In my recent Boiling Point article concerning Whitney Houston’s artistry, I stated that the late diva lacked a signature album and that her catalogue was quite dull when compared to that of several other popular female acts, including Madonna and Mariah Carey. Yet, does that also mean that Houston failed to record a definitive song?
Houston had many monster hits in the US and across the globe, and the most successful of those tunes was undoubtedly her version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. In fact, several of the songs for which people remember Houston were actually covers, and that raises a very interesting point of discussion.
Before we get to the meat of this piece, check out some of Houston’s most popular hits below:
“Greatest Love of All”
“How Will I Know”
“I Have Nothing”
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”
“I Will Always Love You”
“My Love is Your Love”
“Run to You”
“Saving All My Love for You”
“The Star Spangled Banner”
Houston wrote none of her biggest hits and many of those that topped that charts were covers, so what does that really mean? Similar to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and several great singers before her, Houston was a brilliant interpretor of music and had the ability to make almost any song her own.
Surely, it would have been even better if Houston had the talent to compose her own material instead only singing other people’s music, but the impact that her recordings had on popular culture emphasised exactly how skilled she was as a vocalist. For example, her version of “The Star Spangled Banner” became a modern standard that many younger artists, such as Beyonce and Kelly Rowland, have tried to imitate.
Furthermore, Houston’s covers almost always overshadowed the original recordings. How many of you knew that “Saving All My love for You” was first performed by Marilyn McCoo in 1978 or that “The Greatest Love of All” (originally recorded by George Benson in 1977) was covered by Aretha Franklin and Shirley Bassey long before Houston made it a hit in 1986? Singing was Houston’s real talent and she did it well during her prime.
What is Houston’s signature song? What other songs should have been mentioned? Vote in the Way Back Wednesday poll and share your opinion!