Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

Arista Records, 1985




I usually like debut albums because most of the time, they show artists at their best; sophomore releases are usually leftovers of the debut plus a couple of fillers, which everyone finds damn annoying. To this date, I've found one exception to that rule; Whitney Houston. No one puts fillers on schmaltz debut albums! But she did.

With Whitney Houston, Houston blazed the trail for the superdiva image that would dominate the top of the charts for years to come. This album sporting horrible pictures of a beautiful lady on the cover also sported horrible songs by a beautiful voice.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Well, maybe not that beautiful. Houston is clearly damaging her voice in "You Give Good Love" and exposing a grating raw edge in almost every single song. It was nowhere as full as it is now. And her technique is amazingly simple; Houston songs are usually simple, but nowadays she just does that note-chopping thing to make the song sound like it has another verse ("Step By Step").

It does have its moments. "Saving All My Love For You," with its lukewarm adultry lyrics, still gets you to pay attention to what she's singing. And despite the confusing subject matter of "The Greatest Love Of All" (shifting from children to self-respect to learning-to-love), Houston executes with sincerity and grace which adds up to a concert favorite. "How Will I Know" is the best track on the album, a great dance tune with little backup; Houston's voice has acoustic qualities.

The fillers, however, are unforgivable. The tracks produced by Jermaine Jackson are tragic; "Someone For Me" has no substance whatsoever, and utilizes none of Houston's vocal specialities. Jackson got a little selfish when he sang duet in not one but two songs, so "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" and "Take Good Care Of My Heart" sound almost exactly alike. Both of them are not much to listen to; they would've been a lot better off if Houston sang alone.

"Thinking About You" is a poor attempt to bring diversity to the album; it's the cheezy karaoke computer music and too little Houston. "You Give Good Love" is irritating after the first thirty seconds, and refuses to end gracefully.

"All At Once" has such promise in the beginning ten seconds or so, but everything falls apart from there on, no thanks to a complete lack of emotional singing on Houston's part. The last track, "Hold Me" is the lowest attempt yet to fill up an album to the 2-digits tracklist. This song goes on ... and on ... and on. I would've laughed at the obvious insincerity between Teddy Pendergrass and Houston if I didn't feel so cheated.

Which is exactly how I feel ... cheated.

Rating: C+

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