Sasha Frere-Jones is my favourite music writer, and his impeccable straight-no-chaser memorial to the brittle genius of Whitney Houston is a masterclass in talking about popular music:
Her biggest hit gave the stage to ?I,? a first person that is so easily recognized that if you even mumble ?and I? with some kind of melody, whoever?s standing there will assume it?s ?I Will Always Love You.? Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton, ?I Will Always Love You? was momentarily ceded to Linda Ronstadt, but Houston owns it now. The song broke through a dozen different ceilings because of the first person chorus, but just start with the first forty-five seconds, which is Houston singing without any accompaniment. She states the first verse, moving carefully through her own filters, not even hinting at how bright the lights can get. The second verse casually drops in some heavier flashes and then the second chorus comes out as if Houston is no longer any kind of regretful?she is using her magnanimous nature to flatten whoever?s chosen someone over her.
Personally, I’ll always remember her with this. God, she was beautiful.