Hard to believe, but today marks four years since the world mourned the loss of pop music’s beloved diva, Whitney Houston. While I’m sure many of you have been diving into Whitney classics, “I Will Always Love You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Greatest Love of All” and “My Name Is Not Susan,” all day long, I decided to go a different route and open the Whitney vault to some of her more underrated material, especially her brilliant ’09 set, I Look To You.
In fact, I’ve been reveling in it so much lately that I came up with 5 reasons why my fellow Whitney divas should be rediscovering this dazzling set as well. So, stop trying to hit those “I Will Always Love You” high notes (it’s never going to happen) and dive into Ms. Houston’s vastly underrated, I Look To You….right now.
1. It’s well crafted from start to finish…One part diva balladry, one part bedroom beats, I Look To You‘ is put together as a perfect pop album and was Whitney’s best werk since My Love Is Your Love‘ was released a decade prior. Also adding to the memorable mix are top-notch songwriters and producers Alicia Keys, Akon, R. Kelly, Johnta Austin, Stargate, Danja, Diane Warren and David Foster, who all paired up with Whitney to craft a delicious set, all the while making Whitney’s long-time mentor, Clive Davis, very happy with his girl’s big comeback.
“Nothin But Love”
2.It showcases a more vocally confident Whitney… It was no secret that Whitney’s voice had gotten huskier in the later years of her career, and unlike ’02’s Just Whitney,‘ this album showcases a Ms. Houston who had gotten quite comfortable with her smokier vocal range. On blissful tracks, “Like I Never Left,” “Nothin But Love,” and “For The Lovers,” her lower registered vocal tone is presented with perfection, but when it comes to ballads, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” “A Song for You,” “Salute” and the albums title track, we get that soaring range displayed that Whitney still knew how to deliver in the right way, even though her voice had changed. Of course, lead single, “Million Dollar Bill” is all of these things plus extra sugar-and -spice, leaving us to wonder why the hell the Ms. Keys penned ditty stalled at #100 on the Billboard singles charts….sigh….
“Million Dollar Bill”
3.It contains an underrated gem called, “Call You Tonight.” What do you get when you mix up Whitney’s heavenly husky vocals, plucky strings, a baby makin’ groove with just a touch of country twang? A pearl of a tune named “Call You Tonight,” which is undeniably one of Ms. Houston’s greatest later career tracks.
“Call You Tonight”
4.It’s her last full length studio set before her untimely death…
Sadly, this was the last full studio effort that Whitney delivered to us before her death three years later. While the album fared well on the charts, selling platinum and showing Whitney indeed still had it, it’s still an underrated piece of Whitney work that deserves as much recognition as any of her earlier material. At the end- of- the-Whitney- high note, ‘I Look To You’ is classy, elegant and delivers a pulsating punch that only Ms. Whitney knew how to throw.
“I Look To You”
5.It’s Whitney Houston.
Do you really need another reason?
“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (Live)