And now the one that started it all. This album introduced us to Whitney, and she won the world’s heart. Whitney Houston was released on February 14, 1985. It topped the Billboard 200 chart for 14 weeks in 1986 and generated three number-one singles—”Saving All My Love for You”, “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love of All”—on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the first debut album and the first album by a female artist to achieve that feat.
At the time that Whitney Houston was released, I was in a hard rock/heavy metal phase. But, Whitney’s incredible voice got my attention, and I loved every song I heard by her. She just had hit-after-hit-after-hit. I normally get sick of songs when I hear them too much. But that was not the case here. I loved this album when it came out, and I still listen to these songs today. So, let’s listen to some songs I selected from the album, in no particular order:
“Nobody Loves Me Like You Do”
This song was originally recorded by Anne Murray with Dave Loggins in 1984, and was a #1 country song.
Then Whitney recorded this song with Jermaine Jackson, and did an incredible job.
“You Give Good Love”
This song was released as the lead single from the album. It became a crossover hit, and peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
This is my favorite Whitney song that I never personally heard on the radio. It was a duet with legendary former Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes frontman, Teddy Pendergrass. The song actually debuted on the 1984 Pendergrass album Love Language. Then it was put on Whitney’s debut album.
“Greatest Love of All”
This song was written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and originally recorded by George Benson for the 1977 Muhammad Ali biopic The Greatest. Clive Davis was initially against Houston recording the song for her debut album, but he eventually gave in after persuasion from Houston and Masser. Linda Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. She died from the disease in April 1986 at the age of 36. By that time, Whitney made the song a huge international hit. It was her third #1 hit, and remains her third biggest US hit, after “I Will Always Love You” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”.
“All at Once”
Out of all the great ballads on this album, this one is my favorite:
“How Will I Know”
First of all, if you somehow have any doubt about Whitney’s vocal ability, check out her a cappella version of this song:
“How Will I Know” was Whitney’s third single, and second #1 hit. This was a great fun predecessor to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”. Originally, songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam had written the song’s demo for Janet Jackson. But, Jackson’s management team turned down the song.
Clive Davis and the gang had plenty of ballads and R&B songs for Whitney’s debut album. But they were looking for a pop crossover song. Clive heard the song, and knew it was perfect for Whitney, and the rest is history.
Here is the version we are all familiar with:
“Saving All My Love for You”
“You Give Good Love” may have been Whitney’s lead single, but we will end with “Saving All My Love for You”, which was the song that really put her on the map. It was the first #1 of her historical run of seven straight number 1’s.
Whitney won the 1986 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and the American Music Award for Favorite R&B/Soul Video for “Saving All My Love for You”.Follow @returntothe80s