Whitney Houston ‘I Look To You’ Album PreviewPublished by Clay Cane on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 2:06 am.
Last night, the legendary Clive Davis hosted a listening session for Whitney Houston’s new album I Look To You, which is in stores September 1st. Held at Jazz @ Lincoln Center in New York City, the event was packed with stars like Martha Stewart, Gayle King, Dionne Warrick, Alicia Keys (in the house with Swizz Beats!) LA Reid, Andre Harrell, Diane Sawyer, BET’s own Debra Lee and Stephen Hill – and the iconic Whitney Houston, who was absolutely stunning. She looked happy, grateful and beautiful. When Whitney hit the stage for a small speech the person next to me said,”That’s m*thaf**kin’ Whitney Houston!“ The diva received a standing ovation from a crowd (and the world!) who has been waiting for the return of the original pop-soul diva.
I was lucky enough to attend and here is a preview of the seven new tracks that were played (two leaked tracks were played, “Like I Never Left” featuring Akon and “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster). I wasn’t able to catch every producer’s name or the exact lyrics so the credits are subject to change. Note: Clive Davis did stress the songs were still being polished.
1. “Million Dollar Bill” (written and produced by Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats)
An up-tempo, joyful track about love and probably one of the funkiest songs Whitney has ever done. “Million Dollar Bill” has an amazing bass line and almost recalls early Michael Jackson in Off The Wall. The catchy hook, “You make me feel like a million dollar bill.” Her vocal is strong with some power notes toward the end. The song has an Alicia Keys sound but fits for Whit — it’s current without making her seem like she is trying to compete with teenagers. The song received a standing ovation.
2. “Nothin’ But Love” (produced by Danja)
Whitney’s shout out to those who her love her and those who hate on her, she’s got “Nothin’ But Love” for all of them. Completely up-tempo and definitely an R&B club track that has the potential of sounding even hotter with a remix. The vocal stays around her lower register and, again, holds some classic Nippy notes at the end.
3. “Call You Tonight” (produced by Stargate)
Fun, mature and a song everyone can relate to. Heavily produced and while it can be tough to adjust to a pure vocalist like Whitney sing to a production heavy song, the mid-tempo track works for this album. “Call You Tonight” sounds like one of the better tracks from Just Whitney. Some lyrics include, “Destiny, I believe in it” and “I wish I could stay but I got to go, I’ll call you tonight.”
4. “Salute” (written and produced by R. Kelly)
Whitney is saying goodbye to a lover who has done her wrong, but she is letting go with no anger and confidently sings, “I salute you.” Could she be channeling Bobby Brown? The song is strictly R&B and almost sounds similar to “Heartbreak Hotel” from the My Love Is Your Love album. More instruments than production with keys and a strong vocal from Whitney. One line, “You think you know everything, you think your sh*t don’t stink.”
5. “I Look To You” – R. Kelly
Say what you want about R. Kelly but the man can still make a good R&B song. “I Look To You” is the title track and my favorite song so far. Beautiful lyrics like, “As I lay me down, heaven hear me now.” Her voice is deeply powerful, channeling classic Whitney with a pop sense but an R&B vocal. This song proves that she has not lost her voice and it’s definitely a melody I cannot wait to hear live. Whitney clearly feels every line and chord, charging through the ballad, transcending her own experience and reaching others who have been through adversity. Whitney has been criticized for not being emotional enough in her music — this track knocks out that complaint. From where I could see, Bobbi Kristina, Whitney’s daughter, was getting emotional during the song.
6. “Worth It” (R. Kelly)
“This song is for the lovers…” is one of the lines. Youthful and radio friendly, another R&B track. Nothing much to add about this one, enjoyable to listen to and had folks in the audience bobbing their head — I think I even saw a few head nods from Martha Stewart!
7. “A Song For You” (produced by Stargate)
Popularized by Donny Hathaway, “A Song For You” is a new spin on the Leon Russell classic. The beginning starts slow and the crowd gasped when they realized what song she was singing. Whitney sounded incredible, nearly haunting and before you knew it the song turns into a club banger! Mr. Davis explained the song was recorded just the night before. Definitely one for those who loves Whitney’s club tracks.
Overall, the nine tracks that were played received a good response. The album definitely has the potential to be a hit. For Whitney, there is no such thing as a “comeback” — icons “don’t call it a comeback,” they just jump back in the game whenever they are ready. One thing I do know is no one should expect 1985 Whitney. Artists evolve and it’s limiting when we trap performers in a particular box or era. The best piece about the tracks is that Whit has some grit to her voice, her vocals are still strong but she doesn’t mind getting a bit nasty with it. While the album isn’t finished, I believe folks will be pleasantly surprised.
Are you looking forward to the new Whitney album?
PS. Clive Davis is 77 years old and stood on that stage for nearly an hour, introducing Whitney, telling stories, making jokes and setting up each song! This is a man from the old school and knows how to work a project! Gotta give respect to Professor Davis!
PPS. One more thing — I NEED a duet for this album and I’m calling it — just like Madonna teamed with Justin Timberlake, I need a Beyonce and Whitney Houston duet. The song should be a single, maybe in the style of “Halo.” So, please — someone text, email, Twitter, or Facebook Clive Davis ASAP!