It's been a while since we've heard anything from Whitney Houston that didn't end up on The Soup, but her comeback is in full swing, and her single, "Million Dollar Bill," is cause for both celebration and concern.
The song, which hits radio on August 17, is a throwback to disco, written by Alicia Keys and produced by Swizz Beatz. The beat is infectious: you want to dance, or put your roller skates on, or just do that thing you do when you're stuck at your computer and a good dance song comes on: that shoulder swinging, bobbing your head, lifting your fingers off the keyboard move. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about!
But the beat only takes the song so far: this isn't just some generic club track, this is Whitney, and when Whitney sings, we expect to hear the same voice we heard in 1992, when her voice powered the Bodyguard soundtrack to over 17 million copies sold. But Whitney's voice has changed: there is a grittiness that was not there before, and one wonders if it's a result of her drug problems or just the passage of time that's brought a lower tone and scratchier quality to her singing. However, she can still hit the notes, and unlike her contemporary, Mariah Carey, who increasingly relies on whispers to get through her hit songs, Whitney doesn't shy away from taking it loud.
Even so, I suspect there will be a lot of disappointment from certain fans who expected Whitney to sound exactly as she did 20 years ago. It took me a few listens to really get into it, as the change in Whitney's voice did throw me off a bit. But then I realized that Whitney was bringing something to this song that most songs on the radio don't have: no autotune, no stupid "I hate your girlfriend" subplot, and a genuinely celebratory nature. Whitney's feeling good; she wants you to feel good too. It's a jam sung by a mature woman (remember those?) and it's a lot of fun. Is it dated? Maybe. But there's a reason everybody hits the floor when the DJ spins some Donna Summer. Sometimes, trends be damned, you can't help but dance.
What say you commenters?