We've compiled the 10 best Whitney Houston songs, with the inside story of her mentor, Clive Davis. (2023)

When it came time to go through the demo tapes to find new songs,Clive DavisjWhitney HoustonThey would withdraw to Davis' New York office or his Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow and listen.

"It was always just me and Whitney, not her mom, dad, Robyn or Bobby. No one attended these meetings except the two of us plusDavid Forstwhen we were working on The Bodyguard," Davis told USA TODAY, referring to Houstonclose friend, Robyn Crawford, and husbandbobby braun. "I would narrow the list down to 20 songs before I played her anything, and she and I would narrow it down to the last 10."

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We've compiled the 10 best Whitney Houston songs, with the inside story of her mentor, Clive Davis. (1)

The song selection process is abbreviated in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody".Das Houston-Biopic(withNaomi Ackie), the music mogul Davis who signed the singer with the golden voice to co-produce in 1983 (appears in the film).by Stanley Tucci, whom Davis calls a "real, true, excellent actor").

Given their seven studio albums and 57 singles, it would be impractical, if not impossible, to fit all of Houston's musical credibility into the film. Of his 11 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, seven have achieved consecutive No. 1 hits, an achievement not yet equaled.

Also something impossible? Houston's pick 10most memorableand music on the go.

But we accepted the mission and shared our decisions, with Davis providing input.

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10. "Queen of the Night" (1993)

The fifth and final single from the 45 million selling soundtrack.for "The Bodyguard"Written by L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons. An edgy rock song, it continued the relationship between Houston, Reid and Babyface, who had worked with her three years earlier on "I'm Your Baby Tonight," their first attempt at hardening Houston's polished sound. Back then, proper comparisons were made with Janet Jackson's similar model.growling "black cat".

9. "I didn't know my own strength" (2009)

For years, Davis andStar songwriter Diane Warrentrying to find the right moment for her to write a song for Houston (Davis says he convinced Warren to deliver "Un-Break My Heart").a Tony Braxton1996 while Houston was busy with her film career). Warren's power ballad appeared on Houston's 2009 album I Look To You, at a time when lyrics like "I survived my darkest hour/My faith kept me alive/I'm risen again/Keep my head up high." resonated with the singerin the fight against drugsand a combative marriage and divorce. "Whitney hadn't made a studio album in (almost) eight years," says Davis. "Diane was very aware of that and definitely had Whitney specifically in mind."

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8. "I Have Nothing" (1993)

Written byDavid Forst— who produced many tracks on "The Bodyguard" — and Linda Thompson, the breathy ballad was one of two tracks on the Oscar-nominated 1992 soundtrack ("Run to You" the other). When Houston dramatically reveals the lyrics "Don't make me close one more door," it's as effective as Jennifer Holliday's singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

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7. "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990)

After a horrifying incident at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, when Houston's name was booed by some in the crowd, presumably because she wasn't considered a true R&B singer thanks to her massive Top 40 appeal, DavisReid enteredand Babyface to write a song aimed primarily at R&B radio. The title track of Houston's third album, a new funk-tinged jack-swinger with a direct burst of sexual openness, "gave the R&B stations what they deserved," says Davis. The song reached #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart and, according to Davis, gave Reid and Babyface their first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

6. "So Exciting" (1987)

The feeling is simple: "I get so excited baby / Every time I think of you / No wonder what love can do." In her sixth consecutive #1, Houston's multi-octave voice and emphatic phrasing, not to mention her sweet laughter that accompanies the song, collide with a screeching guitar solo and a muscular dance beat to create a perfect pop recipe .

5. "All at once" (1985)

Houston's self-titled debut spawned a string of hit ballads, including "You Give Good Love" and "Saving All My Love for You," but that lament, with its sweet piano melody, was relegated to the album track "Purgatory" in Released Only in Europe and With its orchestral swell and swinging chorus, the Michael Masser/Jeffrey Osborne-penned anthem, Japan underscores Houston's vulnerability as she longs for the past.

4. "I Want to Dance With Someone (Who Loves Me)" (1987)

Davis says when he first heard the demo of the song written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam (who had his own 1988 hit as Boy Meets Girl)"Waiting for a Falling Star"), he felt it could have been written for Olivia Newton-John. So he turned to fellow producer and songwriter Narada Michael Walden to "play him."

"I knew I would do it so you could feel the heat of wanting to sleep with someone. It wouldn't be easy," Davis says of the mirror ball pop hit, which also charted at #1 as the lead single from Houston's sophomore album Whitney.

3. "The Greatest Love of All" (1986)

Davis first heard Houston sing with her mother, Cissy, at New York's Sweetwater Club in the film I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Houston sings as a backup, but then her mother pushed her to go solo. The song he sings is the hit.George Bensonbalada, "Greatest love of all." Coincidentally, Davis had already commissioned the music for the 1977 Muhammad Ali biopic The Greatest, and when Houston sang the opening lines, "I was stunned," says Davis.

“Imagine a stunning 19-year-old walking up to the mic and singing from the first note in a way that (songwriter) Michael Masser couldn't have imagined when he wrote it,” says Davis. "When it was over, I called Michael and said, 'Get the red eye and listen to this singer.' You've never heard your music like this before.

2. "I'll Always Love You" (1992)

At the moment the story is legend.Kevin Costner, Houston's co-star in The Bodyguard, spotted Dolly Parton's accent, even though the version she played of Houston was Linda Ronstadt's cover in 1975, and suggested her for the film. Producer Foster, with input from Houston, reworked it with a twisted soul. One of the song's trademarks, its stunning a cappella intro, was discouraged by the record company, but Costner and Houston insisted on keeping it. Despite Parton's branding, the stately anthem is often considered Houston's signature musical offering.

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1. "How Should I Know" (1985)

The synthesized beat that opens the song is also writtenby Merrill and Rubicam— immediately exudes an air of hilarity, but as Houston breaks into the song, hints of self-doubt and doubt belie the cheerful mood ("Tell Me How I'll Know (Don't Trust Your Feelings)"). Though loaded with '80s nods -- a bubbling sax solo, a rippling guitar meltdown -- the song is deeper than its Lite Brite video conveys, while Houston lets us feel her shyness and insecurity.

For the definitive proof of Houston's raw singing talent,hearright down to the song's cool, isolated vocal track that went viral a decade ago. There's a reason Davis calls her "the finest singer of her generation."

"By being able to sing 'Greatest Love of All' and 'How Will I Know' and 'I'm Every Woman,' she really showed that she was in a class by herself," says Davis.

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