When people name the greatest R&B/pop vocalists of all time, Whitney Houston is sure to be on that list. With a legendary and distinctive voice, a long string of hits and numerous awards (including several Grammys), she became an instant sensation in 1985 with her self-titled debut album, which is still one of the world’s best-selling debut albums. Although she didn’t write her own songs, Houston — a native of Newark, N.J. and raised on gospel music — remained a superstar up until her untimely death in 2012 at the age of 48. Her self-acknowledged drug addiction that she battled over the years contributed to her early demise, but Houston’s extraordinary vocal talent and memorable songs will forever remain her greatest legacy.
After years of being known as a powerhouse balladeer, Houston took it down a notch with this mellow R&B song. As the title track from Houston’s 1998 album, it remains the one that has stood the test of time as her most memorable song from the album. It was a No. 4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Queen of the Night” was a slight departure for Houston because she was able to show that she could do a powerful rock/dance song. “Queen of the Night” didn’t even make it on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it’s one of the best songs on 1992’s Grammy-winning The Bodyguard soundtrack, which remains the best-selling soundtrack of all time.
“All the Man That I Need” was the second single from Houston’s 1990 album, I’m Your Baby Tonight. It’s a strong declaration of a woman in love and secure in her relationship. In other words, a perfect wedding song. Needless to say, it was another No.1 hit for Houston.
“I’m Your Baby Tonight,” the first single and title track from Houston’s 1990 album, featured the singer having an earthier, more R&B sound. It’s still a pop classic and one of Houston’s No. 1 hits.
Another smash hit from 1992’s The Bodyguard soundtrack, “I Have Nothing” was a powerhouse ballad that showed a touching emotional vulnerability. It’s a show-stopper in every sense of the word, and it was a No. 4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
This emotionally powerful ballad from Houston’s self-titled 1985 debut album had lyrics told from the perspective of a woman having a love affair with a married man. Another No. 1 hit for Houston, it was one of the songs that people expected to her perform at practically every concert.
Fans usually remember Houston for her love ballads, but “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was perhaps her best dance/pop hit. It was the first single from her second album, Whitney, released in 1987. Naturally, the song was a No. 1 in several countries.
Many people consider Houston’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to be the greatest version of the song performed at the Super Bowl, which she did in 1991. Even though she lip-synched the song, it did not lessen the impact of her powerful vocals. Houston’s version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was released that year as a charity single to benefit soldiers in the Persian Gulf War. The song became a No. 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“The Greatest Love of All” was originally recorded by George Benson in 1977, but most people don’t know that because Houston’s version of the song became so iconic. It’s a powerful, epic ballad about self-confidence that was one of the No. 1 singles from Houston’s 1985 self-titled debut album.
Sometimes an artist’s biggest hit really is their best song. Yes, “I Will Always Love You” has been overplayed, remade and even parodied ad nauseum. But is there really any other song that people will remember most when they think of Whitney Houston? No. “I Will Always Love You” was originally written and recorded by country star Dolly Parton in 1974. But Houston’s version (on 1992’s The Bodyguard soundtrack) took the song to a whole other level and made it a No. 1 smash around the world.
As a touring artist, Houston’s reputation was somewhat tarnished in her later years with cancellations and her inability to hit some of her more legendary high notes. But her best performances can be experienced via audio and video recordings. Keep up with all the latest news and information on Whitney Houston here.