whitney houston & the track selector

by mattmcgotty

I’m the first person to admit how much of a control freak I am. In fact, you might even be inclined to claim that admitting to this personality trait is merely a manifestation of this desire to be seen as someone who is self-aware of their own flaws, or whatever. But enough about me, let’s talk about Whitney Houston. No, not the late great diva of the 80’s who I hold near and dear to my heart, but her self-titled debut album from 1985. It’s 47 minutes of exquisite eighties ballad goodness the moment that first keyboard in her opening track, “You Give Good Love,” graces your ears.

However, something kind of unfortunate happens as the album progresses, the order of the track list kinda sucks. Now, this isn’t to say anything against the songs necessarily, and for all I know, my pathetic Gen Z brain is holding me back from taking the album for what it is. But I need a dynamic experience when listening to an album. One that tells a story, committing to the numerous tones it has set up with its first song while also building up to a climactic finish. And this is the twenty-first century after all, and we are no longer held back by the restrictive grasp that albums have had a hold on us for decades. We have playlists now, and if I have the power to consume this 10-track masterpiece the way it should be, then that is exactly what I’ll do. And I did.

Following her second song of the album, “Thinking about You,” Whitney was really building to an energetic climax that ultimately falls short with the third track, “Someone for Me,” a low energy, somewhat generic pop song that gets quickly forgotten with “Saving All of My Love for You,” this beautiful, slow song with a killer saxophone solo that could give Kenny G a run for his money. Another ballad goes by but then Houston’s dance single from the album, “How Will I Know” plays at track 6, which would be fine except for the fact that her song “All at once” brings the energy back to a crawl. It’s one of my favorites on the album, actually, but the album becomes a tonal nightmare with “Take Good Care of my Heart” coming next, a bittersweet love duet with one of the Jackson siblings living in Michael’s shadow that is actually really beautiful. It makes you want to drive down a long road at night and lament your past romantic failures that have given you intimacy and trust issues since freshman year. But on the topic of love, Whitney’s penultimate track is her famous single, “Greatest Love of All,” which acts as the final, triumphant track before the closing number. It thankfully ends on a good note, but I can’t help myself from making some big changes for the better.

Thankfully for you, I played around with the order most of the tracks in the middle of the album, the schmeat if you will. Feel free to check out all of the revisions I made in order to give you the most orgasmic experience possible to one of the greatest albums of the 80’s. And if the sensation produced from listening to my magnum opus doesn’t fully satisfy the unrelating Whitney urges that I assume we all have, email me for my playlist on Whitney’s second album (creatively named “Whitney”) and thank me later. mmcgotty@uvm.edu

Categories: matt mcgotty, may 4th 2021, tunes

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