|First posted 3/25/2008; updated 12/1/2020.|
Released: February 14, 1985
Peak: 114 US, 16 RB, 2 UK, 117 CN, 111 AU
Sales (in millions): 13.0 US, 1.2 UK, 25.0 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 46:54
3.958 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
While president of Arista Records, Clive Davis saw Whitney Houston performing in a night club in New York and believed she had the potential to be the next big superstar. He signed her in 1983, but it took a year and a half to find songs suitable for her debut album. WK
Even when the album was released, it wasn’t an immediate success. Two singles were released from the album before You Give Good Love caught fire, hitting #3 on the pop chart and reaching #1 on the R&B chart. After that, Saving All My Love for You and How Will I Know topped both charts, finally lifting the album to #1 – more than a year after its release. It was the slowest climb to #1 since Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled 1975 album took 58 weeks to reach the top. WK The former won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female.
However, once it got there, Whitney Houston hung around, racking up 14 non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard album chart. It also landed at #1 in Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden. It was the biggest seller of 1986 WK and became one of the best-selling debuts of all time. WK Only Men at Work had more weeks at #1 (15) with a debut album (Business As Usual). WK
A third #1 song, The Greatest Love of All, a Grammy nominee for Record of the Year, helped propel the album to the top. The cover of a song first recorded by George Benson in 1977 was what All Music Guide’s Ron Wynn called “one her few legitimate soul workouts.” AMG Wynn said she otherwise was “an incredibly talented vocalist using only a minimum of her skills.” AMG
The album “marked her shift away from the experimental songs she did with the group Material and a move into heavily produced, very slick urban contemporary and adult pop. Although Houston had learned her craft working in New York nightclubs and singing in a Baptist church in Newark, she was steered into radio-friendly ballads that emphasized style over substance.” AMG
Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail voiced a similar sentiment, saying “the arrangements frequently border on formulaic,” WK although she also praised “Saving All My Love for You,” The Greatest Love of All,” and “Hold Me” as “some of the loveliest pop singing on vinyl since the glory days of Dionne Warwick.” WK The Los Angeles Times said that “neither the frequent listless arrangements nor the sometimes mediocre material of this debut LP hides the fact that Houston is a singer with enormous power and potential.” WK Rolling Stone’s Don Shewey called her “one of the most exciting new voices in years” WK but noted that many of the songs on her debut “are so featureless they could be sung by anyone.” WK The Village Voice’s Robert Christgau called the songs “schlock” but complimented Whitney’s “sweet, statuesque voice.” WK
The album has been viewed as what All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called “the foundation of diva-pop.” WK The Washington Post’s Allison Stewart said the album “provided a blueprint for the pop/dance/R&B-melding careers of Mariah Carey and others.” WK
Notes: A deluxe anniversary edition was released in 2010 which added five bonus tracks, including an a cappella version of “How Will I Know,” the original 12-inch remixes, and a DVD of live performances and interviews.
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