Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: Whitney Houston - Whitney (1987)

This was one of the first albums I ever owned, so my absolute love for this album might have more to do with nostalgia than its actual quality, although I think it would be hard to deny this is a great pop album, even if it isn’t quite as consistent as Whitney Houston’s self-titled1985 debut. Pure pop pleasure “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” gets things rolling on really strong note. The song is pop perfection and my favorite track by Houston. From there on, the album follows a pretty predictable path, alternating almost track-by-track between big adult-leaning love ballads and frothier dance pop confections. Although the ballads may have shined more on her debut, there’s a definite push to grow her younger audience here with the upbeat songs, which are generally the better tracks. “So Emotional” in particular is a highlight, and I also quite like “Love Will Save the Day” and even find the ridiculous “Love Is a Contact Sport” to be a guilty pleasure. Two of the album’s ballads were US #1s, the better of which is “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” which was produced by Michael Masser, who produced several hits from Houston’s debut. The other, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” was produced by Narada Michael Warren, who produced most of the album. Among the album’s non-singles that dominate its second half, I’m particularly fond of the laid-back feel of “For the Love of You.”

Best: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me), So Emotional, Didn’t We Almost Have It All, Just the Lonely Talking Again, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Love Will Save the Day.

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