Saturday, October 20, 2018

"How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2563
Date:  12/07/1985
Debut:  60
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  Houston's star was already high in the sky when her first two solo singles became gold-selling Top 10's. Her previous single, "Saving All My Love for You," became her first to reach the #1 spot. With a lot of attention and momentum behind her, this third single was issued out. Bolstered by a video that went into heavy rotation at MTV, the song climbed all the way up the chart to become Houston's second #1. Like "Saving," the single would also reach #1 at R&B and #1 at AC. The tune would also be a Dance chart hit getting to #3. Houston would win her first and only MTV Music Video Award for the song. She won for Best Female Video. She was also nominated for Best New Artist in a Video (which went to a-ha that year). Surprisingly, despite all her success Houston would receive only one more MTV Music Video award nomination. That came in 1999 when "Heartbreak Hotel" would get a nod for Best R&B Video. That song was performed by the trio of Houston, Faith Evans, and Kelly Price.

ReduxReview:  This bubbly and fun track was a perfect choice for a third single. This is the one that brought the kids on board the Whitney train. It showed that she wasn't just an R&B/AC artist and could appeal to a wide crossover audience. Houston nails the vocals and sounds like she is having a ball singing it. The song is not a classic by any means, but Walden's spirited production combined with Houston's voice really sold the song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was originally written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam. The two singer/songwriters were getting some attention at the time as the duo Boy Meet Girl. Their single "Oh Girl" made it to #39 on the Pop chart. The pair were signed to A&M and they were asked to write a song for label mate Janet Jackson and came up with this song. However, it was rejected by Jackson and her team as it wasn't fitting in with what she was recording at the time (Jackson was in the midst of sessions for her landmark LP Control). Through a connection, the song ended up over at Arista Records and in the hands of a person seeking material for Houston's debut LP. They were looking for a more pop-oriented crossover hit and this seemed to fit the bill. They coaxed Narada Michael Walden away from his sessions with Aretha Franklin to produce the song, but he wanted to make changes to it. Merrill and Rubicam balked at first as they had no idea who Houston was or any of the folks involved, but then they talked with Walden and agreed to compromise on changes to the song. Houston recorded the tune and it turned into one of her biggest hits. It was fortunate for Merrill and Rubicam that it all worked out as they were then able to write another #1 for Houston, 1987's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)."


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