Wikipedia defines the term diva like this:
A diva is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.
If you were born in the Sixties, like me, then we missed out on the European opera divas of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, who were renown throughout the Old World. We, as well, missed out divas from the blues such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, along with gospel divas like Mahalia Jackson. We are left to dig into the history of music to discover recordings of those early divas.
For most of us, we learned about the term diva when it was attached to such pop/rock/R&B singers as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, Karen Carpenter, Donna Summer and Janis Joplin. Then, the Eighties and Nineties rolled around, and all of a sudden, we were blessed with some many talented females singers, or as they collectively became known as divas. Ponder these names: Deborah Harry (Blondie), Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Patty Smyth (Scandal/solo), Terri Nunn (Berlin), Annie Lennox (Eurythmics/solo). They were but a few of the women who burst during the first decade of MTV. Then, those ladies were followed by Sinead O’Connor, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Christina Aguilera, to name but a few very. Yet, in my mind, we have one beautiful woman who casts such a large shadow over all of these women, that it is difficult for the most of these talented singers to get much of the spotlight. But, when drugs and alcohol had robbed this diva of her superpower, we still loved her. The diva who knocked us out with her 1985 debut album, eponymously titled album is none other than Whitney Houston.
Whitney hit us hard with a crystal clear voice that emerged from the body of a supermodel. She was the perfect “package”. Unfortunately, no amount of success could ever take away the pain she long felt. So, even during her most successful days, the path of self-destruction had been set in motion, and most probably hasten her ultimate fate. Yet, we are still left with some of the finest music ever recorded by a female, or diva.
Today, I bring to you My Top 20 Whitney Houston Songs.
20. “Love Will Save the Day” (1988 – Whitney). I always used to ask why Whitney sang such crappy songs like this, and not great songs like the ones I ranked in the Top 10.
19. “I Believe in You and Me” (1996 – The Preacher’s Wife OST). Once in a while, Whitney actually got a decent song to sing. Too bad it wasn’t this one.
18. “I Learned from the Best” (1999 – My Love Is Your Love). Here, Whitney’s talent transcends the song.
17. “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” (1987 – Whitney). This was a decent song that Whitney made better.
16. “My Love Is Your Love” (1999 – My Love Is Your Love). Much of Whitney’s career was singing the hell out of crappy songs, instead of giving her classy blues/rock/R&B song, and this song is proof of the former instead of the latter.
15. “Where Do the Broken Hearts Go” (1988 – Whitney). Another nice Whitney pop song.
14. “It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” (1999 – My Love Is Your Love). Here is the album where we start to hear Whitney’s gift leaving her.
13. “All the Man I Need” (1990 – I’m Your Baby Tonight). Whitney made this crappy song into a good song, which she seemed to do all too often during her lifetime.
12. “Greatest Love of All” (1986 – Whitney Houston). Now, I really do prefer George Benson’s version of this song. But, the way radio overplayed this version only drove the point home.
11. “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (1995 – Waiting to Exhale OST). For some reason, this song sounds like Whitney doing a Motown song.
10. “Heartbreak Hotel” (1998 – My Love Is Your Love). I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked this song.
9. “I Have Nothing” (1993 – The Bodyguard). In retrospect, maybe Whitney connected to this summer all
8. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990 – I’m Your Body Tonight). Here is a fun pop song that Whitney just sings the hell out of it.
7. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (1987 – Whitney). Once again, “fun” Whitney from this video was a ruse.
6. “I’m Every Woman” (1993 – The Bodyguard). Somehow, Whitney made me forget that Chaka Khan did this song first.
5. “Saving All My Love for You” (1985 – Whitney Houston). This song was a natural for the “Quiet Storm” playlists of those types of radio formats.
4. “How Will I Know” (1985 – Whitney Houston). This song showed the world just how much fun this young lady could be. Unfortunately, it was just a video and not reality.
3. “You Give Good Love” (1985 – Whitney Houston). This song hooked me onto the Whitney Houston train. I’ve always felt this song had a double meaning.
2. “I Will Always Love You” (1992 – The Bodyguard). Sure, we were all tired of hearing this version of Dolly Parton’s song, but, you know what? This is Whitney’s signature song.
1. “So Emotional” (1987 – Whitney). I don’t know why, but when Whitney talks at the beginning of the song about not knowing why she likes it, she just does, I’m hooked.