Saturday, November 14, 2020

"So Emotional" by Whitney Houston

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3318
Date:  10/31/1987
Debut:  47
Peak:  1 (1 week)
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Houston was on a superstar roll scoring her fifth consecutive Pop #1 with "Didn't We Almost Have It All," the second single from her second album Whitney. Hopes were high that this next single would follow suit and it certainly did. The dance track debuted just outside the Top 40 and then headed up to the top spot for a week. It would also reach #1 at Dance while getting to #5 R&B and #7 AC. The wide appeal of the song helped to sell the single and it would become Houston's fifth to go gold (in addition to one platinum single). While the album had already spent 11 weeks at #1, it was still selling well and riding high on the chart around this time. In November of '87, it would be certified 5x platinum. Coincidentally, just a couple weeks prior to the posting date of this entry, the album would be certified for sales of 10 million.

ReduxReview:  This tune was a terrific vehicle for Houston. The chorus was undeniably catchy and Walden's production was meaty and layered. Of course Houston sang the crap out of it. When I first heard this song after getting the album, I predicted that it would be an easy #1. There was just no doubt in my mind and I was quickly proven right when it got issued out as the third single. In my opinion, this was the best track on Whitney, which I thought was an uneven effort thanks to Clive Davis grabbing songs he thought had hit potential from a myriad of writers. While "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" became the song from the LP that remained the most popular over the years, I'd argue that "So Emotional" was the better overall track. It gets far less attention these days, but that's okay because I can enjoy the tune without eye rolling and thinking, "oh god, not this again..." Ain't it shocking what a good song can do?

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was written by the team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. The pair had been having solid success with three of their songs hitting #1 ("True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "Alone" by Heart, and "Like a Virgin" by Madonna). This one would be their fourth chart topper. What was interesting about this one is that the duo's original demo of the song didn't really resemble what producer Narada Michael Walden came up with for Houston. Kelly and Steinberg were approached by Arista Records head Clive Davis to write a song for Houston. The pair typically just wrote songs without a specific artist in mind, but due to the fact it was Davis and Houston, they decided to give it a go and came up with "So Emotional." Their original demo (which can be heard on YouTube) was done in a Prince-styled arrangement with lots of synths leading the way. The funky little jam apparently pleased Davis who passed it on to Walden and Houston. Walden then toned down the funk in favor of a more mainstream dance-pop arrangement. His instincts were correct as the song topped both the Pop and Dance charts.


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