Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pride Month: Whitney Houston Song facts

MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE by WHITNEY HOUSTON

This song was co-written and co-produced by Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis, who helmed Fugees' 1996 album The Score and also acted as the group's bass guitarist. Fugees member and Wonda's cousin Wyclef Jean was the other co-writer and co-producer.

Wonda recalled the story of the song in an interview with The Boombox: "It's actually a song that I remember me and Clef cooked the beat for on the bus while we were on tour," he said. "When Whitney showed up, she was with her daughter and I remember when we put her daughter [in front of the mic] and she said, 'Sing Mommy!' She loved it so much, it was like, she'd be like, 'Cue my daughter's voice loud!' We'd turn it up, she'd be like, 'No! Louder! Louder!"'

The tune was a massive hit worldwide, becoming another one of Houston's signature songs. It topped the European Hot 100 Singles Chart for a week and also peaked at #1 in New Zealand.

The song featured backing vocals from The Family Friends Community Choir.

This was sampled by Duke Dumont on his 2014 UK chart-topper "I Got U." He told MTV UK: "With things like that you need to seek permission to use the vocal and Wyclef is kind of quite tough with his music. He doesn't let people use his music for a lot of things but he was willing for us to use the Whitney recording. That was quite nice getting a little bit of respect from his side. So that was a nice touch to it."

EXHALE (SHOOP SHOOP) by WHITNEY HOUSTON

This was featured in the movie Waiting To Exhale, which starred Houston as one of four women struggling to deal with the men in their lives. The song reflects the emotional state of the women in the film.

In the US, this spent 11 weeks at #2 after a single week at #1. It marked the longest consecutive stretches that the same two records have been 1-2 on the chart (this and "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men), and spent the most weeks at #2 after being #1.

According to BBC Radio 2 DJ Paul Gambaccini, the song's writer, Babyface, couldn't call this "The Shoop Shoop Song" as Betty Everett had already recorded a song with that title, so he put "Shoop Shoop" in brackets instead.

Babyface said he included the "Shoop Shoop" part because he couldn't think of any other lyrics. He told Billboard: "It felt like it should groove there. But I knew it couldn't groove without any vocals, so I started humming along with it and that's what happened. The 'shoops' came. But they felt so good, I thought 'Why not?' It doesn't have to mean anything."

This won a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best R&B Song. It was also nominated for Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

Actor Forest Whitaker made his directorial debut with the film and also directed the music video, which features close-ups of Houston singing and includes scenes from the movie. Several US theaters used the clip as a trailer to promote the movie.

R&B singer Robin Thicke covered the song in 2012 shortly after Houston's death.

In an interview with Songwriter Universe magazine, Babyface explained his ability to write songs from a female perspective: "When I wrote for female artists, I knew from being in relationships or having my heart broken, what the woman was feeling, because I would be feeling the same emotions. So when I wrote for a female, I could understand how to write from their perspective, because it was from the heart."

HEARTBREAK HOTEL by WHITNEY HOUSTON

Most definitely not to be confused with the classic of the same name made famous by Elvis Presley, "Heartbreak Hotel" was written by Kenneth Karlin, Tamara Savage and Carsten Schack. Recorded in September 1998, it was released on the Arista label on December 15. The album version runs to 4 minutes 41 seconds, the radio edit to 4 minutes 8 seconds. Though not a particularly memorable song, it may well become Houston's epitaph, because she died in a Los Angeles hotel room on the eve of the February 2012 Grammy Awards.

The song features R&B vocalists Faith Evans and Kelly Price, who offer empathetic vocals alongside the heartbroken Whitney. Faith Evans is best known to many for her contribution to Puff Daddy's tribute to her late husband, Notorious B.I.G, "I'll Be Missing You." Kelly Price also has a connection with the fallen rapper, having provided the female vocals on Biggie's hit single "Mo Money Mo Problems."

Whitney performed the song with Faith Evans and Kelly Price for the first time live on the November 23, 1998 episode of The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL by WHITNEY HOUSTON

This was written by songwriters Michael Masser and Linda Creed. Linda Creed was recovering from breast cancer when they wrote the song in 1977. Originally recorded by George Benson, his version went to #24 in the US. In 1985, the song was revived by Whitney Houston, and on May 17, 1986, it went to #1 for the first of three weeks.

Creed's cancer claimed her life on April 10, 1986. She was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on the strength of this song and the many hits she co-wrote for The Spinners, The Stylistics, and other acts on the Philadelphia International label. Phil Hurtt, who also wrote for the label, told us, "There are thousands of ways to say I Love You, and the difficulty is trying to find a nuance, a new way to say what's been said thousands of times, and Linda Creed is someone who was able to do that."

Masser and Creed wrote this for the 1977 film biography of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, and the song first appeared on the film's soundtrack recorded by George Benson. Ali played himself in the movie, essentially recreating his defining moments intercut with clips of his actual fights. Ali was the heavyweight champ at the time of the film's release.

Houston's version was originally the B-side of "You Give Good Love" but the amount of airplay it received persuaded Arista to release it as a single

I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU by WHITNEY HOUSTON

Dolly Parton wrote this and did the original version in 1974, which went to #1 on the Country chart that year. She recorded another version for the 1982 movie The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, which also hit #1 on the Country chart. She wrote the song after the breakup of the musical partnership she had with country singer Porter Wagoner. They were never romantically involved.

The lyrics are sad in the sense that the singer will always love the person she is singing to, yet she knows they are not right for each other and must let him go. It is often misinterpreted as a song about people who will be together forever, and even gets played at some weddings.

This was featured in the movie The Bodyguard, which Houston starred in with Kevin Costner. Houston played a famous singer and Costner her bodyguard. Of course, they fall in love. Costner picked it for the movie.

Whitney originally intended to cover Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" as the lead single from The Bodyguard. However, after she found out the song had been used just one year earlier in the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, Costner suggested she record Dolly Parton's country hit instead. Houston loved the choice but Clive Davis, the Arista Records boss who acted as mentor for the singer throughout her career, was puzzled by the selection. Costner, who also produced the film, knew it would be perfect for the picture and stuck to his guns. "I said, 'This is a very important song in this movie,'" he recalled to CMT. "I didn't care if it was ever on the radio. I didn't care. I said, 'We're also going to do this a cappella at the beginning. I need it to be a cappella because it shows a measure of how much she digs this guy - that she sings without music.'"

Parton's original version was a country ballad. Houston's recording had more lavish production and became a pop, soul, and adult contemporary hit. The tremendous crossover appeal meant that radio stations of many different formats played the song, giving it a huge audience. It ended up being a groundbreaker, but it was a big risk, as there wasn't much crossover between the country and R&B audiences. "Truth be told, the musical side of her camp was very unsure about this little country song," recalled Kevin Costner.

While she was crushing the convention that a soul singer shouldn't do country, Houston also proved that her fans would accept her in an on-screen interracial romance, which she had with Costner in the movie. In the film, the race issue wasn't mentioned.

This stayed at #1 US for 14 weeks, a record at the time. In 1995, this record was broken by "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which held the top spot for 16 weeks. "I Will Always Love You" does hold the record for the most weeks at #1 for a song that first appeared on a soundtrack.

For a time, this was second only to "We Are The World" as the biggest-selling single ever. It was bumped to #3 n 1997, when Elton John's new version of "Candle In The Wind" became the biggest.

Houston performed this at the Grammys in 1993. It won for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song also won the 1992 Soul Train Music Award for R&B Song of the Year.

It did not, however, win an Oscar, since it was not eligible for the Best Original Song award. That award can only go to songs that are written specifically for a film.

According to Kevin Costner, he really wanted Whitney Houston to star in The Bodyguard with him, so much so that he postponed shooting for a year until she was available. Costner was one of the few people in Hollywood who could convince a movie studio to do this; he had lots of sway after his movie Dances with Wolves won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1991.

The Bodyguard is the best-selling soundtrack of all time.

In 2002, while the US was preparing to go to war with Iraq, Saddam Hussein ran TV and radio ads using this song as he prepared to be re-elected. Houston's record label filed a complaint with the Iraqi mission to the United Nations.

Elvis Presley wanted to record this song but demanded half the publishing rights. Dolly Parton refused and was vindicated when years later Whitney Houston's version earned her $6 million. Parton commented to Observer Music Monthly April 2008: "'I think stories like that are the reason why younger female artists say I've influenced them."

In an interview with UK music magazine Q, Dolly Parton said she "was blown away" by Whitney's version. She said: "The way she took that simple song of mine and made it such a mighty thing, it almost became her song. Some writers say, 'Ooh, I hate the way they've done that to my song or that version wasn't what I had in mind.' I just think it's wonderful that people can take a song and do it so many different ways."

David Foster produced this song. When the decision was made to record it for the movie, Foster went to a record store and bought the Linda Ronstadt version so Whitney could learn the song. When he called Dolly Parton to let her know they were using her song, Dolly told him something very important: the Ronstadt version leaves out the last verse ("I wish you joy and happiness..."), which changes the tone of the song. Parton gave him the lyrics and Whitney recorded the full version. Foster had to tell the film's director, Mick Jackson, that he needed an extra 40 seconds of screen time, as it had been placed in the film minus the last verse.

Foster, who has produced Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Michael Bublé, called it "The love song of the century."

The song returned to the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart following Houston's death. Its comeback was fueled by an enormous resurgence in digital sales in the week after her passing of 195,000, an increase of 6723%, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The song was performed by Amber Riley on the 'Heart' episode of Glee. The tape of the show was delivered to the Fox network the day before the untimely death of Whitney and broadcast four days after her passing. Riley's character Mercedes sings the ballad as part of a plot line revolving around her indecision over two romantic interests.

When this reached #3 in the Hot 100 in 2011, it became the fifth song to become a top 10 hit in two different chart runs. So, what were the other four? They were:

"The Twist" by Chubby Checker - #1 in 1960 and #1 in 1962.

"Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and The Cryptkickers - #1 in 1962 and #10 in 1973.

"Stand By Me" by Ben E. King - #4 in 1961 and #9 in 1986.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen - #9 in 1976 #2 in 1992.

After Houston died on February 11, 2012, "I Will Always Love You" was used in many tributes to the singer, as it was her best-known song. The night after Houston's death, Jennifer Hudson sang a moving rendition in honor of Houston at the Grammy Awards ceremony.

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