February 12, 2012


Whitney Houston's No. 1 Songs: A Primer

Frank Micelotta
Frank Micelotta

Whitney Houston's catalog remains one of the most successful in music; her list of accolades—including six GRAMMY Awards and 30 Billboard Music Awards—making her the most awarded female singer of all time. From 1985 to 1995, the singer racked up 11 number one songs, including seven straight number ones (a record that remains unbeaten). With Houston's untimely death Saturday, get to know the 11 tracks that helped solidify her place in music history. 

1. "Saving All My Love For You" (1985)
Houston's cover of Marilyn McCoo's 1978 hit was the second single released off her eponymous debut album and first of seven straight number one songs. 

2. "How Will I Know" (1985)
Houston's third single was originally sent to Janet Jackson, who passed on the song while working on Control. The accompanying video was placed in heavy rotation on MTV and gave Houston worldwide exposure.

3. "Greatest Love of All" (1986)
Houston's cover of George Benson's 1977 track was written by songwriter Linda Creed, who was battling breast cancer at the time and wrote the track as a way to cope with her situation. She died in 1986, but lived long enough to see Houston turn the song into a worldwide hit.  

4. "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" (1987)
The first single from Houston's second album Whitney won the GRAMMY Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. It was written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, the same couple who penned "How Will I Know" and had a hit, as Boy Meets Girl, with 1988's "Waiting for a Star to Fall."

5. "Didn't We Almost Have It All" (1987)
The second single from Whitney scored a GRAMMY nomination for Song of the Year and showcased Houston's wide vocal range. 

6. "So Emotional" (1987)
The singer's sixth number one in a row tied her with The Beatles and The Bee Gees. Written by songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the same duo responsible for Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors," the song stayed in the Top 40 for more than three months.

7. "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" (1988)
The track that earned Houston her record-breaking seventh consecutive number one song almost never happened. Houston originally opted not to record the song, but was convinced by Arista head Clive Davis. With "Hearts," Houston became the first female artist to score four number one singles from the same album.

8. "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990)
L.A. Reid and Babyface wrote and produced the title track from Houston's 1990 album, which spawned a popular European remix and went Top 10 in half a dozen countries.

9. "All the Man That I Need" (1990)
Houston continued her love of covers with this version of R&B singer Linda Clifford's 1982 track

10. "I Will Always Love You" (1992)
Houston's version of Dolly Parton's 1974 hit has sold nearly 5 million copies and remains the singer's biggest hit. Taken from The Bodyguard soundtrack, the song spent more than three months straight at number one.

11. "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" (1995)
Babyface wrote and produced Houston's final number one for the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. It debuted at number one and would go on to win Best R&B Song and be nominated for Song of the Year at the GRAMMYs.