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"We all know what this woman can do."

Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 — February 11, 2012) was an American singer, actress, producer, and a former model. In her prime, Houston — the cousin of pop singer Dionne Warwick — was known as the "Queen of Pop" and "The Voice". Houston was the most awarded female act of all time, according to Guinness World Records. Her list of awards includes 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010.

Her early peak came in the mid-to-late 1980s when she had a record seven No. 1 hits in a row — in order, "Saving All My Love for You", "How Will I Know", "Greatest Love of All", "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)", "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "So Emotional", and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."

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In the early 1990s, Whitney branched out into acting, starring in the acclaimed film The Bodyguard (1992) alongside Kevin Costner. The movie's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single "I Will Always Love You" (yes, that one, written by Dolly Parton) became pop music's best-selling single by a female vocalist. This massive success launched a short career as a movie actress and producer.

As successful as Houston was, drug and alcohol use, in part fueled by her marriage to troubled R&B singer Bobby Brown from 1992-2006, took its toll on Houston's voice, career, and health. She attempted a few comebacks in the 2000s, but she continued to be the subject of many tabloid stories suggesting drug binges and other escapades. She died on February 11, 2012, the night before the 54th Grammy Awards, drowning in her bathtub due to heart disease and cocaine use.

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Discography

Filmography


Tropes

  • But Not Too Black: Her first major hit, "You Give Good Love," had been intended only to be a major R&B hit and surprised Houston's camp with how strongly it crossed over to Pop and Adult Contemporary stations, which led Houston to begin super-serving the crossover audience with a heavy dose of pop ballads at the expense of her Urban following (who leveled the "Oreo" insult at her), particularly on her second album. Thus, her next album, I'm Your Baby Tonight, was an attempt to re-establish herself as an R&B singer first and foremost, and it worked - at least until "I Will Always Love You."
  • Cover Version: Many of her most famous songs, most notably "I'm Every Woman", "I Will Always Love You", and "The Greatest Love of All", are covers of songs by Chaka Khan (to whom she gives a shout-out during the song's Fade Out), Dolly Parton, and George Benson, respectively. Less obvious cover versions among her hits include "Saving All My Love for You" (Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.), "I Believe in You and Me" (The Four Tops), "Step by Step" (Annie Lennox), and "All the Man That I Need" (originally by Linda Clifford, later a minor R&B hit for Sister Sledge).
  • Covered Up: Her greatest hit, "I Will Always Love You", was originally a Dolly Parton song — not that most people know that.
  • Cult Soundtrack: She was involved in two. The Bodyguard soundtrack is the bestselling film soundtrack of all time, in no small part due to her cover of "I Will Always Love You" as well as "I Have Nothing" and "I'm Every Woman". The Preacher's Wife soundtrack is also this, being the bestselling Gospel Music album of all time.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Her 1991 hit, "Miracle," is widely believed to be an anti-abortion song, although Whitney herself denied it specifically referred to abortion.
  • Incredibly Long Note: She was noted for this. The most (in?)famous is "And IIIIIIIII-ee-IIII will always love yoooooooouuuuuuuuu...."
  • Isn't It Ironic?: "I Will Always Love You." See Lyrical Dissonance below.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "I Will Always Love You" is not a silly love song or an "I'm happy I found you" song; it's a sad, lost break-up song. Try telling that to the many people who make it their wedding/relationship song due to its connection to the romance of The Bodyguard and Houston's soaring vocals, including the many who requested it over the years as a Long Distance Dedication on Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" or on love-song request radio programs.
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: The chorus of "Shoop shoop shoo-be-doo" in Houston's #1 hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" was originally intended by songwriter Babyface as a placeholder until he was able to write actual lyrics. In the end, he gave up trying to write something more profound and decided to leave the song as it was. Whitney still made it sound special.
  • Melismatic Vocals: A crowning example.
  • National Anthem: Her 1991 SuperBowl performance of the Star-Spangled Banner is widely considered one of the greatest renditions of the song ever performed.
  • Pretty in Mink: Wore a full-length white mink coat for the video of "Heartbreak Hotel" (not a cover of the Elvis Presley song).
  • The Rival: Mariah Carey. However, this was mostly made up, and after her death, Mariah was one of the first to respond with her condolences. They also collaborated on the song "When You Believe" for The Prince of Egypt soundtrack.
    • Not that they didn't have a little fun with this. During the 1998 VMA's, they were scheduled to present an award together, and walked out from opposite sides of the stage... in the same dress. Rather than get upset (since the whole thing was staged), they both Took a Third Option, both ripping the dresses to make them different.
    • To a lesser extent, Céline Dion, although Celine has never been anything other than complimentary of Whitney's talents and even stated Whitney was an inspiration for her when she began to record in English.
  • Self-Titled Album: Two, Whitney Houston and follow-up Whitney. She also released an album titled Just Whitney.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: Inverted for "I Will Always Love You", which was originally a plaintive, intimate folk-style country song. Whitney turned it into one of the best-known powerhouse soaring ballads ever recorded.
  • Textless Album Cover: My Love Is Your Love on its original release.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: In some of her songs. "I Will Always Love You" and "I Have Nothing" are some examples.
  • Vocal Evolution: Well, "evolution" is not exactly the word here, but the drugs changed her voice drastically in the 2000s.
    • In a straightforward example, Whitney's voice notably deepened between The Bodyguard and My Love Is Your Love. Her voice changed from her early soprano to a warmer mezzo-soprano, high notes still very much intact.

 
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I Will Always Love You

In the span 1.5 minutes, Whitney Houston does 4 of these in a row.

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