1992, Music

The Bodyguard Motion Picture Soundtrack (1992) by Various Artists

No, I have not seen the movie.

Houston’s reinvention of the most famous song here is probably the highlight of her career as a singer. For one of the few times in my life, I listen to her and I think “her voice is at the service of the song” instead of vice versa, which is how I usually feel. If you listen to Dolly Parton’s original, Houston adds things to the song that increase its effectiveness. It’s hard to listen to any version of the song without thinking of how Houston transformed it.

That backing track, however; produced by that king of schmaltz, David Foster, is something different. Foster is regrettably responsible for four of tracks here, all of which are over-the-top and embody a kind of nadir of the R&B ballad, orchestrated to shit, over-sung (and/or over saxed, if you know what I mean), and generally something that could have only been considered a good idea in the ’90s. Foster has made so much money creating pablum, it’s really a shame. Remember when R&B was gritty? He sure doesn’t. (Houston does, but she is often in a battle – a battle she regularly wins – with his ridiculous arrangements.)

The one advantage of the different producers on the record is that we are saved from 12 Foster ballads.

  • Though I do not enjoy the Chaka Khan cover, and don’t see the point (it is super ’80s), it is at least drastically different from the ballads surrounding it.
  • “Queen of the Night” is at least modern sounding (for 1992). It’s not my thing but it’s a break from Foster’s crap and it feels like Houston is finally paired with producers who can make her (relatively) exciting.
  • The final Houston track is modern update of an old gospel song. It suffers from its attempt to make it “modern” (that fucking “piano”) but it is hardly the worse thing here.

At this point it should be noted that the best parts of this album are all on the Houston side of it. It goes downhill from here.

  • Both Kenny G tracks suck, as you might imagine but the Foster one with Aaron Neville is particularly emblematic of this era of bloated R&B ballads made for old people. Neville is at least a great singer.
  • The Lisa Stanfield track is pretty generic and makes little to no impression on me.
  • The SOUL System track is pretty awful – not only has it dated poorly (dig that funky drummer!) but the “rap” part by one Michelle Visage is more spoken word – basically it’s a white person trying to approximate hip hop and doing a terrible job of it.
  • There’s no need for the Nick Lowe cover. None at all. (It is probably the best thing here, except maybe the biggest hit. I just didn’t need to hear another version of this song.)
  • The Cocker/Jordan duet is missing from the version I listened to for some unknown reason.
  • The score excerpt is not anything I will remember.

On the whole, this isn’t great. There’s really no reason to get it and it’s one of these soundtracks where your mind is kind of boggled that it was as financially successful as it was. Ah well.


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