On November 12, RCA will release a new Whitney Houston hits CD called I Will Always Love You: The Best Of Whitney Houston. When the 18 tracks were announced, debates began over which singles didn’t make the cut. Message boards lit up, press-on nails were chewed off and it basically seemed confounding that at least a few essentials were nowhere to be found. Here, Idolator makes the case for nine more gems from The Voice’s back catalog that we think deserve recognition — and truly stand out as some of her best.
“It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”: Okay, let’s get this over with: the greatest travesty of all the tracks left off Whitney’s new hits record was also the first cut on her epic 1998 album My Love Is Your Love. Rodney Jerkins, fresh off his work with Brandy and Monica, nailed the production on this single, which peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #4 in the blazing summer of ’99.
“Million Dollar Bill”: Launched as an upbeat counterpoint single to the inspirational title cut from Whitney’s final album I Look To You, this is a bangin’ disco thriller written for her by Alicia Keys. The call and response “oh-oh-0h-oh” bits are great for a wedding party sing-along (just sayin’).
“Why Does It Hurt So Bad”: We know “Nippy” could belt, but this melancholy Babyface-produced jam is characterized by a slow burn build from breathy sadness to passionate defiance. And we’re still obsessed with that soft-spoken “How ‘bout that?” ad-lib in the song’s final seconds.
“My Name Is Not Susan”: In 1991, sitting astride a motorcycle on her album cover was considered the most rebellious thing Whitney had ever done. This track’s got that bouncy L.A. Reid sound and, even if the song never really goes anywhere, we love it when Whitney squeals, “A damn shame — forgot my name!”
“Star-Spangled Banner”: Dedicated to your grandma and your mama, who may consider it the definitive version of this Francis Scott Key tune. Years on, we note that Whitney’s reading is actually pretty straightforward, with one note in each syllable. It’s only the bad imitators that have decided to diva it up.
“Same Script Different Cast”: A duet created for Whitney’s first hits collection – a double LP, oh yes – back in 1999. Pianos and strings for yet another song about two girls arguing over a man who ain’t worth the diva wails. The best bit comes at 1:40 when Deborah Cox plugs her ears and trills, “La la la la la I’m-not-listening.”
“Step By Step”: From the soundtrack to The Movie That Wasn’t As Good As Bodyguard – aka The Preacher’s Wife – “Step By Step” is a lost gem that’s practically a duet with the song’s writer, Annie Lennox. Listen for her on backing vocals and chorus harmonies.
“Run To You”: Yet another single from what Whitney’s contemporary Madonna once referred to as “that damned Bodyguard soundtrack.” This is the type of song you see bad singers flaying on TV singing contests. So you should try singing it in the shower.
“If I Told You That”: “Darkchild,” Whitney growls at the start of this mini popera that George Michael added his vocals to in Y2K. How weird is it that you can’t always tell the dueling divas apart? We didn’t talk so much about “wig snatching” at the turn of the century, but that’s what’s going down on this tune, for sure.
“I Learned From The Best”: A deep cut from My Love Is Your Love that ended up as that album’s fifth and final single. Whitters teamed with chest-beating ballad maestro David Foster for what, at the time, seemed like a lesser track. Playing it today, the elegant chorus has aged beautifully and she looks amazing in the video. Sigh. We miss you, Whitney.
So, there you have it. Enough with this single disc drama. Idolator decrees that the Whitney’s new Hits record must have a deluxe version. Our pop troops will not sleep until this demand is met. Oh wait — it apparently has been…in the UK.