I was never a Whitney Houston fan. There was just waaaayy to much melisma (“Sounds like a disease? It is a disease, my friend!”) in her music for it to be of any pleasure, as if Whitney were being paid by the syllable. Which kind of makes her the Charles Dickens of American pop music. But I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Check out this blog post, excerpted below:
Thus, her take on Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”. Take a moment to recite the lyric in your head. Has ever a piece of popular verse been more deserving of the epithet ‘love song’? ‘Love’ as in selfless regard for another, a heartbroken protagonist realising there’ll be more suitable partners for their beloved further down the line, and so exiting stage left to leave the way clear. It is, to say the least, a melancholic state of affairs. And like Nick Cave said in The Secret Life of the Love Song, “Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.” Accordingly, Parton’s reading of the song is dignified, restrained, a handwritten note quietly pushed under the back door.
By contrast, Houston alerts all local news stations of her paramour’s address, lands a gold-plated helicopter on his front lawn, stops and poses for pictures, has a quick “No, don’t talk me out of it, I have to go through with this!” session with a shrink on the driveway, blinks back tears in a to-camera piece about ‘My journey’, briefly consults her full-time mascara assistant, knocks on the door, and hands over a giant factory-written Hallmark card when it opens. Meanwhile, melancholy lies bleeding somewhere in an adjacent block, having crashed to earth when its quiet floating was cut to shreds by rotor blades. Poor bastard. It never stood a chance.
Amen, my brother. Amen.