WHITNEY HOUSTON Exhale (Shoop Shoop) (3:24)
PRODUCER: Babyface WRITER: Babyface
PUBLISHERS: ECAF/Sony Songs/Fox Firm Music Corporation, BMI Arista 2885 (c/o BMG) (cassette single)
The theme song to Houston's new movie, "Waiting To Exhale," is a surprisingly understated shuffle-ballad that side-steps the kind of grandstand drama that pep-pored her singles from "The Bodyguard." The result is a performance rife with soul and far more interesting vocal colors than all the shrieking can provide. The production touch of Babyface is unmistakable, and he deserves applause for surrounding Houston with silky instrumentation and a chorus that quietly (and permanently) sinks into the brain. You will be hearing this one on every possible radio station for months to come.

PRODUCER: Babyface
WRITERS: Babyface, W. Houston, M. Houston
PUBLISHERS: ECAF/Sony Songs/Fox Film, BMI; Nippy/Aurianna, ASCAP Arista 2976 (c/o BMG) (CD single)
Though Houston's recent No. 1 smash, "Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)," is still entrenched in the top five of the Hot 100, Arista is focusing its promotional efforts on this heart-warming ballad from the red-hot "Waiting To Exhale". soundtrack. The touch of superstar producer Babyface is, as always, unmistakable, and he excels with this song's lush string arrangement. Vocally, Houston dominates the track, though Winans makes a strong-enough impression that those who have yet to hear her fine recordings will yearn to hear more. A buddy song for the diva generation that is destined to saturate pop radio airwaves into the spring.

WHITNEY HOUSTON Why Does It Hurt So Bad (4:38)
PRODUCER: Babyface
WRITER: Babyface
PUBLISHERS: ECAF/Sony Songs, BMI Arista 3213 (c/o BMG) (cassette single)
This should have been the follow-up to Houston's mega-hit, "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)." Better late than never, right? Paired with Babyface, Houston is positively luminous on this heartbreak ballad, performing with a perfect blend of theatrical melodrama and guttural soul. An excellent way to keep the singer visible on several radio formats well into the summer season, this is also the kind of record you sing along to with your best girlfriend.

WHITNEY HOUSTON I Believe In You And Me (3:56)
PRODUCER: David Foster
WRITERS: D. Wolfert, S. Linzer
PUBLISHERS: Charles Koppelman/Martin Bandier/ Jonathan Three/Linzer, BMI Arista 3285 (c/o BMG) (cassette single)
The first peek into the soundtrack to "The Preacher's Wife" is a deliciously theatrical cover of a tune first recorded by David Peaston. As she did with Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," Houston redefines the composition with a soaring, glass-shattering performance that will leave her legions of fans breathless. She finds a perfect musical counterpart in David Foster, whose signature flair for pop-orchestral drama is tempered this time with a subtle, complementary gospel flavor. A wonderfully uplifting way to usher in the holiday season, this gem will be heard well into the new year. For a softer, slightly more intimate version of the song, investigate the alternate recording on the album, produced by Houston and Mervyn Warren.

WHITNEY HOUSTON Step By Step (4:09)
PRODUCER: Stephen Lipson
WRITER: A. Lennox
PUBLISHERS: La Lennoxa/BMG, ASCAP Arista 3307 (c/o BMG) (cassette single)
This appropriate follow-up to the top five "I Believe In You And Me" is a rousing, gospel-kissed chugger. It's been too long since Houston has cut loose on an uptempo number, and she whips through this jam with engaging ease. Added pleasure comes from the appearance of Annie Lennox--the song's composer--on backing vocals. In all, this is one of the shining moments on the soundtrack to "The Preacher's Wife," and it should quickly become the latest in the diva's milelong string of multiformat hits

PRODUCER: Stephen Lipson
WRITER: A. Lennox
REMIXERS: Junior Vasquez, Soul Solution, Teddy Riley Arista 32995 (c/o BMG) (12-inch promo)
The spree of releases from the soundtrack to "The Preacher's Wife" continues with this uplifting anthem, which will successfully entice clubheads into joining the party. Houston cuts loose with stirring gospel fervor here, urged on to impressive heights by Annie Lennox--who wrote the song and harmonizes during the chorus. A batch of intense and urgent remixes is offered, ranging from the tribal melodrama of Junior Vasquez's Arena version to Soul Solution's frenetic Diva mix. Less engaging is Teddy Riley's thumping hip-hop version, which doesn't quite match the energy of Houston's performance.

WHITNEY HOUSTON My Heart Is Calling (4:08)
PRODUCER: Babyface
WRITER: Babyface
PUBLISHERS: ECAF/Sony/ATV Songs, BMI Arista 3361 (c/o BMG) (cassette single)
The soundtrack to "The Preacher's Wife" gives way to another potential smash single from Houston. It's also a wonderfully refreshing release that smartly side-steps her tried-and-true balladry in favor of a credible foray into jeep-funk territory. Bolstered by an unusually saucy groove by Babyface, Houston cuts loose with a performance that shows her tempering her revered technical prowess with lots of shoulder-shakin' sass. Expect to hear lots of this gem in the coming weeks.

PRODUCERS: Whitney Houston, Ricky Minor
WRITERS: J. Lange, H. Heath, S. Burke
PUBLISHER: Bullseye, ASCAP Arista 3267 (c/o BMG) (CD promo)
The pleasant assault of Houston and her delightful soundtrack to "The Preacher's Wife" on radio airwaves continues with the release of this lively all-star jam. She and co-producer Ricky Minor do a marvelously crafty job of couching pure lyrical spirituality into a jeep-funk musical setting to which kids can easily relate. And while the diva is surrounded by some potent performers, none of 'em entice the listener away from her fluidly soulful delivery for longer than an occasional flashing moment. Evans and Brown in particular appear to spark Houston to a more playful vocal place than we've heard in a long time. Although it's tough to imagine any radio format not already slamming the primary single, "I Believe In You And Me," this gem will warm the hearts of the one or two programmers who are not already offering wall-to-wall Whitney.

WHITNEY HOUSTON & MARIAH CAREY When You Believe (From The Prince Of Egypt) (4:33)
PRODUCER: Babyface
WRITERS: Stephen Schwartz, Babyface
PUBLISHER: SKG Songs, ASCAP DreamWorks 5092 (CD promo)
The first single from the highly anticipated film "The Prince Of Egypt" is being embraced by many as the vocal event of the year and will likely have little trouble igniting the airwaves across more radio formats than you can build an empire around. The Babyface-stamped track is indeed lovely, offering an instantly accessible chorus and a squeaky clean message of "all things are possible when you believe in your dreams." Given the potential of these two powerhouse voices, however, the song falls flat with a surprisingly understated and downright disappointing bridge: You wait and wait for the duel of the divas, and it simply never materializes. The genuine story in this track is the return of Houston, who sounds fantastic--as clear and confident as ever. It's a wonderful reunion for her many fans and a warm-up that will stir much excitement for her "My Love Is Your Love," due Tuesday (10). Also available on Carey's "#1's," due Nov. 17.

PRODUCERS: Soulshock, Karlin
WRITERS: C. Schack, K. Karlin, T. Savage
PUBLISHERS: Jungle Fever/EMI-Blackwood/Soulvang, BMI; Marshai, ASCAP Arista 3601 (CD promo)
After the embarrassing radio performance of the heavily hyped Mariah Carey duet "When You Believe" from "The Prince Of Egypt," Arista is calling upon hot R&B singers Kelly Price and Faith Evans to lend a little street cred to Houston's second single from "My Love Is Your Love." On this track, launched last month at the Billboard Music Awards with a smoking live performance, Houston eases into the role of the dissed lover who's taking things into her own hands with a letter telling her man how much he hurt her with his cheating. It's a highly effective setting for Houston, who wears her emotions on her sleeve and serves up one of the most effective performances on the album. Price and Evans sell themselves grandly as empathetic sisters alongside their pained friend, soaring with emotion and helping keep the timeless artist identifiable to a new generation of R&B fans. Top 40 programmers who embraced Price's "Friend Of Mine" won't even have to play this one all the way through to add it, and with the format's heavy R&B lean, this should see quick action across the board. Of course, R&B radio will give this a hug in an instant. It's nice to see Houston on track, leaning away from the syrup and juicing up for the real deal here

WHITNEY HOUSTON It's Not Right But It's Okay (4:15)
PRODUCER: Rodney Jerkins
WRITERS: R. Jerkins, F. Jerkins III, L. Daniels, I. Phillips, T. Estes
PUBLISHERS: EMI-Blackwood, BMI; Famous/EMI-April/Mic-I, ASCAP Arista 3641 (c/o BMG) (CD promo)
Houston continues to prove that she can hang with the kids on the street on the latest single from her "My Love Is Your Love" collection. Producer Rodney Jerkins places the diva at the center of a jittery funk beat that suits the tension of the lyrics. Houston plays the emancipated woman to the hilt here, snarling through the song's "I'm gonna make it anyway" message with a white-knuckled gusto that she hasn't displayed in ages. Loyalists yearning for one of the singer's patented power ballads will be disappointed at first, though they will likely find solace in Jerkins' Smooth remix, which reinvents the tune as a languid jeep cruiser. Everyone else, however, should find this single as appealing and refreshing as it is timely and competitive.

WHITNEY HOUSTON My Love Is Your Love (4:04)
PRODUCERS: Wyclef Jean, Jerry "Wonder" Duplessis
WRITERS: W. Jean, J. Duplessis
PUBLISHERS: Sony/ATV Tunes/Huss Zwingli, ASCAP; TeBass/EMI-Blackwood, BMI Arista 3707(c/o BMG) (CD promo)
It's taken a hot second for the public to dig into Houston's current collection, "My Love Is Your Love," and it's arguable that folks might've come to the party earlier if they'd been served the the set's sublime title jam as a single sooner. Houston cruises through the tune (which bears the unmistakable signature of co-producer/co-writer Wyclef Jean) with a soulful ease that perfectly suits the languid, reggae-kissed hip-hop groove. Programmers and listeners alike will love the sing-along chorus, which builds from an intimate promise of romantic commitment to an anthemic, choir-fueled declaration of one-world/one-love. Truly inspiring. By the way, listen closely to hear Houston's daughter, Bobbie Christina, playfully whisper "sing Mommy" during the first few bars of the tune. Too cute for words.

WHITNEY HOUSTON I Learned From The Best (4:09)
PRODUCER: David Foster WRITER: D. Warren
PUBLISHER: Realsongs, ASCAP Arista 3603 (CD promo)
Whitney Houston has cruised through four sleeper singles from her current "My Love Is Your Love": the initial "When You Believe" with Mariah Carey, "Heartbreak Hotel," "It's Not Right But It's Okay," and her previous top 10 hit with the title track. Now--surprise--here's the most immediate single from her now multi-platinum set, a song that has most-added stamped all over it. Written by the ultimate pop/R&B scribe of the '90s, Diane Warren, this gorgeous ballad will take fans old and new to that sacred territory that Whitney established back in the years of classics like "Saving All My Love For You" and "All The Man That I Need." But make no mistake; the Houston of today is a fully seasoned, well-traveled diva, leaving the wannabes in scattered remains with this spine-chilling performance. You'll be throwing your hands in the air over the wisdom she's gained in this tale of the strong woman who's breaking bad with her lessons about heartbreak. Producer/arranger David Foster, meanwhile, puts forth all that he's learned in the past two decades with a forceful instrumental package that borrows from his days of commandeering the horns-heavy Chicago through its comeback in the early '80s. The three together--Houston, Warren, and Foster--simply can't miss in this stellar effort that brings together the best of their talents. It all adds up to a certain No. 1 that will fill hearts, enrapture ears, captivate top 40 and R&B radio, and leave remaining detractors clamoring for their copies of this deep, forward-stepping album. Bravo.

WHITNEY HOUSTON & ENRIQUE IGLESIAS Could I Have This Kiss Forever (3:55)
PRODUCER: David Foster
WRITER: D. Warren
REMIXERS: Brian Rawling, Mark Taylor Arista 3842 (CD promo) Just in time to open the sunroof under the warming skies is this first offering from Whitney Houston's upcoming two-CD greatest-hits package (it also appears on Enrique Iglesias' current album). While the pairing of evergreen pop/R&B superstar Houston with blossoming Latin sensation Iglesias may seem a curious combination at first, go once through this midtempo Spanish guitar-laced crowd-pleaser and the magic is crystal clear. Iglesias is, of course, right at home, sounding as sensual and breezy as ever, while Houston delivers a restrained performance that perfectly captures a romantic moment made just for champagne and dancing. While it was originally produced by David Foster, the radio version of this Diane Warren song, refashioned by remixers du jour Brian Rawling and Mark Taylor, is dead on with a musical palette that will catapult this song to the upper reaches of the charts. Iglesias is a particularly compelling video presence; his partnering with Houston should lend a hand toward also making this a VH1 staple.

WHITNEY HOUSTON & DEBORAH COX Same Script, Different Cast (4:58)
PUBLISHER: not listed
WRITER: not listed
PUBLISHER: not listed Arista (album track)
Despite the talk out there these days about Whitney Houston, this diva can still outsing the best of them. And what a partnership--the queen of the Arista empire with outgoing president Clive Davis' divain-training, Deborah Cox. Instead of competing vocally (which was the vibe with Mariah Carey for the sappy melodrama "When You Believe"), the two complement each other perfectly. The song is sung as if it's a scene between two actors. From the simple, classical piano intro, it builds gradually, growing more intense musically as the story intensifies, ultimately culminating in a powerfully performed finale with full strings, magnificent high notes, and all the emotion that comes with an expertly written lyric. The story starts with the former lover, Houston, giving advice to the new woman, Cox, explaining that she'll experience the same sad story of those who went before her. The song could have been tacky and catty, but instead, it's sweet, compassionate, and nostalgic. "Same Script, Different Cast" is one of several new tracks featured on the upcoming Whitney Houston greatest-hits set, and it's already getting substantial airplay at radio. Despite any bad press Houston might be suffering, her talent always outshines any personal challenges. And Cox demonstrates that she is as good as the best and still getting better.

PRODUCERS: Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip
WRITERS: R. Saadiq, K. Fareed
PUBLISHERS: Ugmoe/Zomba/U Betta Like My Muzik, ASCAP Arista 3845 (CD promo)
One of the new recordings from Ms. Houston's "Greatest Hits" collection is perhaps her most convincing crack at urbanized pop music to date. It doesn't hurt that she is backed by Lucy Pearl member Raphael Saadiq and hip-hop luminary Q-Tip. But it's more than the producers making this jam cook. Miss Thing herself seems to have eased into the chilled soul that propels a street-wise track. She wisely does not give into the temptation to belt and wail her way through the song (as she did on much of the R&B-intensive material on "My Love Is Your Love"). Instead, Houston works the more sultry lower register of her voice, saving the big, beautiful notes as a dramatic accent toward the end of the cut. Factor in the tune's sneaky hook (brought to vivid life with richly layered harmonies) and the arrangement's languid retro-funk guitars, and you have the makings of a refreshing li'l late-summer radio hit.

PRODUCER: Rodney Jerkins
WRITERS: R. Jerkins, F. Jerkins III, T. Estes
PUBLISHERS: EMI-Blackwood, BMI; Famous Music/EMI-April/ Mic'l Publishing, ASCAP Arista 3834 (CD promo)
Arista dips one more time into "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" for this novel partnership between the enduring pop/R&B diva and one of the great lost talents of yesteryear, George Michael. Produced and co-written by Rodney Jerkins, the track's instrumental palette is definitely of the moment, with a driving shuffle beat and layered vocals that make this song more than a passing reminder of something you might expect from Jennifer Lopez. The hook is catchy enough, with a chorus that's simple and easy to sing along with. But whatever magic might be found in this effort most certainly is going to come from the fine vocal performances. Houston scats and offers shout-outs that give "If I Told You That" a spontaneity and energy uncommon in most mainstream R&B music today, while Michael still stands tall as one of the finer soul men to step in front of the mike. This pairing is mightily inspired, and that in itself could turn this into a radio curiosity for pop and some R&B stations. It's just a shame that Houston and Michael weren't offered a song that was truly worthy of their great talents.

Producer(s): Bobby Brown
Writer(s): W. Houston, J. Mohammad,
Publisher(s): Nippy Music/Dangerous & Legit Publishing, ASCAP
Genre: R & B
Label/Catalog Number: Arista 5170 (CD promo)
Source: Billboard Magazine
Originally Reviewed: August 10, 2002

When new material comes along from a quintessential talent, you cross your fingers and pray hard that the artist and their label have the confidence to steer clear of musical trends that belittle their gifts. So it's more than disheartening to hear the great Whitney Houston merely drop in over a status-quo midtempo jam, singing alongside a chorus of generic voices that actually command more of the vocal than the named star. Worse, the song focuses on a "woe-is-Whitney" theme, where she complains about negative attention surrounding her recent erratic behavior: "Messing with my reputation/Don't have a clue what I'm facing/God is the reason my soul is free/And I don't need you to get mad at me." Throwing shade on the folks that put you on the pedestal in the first place is always bad form, and this song—co-produced by husband Bobby Brown and co-authored by Houston herself—comes across like a poor little rich girl whining. That's just boring. Let's hope that the diva takes some needed time to get over herself before her album drops this fall. What a shame.—CT

One of Those Days

Producer(s): Kevin Ske'kspere Briggs
Writer(s): K. Briggs, P. Stewart, D. Reynolds, Isley Brothers
Publisher(s): Shek'em Down/Hitco South/ Buttaphly 2Phly/Classic South/ Music of Windswept/D.A.S./Ground Breaking/ Sony/ATV/Bovina/EMI-April, ASCAP
Label/Catalog Number: Arista 5197 (CD promo)
Source: Billboard Magazine
Originally Reviewed: November 02, 2002

Jennifer, Mariah, Ashanti, Brandy, Christina, and all you other ladies bidding for R&B glory . . . Miss Whitney would like to show you the way it is to be done. "One of Those Days" marks the joyous, triumphant return of one of the great singers, who delivers the goods in glorious voice, singing a groovy, hip-swaying composition that is at last worthy of her immense talent. The previous "Whatchulookinat" was a frightening curve ball, not only a bitter pill lyrically but also a chaotic mess of a rhythm with Whitney's vocal drowning somewhere on the sidelines—making this Shek'spere-helmed track all the more satisfying (if not a relief). "Days" possesses enough of an R&B edge to mount current radio trends, but its wonderfully melodic instrumental pallette will also satisfy longtime pop fans, as it sashays along to a melody line lifted from the Isley Brothers' top five 1983 R&B hit, "Between the Sheets." A spate of recent A-level artists have delivered mediocre material, and Houston was certainly in the danger zone. It's a happy day when you know a hit—and love it—the first time you hear it.—CT


Try It On My Own
Publisher(s): Brownville/E One/EMI-Blackwood/ECAF/Sony/ATV/Warner-Tamerlane/ All About Me, BMI; NBdaGRB/E Two/EMI-April/Andre'sia, ASCAP
Genre: R & B
Catalog Number: Arista 82876 (CD promo)

Edited by Chuck Taylor

If an artist is rarely seen promoting her own music, why should the public rally behind her? Perhaps that's part of the problem behind Houston's Just Whitney, a very good -- albeit very short -- album that's sinking with alarming speed at retail. Third single "Try It on My Own" is the best song on the disc, a classic Whitney ballad that pushes every diva button, from huge celestial notes to a creamy orchestral arrangement. Arista also commissioned Thunderpuss to wring the song into a dance thumper, hoping that tempo will foster radio favor, r la previous remixed ballads "I Learned from the Best" and "It's Not Right But It's Okay." It's heartbreaking to see Houston's career faltering in the midst of self-admitted personal problems. One has to wonder if she can score a hit in spite of herself. --CT


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