Friday, October 15, 2021

"One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3644
Date:  09/10/1988
Debut:  57
Peak:  5
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  The idea of creating songs for the Olympics wasn't a new one. The '84 summer games held in Los Angeles had an official soundtrack with compositions (John Williams' now famous "Olympic Fanfare and Theme") and pop/rock tunes by the likes of Loverboy, Foreigner, and Christopher Cross whose track "A Change for Heaven" was issued out as a single (#16 AC/#76 Pop). The album wasn't a big seller, but its concept wasn't forgotten as the '88 Summer Olympics approached. To be held in Seoul, South Korea NBC would be the main broadcaster for the US and it seems someone took the idea of a themed album to Arista head Clive Davis and a deal was struck for him to supply a soundtrack. Of course Davis had in his label stable one of the biggest stars in music at the time, Whitney Houston, so it seemed logical for her to appear on the album. The song given to her was an Albert Hammond/John Bettis composition titled "One Moment in Time." Houston got it recorded with producer Narada Michael Walden and a few weeks prior to the open ceremonies, the song was issued out as a single. The timing, of course, was perfect as Houston had just wrapped up the singles from her second album. Then the Olympics came and the inspirational tune was all over NBC's broadcast. All that plus Houston's star power and vocal ability helped the song become her 10th consecutive Pop Top 10 hit. It would also become her seventh #1 on the AC chart. Over on the R&B chart it didn't do as well and became her first single to not hit the Top 10 reaching only #22. The song would end up earning Whitney a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Thanks to the hit, the soundtrack album would reach #31 and go gold (yes, an appropriate certification for something Olympic related).

ReduxReview:  For anyone who needs a massive, inspirational, treacly, catchy, mass-appealing song for an event or occasion, this would be it. Hammond and Bettis certainly gave their all and threw in every musical trick in the book to make this work not only for the Olympics, but for Houston as well. It was going to take someone with prime vocal chops to pull this off and Houston was the right one for the job. Between the writers, Houston, and Walden's equally gigantic arrangement/production, the song became the perfect anthem for the Olympics and although it leaned towards sentimental AC pop, it still became a big hit. While I definitely appreciated all of that, I really didn't like the song at all. For me it was just a big overblown schlocky tune that was good for what it was written for, but as a pop single constantly heard on the radio....yeesh. It wore me down after about two listens. Plus, I was getting tired of Houston belting out these AC songs that sounded like they were for someone twice her age. Clive Davis had kept her stocked up on these adult ballads and it all sort of culminated with this one. While I appreciate its Olympic use and its place in history at the time, as just a song in Houston's catalog it doesn't rank among my favorites.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Since the host country for the Olympics was South Korea, Houston didn't get to perform the song at the opening or closing ceremonies. Her first big live performance of the song came when she sang it during the opening of the Grammy Awards show in February of '89. Her rendition at the show is considered among her best performances. Houston was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, for the song at that show, but she ended up losing the trophy to Tracy Chapman.


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