It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since we lost one of the greatest voices of our lifetime. Throughout her career, Whitney Houston broke records and topped the charts, making her one of the best selling pop and R&B artists of all time. So it’s no surprise that when this legend first stormed onto the music scene with her debut album, which came out 30 years ago today, she did it with a bang.
At 21 years old, Whitney released, Whitney Houston. Her self-titled debut album went on to produce three number one singles on the Billboard 100 chart and sell more than 25 million copies worldwide. The album earned her four Grammy nominations, and a win for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Saving All My Love For You” at the 1986 Grammy Awards. In 2013 the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It’s no surprise that the it has stood the test of time. A mix of emotionally powerful ballads, (“Greatest Love of All”) and upbeat dance hits (“How Will I Know”), the album strikes the perfect balance between showcasing a phenomenal new vocal talent and creating timeless love songs.
10. “Take Good Care of My Heart”
I love you more than I should / But it keeps me feeling so good / I’ve waited for your love for ever
“Take Good Care Of My Heart”, a duet between Whitney and Jermaine Jackson was originally released on his self-titled album, Jermaine Jackson. A little less than a year later it found its way onto Whitney Houston. It’s a fun love song that features the perfect sax solo to transport you right back to the ’80s.
9. “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do”
Funny how life just falls in place somehow / You’ve touched my heart in places that I never even knew / Cause nobody loves me like you do
Whitney and Jermaine’s second duet on this album was a cover and was originally sung by country artist, Anne Murray and musician Dave Loggins. The song didn’t receive much public recognition, but Whitney’s vocals are still as perfect, powerful and on point as the rest of the songs on the album.
8. “Someone for Me”
Then momma comes and asks me / Why I am dreaming, sitting alone / Why not go out and have some fun
This Jermaine Jackson produced dance track feels very much of its era with its ’80s synth sound. It wasn’t released as a single, but it’s the perfect tune to put on your throwback dance tunes playlist.
7. “Hold Me”
I believe you when you say that you love me / Know that I won’t take you for granted
This track is a Whitney and Teddy Pendergrass duet, first released on Teddy’s album, Love Language. Their voices compliment each other very well, but it’s hard not to hear how Whitney’s voice steals just a little bit more of that spotlight.
6. “Thinking About You”
I can’t get you off my mind / No matter what I do / I’m wishing you were here, with me
This dance single made its way onto Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs charts, landing at positions 10 and 24 respectively. It didn’t score any awards, and may not be among Whitney’s most famous tracks, but even after all these years, it’s hard to resist its pitch perfect ’80’s synth sound. Featuring smooth vocals from Whitney’s collaborator and producer Kashif, the song also shows off Whitney’s command of syncopation and rhythm in her singing. A skill she’d use often throughout her career.
5. “You Give Good Love”
The lead single from Whitney Houston, “You Give Good Love” received tons of acclaim, earning two Grammy nominations and an award at the 13th Annual AMAs. The single also reached #3 on Billboard’s 100 chart. It was originally written with Roberta Flack in mind, but was passed on, so Clive Davis made sure it found its way to Whitney. Hearing the final result, it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing it. It’s a soulful track, and Whitney’s perfect vocals hit you at your core.
4. “All at Once”
I finally took a moment and I’m realizing that / You’re not coming back / And it finally hit me, all at once
“All at Once” is a well-known Whitney classic and it wasn’t even released as an official single. Despite that, the song still received airplay in the ’80s, and introduced listeners to Whitney’s powerful vocal talent for singing about sorrow. This was one of her first ballads where she used her powerhouse pipes to communicate the universal pain of heartache. It was a theme she successfully explored throughout her career with songs like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, “Why Does It Hurt So Bad”, and “Heartbreak Hotel”.
3. “Saving All My Love for You”
Released as her second single from the album, “Saving All My Love” earned Whitney her first Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It was also Whitney’s first song to hit #1 on the Billboard 100 chart. This song about adultery was not only wildly popular at the time, it’s had long-lasting success too — appearing in many television shows and covered by many other artists in the last three decades.
2. “How Will I Know”
“How Will I Know” is one of the few dance tracks on the album and arguably one of Whitney’s most famous dance tracks of all time. Initially intended for Janet Jackson, Whitney released the track as her third single off Whitney Houston. It rocketed to the top of the Billboard 100 chart, giving Whitney her second #1 hit and proof of her massive crossover pop appeal. The “How Will I Know music” video saw heavy rotation on MTV, scoring her a 1986 MTV VMA award for Best Female Video. Revisit the video for a look back at all of the good parts of the 1980’s wrapped in one perfectly retro package complete with Whitney’s oversized headband bow and a paint-splattered set.
1. “Greatest Love of All”
“Greatest Love Of All” is one of Whitney Houston’s biggest hits of all time, and unsurprisingly reached #1 on the Billboard 100 chart at the time of its release. After her untimely death, the song re-entered the charts, reaching #41. This ballad shows that Whitney isn’t called “The Voice” for nothing. She was known for her wide octave range and her ability to hold a long note. On her debut album, her longest held note is found at the close of this track. It clocks in at 11 seconds. Um, bow down to the Queen! There is no one else who can compare. We miss you, Whitney.