The news of Whitney Houston’s death rocked the world yesterday, sending off tributes to the troubled singer. Her greatest hits cannot be contained to five songs, but these are the performances she’ll be remembered for forever.
“I Will Always Love You”
Dolly Parton may have written the song, but Whitney’s version from the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” was so intense that the sentiment will likely serve as an epitaph for her. At least it seems to be the most popular phrase regarding Whitney on Facebook right now. When looking for good footage of the song, ignore the studio version dominated by clips from the movie that you never saw, and enjoy this live rendition of Whitney in her prime (where the aforementioned clips are slightly less intrusive), at the 36th Grammy Awards, where the song earned her the Record of the Year statue in 1994. If you don’t get goosebumps at the 3:29 mark and the 4:27 mark, you’re probably not human.
“Saving All My Love For You”
Though Whitney endured a few embarrassing moments after this performance on French TV — courtesy of Serge Gainsbourg — this rendition by a young and fresh-faced relatively unknown singer is a wonderful way to remember her.
“How Will I Know”
There are a lot of elements about this song and video that are very much trapped in the 1980s (the hairdos, the sax solo, the paint splatters) but Whitney’s execution of the notes is timeless. For an indication of just how great her voice was, listen to the acapella version. It’s refreshing to hear it without that wall of synths, isn’t it?
But, here, we present the one you’re more familiar with.
“My Love Is Your Love”
More than a decade after her debut, Houston still had the pipes to stop your heart. Though the single that was released was more chill than this version, this 13-minute remix by Jonathan Peters is electrifying. When the song finally gets to her first verse, around the 5:41 mark, it’s chilling to hear her sing, “when the Lord asks me what I did with my life….”
“The Star Spangled Banner”
Not only did Whitney Houston have the audacity to release our country’s national anthem as a single, but she did it so well that it got into the top 10 on the pop charts … TWICE! She performed it at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, when the single got to No. 20, but after the attacks on America of September 11th, 2001, the single climbed all the way to No. 6. Just look at the smile on her face at the 1:34 mark where she absolutely nails the “rockets red glare” line. It is this love of music and pure ecstasy she received from singing that the world will miss so much.