Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney Houston Must Have Missed This Video

by Dick Mac

The passing of Whitney Houston is sad in many ways. Addiction, mental illness, and the travels of lost souls are always fodder for tragedy and tragic story-telling.

In the 1980s, I tried to listen to Whitney Houston songs. She had an amazing voice. She was beautiful. She had a presence that commanded attention. She had all of it.

Yet, I only ever purchased one record: an imported Japanese CD of "How Will I Know" remixes. It was pretty fabulous. I wish I still had it, actually. Perhaps I'll check the MP3 stores.

The reason I didn't purchase her music was that she chose painfully dull songs. Painfully dull. Her material was just so boring that (for me) her magnificent talent was wasted. Her voice was the best voice of her generation and perhaps one of the best ever.

Houston was from a clan and an inner circle of talented singers that amazed the world before her: Cissy Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick. Contrary to popular notion, she was not related to Thelma Houston (nee Jackson), who was from Georgia, not New Jersey.

When I look at Houston's catalog, it reminds me of songs sung by Dionne Warwick. Nice songs. Clever songs. Hit songs. But *yawn* please: a little bit goes a long way. Warwick was a singer of brilliant and lovely songs from Hal David & Burt Bacharach; Houston did not have such a team behind her. While Warwick managed hits year after year after year, Houston's discography is rather limited.

If Houston had taken a different path in career development, she may have had more and bigger hits. I suspect that she never saw this footage of Ike & Tina Turner and the Ikettes on Playboy After Dark (or else she would have had a tad more soul and a tad less saccharine-sweetness):

That said, my words will never take away her legacy. Her huge hits, her cross-over success, and her rendition of the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl are all part of cultural history.

I wish she had sung like Tina Turner, and her untimely death before a comeback leaves a gap in the music industry and music history.


Anna said...

I concur, it's possible her sweetness was exploited and managed so much that she forgot... the Tina or the Grace inside her... she was doing a lot of positive things.. it hasn't been official ... but they think it might have been a heart attack ... I feel the same way about Amy too... a tragic demise and a missed singer.

Andrea said...

Whitney always seemed so polished and unreachable. I remember one appearance on the Arsenio Hall show where she let her facade down and, for just a couple of minutes, I could see the wicked sense of humor she had.