Of many incredible recordings, here are the ones I’m personally fondest of:
“The Star-Spangled Banner”
No, she didn’t write it. And she didn’t even sing it live — it was famously lip-synched. But Whitney put a whole lotta soul and spirit into our national anthem, turning something that’s usually dredged out as de rigueur drudgery into a show-stopping piece of history that actually charted! Her version is the only version, as far as I’m concerned.
“Didn’t We Almost Have It All?”
Yes, it’s bombastic and manipulative and keeps escalating to an American Idol-like crescendo. But Whitney sang the shit out of it, turning a mere pop song into a three-act opera, with bells on. Listen without prejudices from beginning to end and your breath will be taken away.
“I Have Nothing”
Another melodramatic exercise in heavy-duty emoting, done to a T by Whitney’s expert vocals and theatrics. As she went from the soft murmurings to the raw outbursts and back, she really could make you believe every syllable.
“How Will I Know?”
Pure candy-colored fluff, this one — along with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” — showed the diva’s lighter side as she vamped and scamped and vocally winked at us, while seeming to enjoy herself. It was contagious.
“Love Will Save the Day”
An atypical number for her, this one had a sort of free-wheeling, raggedy edge far from her anthems and poppy numbers. It was a dance-floor sensation. But I also loved “All the Man That I Need,” “My Name Is Not Susan,” and too many more to mention.