Tribute or opportunism? Whitney Houston already has the definitive best-of collection: her 2000 two-album The Greatest Hits, released as her career was just about to run its course. Now, according to RCA, “the legacy of Whitney Houston continues with the first-ever definitive single disc collection” of hits, coming November 18, just in time for fourth-quarter holiday sales.
I Will Always Love You: The Best Of Whitney Houston contains 18 songs and two “new” cuts: “Never Give Up” from Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox & Johnta Austin; and a “duet version” of previous flop single “I Look To You” with the song’s writer R. Kelly stripped on as her singing partner and a different vocal take from Whitney.
Most disturbing is Kelly oozing, “We love you Whitney. Rest in peace” at the end of the song, which is not only gruesome but just plain gratuitous. It made me a little sick to my stomach.
Clive Davis claims, “The duet version of ‘I Look To You’ between Whitney and R. Kelly is purely and simply a knockout. I believe that everyone will remember the first time they heard it and I think a new classic is being born.” With all respect to Mr. Davis, I believe that unfortunately, the song is as non-monumental as it was the first time it was released and simply unnecessary. I’d love nothing more than to hear something fresh and new from the Houston archives. This is not it.
Last week, I was browsing through the aisles of a retailer in Downtown Brooklyn and Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” came on the radio. There must have been four women I passed who were singing along with Whitney, quietly, to themselves but audibly, with happiness in their hearts. Now that is a tribute. The release of another greatest hits that offers nothing new just to put some more bucks in the bank? No thank you. *