Whitney Houston, One of the Best Ever

rip whitney houston

I’m pretty sure I’ve never considered myself a Whitney Houston fan. Never hated her either. But growing up in the 80s, she couldn’t be avoided. She was everywhere, and there were completely legitimate arguments over which female singer ruled the decade, her or Madonna (Madonna in a landslide, but that’s just me). What Whitney Houston did, though, is almost improbable. Starting with You Give Good Love in 1985 off her debut album, she released 12 major songs from her own albums. All 12 were top 10.  Eleven were top 5. Nine hit #1. She took a cheesy song that went on to obvious money-maker like the soundtrack to the 1988 Summer Olympics and turned it into a top 5 song (more on that later). But she wasn’t done there. She is the only artist to ever chart with the Star Spangled Banner (twice!), she carded nine more top 10 hits and recorded a little song you may or may not have heard of, I Will Always Love You. If you don’t know, that song was freaking everywhere in 1992. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a radio station that was playing it twice an hour no matter what the format was. “Coming up on The X, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and … Whitney Houston!” That managed to make the crappy movie it was from, The Bodyguard, one of the biggest movies of the year based almost solely on the strength of that song’s popularity. Then came the Bobby Brown years and … you know the rest. But it’s hard to understate what a force she was in the 80s and 90s. My Whitney Houston playlist:

Greatest Love of All: Whitney at her absolute best. Hearing the song now still gives me chills. That’s how you can tell a great voice — when her singing a nice little song that in anyone else’s hands would have been about 90 percent less effective gives you chills 25 years later.

Star Spangled Banner: If you’re too young to remember the 1991 Super Bowl, then you don’t remember watching the greatest version of the National Anthem that’s ever been sung. A week before, we had declared war on Iraq for Operation Desert Storm, and the country was pretty well united. And if they weren’t before, they were after they heard the admittedly lip-synced version of the anthem. I’m about to watch it again, and I’m getting chills just thinking about it.

And weirdly, it was only the second best national anthem moment before a sporting event of that couple weeks:

One Moment in Time: Horrible lyrics, guaranteed paycheck and airplay, made only to make money … and Whitney Houston absolutely destroys this song. This is one of those, “No one else could have done it but her” songs. It helps that the 1988 Summer Olympics were some of the most interesting ever played. It was the Greg Louganis hitting his head Olympics, Ben Johnson, Karch Kiraly, Roy Jones Jr. falling victim to one of the worst hose jobs in sports history (you had to be there), the US losing the basketball gold for the first (fair) time, Jim Abbott pitching the last out of the gold medal baseball game … it was a huge, huge Olympics. Watching the video and seeing the highlights again gave me about 10 chills, but it probably wouldn’t have without Whitney Houston singing them.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody: A-plus video, A song. The part that always used to crack me and my brothers up was at 4:45 mark when she starts shaking that guy and then she chucks a dummy into the air, and when the dummy lands, he’s back to being real again. It’s 80s cheese at its best.

Can you imagine being a Grammys producer/writer on Saturday? You spend months putting the show together, writing every canned word of it, arranging the down-to-the-second timing of every speech and performance and after that meticulous attention to detail, you’re told on Saturday night, “Blow it up, the whole thing, Whitney Houston just died.” Something tells me they were just flying by the seat of their pants and just hoping everything turned out OK. It did, from what I saw. The Jennifer Hudson thing was nice enough, and they apparently found the right person to do it since she could barely keep it together. But Jennifer Hudson went from “Weight Watchers spokeswoman” to “back on the cultural map” in two minutes of singing.

Oh, and a bunch of people won awards. Good for them.

it will live on in syndication

House never interested me, ever. I think I’ve watched two or three episodes, but it’s just not my type of show, the “save the medical patient of the week” type thing. But it’s a testament to TV’s “what have you done for me lately” mentality, as it’s dipped in the ratings for the last five years after peaking at #5 in 2007. Fox hasn’t exactly been developing decent dramas for a couple years, and it put all of its eggs in Terra Nova’s basket this year. That didn’t go well. So next year could be tough, although it might just bring back Alcatraz and the very promising Touch and put them both on Mondays.

Good, I’m glad someone else noticed how much it sucks trying to keep up with Tuesday TV. I always feel like I’m up til like 12:30 or 1 trying to watch all my shows, but when I do that, I’m pretty dead the next day and it ensures my 7-month old will be up before 7 and at least some other time during the night. It’s why I fast-forward through the songs in Glee anymore — I need the time. Even when I do, I usually can’t get through New Girl. I’d watch Southland and Parenthood on any other night, I just can’t fit them on Tuesday. And I would have liked to have watched The River, but it’s not supplanting my Tuesday night regulars. Same for Cougar Town, which I may never see again with it stuck in its new time slot when it comes back tomorrow.

the rock. making other people's sequels fun since 2011

It’s OK, I knew no one would listen to me and that they’d all go to see Phantom Menace this weekend. George Lucas only owns like three or four islands in the Pacific, so he probably needs a couple more. Be happy that you helped that cause! At least it came in fourth for the weekend after a huge opening for three other movies that no one seemed to see coming. The Vow, Safe House and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island all out performed expectations, which means you’re probably going to see even more movies tied to Valentine’s Day weekend next year. This is the same kind of phenomenon that Pocono resorts and winter tourist attractions see when Valentine’s Day weekend and President’s Day weekend are different. That’s two weekends where people go out instead of two.

Just some advice — don’t be this person. I’ve been pretty lucky the last few years, I can’t remember a really bad theater experience based solely on the behavior of others around me. But I would have flipped out if I was this guy. I don’t like people in the press box that aren’t press, so I certainly wouldn’t like people who aren’t press at a review showing. Just don’t be that person in a theater. Please. The sane people of the world are begging you.

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