Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm asking you because you know about these things

I just spent the last hour plus playing with Anna while we listened to the DVD of Whitney: The Greatest Hits that we have from Netflix in the background. I just love watching these old video collections - probably because I remember spending countless hours in my adolescence watching MTV and knowing every single song that came on. I saw some videos so many times, I practically had them memorized. So seeing these videos again is always a ball.

I would not classify myself as a Whitney Houston fan - at least not in the same way that I am a Madonna fan. I had all of her albums at one point in time, but I eventually sold most of them off as I either just imported them to my computer or really grew weary of them. I mean, how many times did I hear those songs from The Bodyguard. I think I'm just now getting to the point where I can listen to them again. I was not extremely fond of her hard right turn into R&B with the My Love Is Your Love project, but admittedly, it did generate some really good singles in "It's Not Right, But It's OK" (perhaps the only song I've ever heard that uses caller ID in the lyrics) and the title track. And truthfully, I only really cared for the radically remixed versions of these songs that appeared on the CD maxi-singles.

But watching this video collection reminded me of what a good run of singles Whitney actually has had. Love her or hate her, she did put out some really memorable pop singles. I still love "How Will I Know" - a song that is forever linked with it's very cheesy mid 80s video, with the paint splatters and show choir dancing.

As for the Whitney album, it was a bit on the predictable side - looking back at it from a 20 year vantage point. But it was some pretty great predictable stuff. I mean, yeah, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" was totally overplayed. The video is very 80s cheeseball pathetic (including a guy that looks like Tony Danza - on screen for a fraction of a second.) But the song I totally love from that album is "Love Will Save The Day" - especially as it appears on her Greatest Hits CD from 2000. That version is a great little Jellybean remix that just makes me wistful for 80s extended remixes - when remixing a song didn't mean completely altering the song structure just for the sake of doing so.

The only Whitney Houston CD I still own (besides the greatest hits) is I'm Your Baby Tonight which I still think is one of her best efforts. It was the first hint that she was going to go a bit more R&B and shy away from pop (eventually.) It also had the great fortune of being released during my freshman year of college, a time in my life when I was very musically impressionable and I have many, many great musical memories. I listened to this CD so many times, I'm sure my roommate got sick of hearing it. Sadly, it was underrepresented on the DVD - I hear there's a video of "My Name Is Not Susan" but all I could find on YouTube was this "live" version (but it was a show that I actually saw in Ames back in 1992!)

And try as you might, you simply couldn't avoid Whitney during The Bodyguard portion of her career. I still, to this day, remember reading in Billboard that Whitney was covering Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and about how it was "undersung." When I heard the song, I seriously wondered what version of the song the reviewer had heard. It got to the point where I could not listen to that song. And while I'm sure it made Dolly millions, I wonder if it will always be associated with Whitney, rather than Dolly. Hard telling.

I didn't think I had quite this much to say about Whitney. Like I said, I hardly consider myself a fan. I do find her descent into drug addiction and self-destructive behavior concerning, but it seems like she might be ready to climb out of that hole. I think if anyone deserves a Mimi-like comeback, it is probably Whitney, who I prefer vastly to Mariah Carey. I know that will annoy Mariah fans. Deal. It's a matter of personal preference. And there's no changing that. Will it pacify you to know that I really did like a lot of the music off the Glitter soundtrack? Total guilty pleasure.

So here's to Whitney. Watching her videos this afternoon was much more fun than I anticipated.

1 comment:

xolondon said...

The remix of How Will I know on the hits CD is brilliant, isn't it? I think the Baby Tonight one is good too.

My "current" fave Whitney song is "Why Does It Hurt So Bad". I think all diva singers should study this song- it's a master class in singing. The thing that singers today need to learn though is nhow Whitney holds back -she doesn't give it all away until about 2/3 of the way through. She is a POP singer in the sense that she doesn't go crazy over the melody, she establishes and carries it and then ad libs only at the end. Nice backing vocals on that song and I love that they kept her studio question "How 'bout that?" which you can barely hear it in the last 10 seconds. Listen for it!

Okay, I have spoken enough!