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Whitney Houston: My Top 20 Favorite Singles

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston: My Top 20 Favorite Singles

1963 - 2012
It's with an extremely heavy heart that I write about the passing of Whitney Houston.  The world has truly lost another icon.  I was in the middle of writing my most recent Natalia Kills post when I happened to glance down at my phone and saw a Tweet from The Ting Tings about the death of Whitney Houston. I immediately froze. I couldn't move.  I clicked the link, skimmed numerous articles and finally flipped on CNN for a sort of final confirmation. It was true - the Legendary Whitney Elizabeth Houston was gone.  

Of course, I was glued to my Twitter feed and CNN for the next few hours, tearing up with every celebrity reaction that came in.  I just couldn't (and still can't) fathom a world without Whitney Houston.  Say what you want about her recent troubles, there's simply no denying the fact that Houston is a talent that only comes once in a lifetime. I for one, feel privileged to have been touched by the music of Whitney Houston during my lifetime and I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.

To be honest, I can't remember the first Whitney Houston song I ever heard, but I do remember when my brother bought The Bodyguard Soundtrack.  I fell so hard for that soundtrack - SO hard in fact that I might have pilfered the CD from my brother. The soundtrack introduced me to artists like Lisa Stansfield, The S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M., Sass Jordan and yes, even Whitney Houston.  Now, when The Body Guard came out I was only 11 years old, so too young to see a Rated R movie, but the music obviously spoke to me.  While I'm sure I had heard Whitney Houston songs prior to listening to her material from the soundtrack, I am certain that this album was the one that solidified Houston as a namesake in my mind.  The Body Guard soundtrack produced two Top 5 hits ("I'm Every Woman," "I Have Nothing") and a #1 single ("I Will Always Love You") on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, so of course it made her a namesake for a lot of young people from my generation.  

Photo Credit: Patrick Demarchelier
Throughout the 80s, I listened exclusively to "Oldies" radio because that's what my family listened to, so that was what I knew.  Of course, as the years went on I went back and fell in love with Whitney's entire back catalog, as one should do after missing nearly a decade of genius from an artist like Whitney Houston. Houston's last album, 2009's I Look To You was actually the first Whitney album I ever purchased, and while her more recent material might not have been of the same caliber as past material, it's quintessential Whitney.  Whitney Houston at her worst was still better than many contemporaries at their best.

To honor Ms. Houston and her incredible talent, I've gone through her discography and picked out my 20 favorite singles and listed them in chronological order by release date.  I've also listed the songwriters, producers and chart positions (U.S., Canadian and UK) for each song.  Now, this is only a sampling of Whitney Houston's many hits, not to mention non-single album tracks but I had to have a sort of focus for this post. I hope these songs bring you as much joy as they do for me. Please comment below and share some of your favorite singles!

"Saving All My Love For You"
Release Date: August 13, 1985
Songwriters: Michael Masser, Gerry Goffin
Producer: Michael Masser
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S., CAN, UK)

"How Will I Know"
Release Date: November 22, 1985
Songwriters: George Merrill, Shannon Rubicam,
Narada Michael Walden
Producer: Narada Michael Walden
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S., CAN), #5 (UK)

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)"
Release Date: May 2, 1987
Songwriters: George Merrill, Shannon Rubicam
Producers: Narada Michael Walden, Whitney Houston
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S., CAN, UK)

"Didn't We Almost Have It All"
Release Date: August 13, 1987
Songwriters: Michael Masser, Will Jennings
Producer: Michael Masser
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S.), #2 (CAN), #14 (UK)

"So Emotional"
Release Date: November 12, 1987
Songwriters: Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly
Producer: Narada Michael Walden
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S.), #9 (CAN), #5 (UK)

"I Know Him So Well"
Release Date: November 30, 1988
Songwriters: Tim Rice, Benny Andersson,
Björn Ulvaeus (from the musical Chess)
Producer: Narada Michael Walden
Chart Positions:  #46 (GER), #16 (NED)*
*Released in Australia, Germany, Spain, & Netherlands only

"One Moment In Time"
Release Date: August 27, 1988
Songwriters: Albert Hammond, John Bettis
Producer: Narada Michael Walden
Chart Positions: #5 (U.S.), #22 (CAN), #1 (UK)

"I Will Always Love You"
Release Date: November 3, 1992
Songwriter: Dolly Parton
Producer: David Foster
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S., CAN, UK)

"I'm Every Woman"
Release Date: January 2, 1993
Songwriters: Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson
Producer: Narada Michael Walden, David Cole, Robert Clivillés
Chart Positions: #4 (U.S., UK)

"I Have Nothing"
Release Date: February 20, 1993
Songwriters: David Foster, Linda Thompson
Producer: David Foster
Chart Positions: #4 (U.S.), #1 (CAN), #3 (UK)

"Run To You"
Release Date: June 6, 1993
Songwriters: Jud Freidman, Allan Rich
Producer: David Foster
Chart Positions: #31 (U.S.), #10 (CAN), #15 (UK)

"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)"
Release Date: November 7, 1995
Songwriter: Babyface
Producer: Babyface
Chart Positions: #1 (U.S., CAN), #11 (UK)

"Step By Step"
Release Date: February 24, 1997
Songwriter: Annie Lennox
Producer: Stephen Lipson
Chart Positions: #15 (U.S.), #23 (CAN), #13 (UK)

"When You Believe"
Release Date: November 2, 1998
Songwriter: Stephen Schwartz
Producer: Babyface
Chart Positions: #15 (U.S.), #20 (CAN), #4 (UK)

"Heartbreak Hotel"
Release Date: December 15, 1998
Songwriters: Carsten Schack, Kenneth Karlin, Tamara Savage
Producers: Soulshock & Karlin
Chart Positions: #2 (U.S.), #12 (CAN), #25 (UK)

"It's Not Right But It's Okay"
Release Date: January 25, 1999
Songwriters: LaShawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III,
Isaac Phillips, Toni Estes
Producer: Darkchild
Chart Positions: #4 (U.S.), #3 (CAN, UK)

"My Love Is Your Love"
Release Date: July 3, 1999
Songwriters: Wyclef Jean, Jerry Duplessis
Producer: Wyclef Jean, Jerry Duplessis
Chart Positions: #4 (U.S.), #10 (CAN), #2 (UK)

"I Learned From The Best
Release Date: November 29, 1999
Songwriter: Diane Warren
Producer: David Foster
Chart Positions: #27 (U.S.), #19 (UK)

"Try It On My Own"
Release Date: February 11, 2003
Songwriters: Babyface, Jason Edmonds, Carole Bayer Sager,
Aleese Simmons, Nathon Walton
Producer: Babyface
Chart Positions: #84 (U.S.), #24 (CAN)

"Million Dollar Bill"
Release Date: August 18, 2009
Songwriters: Alicia Keys, Kaseem "Swizz Beatz" Dean, Norman Harris
Producers: Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys
Chart Positions: #100 (U.S.), #62 (CAN), #5 (UK)

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