1987, Music

Whitney (1987) by Whitney Houston

This is one of the most commercially successful albums of its era, so I guess that’s why I felt I had to listen to it. But if I learned one thing from this album, it’s that the things that I like about music and the things that most consumers like about music are not the same. (I knew that already, but this just heavily reinforces that.)

There are 11 songs here. And despite that this is a dance pop album, they somehow take nearly an hour to get through. There was a time when pop songs were 2.5 minutes. I’m not saying every song should be that long, but I think that there’s only so much a hook can do for a song, and making a song listenable for 5 minutes may not be one of those things.

This is relatively generic RB&-inflected ’80s dance pop sung by a woman with an absolutely incredible voice, who must show it off at least once per song. (Sometimes she over-sings, just to show you how much she can sing.) These songs were mostly written for her – there are covers of a few previous hits from other eras as well – and that further drags me down as it’s either a reminder that Whitney couldn’t write songs or that the music industrial complex wouldn’t let her (because, you know, she’s a woman).

Getting through this album is exhausting to me, even though I know 2 or 3 of the songs from watching Much Music too much. Everything sounds dated to me and mostly focused on a) dancing and b) Whitney’s voice (and does she ever show it off). And I just don’t find any of it captivating.

It is memorable, if only because there are a few ear worms here (that I’ve already heard many times). But I’m not sure that’s a virtue. (It isn’t for me, anyway.) I’d rather not have Whitney Houston in my head, thank you very much.


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