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Flashback To Whitney Houston's 1985 Hit "Saving All My Love For You" | For The Record
Celebrate 35 years since the initial release of Houston's first of a record-setting seven straight No. 1 singles
Whitney Houston introduced herself to the world in 1985, and after the second single from her debut self-titled ablum droped on Aug. 13 of that year, pop music would never be the same.
Now, 35 years, six GRAMMY wins and 25 GRAMMY nominations later, we celebrate the breakout hit by the late legendary vocal powerhouse in this edition of GRAMMY.com's For The Record series.
"Saving All My Love For You" Was written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin and was originally recorded by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. for their 1978 album Marilyn & Billy.
Houston's version lifted it all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first of seven record-setting consecutive No. 1 singles. The song also earned the young singer her first GRAMMY Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for 1985. But the praise didn't stop there. Her performance of the song at the 28th GRAMMYs won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
Tragically, Houston died in 2012 the night before the 54th GRAMMY Awards, where Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to her life and legacy as the music world mourned the loss of one of its brightest talents.
Photo: Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
8 Ways Whitney Houston Made An Iconic '90s Comeback With 'My Love Is Your Love'
After several years of made-for-movies music, Whitney Houston delivered her first studio album in nearly a decade — and reestablished herself as one of pop's all-time greats.
By 1998, the late Whitney Houston was a good 15 years into her colossally successful music career— and yet, by this point, she'd only ever released three studio albums. But as the millennium approached, the legendary diva finally decided to follow up her two eponymous 1980s efforts and 1990's I'm Your Baby Tonight. And the wait proved to be worth it.
My Love Is Your Love may have only peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 (it had the misfortune to be released alongside nine other major new releases on a retail battlefield coined Super Tuesday). But the record-buying public gradually recognized that Houston was no longer just the power ballad expert; she had finally embraced the kind of innovative R&B sound they'd always wanted, and known she was capable of. And after several years away from the upper reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, she suddenly scored three consecutive top five hits, guiding the slow-burner to platinum status four times over – and proving that Whitney Houston was back in full force.
With the contemporary R&B classic now celebrating its 25th anniversary on Nov. 17, here's a look at how Houston reasserted her status as a superstar with one of the greatest comebacks of the decade.
She Tapped The Era's Hottest Producer
Rodney Jerkins ruled the R&B scene at the turn of the century, producing monster hits for the likes of Destiny's Child ("Say My Name"), Jennifer Lopez ("If You Had My Love"), and Toni Braxton ("He Wasn't Man Enough for Me"), to name a few. But Houston was one of the first artists to recognize that his trademark staccato beats and alluring harpsichords equaled musical gold.<em></em>
Shortly after Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" put him on the map in 1998, Jerkins was tapped to work his magic on three My Love Is Your Love tracks: "Get It Back," "If I Told You That" (which also received a 2000 remix with another 1980s favorite, George Michael), and, perhaps most notably, "It's Not Right But It's Okay." Houston's work with Jenkins both helped her move away from mainstream pop and show that she still had her finger on the pulse.
She Rediscovered Her Soulfulness
Houston had famously been accused of abandoning her gospel and soul roots in favor of chasing a white pop crowd during her first imperial phase, even memorably getting booed at the Soul Train Music Awards in 1989. No one could label her a sellout with My Love Is Your Love, though.
Not only did Houston put her own spin on an all-time Motown classic, Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her," she also roped in R&B talents both established (Babyface, Lauryn Hill) and emerging (Missy Elliott, Kelly Price) to help hone a fresh, forward-thinking sound that was far removed from the adult contemporary ballads she'd made her name with. It was a move validated when the same ceremony she'd been heckled at handed her two nominations and an Artist of the Decade Award.
She Didn't Forget Her Beloved Original Sound
Houston didn't entirely eschew the blockbuster ballads that established her place alongside Celine Dion and Mariah Carey in the holy trinity of powerhouse divas. In fact, she and the latter essentially engage in a sing-off on The Prince of Egypt Oscar-winning theme "When You Believe" (which served as the lead single for the film's soundtrack, My Love Is Your Love and Carey's compilation album #1's).
Elsewhere, songwriting maestro Diane Warren delivers not just one, but two epic love songs in the shape of "I Learned from the Best," and "You'll Never Stand Alone." And Faith Evans and Kelly Price collab "Heartbreak Hotel" (despite its title, not an Elvis Presley cover) proved Houston could still out-warble those who were still in school when "Greatest Love of All" and "Saving All My Love for You" topped the Hot 100. It was a move that helped to perfectly bridge the gap between the old and the new.
She Won Her First R&B Grammy
Although Houston had previously been nominated six times in the R&B GRAMMY categories, she'd never converted any of them into wins: three of her five awards had been for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, while The Bodyguard's success helped her scoop both the Record and Album Of The Year categories of 1993. That all changed with My Love Is Your Love.
The star picked up three R&B nods, and while Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals went to TLC, Houston did take home her sixth and final GRAMMY when "It's Not Right But It's Okay" was crowned Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
She Snagged Two Fugees At The Top Of Their Game
Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill might now be better known for controversial presidential campaigns and a staggering aversion to punctuality. But back in the late '90s, they were very much R&B royalty. Both had made the transitions from chart-topping trio Fugees to solo success look effortless, particularly Hill who, a year later, would clean up at the GRAMMYs with her debut LP, The Miseducation of... And so, they proved to be an astute choice of collaborators from an artist whose street cred had long been questioned.
Wyclef gave Houston the best Bob Marley-esque jam of his career with My Love Is Your Love's title track, while his former bandmate produced the gorgeous, and hidden, closing number "I Was Made to Love Him."
She Delivered Her Most Iconic Video
From the patriotic jumpsuit she sported while belting out the National Anthem at the Super Bowl to that "accidental" fashion clash with Carey at the MTV VMAs, Houston constantly delivered as a fashion icon. But it was the video for My Love Is Your Love's third single that spawned her most iconic look.
Directed by regular cohort Kevin Bray, the "It's Not Right But It's Okay" promo sees Houston hold court in a black skin-tight corset complete with matching choker and razor-sharp bob. It was a style she replicated for one of her finest stage performances – her show-stealing display at the 1999 BRITs – and one that was also faithfully recreated in both Glee and the recent biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
She Became A Club Favorite
Back in the '90s, you weren't a bona fide diva unless you got the thumping dance mix treatment: see Frankie Knuckles' take on Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart," for example, or David Morales' reworking of Carey's "My All." My Love Is Your Love undoubtedly spawned Houston's biggest club banger. In fact, for many, Thunderpuss' epic nine-minute retooling of "It's Not Right But It's Okay" is the definitive version.
But there was plenty more where that came from, with remixes from the likes of Hex Hector ("Heartbreak Hotel") and Junior Vasquez ("I Learned from the Best") giving Houston four No. 1s on the US Dance Club Songs chart within the space of just 13 months.
She Reminded Everyone Of Her Ultimate Talent
For a good six years, the only singles Houston released were movie tie-ins, a clear sign that she was focusing more on her acting career than her recording during most of the 1990s. And while she acquitted herself well in Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher's Wife, and, of course, the phenomenon that was The Bodyguard, she never quite reached the same heights on the big screen as she previously had in the studio. And My Love Is Your Love reminded everyone that her voice could still blow everyone away.
On the Missy Elliott-penned "In My Business," she's the fearsome R&B diva, warning those skeptical about her bad boy lover to mind their own. On "I Learned from the Best," she's the powerhouse balladeer, drawing upon her trademark melisma while pleading with the one who got away. And on the spiritual title track, she has a new trick up her sleeve: subtlety. This is Houston at her most expressive and most versatile — and arguably, her best.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Jemal Countess/WireImage for Songwriter's Hall of Fame
For The Record: How Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now' Changed Her Career — And Proved She'll Always Get The Last Word
The third Taylor Swift album to receive the 'Taylor's Version' treatment, 'Speak Now' isn't just a time capsule for the superstar — it was the turning point for her both personally and professionally.
As Taylor Swift began work on her third album, she knew all eyes were on her. The singer had solidified her status as a bonafide country-pop superstar thanks to her sophomore LP, 2008's Fearless, which earned Swift her first four GRAMMYs, including Album Of The Year. Meanwhile, her personal life had become non-stop fodder for the tabloids; critics painted her as a boy-crazy maneater ready to chew up exes for the sake of hits.
While her first two records had largely centered on romantic daydreams and small-town adolescence, Swift's new level of fame meant her next set of music would involve more high-profile subjects. Like, say, the rapper who'd tried to humiliate her in front of the entire world at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Or the Hollywood starlet she was convinced had stolen her pop star boyfriend. Or the critic who had taken a particularly vicious swipe at her on his well-known industry blog. All of those moments pinwheeled around a common theme: speaking up, speaking out, speaking her truth. And the result became Speak Now.
"These songs are made up of words I didn't say when the moment was right in front of me," Swift wrote in the LP's liner notes. "These songs are open letters. Each is written with a specific person in mind, telling them what I meant to tell them in person."
Swift's Speak Now era officially began in August 2010, when she released "Mine" as the album's lead single. The rollout was expedited by two weeks after the song leaked on the internet, but even with an earlier-than-planned release, the star immediately proved she was pushing her songcraft past the high school hallways and teenage fairytales of her first two albums — a level of maturity that rang through Speak Now.
"Mine" told an altogether different kind of love story, one that confronted the daunting realities of adulthood head-on. Instead of the hopeless romantic fans had come to know on past hits like "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me," Swift positioned herself as the jaded protagonist at the tale's center, one whose walls are only broken down by this new, grown-up kind of love.
Becoming her fourth top five hit on the Billboard Hot 100, "Mine" also contained a particularly flawless turn of phrase in its chorus — "you made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter" — that remains, to this day, one of the best examples of Swift's razor-sharp talent for crafting the perfect lyric.
The rest of Speak Now — which Swift wrote entirely alone as a mic drop against critics — proved to have the same kind of brilliance. Swift had unleashed a new layer of her songwriting ability; not only did she dive deeper into the unveiled honesty of her diaristic style, but she also hinted at the whimsical storytelling that was to come on future albums, particularly 2020's folklore and evermore. But above all, Speak Now showed that Swift would never leave anything unspoken again.
Swift's evolution as a songwriter mirrored her growing success: Upon its October 2010 release, Speak Now sold an eye-popping 1,047,000 copies in its first week. The seven-digit sales figure nearly doubled Fearless' opening week tally of 592,300, and became the first album to achieve the million-copy first-week feat in more than two years. (The achievement also foreshadowed the records Swift would break with her subsequent releases, most recently her majorly record-breaking 10th album, Midnights.)
Nearly every track on Speak Now had fans and the press hunting for clues about who was on the receiving end of Swift's open letters. There's "Back to December," a break-up ballad written for Taylor Lautner, and "Better Than Revenge," a condescending clapback at Camilla Belle for "sabotaging" her romance with Joe Jonas. She even offered Kanye West a surprising amount of grace after their viral VMAs moment on the downtempo ballad "Innocent."
Arguably the most talked-about Speak Now subject was (and still is) John Mayer, who had two songs aimed squarely at him: pop-punk-fueled single "The Story of Us" and "Dear John," a devastating dressing down of their 12-year age gap. The latter even mimicked Mayer's trademark blues guitar as Swift wailed, "Dear John, I see it all now, it was wrong/ Don't you think 19's too young/ To be played by your dark, twisted games when I loved you so?/ I should've known."
Perhaps the most victorious moment from Taylor's Speak Now era, though, came from "Mean." The banjo-tinged tune served as a deliciously twangy clapback to critic Bob Lefsetz, who had publicly derided Swift's 2010 GRAMMYs performance with Stevie Nicks, just hours before she was awarded Album Of The Year for the first time.
Not only did "Mean" end up winning Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance at the 2012 GRAMMYs, but Swift also got the last word by performing the single during the ceremony. In the final chorus, Swift landed her knock-out punch — the music dropped out completely as she triumphantly declared, "But someday I'll be singin' this at the GRAMMYs/ And all you're ever gonna be is mean."
Nearly 13 years after Speak Now was first unveiled, Swift is now on the precipice of giving her beloved third album its highly anticipated Taylor's Version re-release — appropriately the third project after Fearless and Red to be re-recorded in her history-making quest to own her life's work.
The new edition of Speak Now will contain all 14 tracks on the original LP as well as sixth single "Ours" and fellow deluxe cut "Superman." (Though released in March to celebrate the start of The Eras Tour, "If This Was a Movie" was mysteriously left off the (Taylor's Version) tracklist.) It will also feature six vault tracks from the era, including collaborations with Paramore's Hayley Williams ("Castles Crumbling") and Fall Out Boy ("Electric Touch"), two acts Swift said "influenced me most powerfully as a lyricist" back when she was recording the album in 2010.
As the lone LP in her now 10-album discography to be written solely by Swift's pen, Speak Now undoubtedly holds a special and solitary place in the superstar's heart. Looking back on the album after announcing the Taylor's Version release at her first Nashville Eras Tour stop, she made clear it has only become more meaningful over the last 13 years.
"I first made Speak Now, completely self-written, between the ages of 18 and 20," she wrote in a social media post announcing the album. "The songs that came from this time in my life were marked by their brutal honesty, unfiltered diaristic confessions and wild wistfulness. I love this album because it tells a tale of growing up, flailing, flying and crashing…and living to speak about it."
Photo: Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty Images
GRAMMY Rewind: Whitney Houston Admires Dolly Parton After "I Will Always Love You" Wins In 1994
Whitney Houston had the chance to thank Dolly Parton — who wrote "I Will Always Love You" — for "writing beautiful songs" during her acceptance speech for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance.
Nearly 50 years after its initial release, Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" has been covered by thousands of musicians. But no other rendition compares to Whitney Houston's iconic 1992 cover for the Bodyguard soundtrack — and in 1994, the two shared a full-circle celebration of the song's massive success.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, relive Houston's Best Female Pop Vocal Performance win for her version of "I Will Always Love You" at the 1994 GRAMMY Awards.
"Dolly, of course, coming from you, this is truly an honor. You wrote a beautiful song. Thank you so much for writing such beautiful songs," Houston said to Parton, who presented the award and originally released the recording (which she wrote herself) in 1974.
Houston praised Rickey Minor, her band, and David Foster, who helped Houston arrange the ballad. "All the songwriters and producers on The Bodyguard, BeBe [Winans], I love you," she added before performing an impromptu song to thank her team members at Arista Records.
"I love you, Mommy and Daddy — I wouldn't be here without you. And always first in my life, I thank my Father, Jesus Christ. Without them, I am nothing," Houston said. Before leaving the stage, Houston took a second to uplift her supporters. "To all the fans, I love you! Thank you, and God bless you!"
"I Will Always Love You" also took home Record Of The Year that night, and The Bodyguard won Album Of The Year — one of only four soundtracks to date to win the coveted award.
Press play on the video above to watch Whitney Houston accept her award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.