Saturday, May 9, 2020

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3128
Date:  05/16/1987
Debut:  38
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Houston's self-titled debut album was a massive success spending fourteen non-consecutive weeks at #1. It contained four Top 10 hits, including three consecutive #1's, and would go on to sell over thirteen million copies in the US alone. When it came time to follow up that LP, Arista Records label head Clive Davis stepped in once again to help guide the process, which included finding suitable material for Houston to record. Davis reached out to songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam and asked them to come up with a tune for Houston. The pair had previously supplied Houston with the #1 "How Will I Know" and Davis though that perhaps lightning could strike twice. Eventually they came up with this tune, which Davis loved. Not only did it make the album, titled Whitney, but it was issued out as the LP's first single. The song debuted inside the Pop Top 40 and then quickly made its way to the top of the chart becoming her fourth single in a row to reach #1. The tune would also reach #1 at AC and Dance while making it to #2 at R&B. With the album yet to be released, the single sold well enough to go platinum. It would also earn Houston her second Grammy win in the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, category.

ReduxReview:  When this song first came out, it was an energetic pop track that was tailor made for mainstream radio. Producer Walden came up with a solid synth/electronic-based arrangement that didn't get in the way of Houston's all-in performance. It was a deserved #1. However, like some critics at the time, I did think it kind of came off as "How Will I Know, Pt. 2." In fact, the whole album was just an extension of her debut. There wasn't anything new or different except that the collection had less R&B influences and leaned heavier towards mainstream pop. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing as Davis was able to corral a few choice tunes, but I think they both knew a third similar album wouldn't be wise and a different path would have to be taken. In the meantime, Houston could enjoy her streak of #1's. I liked this track back in the day, but I must say it has kind of worn on me over the years, especially when contestants on vocal contest shows continue to massacre the tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This wasn't the first song that Merrill and Rubicam submitted to Davis for Houston's second album. The first tune they wrote got rejected by Davis. He didn't think it was right for Houston. The writers then went back to the drawing board and came up with "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." That song was then given to Houston and producer Narada Michael Walden. Walden was not all that enthusiastic about the track. Weirdly, he felt it had a country sound to it and thought it would have been a better fit for Olivia Newton-John than Houston. Still, he forged ahead and as the recording developed, he realized that it was the right vehicle for Houston. So what about the first song Merrill and Rubicam wrote for Houston? They kept it for themselves and recorded it under their duo name of Boy Meets Girl. It was released as a single in '88 and ended up becoming the #5 Pop/#1 AC hit "Waiting for a Star to Fall."


No comments:

Post a Comment