So, after yesterday’s sad news, social media reminds us not just of what Whitney Houston did (which in many cases involved giving performances that were better than the songs merited) but what she meant. There are bits of Whitney (Whits? Bhitneys?) all over the cultural landscape, from the previously mentioned Serge Gainsbourg encounter via mash-ups that span the 80s and the 00s, to her status in the holy triumvirate alongside Genesis and Huey Lewis (and while we’re in the area, this exchange is priceless). Sexuality (as distinct from sexual intercourse) was pretty much invented in the 80s, whether overt (Madonna, Prince, Frankie Goes To Hollywood) or ambiguous (Michael Jackson, George Michael) so Whitney’s brand of sunny, gospel-flecked innocence and purity offered an open goal to anyone who fancied indulging in a bit of cheeky, postmodern defilement. The drugs and the reality TV were an afterthought.
But Whitney’s talent is restored with the overwhelming ‘The Greatest Love of All’, one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation and dignity. Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho