I’ve been on television a few times this week discussing the many chart and sales records held by the late Whitney Houston. There is no denying that numerical accolades help define an artist’s legacy, but so does the way their music affects people as they go about their every day lives. Here are five Whitney Houston songs that are significant in my musical journey:
5. “Million Dollar Bill”
Though I’ve been introducing music videos on television for over 10 years, up until a couple years ago I had never introduced a clip from Whitney Houston (my past VJ duties were mostly in the genre of rock). When Houston released I Look To You in 2009, her music video, “Million Dollar Bill,” was featured on the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. I remember giving Whitney an abundance of praise, although at the time it was popular to take jabs at her “train-wreck” lifestyle. A rep from Houston’s record label got in contact with me the following week and complimented my segment. I’m proud of the fact that I never took a cheap shot at either Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston during my time on television. When you get to their level, there is a certain amount of respect that’s earned, no matter what may unfold in their private lives.
4. “I Will Always Love You”
Though pop music was not my genre of choice in the ‘90s — especially since there was a band called Nirvana making its mark on pop-culture — I still wasn’t able to ignore the greatness of “I Will Always Love You.” As I entered college, I found it a testament to Houston’s one-of-a-kind voice, that many jocks, college-radio geeks, and hip-hop diehards proudly had The Bodyguard soundtrack on display in their dormitory CD racks.
Unsurprisingly, Whitney Houston‘s untimely death last weekend has lead to a surge in album sales for the legendary performer, with her Greatest Hits compilation selling enough copies in just one day to steamroll the charts and land itself at number six on the Billboard 200 Album chart. Except that Billboard doesn’t acknowledge the would-be chart topper because of its age, so despite killer sales, the album wont actually appear on the chart. Selling 63,853 copies in one day, the album did make it to number one on Billboard’s Catalogue Album list (with her self-titled debut album making it to number five, also on this list), so the soaring sales haven’t gone entirely without recognition.
To put Houston’s posthumous sales in perspective, NY Daily News compares her numbers to Paul McCartney‘s Kisses On The Bottom, which sold 74,100 copies to debut at number five on the Billboard 200 chart. But McCartney had a full week to amass these numbers — Houston’s last minute sales bump was the product of one day, as Sunday night is the cutoff for Nielsen SoundScan’s stats, and we tragically lost Houston on the Saturday night. It’s expected that these big sales will just keep growing for the late Houston over the next week as fans continue to grieve and show support.
The VH1 News special Whitney Houston: Death Of A Diva premieres on VH1 tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and will repeat again at 9:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. The 30-minute program will honor the life and times of Whitney Houston, and feature the latest updates on events surrounding her death, plus reactions from attendees at her mentor music mogul Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy Awards music industry party on Saturday night (like L.A. Reid). Additionally, there will be tributes from officials, her peers (like Kelly Price), record executives and fans, as well as some previously unseen interview footage with Whitney Houston herself.
In the clip we have for you above, which was shot back in 2010 as part of the Jennifer Hudson episode of Behind The Music, Whitney discusses how she almost didn’t record the song “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” because she “hated” it. Ultimately, her mentor Clive Davis was able to convince her of the song’s merits, a track that would go on to be her seventh consecutive #1 single, a record that still stands to this day.
In a tragic turn of events the music industry lost one of its biggest legends, Whitney Houston, over the weekend. In a last minute reshuffle, the Grammys made an effort to pay tribute to the great star, with LL Cool J giving an eulogy at the start of the show, and big names like Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Stevie Wonder commemorating their hero (Alicia Keys performed a tribute to the recently passed Etta James with Bonnie Raitt but didn’t fail to acknowledge Whitney). But perhaps the most stirring tribute of all was Jennifer Hudson‘s emotional performance of Whitney’s iconic song “I Will Always Love You.”
While Jennifer’s beautiful vocal soared through the song, and physically she appeared to embody the ghost of Whitney, she didn’t quite hit the high notes with the same easy power as Whitney — so as she paid rousing tribute, she also reminded us of the awesome talent of the late performer, whose natural voice is unparalleled, even by someone who is considered one of the great contemporary vocalists of today. Jennifer’s performance was a deeply emotional one, and it seemed like the singer had some difficulty getting through as she was overcome by tears at the end.
So while it seemed like the Grammys did everything they could at the last minute to ensure Whitney was paid proper respect, some were still perturbed by the closing act, hoping for a Whitney tribute as opposed to Paul McCartney‘s Beatles Medley and the ensuing dad rock guitar-off. What do you think? Do you think the Grammy’s did enough in honor of Whitney? Or do you think there could have been more, for instance a closing ensemble cast Whitney Medley? Let us know in the poll below!
VH1 spoke with Grammy-nominated singer Kelly Price on the Grammys red carpet last night, and chatted with her in depth about close friend Whitney Houston‘s final performance. Kelly was not only present when Whitney sang one final time on Thursday night, she performed alongside her. (Video is below).
The close friends sang “Jesus Loves Me” for a packed crowd at Price’s pre-Grammy celebration, with A-List onlookers like 2011 VH1 DIVA Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton, El Debarge and Ray-J watching from the audience. Kelly adamantly defended Whitney’s behavior that night, telling us “she came out to celebrate a friend…in doing nothing wrong, she’s being vilified.”
Hear more of Kelly’s passionate defense of Whitney, above. And be sure to tune into VH1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT tonight for our brand VH1 News Special, Whitney Houston: Death of a Diva (also repeating at 9:30 p.m. as well), which will feature interviews with celebrities on the 2012 Grammys Red Carpet last night, as well as previously unseen 2010 interview footage with Whitney Houston herself.
When Whitney Houstonpassed away yesterday, we lost a once-in-a-generation talent, a singer whose voice was so pure and emotive that it was heralded by people of of all ages, races and nationalities. During a remarkable stretch from December of 1985 until March of 1988, Whitney scored a record seven consecutive #1 Billboard singles in a row; she ultimately finished her career with 11 #1 songs, good for 7th place on the all-time list of history’s most popular recording artists.
As we all struggle to cope with the sudden loss of Whitney Houston, we put together the following Spotify playlist as a way to remember Whitney at her finest — Dance With Me Baby: All Of Whitney Houston’s Top 40 hits. The playlist consists of 31 tracks, and is organized in order of chart success. It ranges from “I Will Always Love You”, which spent an astounding 14 weeks at #1 in 1992-1993, to “Queen Of The Night”, a deep cut from The Bodyguard that peaked at #36 on the Billboard charts.
The playlist’s tracklist is as follows:
Song: “I Will Always Love You” Released: November 14, 1992 Peak Position: #1 for 14 weeks
Song: “Greatest Love Of All” Released: April 5, 1986 Peak Position: #1 for 3 weeks
Song: “How Will I Know” Released: December 28, 1985 Peak Position: #1 for 2 weeks
“How Will I Know” wasn’t the first single to be released from Whitney Houston‘s self-titled, 1985 debut album; in fact, it wasn’t the second, either (those honors belong to “You Give Good Love” and “Saving All My Love For You”, respectively). However, when the music video for “How Will I Know” hit MTV in November 1985, it helped Whitney “cross over” and ultimately launched her into the stratosphere of superstardom.
Tonight, as the world struggles to come to terms with Whitney Houston’s untimely death at the age of 48, audio of her isolated vocal track from “How Will I Know” has surfaced online. It’s a powerful reminder of her once-in-a-generation vocal talents, and a mesmerizing performance of the song that VH1 named as the #12 song in our countdown of the 100 Greatest Songs Of The ’80s.
The music world lost one of its all-time greats when Whitney Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles earlier today. The six-time Grammy Award winner passed away from as yet undetermined causes at the far too young age of 48. While we are all attempting to process this tremendous loss, we decided to take look back at some of the most memorable moments that defined her unforgettable career.
9. Whitney’s performance of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Tribute Concert in 1988.
8. Whitney performs alongside her mom, Cissy Houston, on the Merv Griffin Show in 1983.
Today, we have one of the world’s biggest divas, Whitney Houston, and we’ve even made up a jingle to go along with the performance: “On the 4th day of DIVAS, Whitney Houston is sublime — the way she’s singing back in ’99!” Her performance of “It’s Not Right But It’s OK” is dance floor anthem Whitney at her best. Whitney is fierce as she snarls into the microphone, reminding us of everything we loved about the soulful girl music of the nineties. She’s even got the moves to go with the track, busting out some hip shaking along with her backup dancers, and she does it with all the attitude we’ve come to expect from our Whits — yep, she’s partying like it’s 1999, alright!
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul will premiere exclusively on VH1 on Monday, December 19, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Divas take on divas in this supercut from our old VH1 cohort Rich Juzwiak in which the first ladies of pop music wax lyrical on their contemporaries. From the heartfelt, gushing rants of love and affection by Lady Gaga and Britney Spears over Madonna, to the ambiguous relationship between Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, to the decidedly more acerbic back-and-forths between Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney and Cher, the video spans the gambit of famous diva on diva mouth-offs. As is mentioned several times in the super cut, it’s a shame that female performers are often cast in such a catty light, and often poked and prodded by prying reporters. As Christina Aguilera so sagely points out, “it just sucks that as women we have to deal with that comparison thing that men don’t necessarily have to.” Amen sister. Now can we all just kiss and make up? We’re looking at you Celine!
If you’d like to see divas being friends and doing what they do best — belting out their awesome hits — tune in for VH1′s DIVAS Celebrates Soul premiering Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on VH1.