a good song. The melody is solid, and Whitney’s young voice is so innocent and incredible. However, I feel like this was maybe a good wedding song in the 80s, but today it wouldn’t hold up well. The production and mixing are very dated, which is of course no one’s fault. If you were having an 80s-themed wedding though, this better be your slow dance because it’s cute as hell. It’s actually a cover of a country song written by Jimmy Dunne and Pamela Phillips. The Whitney version was produced by Jermaine Jackson.
This is from The Preachers Wife, and I ranked it slightly higher than “He’s All Over Me” because it’s a song from the actual movie and you get a stunning visual of Whitney singing it in the church play. She is so gorgeous in this movie and although it’s pretty cheesy at times, it’s well worth watching if you’re in a holiday mood. The song is a very slow ballad, which can be draining on what is otherwise an upbeat gospel album. There is also a strange, inexplicable audio of the child actor from the movie saying “Mommy” at the end. I think it’s supposed to go with the song’s lyrics, about not knowing what your child will grow up to become (“who would imagine a king” is supposed to be about Jesus, I think). But the end is a slow fade-out of the strings and then this kid’s voice blasts in, like he just flung the studio door open or something. Anyway, this is a solid, slow ballad that I guess could be a Christmas song or some type of church song.
85). Tell Me No
My biggest pet peeve with this song is her inhales are so loud they’re distracting. “I’m reaching for my dreams and you’re so quick to say what I can’t do (GIANT INHALE)/You criticize my actions but I don’t see you standing in my shoes (GIANT INHALE)” It’s really not a big deal (and if that’s my biggest critique, it can’t be that bad, right?) but seriously, listen to it. She sounds like she’s having an asthma attack and it almost worried me when I first heard it. I tend to fixate on little things like this, so it’s probably just me. If I was the engineer, though, I would have definitely removed or lowered those in the mix. There’s also an electric guitar solo in the bridge that’s…kind of cool? It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I like it and other times I feel like it doesn’t fit the song or Whitney’s voice. Let me know where you stand on it.
84). Takin’ a Chance
This was considered a success in Japan, so I don’t understand why this one (or “Higher Love,” the other Japan-only single) wasn’t released on I’m Your Baby Tonight. The song was used in several Sanyo commercials, which you can see here:
Honestly, this song is a weird choice for a commercial. The lyrics are “I’m taking a chance on loving you/No matter the price, I’ll pay my dues” followed later by “They tell me I’m crazy.” This doesn’t strike me as a particularly effective lyric for selling electronics. The song itself is fun though, and Whitney seems like she had a good time singing it. It’s also important to note that she has a co-writing credit on this, although it doesn’t say what she did. She shares that credit with Keith Thomas and BeBe Winans.
Cinematic 90’s strings, heavy reverb, and a lot of runs. What could go wrong?? Not much, actually. She sounds great of course, and the words are yearning and contemplative. The pitch can fall a little at certain points (“And today, I pay” – day and pay could use some tuning), but this was before we had the technology we have today. There was a rumor when it came out that it was about an abortion but I find that a little bizarre and she denied that was true. She didn’t write it, but I kind of doubt L.A. Reid and Babyface would write a song like this about abortions. Whether it was true or not, I now kind of think about that every time I hear this song, which is a bummer because it is actually a good song.
82). You Light Up My Life
This is a cover, and Whitney kills it, but it’s just been done so many times by so many artists. She does her best to make it new, but sometimes it’s just too much. Her voice is powerful and she puts a LOT of runs in it. It’s a classic song so it’s still pretty high up on my list. As a side note, if you want to read the shady past of the guy who wrote this song, it’s worth a read. I also saw a murder mystery show about his son, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend. The show said that due to his father’s fortune from writing “You Light Up My Life”, he never had to work a day in his life. True songwriting goals (minus the rape and murder of course).
Anyway, back to Whitney:
81). Somebody Bigger Than You and I (with Bobby Brown, Faith Evans, Johnny Gill, Monica and Ralph Tresvant)
As you can see, there are a lot of people on this song. This version of the song is not in the movie. The film version is a sweet lullaby she sings to her son:
Why they decided to make it a jam, I have no idea. My dad used to have jams all the time when I was a kid, with all his musician friends playing whatever they felt like and trading solos. This feels very similar. No one appears to be concerned about making the song a cohesive whole. The rap (if you want to call it that) is just…no. Still, Whitney sounds great and Monica nails it, so it’s salvageable.
80). I’m Knockin’
Whitney has a producer credit on this, and I so wish I knew what exactly she did. I know a lot of artists (not going to mention names but there are many) who demand writing and production credits even though they had nothing to do with it. It’s an irritating part of working ‘behind-the-scenes’ in music. The star often demands credit for things you did, and you either agree or you don’t get the job. I want to believe Whitney did something on this, because she didn’t ask for credits on any other song in the album. I would just love to know what she did out of curiosity. This song is religious but also tries to be “cool” (as is evidenced by the word Knockin’) which is sort of an eye roll. It’s a solid song though, and a good addition to I’m Your Baby Tonight. We didn’t yet have The Preacher’s Wife, so comparing it to the gospel songs in that caliber isn’t really fair.
79). Nothin’ But Love
I actually really love this song. The chorus melody is so strong, and I love the back and forth between Whitney’s lead and the “nothin’ but love” in the background vocals. The lyrics are empowering and strong. What isn’t so strong, however, is Whitney’s voice on this one. This is her last album, so I guess that’s to be expected. But there are some notes or phrases that I can tell are a real struggle for her (“I ain’t even trying to hold onto that now” – the “I ain’t even” sounds like she’s in physical pain as she struggles to hit that). The notes aren’t even that high, especially for her range, but the struggle is evident throughout. I think if her voice were in better condition, this song would be way higher on my list. I feel bad for saying that, since I know she did the best she could.
Remember earlier, when I mentioned certain songs that demanded privacy while ironically being singles that would fail if given said privacy? This song is a great example of a proper response to rumors, in my opinion. She acknowledges that there have been rumors, criticism and drama, but she maintains that she’s unashamed (hence the title) of how she lives her life. I much prefer this take on it than the others. The chorus melody isn’t particularly strong, but she sings her ass off on this and I guarantee you’ll be yelling “YES BACK OFF HATERS” if you play it right now. Do it and thank me later.
77). Hold Me (with Teddy Pendergrass)
This is another one of those sweet songs that could totally be the first dance at an 80s-themed wedding. The chorus in this one is pretty strong. In fact, I frequently have the chorus melody in my head, and I haven’t actually played the song in a long time. Teddy Pendergrass was amazing on this. His first lyrics are kind of cringey: “I’ll hold you, and touch you, and make you my woman.” Keep listening though, I promise it gets better. This was originally released on his album before hers and was released as a single. This was actually Whitney’s first career single since it came out a year before her Whitney Houston album. The song is a cover of Diana Ross, but her version is called “In Your Arms.”
76). Worth It
There’s a lot of monotone in this song, but it works to Whitney’s favor. Another from her last album, they appeared to try to save her from a lot of vocal work by making the melody largely one note. It’s not a bad song. It’s meant to be uplifting and shows a wide range of lovers and how love is always worth it. Where other songs on this song show her vocal wear-and-tear, this seems like a safe spot for her voice. The one cringe line: “I know somebody’s gonna make love to this song tonight,” mostly because this is not at all a song that I could picture anyone making love to, but maybe that’s just me.
This is kind of a weird mashup; the two songs are not at all similar and the part where they change is awkward. She also sounds bored in the beginning, and the “fa la la” part is a completely different melody (which makes sense for this version of the song, but it’s still weird). She picks up her energy shortly, and the runs she puts into it are really nice. They give the song a little bit of edge and attitude, which is hard to do for “Deck the Halls.” “Silent Night” has a lot of strong notes with runs at the end, which are also amazing. If you can get through the few strange spots, it’s a great holiday song.
74). Call You Tonight
It’s a sweet song with a simple message: A new love that’s totally in the moment. She’s focusing solely on the fact that she’ll call you tonight. It’s melodically interesting, the lyrics are focused and there are very few negative things to say about it. The one vocal part that sticks out to me is “I’mma call you tonight – I will, baby” the “I will, baby” part just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of it, both melodically and lyrically. It’s a very slight thing so it’s not a huge deal. I also hate the little noisemaker at the beginning of the song and the chorus intros. You know those cheap things you spin around on New Year’s Eve? There’s absolutely no reason for that to be in this song.
73). Hold Up The Light (with BeBe & CeCe Winans from their “Heaven” album)
An upbeat, late 80’s gospel song that features Whitney in the pre-chorus and 3rd verse. She has an unfortunate lyric: “Boys and girls/Can’t you see/The kind of friend/Crack can be” which…ouch. Her voice on “can’t you see” is stellar, though. CeCe Winans is a great singer, but I really don’t think she compares to Whitney. I’m not trying to be mean here because I really am a fan of her voice. I just think it’s pretty obvious in the few songs they’ve done together. Whitney is better than most singers so it’s not meant as an insult. This came out after her Whitney album if you’re curious about the timeline.
I was going to mention this separately, but Whitney was also in the Winans’ song “Celebrate New Life.” She only did backups and had one small ad-lib that’s mixed way in the back, so I didn’t feel it warranted its own post.
72). Someone for Me
Young Whitney’s voice is perfect for this song. It’s a longing, almost frustrated teenage angst song about wanting to find someone to love. The lyrics are pretty similar to my early attempts at writing (repeating “Someone for me” 50 times, bland verses including “I wish that I could fly away/And party till the break of day”) but Whitney’s ad-libs more than make up for all of that. The plot twist at the ending is also kind of predictable, but still cute.
This was a B-Side to the “All the Man That I Need” single. It has a jazzy feel to it. I could totally hear my dad blasting this for his cool white guy jazz collection. It was written by David Lasley and Robbie Long, and I do feel this would have fit in nicely on the I’m Your Baby Tonight album. She has several songs on this album (“Lover For Life,” “I Belong to You”) that sort of fit that vibe. I wonder if that’s why this one was cut, but I couldn’t find anything detailing why. It’s a nice song for a wine jazz party, so check it out if you’re having one of those! Also, invite me because I can bore your friends to tears with my Whitney Houston facts.
70). Where You Are
This song was so important to me when I was a kid. I didn’t even understand the nuances of wanting to be with someone you love, but I understood the emotion in her singing. The bridge builds so nicely, increasing the need to be with that person. By the time she sings “I’m gonna catch the next plane out,” you’re ready to jump on it with her. It’s cheesy and sappy at times, that’s for sure. But man, it’s good. It’s from the Whitney album, written by LeMel Humes, James Calabrese and Dyan Humes.
69). Step by Step
I’m including the fact that there is a remix of this song included on the album. The remix is not that different from the original, so I’m not sure why they thought both should be on the album. The drums in the remix are weird and distracting, so I’m focusing mainly on the original version here. Her voice is apprehensive in the beginning verse, leading to the confident chorus. My issue with the chorus is there’s quite a large gap between “Step by step………..bit by bit………..stone by stone, yeah” which makes me wonder why they didn’t add anything sonically interesting in those gaps. In the second and last chorus, Whitney fills it nicely with ad-libs so it’s not a big deal after the first chorus. My favorite part of the song is the bridge. Did I mention that Whitney is one of the greatest singers of all time? Because if you weren’t sure, listen to the bridge of this song. If you hear it and you’re still not sure, we can’t be friends.
68). A Song For You
The beginning piano makes it sound like it’s going to be a horror movie, until you realize it’s a cover of the classic by Leon Russell. I have to say that out of the many versions of this song, my favorite is the Christina Aguilera version. The Whitney version is from her final album and again, she needs a lot of help on this one. She can’t make it through the first phrase without a huge inhale. “I’ve been so many places in my (GASP) life and time….” The huskiness in her voice serves the song well, though. The song picks up after the intro and it kind of becomes a club jam, which is confusing at first. Then you kind of get into it, and before you know it you’re dancing in your car at stoplights without caring that people are staring.
THIS IS GETTING SO HARD NOW.
67). Love Will Find A Way (with Dionne Warwick from her “Friends Can Be Lovers” album)
I’m sure you know this, but Dionne and Whitney are cousins. That’s all I really know about Dionne Warwick, other than her time on Celebrity Apprentice. This song was recorded in 1992, the same time Whitney released The Bodyguard. It’s understandable that this kind of fell through the cracks, given the hype of that movie and soundtrack. Still, it’s a great ballad and worth checking out. Whitney’s softness blends with Dionne’s huskier tone. Their harmonies are solid and Whitney has a couple of spine-chilling ad-libs. This was written by David Elliot and Terry Steele, and of course, executive produced by Clive Davis. Definitely worth a listen.
Yes, there is a cheese factor here. “Are you really ready for love boy/Or is it just the lonely talking again” is not Grade-A material. Still, it’s one of the first glimpses we had of Whitney’s jazz abilities. She kind of talk-sings the verses, almost as if she’s making them up on the spot. At the end, she goes into an ad-lib style where we get to really see her shine. I memorized every note of her ad-libs (which I realize makes them no longer ad-libs) and a lot of my reasoning for putting this song this high is probably the nostalgia factor. I don’t care. There’s no denying it here, she’s so good. I really can’t say much else about it. This is a cover of the original version written by Sam Dees for The Manhattans.
65). Take Good Care of My Heart (with Jermaine Jackson)
This is similar to the other duets on her first album, but the melody is super catchy. “I love you more than I should/But it keeps me feeling so good” – this will be in your head for weeks. It’s moderately upbeat, which keeps it from being overly sappy. If you’re a fan of 80s synths and drum pads, you’ll love this one.
64). Who Do You Love
This one is so fun, from the very beginning where she hits those high notes like they’re nothing and continues into yelling “Do you love, love, love.” It instantly puts me in a good mood. The song is not a happy topic; It’s about asking someone to choose between two people and who they love more. I don’t know about you, but if I’m ever in a position where I need someone to pick between me or someone else, I’ll happily leave and they can enjoy each other. I can’t relate to the lyrics, but the song is just so energetic and makes me happy because I’m not in that situation. This one is written by Luther Vandross and Hubert Eaves III. Vandross also produced it, and I’m sure he had a big part in making the style fun. Whitney sang a tribute to him in 1999 which you can hear here. They were close friends, and they did this adorable interview about each other:
63). The First Noel
The beginning of this one is a little rough. She does a weird scoop with the notes on “the angels did say” that sound like a church lady who had a few too many mimosas before service (no judgment). It just kind of sounds like she isn’t sure how she wants to style it, until maybe midway through the song when it picks up. It’s almost like she sang this one live at a karaoke bar, which is fun to imagine. I mean seriously, can you imagine being at a filthy karaoke bar and suddenly Whitney Houston gets on stage to sing “The First Noel?” I would die.
Of all Whitney’s major hits, this one is probably my least favorite. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be high up on the list, but it’s just kinda eh. Her talent is apparent and the song is decent. I wouldn’t turn it if I heard it on the radio. It just doesn’t showcase her massive skills like her other singles do. Whitney herself also claims to have hated the song, which speaks to her talent that she can sing a song she hates this well. It also speaks to the fact that she was a session singer because that’s kinda what we do. We sing so many songs, we’re bound not to like some of them. We still have to put all of our effort and emotion into it. Also, I need to point out that of the songwriters listed, Chuck Jackson wrote only the title and Frank Wildhorn wrote the rest. If you dream of being a famous songwriter but don’t want to do a lot of work, simply approach songwriters and give them title ideas. You’ll be well on your way to making millions!
61). One Moment in Time
I cannot believe I forgot this one. I would have left it off forever if a kind commenter hadn’t brought it to my attention (thanks Stephanie!). I’m ranking this here because it sounds (to me) very similar to “The Greatest Love of All,” but apparently it’s more forgettable than the other so it’s going right after it. This was not on a Whitney Houston album, and I think that may have been why I initially missed it. It was originally released as a single for the Olympics (the lame music video is in my post here). I do know and love the song, and I have no excuse for missing it. I feel that I’ve let down my role of Biggest Fan Ever, but I can admit my mistakes and I hope you’ll forgive me and still enjoy the rest of this post!
People are going to get mad at me for ranking this one so low, but HEAR ME OUT: The song is solid. It’s a decent song for little girls to sing at their middle school talent show (ahem), but it’s super campy. Right from the beginning, the “I believe the children are our future” – that’s something an incredibly insincere politician would say. Also, the music video. We get the first glimpse of what is to be many decades of Cissy Houston reminding us that she’s here. This is a cover of a George Benson song if you want to hear the original here.
59). Queen of the Night
In all fairness, I think this was a better song for Whitney’s character in the movie, Rachel Marron. It’s just a whole lot of heavy guitar and not a lot of substance. The outfit she wore in the movie is amazing and fits the song, but by itself, it doesn’t translate. My favorite part is the run on the lyric “I just wanna get loose” (that vocal run!) and I turn this all the way up when I’m watching the movie, but other than that it’s probably my least favorite on the soundtrack.
58). I Go to the Rock
I love this song, so this is hard for me to rank this low. It just speaks to how much I love the other songs. I’m putting this here because as a less-than-fervent religious person, I don’t understand the thousands of references to Jesus being several inanimate objects. She…she is talking about Jesus, right? The lyrics are “I go to the rock, I know he’s able” and it just makes me think of this:
I encourage you to listen to this song and picture this reference. It’s still a good song but with entirely new meaning.
57). I Belong to You
This is such a good song and I love it so much. The melody flows easily and the words propel it forward. She sings it with just a hint of the sexy attitude we will come to know and love later. I think the I’m Your Baby Tonight album was her attempt to show us that she was more than the smooth pop in her first two albums. I loved those too, so I’m really not complaining either way. Her voice was so perfect on this whole album, but she really gets to show her abilities here. I don’t remember any of this, but it was actually a pretty big hit at the time. It was a Top 10 hit on the Billboard R&B chart and she was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance. She lost to Chaka Kahn, but this is an amazing song and I’m glad it’s not a deep cut.
Her range is incredible here, but it’s a nice kind of watered-down jazz you’d hear at a hotel lounge. She can be pitchy at times, but she more than makes up for it with enthusiasm. Did you know this is actually a cover song? It was written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin, originally for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. You can hear their version here. And I’m just going to say it: Whitney’s is better. Like you thought I’d say otherwise. Theirs isn’t bad though, and it’s not their fault their song was covered by the greatest vocalist ever. There was also a lot of conflicting controversy over this song when she released it, and whether it was a ‘true story’ or not. Since she didn’t write it and it was written by two men, I’m going to guess that people just love creating drama where there is none.
55). For The Lovers
My all-time favorite part of this whole album is the line “To all the haters in the place/I ain’t singing to you baby/I ain’t singing to you” The song itself is fun and upbeat, and she doesn’t sound as strained or sore as she does in other tracks. The melody is in her lower range, even in the chorus when the intensity picks up. This is a smart move and plays to her current strengths. It was written by Danja, R. Kelly and Marcella Araica and produced by Danja and R. Kelly.
54). My Heart Is Calling
A.K.A. the song that plays when Whitney is ice skating with Denzel Washington.
Have you seen this movie? Because if not, you definitely should. Whitney’s character is married to Courtney B. Vance, a pastor who is an idiot and neglecting his attractive and talented wife. Their kid prays for help with their marriage (always a sign your kid knows way too much). God is apparently drunk and decides the way to save their marriage is to send a sexy angel who falls in love with Whitney. No joke. As you can see in the scene above, he’s using his majestic angel powers to keep her husband in traffic so he can increase his chances of banging her. All for the good of her marriage, you see. For all its corniness, the soundtrack is probably one of my favorite albums of all time, so I’m not even mad about it. This song is a moderate tempo with Whitney’s amazing runs all over it. It’s about falling in love with Denzel Washington as a sexy angel.
53). Celebrate (with Jordin Sparks)
This is from Sparkle and is a duet with Jordin Sparks. Wait. Did Jordin Sparks get this job because her last name is sort of like the title? Probably not. If that’s the case, I need to submit for every movie involving a barn, because I’m so in. Honestly, this song would be ranked a lot lower if it weren’t for Jordin’s contribution to it. It’s a fun duet, but it’s one of Whitney’s last songs and it seems to be beyond her vocal abilities. She does her best, but it’s Sparks who adds the flair and enthusiasm here. The lyrics are pretty campy, but they do a good job making us forget about it by slaying the vocals.
52). Until You Come Back
This is a super dramatic song. Made for the stage with plenty of cues to change the lights. You can picture her singing this in a theater with long black gloves and a fancy necklace (or at least I can, and have hundreds of times). Sadly no one ever called me for ideas on her music videos, because I had TONS. There are many long belted notes, and it’s here we begin to see subtle cracks in her upper register that will eventually take over her entire voice on her last album. It’s bittersweet to listen to this now, knowing what will come. She sells it like she needs rent money though, and it’s a great song.
51). For the Love of You
This is a cover of The Isley Brothers, and vocally it’s almost like she followed them note-for-note. That’s not a bad thing since the original version is pretty amazing. The main difference in Whitney’s version is you can tell they tried to take most of the soul and funk right out of it. She’s not having it though, and she sings it with as much soul as you can put into the elevator version of a song. I just like this song a lot and I don’t care which version it is, to be honest.
50). My Love Is Your Love
The lyrical imagery is great on this one. “If I wake up in World War III/I see destruction and poverty/and I feel like I wanna go home/it’s okay if you’re coming with me.” That’s the type of love you only feel from your pets, and I relate to that. We also get Whitney’s daughter Bobbi Kristina on this, who died tragically as I’m sure you know. If you’re looking for a good book that tells an unbiased, third-party story about the lives of both Whitney and Bobbi Kristina, I highly recommend this book. I’ve read almost every book there is on Whitney and this was one of few that I felt didn’t have an agenda. Anyway, the song is emotional and strong and of course, it was a big hit. It’s actually her third best selling single after “I Will Always Love You” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” There is also a remix with Wyclef Jean and a dub plate. Whitney pays tribute to Dennis Brown in the latter.
49). So Emotional
This one is a little more edgy rock than your typical Whitney music, but she does it well. It kind of reminds me of “Queen of the Night” in its insistence that we treat it as a serious rock song. The lyrics “when you talk, I just watch your mouth” is kind of awkward and creepy, but it’s also the way she actually speaks that line followed by a guitar string slide which sounds like a drum roll at the end of a joke. It’s an attempt to be sexy but just sounds like she’s hiding in the bushes watching someone through their window. So, why is it this high on my list if I have so many issues with it? Because it’s still an awesome song, one you can rock out to while you’re getting ready to go out (or stay in because, like me, you never leave your house). If you need some rock, but you’re not ready to go full Five Finger Death Punch yet, this is something you can listen to in the meantime.
48). Impossible (with Brandy)
These are from the Cinderella movie and not an actual album, but Whitney killed it in this film and so did Brandy. The actual movie is just okay, but it earned an Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction so there’s that. The back and forth between Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney as her fairy godmother are great, and they seem to inspire each other to sing better in this duet. The lyrics are dumb as hell, but if you keep in mind that it’s a musical it makes more sense. It’s not Whitney’s typical thing but she does a great job. If you haven’t heard this one, check it out by clicking on the title. There’s also this amazing behind-the-scenes with them:
How cool would it be to have Whitney Houston as your fairy godmother?? Are you kidding me? Ugh.
All I can say is that Whitney was in her element when she made this album. She got started in church choir and I think returning to her roots was good for her (and great for all of us). The band is also incredible, and I’m not sure if they are session musicians or an actual band. If they aren’t session musicians, they should be, because they’d make a ton of money. Kirk Franklin wrote this song.
46). Lover for Life
It’s got clunky metaphors for being in court (“take me, I’m your prisoner…will you sentence me, I wanna be your lover for life” etc) but it’s actually kind of cute. The melody is great and she sings it unironically, which keeps it from becoming campy. I feel like if she pushed too hard into the metaphors, it would be over-the-top and annoying. Instead, she does her usual thing and sings her ass off, and it makes the song romantic and fun. This was written by Sam Dees and produced by Narada Michael Walden, who produced a lot of Whitney’s songs. Sam Dees also wrote “Just the Lonely Talking Again” for The Manhattans, which was already mentioned.
What is quite possibly the most depressing Christmas classic ever becomes a smooth jam under Whitney’s direction (and Mervyn Warren’s production, of course). I don’t know how she can possibly make a song about hoping you don’t die next year fun, but she does it with little effort. That’s one of my favorite things about Whitney. Hitting insanely powerful notes for minutes at a time? Doing a run with 42 notes in it? No problem, it’s Whitney. She seems unaffected by the vocal acrobatics. This is not inclusive of her live performances, where she notoriously struggled at times. I’m just saying when she was on, she was on and there was nothing holding her back.
44). Run to You
Between this one and “I Have Nothing,” I like the latter slightly better. This one is phenomenal of course, but the pitch tends to fall a little on the sustained notes (such as the “run” in “run to you”) and I feel like the bridge is not as strong. It’s such a small difference between the two songs though, and I know some people get these two confused. If you’re not sure which song this is, it’s the one in the movie where Kevin Costner is watching her video like a stalker weirdo, and she is watching him watch it. It’s kind of bizarre, and that might be part of the reason I like it slightly less. Only slightly, though.
This was the second single from the Whitney album, but they were originally going to release “For The Love of You” instead. They decided to go with this one since it’s an original. Written by Michael Masser and Will Jennings, it was Whitney’s 5th Number 1 single. It’s easy to see why, and I really don’t have any critiques for it. She executes it perfectly, and for all of her live performances you can see on YouTube, you can tell she has an easy time connecting to the song and drawing out the emotion. She did this on every song, but this one is one I feel she rarely had a hard time performing live, even when her voice was at its roughest. So, why is it this low on my list? I don’t know. This is not scientific, okay?? Give me a break here.
42). You Were Loved
If you haven’t heard this song, I wouldn’t blame you. It’s not one of the gospel powerhouse songs of The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack, and I don’t even remember where it was featured in the movie. Still, it’s worth your while to check it out. It was written by Dianne Warren and produced by Babyface, so that should tell you it’s pretty good. It’s a ballad (Dianne’s specialty), and it starts off very soft and eventually grows to Whitney’s signature belting/adlibs in the bridge that give me chills. I wanted to do this for a talent show once but chickened out because it’s so vocally intimidating.
41). When You Believe (with Mariah Carey)
I saw The Prince of Egypt with my aunt at a theater, and the only reason was this song (and Hans Zimmer’s composing, of course). This song also appeared on the movie soundtrack and Mariah Carey’s #1s album. I was so obsessed with both Whitney and Mariah, and this was the ultimate thing that could ever happen for me as a young child. The media continued to make it seem like they hated each other, and it really annoys me that tabloids have to continually create drama where there is none. Whitney said this about Mariah in Ebony magazine: “I enjoyed working with her very much. Mariah and I got along very great. We had never talked and never sang together before. We just had a chance for camaraderie, singer-to-singer, artist-to-artist, that kind of thing. We just laughed and talked and laughed and talked and sang in between that … It’s good to know that two ladies of soul can still be friends. We talked about doing other things together, enterprise-wise, which is cool, because she’s got a good, vivid mind, that girl. She’s a smart lady. I really like Mariah.” Those are Whitney’s own words. Why is that not good enough? I understand that they need attention for the single, but pitting women against each other is so tired and I’m done with it. This is an amazing song and they were friends, end of story.
We all know this version of the song because it’s regularly considered to be one of the greatest versions of all time. She originally sang it in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, but it was re-released after 9/11 as a single. The 9/11 single included America The Beautiful (we’ll get to that one later). Many have attempted to sing this classic. Few have really succeeded in turning it into an incredible version that people still love decades later. Most of the ones we tend to remember are cases of extreme screw-ups or cringey moments. The fact that Whitney can put her own spin on a classic and make it well-loved for generations is further proof of her genius.
Whitney has a hard time catching her breath in the chorus, but it’s not her fault. The song is very wordy, but it’s an uplifting song that I’ve always loved. This is another Dianne Warren/Babyface special. It’s the last song on My Love is Your Love (right before “I Was Made to Love Him,” but we won’t talk about that). It has the tendency to get a little sappy, but it’s a cute song and doesn’t go too far overboard. She hits the high and belty notes like they’re nothing, making us doubt the rumors that her voice was failing. One quick thing I want to point out: At 3:57 she sings, “Love is standing by” and it’s SUPER OBVIOUS they cut part of her vocal take out of it. There’s no attempt to blend it in or anything. It’s literally “Love is stand….ing by” and it drives me nuts. I hear this in major releases all the time and it’s just lazy. Edit your vocals correctly, people!
I know people are going to have an issue and won’t believe I put this song this low. Here’s the thing: it’s overplayed. We all know that. We all know that Whitney has SO MANY amazing songs, and yet this is always the one people roll out because they don’t want to do the research. It truly is an incredible song (written by Dolly Parton, who is also a queen and incredible musician). There is a newer movie version available on I Wish You Love, which is nice after hearing this version 17 million times. It’s a great song. Kirk Whalum is in it. It would just be great if the radio would pick a different single every now and then. Lord knows she has plenty of them.
37). You Give Good Love
This is Whitney’s first single from her first album, so it’s important for that reason alone. It also has one of the creepiest music videos I’ve ever seen (click on the title to see). Young Whitney is singing in an empty restaurant. A cameraman just happens to be there and starts recording her (with both eyes open, which makes no sense). Then the cooks emerge from the kitchen to leer at her like a bunch of creepers, and the whole thing makes me want to scream “RUN WHITNEY YOU CAN SING LATER.” The song is great though. It shows off her range and vocal purity, and we don’t hear those high notes again for much of her career. It’s incredible how much her range changed over the years (we all know why so I won’t get into it), but this song is a great memory of her soprano days.
I’m one of those people who remembers every note and word, so I know that the movie version differs from the album version. It’s not a huge difference, just her ad-libs are different in parts. Let’s watch the movie clip, just because:
This is another Georgia Mass Choir piece, and these are all so incredible. I’m finding it harder with each song not to just write “WHITNEY IS THE GREATEST OK???” This was written by Reverend Kenneth Paden, and it was hard to find much about his songwriting work. Some sites have him credited with only a few songs while others have more. Either way, dude is talented and I’m crazy jealous he got Whitney Houston to sing one of his songs.
35). Heartbreak Hotel (with Faith Evans and Kelly Price)
I used to torture my younger brother with this song. He was into hip-hop and metal, and he hated my Whitney collection. He especially hated the beginning, where she says “This is the, heart-break, ho-tel” a hundred times. I will concede that that part can be annoying, especially if you’ve been forced to hear it 40 times a day from your irritating sister. Still, I love this song. Faith Evans and Kelly Price add a nice touch, even though I think Whitney could have handled it herself. Evans and Price are like the icing on the cake, and I love the icing more than anything. Those frosting flowers, are you kidding me?? So good. Just like this song.
34). All at Once
I did a cover of this one and it remains one of my favorite songs of all time. You may wonder why it’s so low on my list then. This just shows how much I love Whitney and I think I’ve said that enough, but let me say it again: I love Whitney Houston. This was not an official single in the United States, and I still don’t understand why. The melody and lyrics play perfectly with each other; the melody reaching its highest point at the most emotional part of the lyric. “I finally took a moment and I’m realizing that you’re not coming back/and it finally hit me all at once.” On “realizing that,” the melody peaks at a high point and then falls, just like someone making a startling realization and then coping with it. This song never fails to make me emotional.
Side note: This is the second single photo where she’s with a horse. I tried to do more research on this horse photoshoot and came across a HORSE THAT LOVED WHITNEY HOUSTON. I am not a horse person, I know nothing of horses, but if this horse was still alive we would totally be friends. I don’t believe this is the same horse from the photoshoot, but I think this horse danced to “One Moment in Time“? There’s a lot of horse jargon in the article so I don’t really know what’s going on, but I needed you to know this. Animals love Whitney too.
33). Little Drummer Boy (with Bobbi Kristina Brown)
We have very few moments of Bobbi Kristina singing. A few of them are online, but this is the one song she really got to sing on (she spoke on “My Love is Your Love” but didn’t sing). Her voice is simple, but good. She seems to have a good grasp of pitch and rhythm and at 10 years old, she did a great job. There’s always a lot of talk about whether or not Bobbi Kristina would have had the same talent or career as her mother, and I don’t really want to get into that. She sadly didn’t have the opportunity as her life was cut short. She was not without her troubles, but show me a perfect teenager anywhere. This is a good song. It picks up into a fun little jam before the last verse and it’s a good song to dance to while hanging lights.
32). I’m Every Woman
My grandma’s neighbor had a girl about my age, and we used to jump on her trampoline and sing this song. This is a cover of a Chaka Kahn song, and I like that Whitney doesn’t have such a harsh “I’m” the way she sings it. Chaka Kahn puts a lot of emphasis on the “I” in “I’m” and I just like Whitney’s better. Whitney pays homage to the original by saying, “Chaka Kahn” and “my girl” a few times at the end. I never understood that as a kid, and I still kind of don’t get it today. Can you imagine if anytime someone did a cover song, they randomly stated the name of the original artist? How many times would we hear some neckbeard say “Kid Rock” at a dive bar in downtown Detroit? Although I didn’t get it, that didn’t stop me from doing the exact same thing as I bounced around on the trampoline. This version is a little more updated than the Chaka Kahn version in terms of mixing and production, and Whitney does her thing and goes nuts at the end. Both versions are good.
Some days I love this song and other days it gets on my nerves. It’s a cross between an edgy dance-pop track and a song that just tries way too hard. The chorus melody is clunky to me. “Whatever you want from me/I’m giving you everything” is a weird cascade and we kind of lose Whitney’s vocals toward the end of each phrase. She gives it plenty of attitude and there’s a reason it was a hit (it was her first single off of this album). There was a B-Side to the single that few people know, called “Feels So Good,” and in my opinion that song is so much better. I’ll talk about that one later because it’s one of my top favorites. You may be wondering why this song is so high if I sometimes hate it, and the reason is that today I don’t hate it. I might tomorrow, but I’m not going to edit this after I post it except for factual errors, so this is where it lies, set in stone.
30). Love That Man
This is one of my mother’s favorite Whitney songs, and she has me to thank for that because I played it no less than 50 times a day. She hits some super low notes on this song and they seem pretty effortless. As a lifelong alto, I loved being able to hang out in the basement notes with Whitney. This was a single off of the album, and many people surmised that it was about Bobby Brown. Here’s the thing: she may have sung it about Bobby Brown, but she did not write it. It was written by a team of people and was produced by Babyface and Rob Fusari. She can sing it about whomever she pleases, but it always annoyed me when people tried to guess whether or not her songs were about Bobby Brown. If you think Babyface cares enough about what Bobby Brown is doing to write a song about him, you’re wrong.
29). Same Script, Different Cast (with Deborah Cox)
First, let’s touch on what a phenomenal artist Deborah Cox is. Have you heard her jazz album?? If not, put that on your ‘To Hear’ list immediately. She also sang all of the songs on the Lifetime Movie biopic entitled Whitney, but I haven’t seen it because I don’t get Lifetime and I’m still bothered by that. I know it’s on DVD, but I don’t own a DVD player and my laptop doesn’t have one because it’s not 2008. I considered buying one just to see this movie, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m hoping they’ll release it on Hulu or Netflix at some point.
Back to this song: It was a bonus from the Whitney: The Greatest Hits album. Whitney and Deborah square off as two lovers of the same man, trading runs and ad-libs like the queens they are. The runs tend to be a little much towards the end, where I tend to think “can you just hit the one note already?” but then I remember that I have no place asking them to do anything.
28). Count on Me (with Cece Winans)
I do think that Deborah Cox is a stronger vocalist than Cece Winans, but overall I think this is a stronger song than “Same Script, Different Cast.” The song always wins with me. This movie (Waiting to Exhale) has some seriously dark and depressing moments, and this song lifts it into a better mood with a theme of friendship and sisterhood. Again, they trade ad-libs at the end, and it starts to sound less friendly and more competitive. “Oh, you hit 14 notes? Watch me hit 19!” Then it seems like they’re trying to have the last word with “Oh yes you can,” “I know I can,” “Sure you can,” “So glad I can.” It’s like when you’re arguing with your significant other and you have nothing left to say, so you’re both saying “fine,” “ok,” “good,” “whatever.” I don’t think this is what they intended with the song; I think they meant it to be a friendly back-and-forth. The song itself is a great one to send your friend if she needs some support. Go ahead and send her the link!
27). On My Own
In Whitney’s later years, we get a LOT of songs about how she’s getting stronger, she’s rebuilding, trying again, etc. I know some people were over it, but I like them. We all can use a good ‘starting over’ song, and she has many to choose from for whatever mood you’re in. I also think it shows the real side of drug addiction. You can try to rebuild yourself many times, and even then sometimes you might not ultimately succeed. It’s like we got a real-life look at what she was going through. This song is great, but the music video is kinda weird. Whitney is on stage and refuses to do anything they want her to do (which she was kind of known for in real life). Bobby Brown also inexplicably appears. I don’t care about the video though, the song is solid. When I was younger and dealing with forming my own identity, this song was a perfect accompaniment.
26). If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful (with Jermaine Jackson)
This song was originally on Jermaine Jackson’s album Precious Moments, which came out in 1986. It was not a single but was still played on the radio (I didn’t know that was even possible). I have no recollection of ever hearing this song before it was released on her Greatest Hits album, but I really do enjoy it. It’s over-the-top with its sappiness, but sometimes that’s okay. It was written by Elliot Willensky, who has written a slew of the sappiest songs in existence. But he’s probably a millionaire and I’m writing about him now, so good job buddy.
25). Moment of Truth
This was released as a B-Side to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and also with “Exhale.” It’s a nice, smooth pop/R&B song. Definitely worth a listen if you haven’t heard it. She recorded this for the Whitney album, but it was replaced with “You’re Still My Man.” I don’t agree with that choice. I feel this one is much stronger, but I’m not a record label executive so what do I know. I will say that this has much more ‘soul’ than the rest of that album, so maybe that’s why they chose to leave it out. I mean, it still doesn’t have a ton of soul (not nearly as much as her later work) but maybe it just didn’t fit with the rest of that album.
24). One of Those Days
“Whatchulookinat” was the first single off of this album (Just Whitney…), and I was so glad when this one followed it up. This song is far superior and that’s a fact, don’t @ me. It samples part of The Isley Brother’s song “Between the Sheets” and she mentions them in the song: “The Isley Brothers gonna hold it down.” They get a writing credit on this song for the sample. I dug through the internet’s archive and found this interview with one of the songwriters, and it’s totally worth a read. Since it’s archived, you get to see that Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet album was just released, and you’ll feel like you’re back in 2002 (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on where you were in 2002).
23). Joy to the World
This song is so good they released it on two albums (The Preacher’s Wife and One Wish). Either that or they just needed to fill the space on One Wish. It is an insanely good song though. It takes the traditional carol (written by Isaac Watts in 1719) and turns it into a gospel throwdown. It’s the final song in The Preacher’s Wife, where Whitney sings so hard it makes the movie’s bad guy (Gregory Hines) remember how to clap:
Okay yes, it’s a theater piece, and yes, it’s over-the-top. But Whitney sells this song so well and her dress is so sparkly and I love her so much. Also, it’s from Cinderella so it had to be dramatic. At the end, she hits a long high note, followed by a perfectly executed run, followed by another high note. It’s like the Olympics of singing and you better believe she’s winning gold. If you haven’t seen the movie, at least do yourself a favor and watch her two songs.
21). I Look to You
This is such an uplifting song. I know people were burnt out of her ‘comeback’ songs by now, but this song is so good. The composition is simple and she doesn’t go crazy with her runs, and even the music video is just her sitting on a stool singing her heart out. This song was written by R. Kelly, who also wrote the terrible song “Salute.” It’s a good example of how even great songwriters can write garbage at times (and that garbage can somehow make it onto an otherwise great album, so don’t give up, kids!) There is also a duet version with R. Kelly on I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston. It’s okay, but the chanting of “Whitney” at the end feels really contrived and off-putting.
If you’re in the mood for an incredibly sad video, this is about the making of the album:
It’s sad because we can clearly see how her lifestyle is taking a toll on her, and how incredible she is that she can continue to work through that. I had one shot of whiskey the other day and fell asleep for 4 hours and woke up hungover, so I can’t imagine doing what she did with her life habits.
I vaguely remember reading that this was a cover of the Ray Charles arrangement of the song, but I couldn’t find anything to back that up. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have imagined that fact, so let’s assume it’s correct. Whitney does different lyrics and her version is only 1:34 long, but it’s a minute and 34 seconds of the most soul you can imagine in a patriotic song. This was the B-Side of her Star Spangled Banner release on 9/11, and I cannot believe it hasn’t been more popular since then. She killed this song, you guys.
19). Higher Love
Yes, this is a cover of the Steve Winwood classic. It was on an exclusive Japanese release of the I’m Your Baby Tonight album. I have no idea why this wasn’t released on any other version because this song is phenomenal and her delivery blows my mind. I heard that it was actually produced by Stevie Wonder, but I’ve been unable to confirm that. Very little information exists on it online, so I could easily say I produced it and no one would know. I was about 3 years old so that wouldn’t make sense, but who’s going to call me on it? Go listen to my production of “Higher Love” now!
Another Diane Warren masterpiece. I think this song is slightly better than “I Look to You,” but it had a strange release. It seemed like no one really knew what songs from I Look to You would be singles. This song has an EP of remixes, which are fine, but the song works much better as a ballad. You can tell from my photo of the “I Look to You” single that they really didn’t try too hard when making this cover. It’s literally the same photo and fonts, but one is blue and the other is purple. Warren said she wrote the song specifically for Whitney, so before you get mad about yet another ‘comeback’ song, this one was just for Whitney. The lyric “And I crashed down/and I tumbled/but I did not crumble” is so relatable, to me at least. This is such a good song. David Foster is an incredible producer and Dianne Warren is such an inspiring songwriter. I have no criticism of this song. And this is number 18 of the remaining songs, so I don’t know how we’re going to get through the rest, but let’s try.
17). Cantique de Noel (Oh Holy Night)
My aunt once sang this and made everyone cry. She’s good, but if you don’t cry while listening to Whitney’s version of this, you truly have no soul and will probably spend eternity in hell, sorrynotsorry. I myself have no soul and even I can get chills and tears listening to her version of this. Literal goosebumps. Mervyn Warren is again the producer, as he is for most of her One Wish album, and we get to see his incredible skills with this. It’s a blend of the traditional classic (written by Adophe Adam in 1847) with a twist of soul that melds perfectly together. SHE IS SO GOOD. Bye.
I’m including both versions of this: The album version with the fun music box, and the remix where it’s very obvious that they pasted her long note several times to hold it out for longer (at 3:32). It’s a jam, I don’t care which version you listen to. I often advise songwriters to include specific details in their songs because it makes the story more vivid. Her songwriters are specific in their details: “But only two of you had dinner/I found your credit card receipt” and “you said it was one of your friends/down on 54th street/so why did 213 show up on your caller ID?” I just remember having to explain to my mother how credit cards and caller ID worked. She didn’t understand how you could know how many meals were ordered, or what 213 is (an area code in LA that doesn’t coincide with 54th street, DUH MOM). This song is amazing and everyone involved is amazing.
The next 15 songs are so hard to choose an order. They’ve all been hard, but these about killed me. Here we go:
15). I Have Nothing
If you’ll notice, this song is ranked much higher than “Run to You,” even though I initially said they were very similar. If you’re still unsure of how great Whitney is, hopefully you’ve seen by now that she is truly the best. I’m not sure I can articulate why I like this one more. I could only say that I feel the music and singing are a little better. I couldn’t go into much more detail than that because it’s a subjective thing and it’s just how I feel. This song was nominated for a Grammy but lost to “Breathe Again” by Toni Braxton. I love her too so I’m not mad about that. The Bodyguard is so good and I’m probably going to watch it tonight.
There are two versions of this on the album (a “film” version and a “single” version) and in my opinion, the film version is better. The single version has a lot of synths happening, while the film version has a slightly jazzier feel, with a piano as its lead instrument. In the film, she’s performing it at a jazz club, so that makes sense. I just feel like overall, they’re pretty much the same (I can’t tell much of a difference vocally) so I’m not sure why they put both on the album. I’m really hoping they release a new version of this soundtrack like they did with The Bodyguard. I can tell differences between movie takes and album releases and I want to hear those ad-libs as they were in the film. This is a phenomenal song, written by David Wolfert and Sandy Linzer (originally recorded by The Four Tops), and it’s weird that it’s less popular than “I Will Always Love You“.
That run in the bridge? Shut up, it’s so good. This was written exclusively by Dianne Warren, which, again, can we talk about how great she is? But you can tell the vocal ad-libs and attitude is all Whitney. The gift of a true vocalist is being able to take a pre-written song and turn it into your own masterpiece, and Whitney does that so many times throughout her career. The song is sassy in its turn-of-phrase, where it explains that she learned how to be a jerk from the person who did it to her in the first place. This was the final single from the My Love is Your Love album, the best one in my opinion.
12). Jesus Loves Me
I sang this at my grandparents’ church for my first solo performance ever. I was so awkward and gawky and I wore weird platform shoes and a hot pink t-shirt. People kept coming up to me and commenting on “how much soul I put into it,” and I kept trying to explain that it wasn’t me, it was the Whitney Houston version. My dad said that 90-year-old white ladies won’t even know who I’m talking about, so just say ‘thank you’ and move on. I don’t have any recordings or photos of that day (I’m sure you’re all terribly sad to receive that news) but listen to her version and picture an 8 or 9-year-old redheaded girl attempting that level of talent and you’ll get the picture. It probably wasn’t great, is what I’m saying. This song was not in the movie, at least in this version. The movie version was released a few years ago, but this is an added bonus that is just so, so good.
11). Like I Never Left (with Akon)
Whitney has a writing credit in this, but I’m unable to find what she did exactly. The other songwriters are Akon (real name Aliaune Thiam), Giorgio Tuinfort and Claude Kelly. This is a fun, chill song, and it’s my favorite off of this album (I Look to You). It was originally planned to be a single, but for some reason it wasn’t released as one. I’m baffled at the choice to release “Million Dollar Bill” over this, honestly. Whitney told Clive Davis she wanted an “island song,” so they brought Akon into it. Whether or not it’s an island song, it’s good. One thing, though: At 3:05, I’m pretty sure that’s not her singing the legato “me.” It sounds like they had a backup singer or someone fill that note out. Correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds heavily edited at the very least. At 3:25 it’s very autotuned as well. Given her vocal health during that time, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m not mad about it, it sounds good either way.
10). Look Into Your Heart
I highly recommend this entire album: A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield. It has a ton of amazing artists on it. This song was written by (duh) Curtis Mayfield, originally sung by Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas in 1976. It was in the original Sparkle movie, which Whitney remade. Jordin Sparks covered the song in the remake and she does a great job, but Whitney blows both versions out of the water. She gives it so much energy and makes it fun. A lot of it has to do with the production of the Whitney version. The two movie versions are more subdued and almost sound sad. One of my favorite vocal things Whitney does is hit a belty power note, then follow it up immediately with a soft legato tone. She does that many times in this song and it gives me chills. For an example, check out 1:47 “take some inventory” – “take some” is powerful, then the last syllable of “inventory” she pulls way back. It’s so engaging and makes your mind put in extra work to pay attention. She’s a true artist.
This was from a compilation album called A Very Special Christmas. I bought this album just for this song. It was released in 1987 so I didn’t buy it until many years later, but it was worth it just for this song. I don’t know if they couldn’t get clearance to release it on her One Wish album or what, but it only ever appeared on this compilation album. The album was to benefit the Special Olympics and went quadruple platinum. If you think it was because of anyone besides Whitney Houston, you’re wrong. Or you might be right, I don’t know because I didn’t listen to the rest of it. Everyone else is irrelevant next to her. The song was written in 1962 by Gloria Shayne Baker and Noel Regney. At the end of the song, Whitney does this incredible descant over the background singers and it’s so heavenly you might think you actually died.
This is my favorite by far on the One Wish album, and it’s just so good. I’m losing the words to articulate how great these songs are. The original song was written in 1943 by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent. It was first recorded by Bing Crosby. Play all the other versions of this song you want, but this one is one of the best (probably the best, let’s be honest). Find me another one and tell me why it’s better, I’ll wait. Her vocals dance all over the original melody line, but never (in my opinion) becoming too much. The instrumentation is simple, which allows her voice to do what it always does and knock our socks off.
7). I Love the Lord
If you’re religious, you’ll love the lyrics. If you’re a singer, you’ll love the vocals. If you’re an instrumentalist, you’ll love the music. There’s really something for everyone here. It’s a very slow song, but that gives Whitney the space she needs to deliver some amazing runs that make me want to punch the wall (I get angry when I hear great vocals, okay?). I just can’t with this song. It’s so crazy good. I wish I had more intelligent information to provide but it’s just so good I can’t think anymore. It was written by Richard Smallwood and features the Georgia Mass Choir. In The Preacher’s Wife, Whitney sings it as a focal performance piece. Honestly, the movie is worth watching for the music alone.
6). How Will I Know
Let’s first talk about that amazing bow in her hair in the music video. I had one just like it when I saw hers, except I was 5-10 years too late on it and got bullied. I didn’t care because Whitney had one, so whatever you idiots. This is such a fun song, second only to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” in its ability to fill a dance floor, anytime, anywhere. Her voice is clear and energetic, and it’s a perfect song for a young teenager to sing about wondering if someone likes you. This song was originally written for Janet Jackson, but she passed on it. I think the end result is the best for everyone, to be honest. The original writers were just Merrill and Rubicam, but when Walden came in to produce it, there was a lot of back-and-forth and frustration between the writing and production team. Walden’s changes helped make it the song it is today. A good lesson for songwriters: You may have to compromise your vision to get a hit. It’s probably worth it, as we can see here.
This is a chill song about how sometimes life sucks, but every once in a while it’s okay. Not only is it relatable as hell to everyone on Earth, her vocals are amazing in it. Written and produced by Babyface, it was actually Whitney’s last number 1 single. That’s sad to think about, isn’t it? It is a great song, and we get an octave and a fifth of Whitney’s fabulous vocals. Often when singers put that much of a range into a song, it’s way too much for the ear to take in. This is when we get a lot of over-the-top runs and fills that feel unnecessary. I don’t feel that at all in this song. Of course there are runs, but they compliment the melody as needed. Whether you’re on the down or up-swing of life, this song will apply to whatever you’re going through. A fun songwriting fact: Babyface had no idea what he wanted in the “shoop” place, he just wanted it to groove. The shoops were not re-written, and they definitely make the song what it is.
This one I like slightly more than “Exhale,” but only slightly. This song was also written and produced solely by Babyface, which just emphasizes his genius as a writer and producer. He had written this song for Whitney years prior, but she didn’t want to sing it at that time. She stated she “wasn’t in the mood for singing about why it hurts so bad,” but I guess now she was. Lucky for all of us, right? Just an interesting side note: When I started to type the song title to do some research, “Why Does It Hurt” automatically fills in with “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee.”
If someone hasn’t written that song yet, they definitely should. Get on it, Babyface!
If you haven’t dropped everything you were carrying in a grocery store and started dancing when this came over the loudspeaker, we can’t be friends. I don’t even need to explain the details of this song because I’m 100% sure you know it. It was written by the same duo that wrote “How Will I Know.” When the song was released, coincidentally it was criticized for sounding too much like “How Will I Know.” This kind of makes sense, when you think about it. Due to the success of “How Will I Know,” the pair was asked to write another song for her Whitney album. They obviously wanted to follow up on that success, so they tried a similar formula. I don’t feel it sounds too similar, and although I love both, this one is a little better in my opinion. It must be that sweet drum machine they used in the production, I don’t know. All I know is, if you’re not prepared for a lip sync battle when this comes on, you need to step out of my way.
2). Feel So Good
This has never been on a Whitney album, so you may not have heard it. It was a B-Side to the “I’m Your Baby Tonight” single. If you haven’t heard it, please go check it out. There’s a reason it’s so high on my list. It’s 90s as hell, but it’s an awesome trip down memory lane. It makes me want to dance in my front yard on a summer evening (which is all I did in the 90s, so that makes sense). Whitney is in true form from the beginning with amazing ad-libs throughout. In the piano solo, she lets the piano play without stepping all over it. It’s got such a good groove. At the end around 3:57, she does this awesome thing where she repeats “Feels so good” four times. The first three times are the same, and she changes it up on the fourth time when you’re expecting another repeat. She does that often with her runs and this is a great example to show you what I mean. Because it was such an unknown song, it was hard to find information on who wrote it or produced it, but I wish I could credit those people because they made a masterpiece.
Is this my favorite Whitney song ever??? No, I can’t choose. It’s my favorite today I guess, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. It features Kenny G on saxophone and they go perfectly together. In a review in the New York Times, the song was said to be an “overblown expression of sexual hero worship.” I guess I can’t argue with that, mainly because I don’t know what that means. This is actually a cover of the Linda Clifford version, which you can hear here. It failed to chart for her and I mean, she’s a good singer, but the Whitney version is epic. Luther Vandross also has a version and it’s good, but…it’s not Whitney. Also, her music video was probably the one I saw as a little kid and thought “wow, I want to do what she’s doing!” Meaning standing in the rain while Kenny G plays the saxophone in my house, obviously.
That’s all, you guys! This has been so fun for me. Even if you skipped around and didn’t read the whole thing, I appreciate you taking the time to check this out. I’m curious to know your thoughts on any or all of it. What is your most and least favorite? Have you heard of all of these? Am I missing any?? Please let me know!