It was Saturday afternoon, and I was late. Behind the wheel of my Mercury Milan, stuck in traffic with two friends in the backseat Driving Miss Daisy style, I tried my best to dodge and weave cars while heading over to pick up one last gal before driving south for an hour to have dinner. Not just anywhere, but a magical place I had never before been to, a place where the word “silverware” wasn’t invented yet and where most of the waiters had ponytails that rivaled my own in both silkiness and length. That’s right: We were going to Medieval Times.
We were dressed up! Real dressed. (For Medieval Times standards, where, judging by the garb of the other diners, told me that medieval folk wore a lot of denim shorts and pool shoes.) And I had the drive all planned out: A little Sirius Satellite Radio mixed with a handful of CDs I was forced to buy after my car was broken into: Some oldies, some showtunes “as a joke,” and of course, Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits divided over the span of two discs.
See, most people probably haven’t thought about Whitney for more than a hot second over the past few years. Not me. I still loved the woman. I still watched clips of Being Bobby Brown on Youtube. Still blasted her hits in my car pretttty much constantly. Still sent my Mom and best friend links to her old live performances, which transcended anything else I’ve ever seen. Just earlier that day, when rumor broke that Whitney was being considered as a new judge for X Factor, I tweeted my EXTREME ENTHUSIASM at the idea. Because really, who else brings both the voice and the charisma like Whitney? Other than Celine Dion (I feel you judging, I’ll continue), really, no one.
My Milan screeched around the corner where my friend Sara Jo was waiting patiently to be collected. I called up, looking at the time, pretty nervous, and told her we were downstairs. “OK, I’ll be right down. Whitney Houston died.” What?
“Whitney Houston died.”
Hearing this news delivered through my booming car speakers was almost too much. A mood that was already pretty panicky was now full blown “nervous cholera,” as my mother would say. Everyone in my car started muttering different versions of “Oh my God I don’t believe its,” while I unzipped my dress to allow for uncontrollable deep breathing.
What were we supposed to do now? Go to dinner and celebrate a birthday and pretend this tragedy had never happened? Well, actually, that’s pretty much exactly what we did. We didn’t have a choice. We drove to Medieval Times, ate food with our hands and tried our best to have fun while secretly checking our Twitter feeds under the table. I kind of think Whitney would have wanted it that way.
It was very difficult for me to figure out how to talk about Whitney and the different ways and moments in which she affected my life and, likely, yours too. So, I’ve decided to pick 10 Youtube Clips with which to talk about this legend, my 10 favorite Whitney-related clips ever.
10. One Moment In Time: “One Moment In Time” is one of the greatest songs Whitney gave us, the kind of song that will get me into a pair of leggings and briskly walk on a bike path somewhere, dreaming of one day winning a Gold for Brisk Walking. It’s a song that combines two of my favorite things ever: The Olympics and Soaring Vocals. And perhaps no other live performance of the song is more moving than that of Whitney opening up the 1988 Grammys. This is a full body chills kind of thing.
9. The “They Work For Me” Dance. Being Bobby Brown is arguably one of my favorite reality shows ever, due in large part to this very scene, described by the uploader as “funny/stank.” And funny slash stank it is. OK, it’s no “doodybubbles” (and if you don’t know what “doodybubbles” are, you really cannot call yourself a true Whitney fan), but it’s a close second. I mean, their dance moves are insane in the best way.
8. Whitney Performing “All The Man That I Need” for the troops. One of my favorite Whitney songs of all time. Combine that with hot troops in the audience, and you’ve got the recipe for something I’ve watched a good 514 times.
7. I Have Nothing from The Bodyguard. Back in college, I used to blast this song out of my window and into the airshaft, where my friend Alyson, who lived 2 floors above me, would stick her head outo of her window, and we would sing this at the top of our lungs. No, this was not 1970s New York, and yes, we did have trouble making friends in the building.
6. Whitney Watching French Signer Jordan. This kid is SO F*CKING CREEPY. And French. You know who agrees? Whitney Houston. Her face during this performance is priceless. If you can make it through the entire thing, reward yourself with a loving pat on the knee.
5. SHUT UP. Another amazing clip from Being Bobby Brown, where Whitney annihilates Fergie and The Black-Eyed Peas in three seconds, while Bobby throws down a slightly-less-stank dance.
4. Whitney Singing Happy Birthday To A Fan. My go-to clip to post on people’s Facebook pages on their birthday.
3. “Do You Hear What I Hear” on Good Morning America. The year was 2002, and I was a senior at Barnard College in uptown Manhattan. When my friend Aly, of “I Have Nothing” in the airshaft fame, found out that Whitney would be performing live at Lincoln Center on Good Morning America, well say no more: We got our sh*t together and headed down to 66th street at the crack of dawn. A crack we weren’t really expecting was that of Whitney’s voice. It was early, yes, and Whitney clearly hadn’t had her hot water with lemon as of yet. I remember being a little disappointed in Queen Houston, while also noticing that her coat had to cost $20,000. A more luxurious coat in person I had never seen.
Fast forward to 5:14 for “Do You Hear What I Hear,” and see if you can spot me in the crowd. I’m the girl in the frozen Cool Runnings wig.
2. Whitty Huton. My favorite show, Martin, referencing my favorite singer, Whitney Houston. Well… almost referencing her. Blame Bruh-man.
1. Star-Spangled Banner. My reverance for this performance of Whitney’s Star-Spangled Banner has already been well-documented, but allow me to talk about it briefly. There is no other version of the Star-Spangled Banner that even comes close to what Whitney put down at Super Bowl XXV. In front of The Florida Orchestra, Houston takes our pretty standard anthem and transforms it into the music of angels with red, white and blue wings. This is what they should blast to newly-made American citizens once their Green cards are ready to go. Sorry, “other countries,” but until you have a version of your own anthem as uplifting and patriotic as this one and sung by one of the few greats, America will always be #1.
BONUS CLIP: It didn’t feel right adding it in with this heartfelt list, but I think we can all agree that if it wasn’t for Whitney Houston, we would never have had this moment from Coming To America. Ladies and Gentlemen, give yourselves a round of applause, you’re all so lovely. And, uh, while you’re in the clapping mood… Sexual Chocolate: