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'I Look to You' launches comeback for Whitney Houston

August 31, 2009 | 10:02 am

Whitney Houston Comeback I Look To You Grammys Music News 1357986While the second round of reviews for "I Look to You" are not as strong as those from last weekWhitney Houston could still be a major presence at this year's Grammy Awards. Remember Hollywood loves a comeback, and Whitney Houston certainly epitomizes that.

As Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote in his review, "Seven years after her last album of pop songs, two years after her divorce, Whitney Houston re-emerges with full diva qualifications on 'I Look to You,' released Monday. Most of its revelations aren’t verbal; they’re in the husky, vehement sound of her voice."

For Allison Stewart of the Washington Post "I Look to You", "is a finely calibrated, just-modern-enough mix of mom-friendly club bangers and dauntless ballads that, in retrospect, seems like the only album she could have made."

However, Jim Farber of the New York Daily News sounded a cautionary note: "Houston still owns an instrument most singers would kill for, with a broad range and a respectable force. And she gets to apply it to some catchy and pleasing new songs here. But there's no getting around the fact that something key is gone. Namely, her genius. The tone of epic clarity, the lungs of steel, the notes that seemed to sail higher than any musical staff could hold -- all those things are behind her now." 

And Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Despite the machinations of top-tier producers and songwriters such as R. Kelly, Diane Warren, Akon, Stargate and David Foster, nothing else feels quite as elegantly ebullient. Nor does she ever cut loose; at times it feels as if Houston is just a pretty ornament on her producers' tracks. In the past, her voice was big enough to tower over lackluster material, but no more."

Houston's record label Artista was so sure of the success of "I Looked to You" that it moved the release date up to today – the cut-off for Grammy Awards eligibility. Houston won the first of her six Grammys way back in 1985. But her most recent victory was a full decade ago. 

Houston first came to fame with a self-titled debut disc in 1985 that won her a Grammy for best pop vocal performance and contended for the top prize of album of the year (Phil Collins won for "No Jacket Required"). And she earned an Emmy for her performance of "Saving All My Love For You" on that Grammycast. Her single "The Greatest Love of All" lost record of the year the following year to "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood.

Houston won another pop vocal Grammy in 1987 for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," off her second album, "Whitney." That disc also competed for album of the year but lost to U2 for "The Joshua Tree."

Her third studio album, 1990's "I'm Your Baby Tonight," did not net her any Grammys. However, the soundtrack for her film debut, "The Bodyguard," won album of the year in 1993, while her rendition of the Dolly Parton tune "I Will Always Love You" won record of the year and a third pop vocal Grammy. 

Houston's fourth studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," included the track "It's Not Right but It's Okay," which won her a sixth Grammy, completing her current collection, for R&B vocal performance in 1999. Her last mainstream album, "Just Whitney," was released in 2002 but did not contend at the Grammys. Neither did her 2003 holiday album, "One Wish."

Photo: J/Arista

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