Saturday, June 27, 1987

Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” hit #1

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)

Whitney Houston

Writer(s): George Merrill, Shannon Rubicam (see lyrics here)

Released: April 30, 1987

First Charted: May 8, 1987

Peak: 12 US, 13 BA, 12 CB, 13 GR, 13 RR, 13 AC, 2 RB, 12 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.1 UK, 8.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 399.99 video, 1001.14 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Songwriters George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam met when both were singing at a wedding. A few months later, Shannon auditioned and won the part as a singer for George’s band Sparrow. The band didn’t stay together, but the pair started writing demos together. Their big break came when Whitney Houston recorded their song “How Will I Know” and it topped the Billboard Hot 100. The pair were asked to come up with another song for Whitney. Their first effort was “Waiting for a Star to Fall,” which Arista passed on, but the duo recorded it under the name Boy Meets Girl and had a top 10 hit with it in 1988. They went back to the drawing board and came up with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” FB

Shannon explained that the concept “wasn’t ‘I wanna go down to the disco and dance,’ really. It was, ‘I wanna do that dance of life with somebody.’” FB When they finished the demo, George rushed it to the airport to meet Arista’s Clive Davis, who listened to it on the plane. SF He loved it, but producer Narada Michael Walden thought it was too country, saying “It reminded me of a rodeo song with Olivia Newton-John singing…There’s gotta be some way I can make it…funkier.” FB

The song was released as the first single from Whitney Houston’s sophomore album, Whitney. It topped the charts in 14 countries and was her biggest hit until “I Will Always Love You” in 1992. WK It was her fourth chart-topper on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It also returned to the top 40 in the wake of her death in 2012.

The song got mixed reviews from critics. Rolling Stone’s Vince Aletti criticized the song for “not taking any chances” and referring to it as “How Will I Know II.” WK Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times called it “a deliciously raucous tune with a bit of the synthesizer underpinnings and giddy zest of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun.’” WK Slant magazine called it “definitive ‘80s dance-pop.” WK


  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 670.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 11/13/2019; last updated 7/25/2023.

Whitney Houston Has the #1 Single and Album: June 27, 1987

Originally posted June 27, 2011.

Whitney Houston’s eponymous 1985 album was one of the most successful debuts in history. She became the first solo female artist to have three #1’s from one album. AW The album was named to the Definitive 200 album list from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dave’s Music Database names it one of the top 1000 albums of all time.

Click photo for more about the album.

Following up a classic can be a daunting task. Many have fallen victim to “the sophomore slump”. On June 27, 1987, Whitney made as big a declaration that she would not fall into such a trap. In its seventh week on the chart, her song “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” rang the bell at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the first of two weeks. It was her fourth consecutive trip to the pinnacle.

“Dance” was the kickoff single for Houston’s second album, 1987’s Whitney. It debuted at #1 on the album chart the same week that “Dance” was crowned champion on the singles chart. It was the first album by a female singer to debut at the top. Only three male artists could claim the feat before that – Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Bruce Springsteen. WK

Click photo for more about the album.

Houston wasn’t done making history, though. The album’s next three singles (“Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional”, and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”) would also ascend to the pinnacle of the U.S. pop charts. She became the first artist in history to send seven consecutive singles to the peak. The Beatles and Bee Gees each had six.

Not surprisingly, with such success on the singles chart, the album became one of the biggest in history. Its 11 weeks as the biggest album in the U.S. also make it one of the biggest #1 albums in U.S. chart history. An estimated 24 million in worldwide sales also lands the album a spot on the list of the top 100 all-time world’s bestsellers. The Whitney Houston album also made both of those lists. The Whitney album would also join its predecessor as one of the DMDB top 1000 albums of all time.

  • Whitney Houston’s DMDB music maker encyclopedia entry
  • AW
  • WK Wikipedia

  • Saturday, June 20, 1987

    Today in Music (1937): Robert Johnson's final recording session

    Complete Recordings/ King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. 1/ King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. 2

    Robert Johnson

    Recorded: Nov. 23-27, 1936 in San Antonio; June 19-20, 1937 in Dallas

    Released: 1961 K1, 1970 K2, August 28, 1990 CR

    Peak: 80 US CR

    Sales (in millions): 1.0 US CR

    Genre: blues

    K1 King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 1
    K2 King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 2
    CR The Complete Recordings

    Tracks Recorded November 23, 1936:

    • Kind Hearted Woman Blues CR *, K1, K2
    • I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom CR, K2
    • Sweet Home Chicago CR, K2
    • Ramblin’ on My Mind CR *, K1, K2
    • When You Got a Good Friend CR *, K1
    • Come on in My Kitchen CR *, K1
    • Terraplane Blues CR, K1
    • Phonograph Blues CR *, K2

    Tracks Recorded November 26, 1936:

    • 32-20 Blues CR, K1

    Tracks Recorded November 27, 1936:

    • They’re Red Hot CR, K2
    • Dead Shrimp Blues CR, K2
    • Cross Road Blues (aka "Crossroads") CR *, K1
    • Walkin’ Blues CR, K1
    • Last Fair Deal Gone Down CR, K1
    • Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped the Devil) CR, K1, K2
    • If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day CR, K1

    Tracks Recorded June 19, 1937:

    • Stones in My Passway CR, K1
    • I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man CR, K2
    • From Four Until Late CR, K2

    Tracks Recorded June 20, 1937:

    • Hell Hound on My Trail CR, K1
    • Little Queen of Spades CR *, K2
    • Malted Milk CR, K2
    • Drunken Hearted Man CR *, K2
    • Me and the Devil Blues CR *, K1
    • Stop Breakin’ Down Blues CR *, K2
    • Traveling Riverside Blues CR, K1 **
    • Honeymoon Blues CR, K2
    • Love in Vain Blues CR *, K2
    • Milkcow’s Calf Blues * CR, K1

    * Includes two versions – the master and an alternate.
    ** Alternate take discovered in 1998 and added to reissue of album.

    These three collections all mine from the same 29 known recordings of Robert Johnson songs. The two volumes of King of the Delta Blues Singers cover all 29 songs on two separately released albums; The Complete Recordings gathers all 29 of those masters plus another 12 alternate versions.

    Significant Cover Songs:

    No charted songs, but among the many notable covers are:
    • Come on in My Kitchen: The Allman Brothers Band
    • Crossroads: Cream
    • Dust My Broom: Elmore James
    • I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man: George Thorogood & the Destroyers
    • Love in Vain: The Rolling Stones
    • Ramblin’ on My Mind: John Mayall’s Blues Breakers
    • Stones in My Passway: John Mellencamp
    • Stop Breaking Down: The White Stripes
    • Sweet Home Chicago: The Blues Brothers
    • They’re Red Hot: Red Hot Chili Peppers
    • Traveling Riverside Blues: Led Zeppelin

    Rating: CR

    4.480 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


    “If you are starting your blues collection from the ground up, be sure to make this your very first purchase.” – Cub Koda, All Music Guide

    Awards: K1

    (Click on award to learn more).

    Awards: CR

    About the Album:

    “Robert Johnson virtually defined the blues.” BL This Mississippi-born blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player only had one minor hit – “Terraplane Blues” BH – but his influence has been immeasurable. Robert Johnson is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and four of his songs have been named to their Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list (“Cross Road Blues”, “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Hellhound on My Trail”, “A Love in Vain”).

    Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards said, “You want to know how good the blues can get? Well, this is it.” RJ Eric Clapton called him “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” WK The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calls his work “the bedrock upon which modern blues and rock and roll were built.” RH

    His brief 27 years have fueled popular myth. Legend has it that he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to develop his guitar-playing ability. He was poisoned with strychnine by a jealous husband after flirting with the man’s wife. As Johnson was dying, John Hammond, a legendary talent scout with Columbia Records, was trying to track Johnson down for a gig at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. RJ

    His slim body of work consists of 29 songs captured in two series of recording sessions. The first occurred in 1936, taking place over three days (November 23, 26, and 27). During those sessions in a hotel room in San Antonio, Texas, Johnson laid down the classics Cross Road Blues, Sweet Home Chicago, and Ramblin’ on My Mind.

    His second series of sessions happened June 19-20, 1937 in Dallas. Here he laid down thirteen more songs, including Travelling Riverside Blues and Love in Vain. 22 of the recordings were released on eleven 78 rpm records within his lifetime. RJ “If we didn’t have these scratchy etchings it would have been necessary for someone to fake them. This is how the blues sound in the root of every imagination.” NC

    “The revisionist history is that he wasn’t really the greatest blues musician of his era, he was just lucky enough to get recorded. The response to both stories is simple – just listen to his songs.” TL “Whether the devil made him do it or not, these songs…certainly hit otherworldly extremes. On first hearing this music, Keith Richards assumed Johnson had two guitars.” BL

    The King of the Delta Blues Singers album, released in 1961, jump-started the whole ‘60s blues revival.” CK “The majority of Johnson’s best-known tunes, the ones that made the legend, are all aboard” CK “and the apocalyptic visions contained in Hellhound on My Trail are the blues at its finest, the lyrics sheer poetry.” CK

    King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 2 followed in 1970 and boasted “the first album appearance of…a number of other blues classics penned by the artist.” AG “The music is…impeccable – the self-accompanying bassline boogie was one of Johnson’s greatest contributions to the blues, and it’s displayed in all its beauty here. To top this, there’s the beauty of his melodic work, and the interplay with his semi-gruff voice that help to make his songs memorable.” AG

    Then in 1990, The Complete Recordings was released. It contained everything ever recorded by Johnson, “including a generous selection of alternate takes.” AMG It “is essential listening, but it is also slightly problematic. The problems aren’t in the music itself, of course…[but] in the track sequencing.” AMG “All of the alternates are sequenced directly after the master, which can make listening to the album a little…tedious for novices. Certainly, the alternates can be programmed out…but the set would have been more palatable if the alternate takes were presented on a separate disc. Nevertheless, this is a minor complaint – Johnson’s music retains its power no matter what context it is presented in. He, without question, deserves this kind of deluxe box set treatment.” AMG

    “Johnson’s masterful writing, with its perfect control of images and emotion, and magnificent guitar playing loom large over music to this day.” TL His “guitar is as polyphonic as the wheels of a train, his voice as elemental as the wind; they pass the listener at an unbiddable distance and leave only the faintest trace, like steam on a window.” NC “He is the true legend of the blues, and anyone with even the slightest curiosity in that genre or rock needs to own both this album and its predecessor, or else the box set…that covers both of them.” AG “If you are starting your blues collection from the ground up, be sure to make this your very first purchase.” CK

    Resources and Related Links:

    Other Related DMDB Pages:

    First posted 8/11/2008; last updated 3/18/2024.