Just Whitney is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Whitney Houston, released on December 10, 2002 in North America by Arista Records. The album was first studio album in four years, since her 1998 set My Love Is Your Love, and after signing her new $100 million Arista contract.
It received mixed reviews from critics, and debuted at number nine of the Billboard 200, and number three of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, with sales of 205,147 copies in the first week, not only beating her previous high first-week sales of 177,284 units with Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack Album but also logged her highest debut sales out of her SoundScan-era solo albums.
It spawned four official singles ㅡ three of which were Hot Dance Club Play toppers. Since its release, Just Whitney... has gone onto sell/ship more than 3 million units worldwide and has also earned Platinum certification in the U.S. and Switzerland and gold in France, Brazil and other countries. The album's sales in U.S. stands at 737,000 units.
Background and production
Just Whitney is Houston's fifth studio album, that she recorded after renewing her contract with Arista for a record $100 million. It is mixed with soulful and R&B ballads to dance songs. Houston said that she wanted to make a "very soul oriented" album, something she felt was missing on the radio. It was a departure in style from her previous album My Love Is Your Love, which was blended with hip hop and reggae jams. Regarding the album's recording sessions L.A. Reid, with whom Houston was working, said
She started to work with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, with whom she had worked in her previous albums, Kevin Briggs who produced songs for Destiny's Child, TLC and others. Other major producers included Missy Elliot, who worked with Houston on her previous effort My Love Is Your Love, Teddy Bishop, Gordon Chambers, Rob Fusari and Troy Taylor. Her then husband, Bobby Brown also co-produced one of the tracks along with Jerry Mohammed. Andre Lewis, who met Houston through Brown, also contributed to the project. In addition to these producers, Houston also worked with Rodney Jerkins and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but their works did not make the album.
In an interview with Billboard, Houston said that the whole recording process was "very loose". She said that she would listen to tracks and Reid would recommend the producers. She also said that she really enjoyed the process, because she got some "really great creative" material. About the process, Reid said,
Recording took place in various locations including Atlanta Premier Recordings in Atlanta, Capitol Studios in California, Crossways Studios in New Jersey, The Hit Factory-Criteria in Miami and many other locations.
Musically, the album is a mixture of music ranging from R&B and soul to dance. According to Houston,
She also said that she wanted to give something to the fans, songs which they can sing along to and love the melody. She also incorporated samples into her songs such as in "One of Those Days" ㅡ album's second single, which sampled The Isley Brothers' song "Between the Sheets". She also covered Debby Boone's classic "You Light Up My Life". The album also contains the rock influenced "Tell Me No", which was produced by Babyface, who also produced some other songs on the album including the ballad "Try It on My Own" and dance-pop song "Love That Man" ㅡ both of which became singles. The song "Whatchulookinat" was produced by Brown and Mohammad 2G and became the project's lead single. The lyrics of the song co-written by Houston herself was taken by critics as an answer to the media for preoccupying her private life and personal travails.
Upon its release, Just Whitney received mixed reviews from critics, with aggregated reviews on Metacritic awarding the album 53 out of 100. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic commented that Just Whitney was "an assertion that she 's returning to her basics." He also said that the album was a measured attempt to salvage a career that's on the verge of destruction. He concluded by saying, "It would be a good standard-issue Whitney album if it wasn't for her disarming, defensive attempt to defuse every rumor hurled in her direction." Billboard reviewed the album commenting that "Just Whitney... appears and sounds more like a work-in-progress than a finished disk" and said that the album showcased an artist simply going through the motions and her voice lacked emotion and verve." Steve Jones of USA Today graded the album two-and-half stars out of four, giving a mixed review saying, "At her best, Houston is full of sass and attitude and, most of all, joy. But with so much emphasis on what's bothering her, you can't help but wonder whether the thrill is gone."
Joan Anderman of The Boston Globe reviewed the album neutrally writing, " is as unlikely to get her career back on track" and marked the album as a "shiny, heartless undertaking." Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly graded the album a B- and noted that Just Whitney... had a refreshingly "old-school vibe." He also commented, "Whatever her personal problems, our gal sounds plucky and on top of her game. Still, in her third decade as a diva, Houston remains a formidable role model for American Idol wannabes." Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times graded the album one and half stars out of five commenting, "Just Whitney suffers from the sense of career desperation that surrounded Michael Jackson's recent CDs. She and four dozen writers and producers work so hard finding another hit, they lose track of the human qualities that made her music so formidable." Jon Caramanica of Rolling Stone said that the album "lacked any fire whatsoever." He also commented on Houston's cover of "You Light Up My Life" saying, "this cover, only shows an artist vainly trying to reach for what her future once could have been" and graded the album two stars out of five.
Jon Pareles of New York Times wrote, "Ms. Houston's voice sails and spirals through breathy ballads, staccato constructions and big-build anthems; she's strategic and improvisatory at the same time." He summarized by saying that even when she 's seething, she's graceful. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine rated the album two-and-half stars out of five, being disappointed in the fact that Just Whitney... was not geared to recapture the crossover R&B success of her previous album My Love Is Your Love.
But, Angus Batey from Yahoo! Music UK & Ireland graded the album seven stars out of ten commenting, "this is a cogent, compact and really quite good record, one that mixes upbeat, perhaps slightly clinical R&B with uber-ballads and occasional snatches of what appears to be an attempt at intimacy." Craig Seymour of Atlanta Journal and Constitution reviewed the album gave a favorable review stating, "On Just Whitney..., her first album since 1998, Houston off as everything she wasn't during her recent TV interview with Diane Sawyer: warm, lucid, open and sharp. Keysha Davis of BBC gave a favorable review commenting, "With one of the exceptional voices in contemporary music, her latest album, aptly titled Just Whitney sees the diva return to her former glory with a combination of high-voltage ballads and smooth-liqueur R&B. Whitney's return to big ballads will hopefully ensure that this pop princess will be able to lead the rest of her life like a clichéd fairy tale - happily ever after." Mike Bell from Jam! Showbiz, was also favorable in his review, saying "Maybe because of everything that's happened in her past, maybe because of the sideshow, she has the ability to give the songs real feeling, real life." In addition, he stated that her voice was in fine form, "showcasing those incredible pipes that launched a thousand imitators." He concluded by saying, "And it shows up all of those followers with recent releases ㅡ including Mariah Carey and Celine Dion ㅡ because not only does Houston have the lungs, but she has the soul."
On the week ending December 28, 2002, Just Whitney... debuted and peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200 and number three on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, becoming Houston's fourth and fifth top ten studio album on each chart, respectively. The album sold 205,147 copies, an amount higher than her previous record of 177,284 copies with Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album, in its first week, thus earning Houston's highest first week sales of her career in the Nielsen Soundscan era at that time. The album spent twenty six weeks on the charts. It was certified Platinum by the RIAA for shipments exceeding one million copies. According to Nielsen Soundscan, the album has sold 737,000 copies in the United States.
Just Whitney... was a moderate hit worldwide, unlike her previous sets. The album debuted at number eighty-five on the Canadian Albums chart, selling 3,000 copies in its first week. In Austria, it entered the albums chart on December 8, 2002 at its peak position of number thirty-three. In Switzerland, the album saw its second highest peak, when it debuted at number ten on the charts. It was certified Platinum by the IFPI Switzerland for shipment/sales of 30,000 copies or more. In France, the album charted at number twenty-five and was certified Gold, for shipment of 50,000 copies. In Netherlands, it peaked at number seventy on the albums chart. Apart from this, Just Whitney... was certified Gold in Brazil for shipment/sales of 40,000 copies or more. In other countries, the album failed to chart or peaked outside top forty and thus became a moderate seller. The album has sold about three million copies worldwide.
In 2003, Just Whitney was nominated for Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards in the category of R&B/Soul Album of the Year.
The album saw release of four official singles - one preceding and other three succeeding the album's release.
"Whatchulookinat" became the album's lead single released on September 17, 2002. The song received mixed to unfavorable reviews from critics. It was seen as an attack on the media for the negative attention it gave to her life. The single became a moderate success worldwide, peaking inside the top forty in most countries. In the U.S., it became her tenth Hot Dance Club Play topper. The corresponding music video was also considered as Houston's answer to the media for getting too deep into her personal life. The video showed a white set with cameras all over, following Houston's every move. The set was also full with old movie cameras and people dressed as reporters and photographers. Houston is shown dancing in front of them.
"One of Those Days" was the album's second single and was released on February 4, 2003. The song received positive reviews from critics. It sampled The Isley Brothers' song "Between the Sheets." The single was a moderate success in the U.S., peaking inside top eighty of the charts. The accompanying music video's plot revolved around Houston and her friends, having a day for themselves and getting away from stress.
"Try It on My Own" became the project's third single and was released on February 11, 2003. The song received acclaim from critics as well as fans; most of them who named it as the album's highlight. The song, like its predecessors, was a moderate success and topped Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. It also reached the top ten on the U.S. Adult Contemporary charts. Internationally, the song performed fair. A music video was released to promote the single.
"Love That Man" was the fourth and final single off the album, released on May 20, 2003. It became another Dance Club chart-topping single, but failed to make the Hot 100. No accompanying video was released for the single.
To promote the album, Houston appeared on the 2002 MTV Europe Music Awards, performing her new single "Whatchulookinat". She also appeared on the 2003 VH1 Divas Duets: An Honors Concert for the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and performed her hits including two songs from the album; "My Love" and "Try It on My Own". Apart from these, she also performed live on Good Morning America. No major tours were arranged to support the album.
Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards
Credits and personnel
Obtained from Allmusic
*Whitney Houston – vocals, background vocals
*Babyface – acoustic guitar, keyboard, background vocals
*Ted Bishop – keyboard
*Bobby Brown – vocals
*Kevin "Shekspere" Briggs – MIDI
*Gordon Chambers – background vocals
*Greg Charley – guitar
*Nathan East – bass
*Sherree Ford-Payne – background vocals
*Sharlotte Gibson – background vocals
*Gary Houston – background vocals
*Kenya Ivey – background vocals
*Latrelle – background vocals
*Ricky Lawson – drums
*Wayne Linsey – Fender Rhodes
*Bill Meyers – string conductor
*Greg Phillinganes – piano
*Antonique Smith – background vocals
*Michael Hart Thompson – guitar
*Tweet – background vocals
*Randy Waldman – string conductor
*Vocal producers: Gordon Chambers, Troy Taylor, Tweet
*Engineers: Ted Bishop, Paul Boutin, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, Terrence Cash, Cortez Farris, Kevin Guarnieri, Scott Kieklak, Mike White
*Assistants: Tom Bender, Matt Brown, Steve Fisher, Steve Genewick, Jimmy Hoyson, Marc Stephen Lee, Josean Posey, Dennis Rivadeneira, Craig "Niteman" Taylor
*Mixing: Kevin "KD" Davis, Jon Gass, Mick Guzauski, Manny Marroquin
*Mastering: Herb Powers
*A&R: Joey Arbagey, Shawndella Taylor, Theresa Wilson
*Production coordination: Melanie Byrd, Ivy Skoff
*Programming: Troy Taylor
*Drum programming: Babyface, Ted Bishop
*String engineer: Tommy Vicari, Jeffrey "Woody" Woodruff
*Arrangers: Ted Bishop, Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs
*Rhythm arrangements: Troy Taylor
*String arrangements: Bill Meyers, Randy Waldman
*Cocal arrangement: Ted Bishop, Gordon Chambers, Whitney Houston
*Creative director: Joe-Mama Nitzberg
*Art direction: Jeffrey Schulz
*Design: Jeffrey Schulz
*Photography: Sheryl Nields
*Make-up: Roxanna Floy
*Hair stylist: Ellin La Var
*Stylist: Patti Wilson
Charts and certifications
End of year charts
ReferencesThis text has been derived from Just Whitney on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
Whitney Elizabeth Houston (born August 9, 1963) is an American R&B/pop singer, actress, and former fashion model. Houston is the most awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, and her list of awards include 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston is also one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide.
Inspired by several prominent soul singers in her extended family, including her mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, and Godmother Aretha Franklin, Houston began singing at her New Jersey church as a member of a junior gospel choir at age eleven. After she began performing alongside her mother in night clubs in the New York City area, she was discovered by Arista Records label head Clive Davis. Houston has released six studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums throughout her career, all of which have had diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold certification.
Houston released her debut album Whitney Houston in 1985, which became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release. Her second studio album Whitney (1987) became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her award-winning video for "How Will I Know", enabled several African-American female artists to follow in her success.
Houston's first acting role was as the star of the feature film The Bodyguard in 1992. The film's original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Its lead single, "I Will Always Love You", became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. The album makes her the only female act ranked in the list of the world's Top 10 best-selling albums; at number four. Houston continued to star in feature films and contributed to soundtracks including Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996). After the release of her fourth studio album My Love Is Your Love (1998), she renewed her recording contract with Arista Records in 2001. She subsequently released her fifth studio album, Just Whitney, the following year with a Christmas album, One Wish: The Holiday Album, being released in 2003. Amidst widespread media coverage of personal and professional turmoil, Houston ended her 14 year marriage to Bobby Brown in 2006. In 2009, Houston released her seventh studio album, I Look To You.
Whitney Houston was born in what was then a middle income neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, the third and youngest child of John and gospel singer Cissy Houston. She is of African American, Native American and Dutch descent. Her mother, along with cousins Dionne Warwick and the late Dee Dee Warwick and godmother Aretha Franklin were all notable figures in the gospel, rhythm and blues, pop, and soul genres. Houston was raised a Baptist, but was also exposed to the Pentecostal church. After the 1967 Newark riots, the family moved to a middle class area in East Orange, New Jersey when she was four.
At the age of eleven, Houston began to follow in her mother's footsteps and started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano. Her first solo performance in the church was "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah".
When Houston was a teenager, she attended a Catholic single-sex high school, Mount Saint Dominic Academy, where she met her best friend Robyn Crawford, whom she describes as the "sister she never had." While Houston was still in school, her mother continued to teach her how to sing. In addition to her mother, Franklin, and Warwick, Houston was also exposed to the music of Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, and Roberta Flack, most of whom would have an impact on her as a singer and performer.
1977–84: Early career
Houston spent some of her teenage years touring nightclubs where her mother Cissy was performing, and she would occasionally get on stage and perform with her. In 1977, at age 14, she was a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band's single "Life's a Party". Zager subsequently offered to obtain a recording contract for the young singer, but Cissy declined, wanting her young daughter to finish school first. Then in 1978, at age 15, Houston sang background vocals on Chaka Khan's hit single "I'm Every Woman", a song she would later turn into a hit for herself on her monster-selling soundtrack album The Bodyguard. She also sang back-up on albums by Lou Rawls and Jermaine Jackson. In the early 1980s, Houston started working as a fashion model after a photographer saw her at Carnegie Hall singing with her mother. She appeared as a lead vocalist on a Paul Jabara album, entitled Paul Jabara and Friends: featuring The Weather Girls, Leata Galloway & Whitney Houston (Columbia Records, 1983). She appeared in Seventeen Magazine and became one of the first women of color to grace the cover of Seventeen magazine. She was also featured in layouts in the pages Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Young Miss and appeared in a Canada Dry soft drink TV commercial. Her striking looks and girl-next-door charm made her one of the most sought after teen models of that time. While modeling, she continued her burgeoning recording career by working with producers Ben Dover, Bill Laswell and Martin Bisi on an album they were spearheading called One Down, which was credited to the group Material. For that project, Houston contributed the ballad "Memories". Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called her contribution "one of the most gorgeous ballads you've ever heard".
Houston had previously been offered several recording agencies (Michael Zager in 1980 and Elektra Records in 1981). In 1983, Gerry Griffith, an A&R representative from Arista Records saw her performing with her mother in a New York City nightclub and was impressed. He convinced Arista's head Clive Davis to make time to see Houston perform. Davis too was impressed and offered a worldwide recording contract which Houston signed. Later that year, she made her national televised debut alongside Davis on The Merv Griffin Show.
Houston signed with Arista in 1983 but did not begin work on her album immediately. The label wanted to make sure no other label signed the singer away. Davis wanted to ensure he had the right material and producers for Houston's debut album. Some producers had to pass on the project due to prior commitments. Houston first recorded a duet with Teddy Pendergrass entitled "Hold Me" which appeared on his album, Love Language. The single was released in 1984 and gave Houston her first taste of success, becoming a Top 5 R&B hit. It would also appear on her debut album in 1985.
1985–86: Rise to prominence
Whitney86Grammy.jpgleftthumb160pxHouston in the backstage area, after receiving her first Grammy award at its 28th ceremony on February 25, 1986.
With production from Michael Masser, Kashif, Jermaine Jackson and Narada Michael Walden, Houston's self-titled debut album was released in February 1985. Rolling Stone magazine praised the new talent, calling her "one of the most exciting new voices in years" while The New York Times called the album "an impressive, musically conservative showcase for an exceptional vocal talent." The first single, the dance-funk "Someone For Me", failed to chart in the US and UK. The next single, "Thinking About You", reached the top ten of the US R&B Chart, as the album sold modestly. The release of the next single, the soulful ballad "You Give Good Love", peaked at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and went to #1 on the R&B Charts. As a result, the album began to sell strongly, and Houston continued promoting the album by touring nightclubs in the US. She also began performing on late-night television talk shows, which was not usually accessible to black acts. The jazzy ballad "Saving All My Love for You" was released next and it would become Houston's first #1 hit single in both the US and the UK. She was now an opening act for singer Jeffrey Osborne on his nationwide tour. At the time, MTV had received harsh criticism for not playing enough videos by African-American artists while favoring rock acts. The next single, "How Will I Know", peaked at #1 and introduced Houston to the MTV audience thanks to its video. This would make the singer the first African-American female artists to receive heavy rotation on the network. By 1986, a year after its initial release, Whitney Houston topped the Billboard 200 album chart and stayed there for 14 non-consecutive weeks. The final single, "Greatest Love of All", became Houston's biggest hit at the time after peaking #1 and remaining there for three weeks. At the time, Houston released the best-selling debut album by a female artist. Houston then embarked on her world tour, Greatest Love Tour. The album had become an international success, and was certified 13x Platinum (diamond) in the United States alone, and has sold a total of 25 million copies worldwide.
At the 1986 Grammy Awards, Houston was nominated for three awards including Album of the Year. She was ineligible for the Best New Artist category due to her previous duet recording with Teddy Pendergrass in 1984. She won her first Grammy award for 'Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female' for "Saving All My Love for You". This text has been derived from Whitney Houston on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0