Friday, February 24, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Remembering Whitney Houston

The passing of Whitney Houston is a tremendous loss to popular music. She was a star, she was an icon, she had true singing talent. Although her career got off-track near the end, there were times she was the biggest thing in the music business. From 1985 through 1988, her first two albums were both massively successful, earning Grammy Award nominations for Album of the Year and spawning seven U.S. #1 hits. Then in 1992-1993, she sat on top of the music world again with The Bodyguard Soundtrack and its massive hit single "I Will Always Love You."

She has always been on my personal favorites and I have many fond memories of her music. Here are a few of them.

Greatest Love of All (1986). This was the first Whitney Houston song I ever knew. My music teacher selected it for us as one of the few pop songs she let us sing in fourth grade. A little later, this was one of the few songs I learned to play on the piano (during my very brief stint playing piano).

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) (1987). The summer of 1987 was the summer I began to listen to popular music. This was a #1 hit at that time, making Whitney Houston one of the first pop musicians I really got into (along with Madonna, Debbie Gibson and Michael Jackson). Whitney was one of the first pop albums I owned, and I listened to it obsessively. I got to know that album in a way I rarely get to know albums these days, learning to appreciate every song on it. This, though, was its highlight and it remains one of my favorite songs by her.

I Will Always Love You (1992). Like many people, I fell in love with this song instantly. It was so amazing, becoming a bigger hit than any song ever had been (a then record 14 weeks at #1). I loved how she sang the first verse a cappella, smartly riding the trend of recent hits by Boyz II Men to introduce what is otherwise a pretty traditional AC pop ballad. I remember getting The Bodyguard Soundtrack for Christmas in 1992 and being so excited to listen to it Christmas Eve.

It's Not Right, But It's Okay (Thunderpuss Remix) (1999). The summer of 1999 was the year I graduated from college and moved to Washington, D.C. to begin the adult phase of my life. It was a major time of transition, as I learned to navigate a new city, get used to the working life and make new friends. Of course, that time also involved a significant amount of time in gay bars and clubs (something I rarely do now). This was basically the soundtrack of my nightlife that summer.

Million Dollar Bill (2009). I was disappointed that Just Whitney was not a success and troubled by what happened to Whitney during this period. So I was very happy for her when she managed to pull herself together to make one more decent album, I Look to You, which included this fantastic upbeat single.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney and Madonna in the top 10 together again

Madonna enters the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 this week, climbing three notches with her new hit single, "Give Me All Your Luvin." With Billboard allowing Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" to reappear in the Hot 100 this week an amazing thing happened on the chart: two pop icons of the '80s and '90s spend time together in the top 10 for the first time in over 16 years.

Madonna and Whitney appeared on the scene within a few years of each other and went on to dominate pop charts for the next 20 years or so. During that time, they frequently appeared in the top 10 at the same time. Here's a look at those instances:

July 6, 1985. Whitney Houston's first top 10 hit, "You Give Good Love," enters the top 10 at #7 the same week that Madonna's sixth top 10 hit, "Angel," spends its last week in the top 10 at #10.

September 28-October 12, 1985. Madonna's final Like a Virgin single, "Dress You Up," and Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love for You" spend 3 weeks together in the top 10. Madonna's single peaks at #5 while Whitney's becomes her first #1 hit--the first of seven consecutive chart-toppers.

May 17-June 14, 1986. On May 17, Whitney's last Whitney Houston single "Greatest Love of All" hits #1 the same week Madonna's first True Blue Single "Live to Tell" enters the top 10. For 2 weeks, the songs are #1 and #2 and, on June 7, "Live to Tell" knocks "Greatest Love of All" from #1. The singles spend 5 weeks together in the top 10.

[August 8, 1987. A near miss: Madonna's "Who's That Girl" enters the top 10 the same week Whitney's former #1 "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" drops out of the top 10.]

August 29-September 12, 1987. Whitney's second Whitney single, "Didn't We Almost Have It All," enters the top 10 at #8 the same week Madonna's "Who's That Girl" falls from #1 to #2. The singles spend 3 weeks together in the top 10.

[October 17, 1987. Another near miss. Madonna's second Who's That Girl Soundtrack single, "Causing a Commotion," climbs six notches to #5 the same week Whitney former #1 hit "Didn't We Almost Have It All" makes its exit from the top 10.]

December 8, 1990-January 5, 1991. Madonna's "Justify My Love" from her greatest hits set, The Immaculate Collection, enters the top 10 the same week Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight" falls from #1 to #2. The singles spend 5 weeks together in the top 10.

[March 23, 1991. Yet another near miss. Madonna's "Rescue Me" spends its only week in the top 10 at #9 the same week Whitney Houston's ninth #1 hit, "All the Man That I Need," falls out of the top 10.]

January 16-February 6, 1993. On January 16, Madonna's second Erotica single "Deeper and Deeper" enters the top 10 at #10 the week that Whitney's massive Bodyguard Soundtrack hit "I Will Always Love You"spends its 8th week at #1. Two weeks later "Deeper and Deeper" peaks at #7; "I Will Always Love You" is still #1. Two weeks later, "Deeper and Deeper" is gone from the top 10; "I Will Always Love You" is still #1 (and will be for another 2 weeks--it was such a huge hit).

December 9, 1995-December 23, 1995. Madonna's Something to Remember single "You'll See" enters the top 10 at #8 during Whitney's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)'s" second week at #2, which had debuted at #1 just two weeks earlier, becoming only the third single to ever achieve that feat. The Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack's single was Houston's 11th and final #1 hit. Until this week, this was the last time the two icons spent time together in the top 10.

[March 1, 1997. A near miss. Madonna's Evita hit "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" enters the top 10 at its #8 peak the same week Whitney's The Preacher's Wife Soundtrack hit "I Believe in You and Me" exits the top 10.]

Personal Chart, February 18, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Madonna Give Me All Your Luvin'

Madonna's new single released Friday, "Give Me All Your Luvin'" featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. is taking the world by storm. After its first day of airplay, it racked up 1005 spins at top 40 radio, enough to place at #38 for the week after just one day of play. This morning, after two days of play, it's at #26 with 2264 spins.

The video displays a lot of energy, with Madonna dancing through a neighborhood set flanked by Minaj, M.I.A and a football team--a nod to today's Superbowl halftime show.

The soft itself is frothy fun, carrying through the cheerleader theme with the "L-U-V Madonna, Y-O-U you wanna" chants reminiscent of Toni Basil's "Mickey" (or Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" or Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"). Watching the video, I finally realized what M.I.A. contributes to the song. Both her and Minaj have bridge-section solos, but M.I.A.'s is so understated compared to Minaj that it almost vanishes (and frankly could do so and the song wouldn't lose anything).

I like the song. Definitely ready for MDNA.

Saturday, February 04, 2012