Archive for May, 2013

Vocal Spotlight: Higher Love by Whitney Houston

Posted in Live Performances, Music, Songs, Vocal Spotlight, Whitney Houston with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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“Higher Love” is probably the most famous song of Steve Winwood’s career; released in 1986, the song was an award-winning hit worldwide. There have been a few covers of the song since, but what many people (including myself, surprisingly) don’t know is that Whitney Houston recorded a version of it for her 1990 album “I’m Your Baby Tonight”. Unfortunately, the song was cut from the final track list but was included as a bonus track on the Japanese version of the album. Why? I have no idea. Since hearing the song I have come to the conclusion that it is one of her finest vocal performances, especially on an uptempo number. Her version incorporates the dance-pop genre she was delving into in the early 90s (as heard perfectly clear on the album’s lead single “I’m Your Baby Tonight”) as well as harks back to her gospel roots with a choir singing backing vocals, which is quite fitting for the song’s title and lyrical content. Musically, the song is reminiscent of the gospel-influenced “How Will I Know” but with that definite typical 90s post-disco sound.

A lot of covers Whitney has done in the past (“I Will Always Love You”, “I’m Every Woman” and “Step By Step”, for example) have always at least matched or even surpassed the original and “Higher Love” is no exception. I really like the original of this song by Steve (with accompanying vocals by Chaka Khan), but of course Houston’s crisp, well-delivered vocals, immaculate tone and pure soul speaks (or sings, as the case may be here) to me more; you can feel the spirit of the song taking over her as she gets further into it and is singing along with the gospel choir. It is quite clear from this song and the album that Whitney was in her vocal prime at this time, before the toll of working too much (and other problems) began during “The Bodyguard” tour as she effortlessly belts notes higher and more consistently than she has done on other records. Houston also performed the song live on tour around the same time and in the video below, although she wasn’t 100% well (reportedly had a cold), she still puts in 100% effort and sounds great.

Mariah’s Ten Best Uptempo Songs

Posted in Female Vocalists, Mariah Carey, Songs with tags , , , on May 28, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

Mariah Carey is one of the biggest-selling female artists of all time as well as one of the world’s greatest, most influential and respected vocalists. She’s well-known for a lot of her ballads, such as “Vision of Love”, “Hero” and “We Belong Together” but here I’ve listed my top ten favourite uptempo songs by her that’s she’s released since her début in 1990.

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1) Emotions

Her vocal range in this song spans more than four octaves. Need I say more?

2) Make It Happen

One of the first time Mariah incorporates gospel music into a song as well as released one with inspirational and personal lyrics.

3) Fantasy

In the mid-1990s Mariah began experimenting more with R&B and hip-hop, which is what a lot of her more recent music is. “Fantasy” was one of the first of those genres and still remains a classic.

4) Someday

“Somebody” was the first uptempo single Mariah released and although she is reportedly not fond of the song herself, I am and really like that it delves into the new jack swing fusion genre.

5) All I Want For Christmas Is You

One of the most popular and original (non-standard or traditional) Christmas tunes of all time that in itself has become a standard shows the accomplishment of a true icon.

6) It’s Like That

“It’s Like That” was the first single from “The Emancipation of Mimi” and although this comeback song wasn’t as successful as “We Belong Together”, it put her back on the radio and chart and got her back on to the R&B and hip-hop scene again.

7) Fly Like A Bird

“Fly Like A Bird” is very much like a “Make It Happen” Part II, drawing in soul and gospel influences again with inspirational and personal lyrical content. The only main differences are the inclusion of bible verses and of course, the obligatory whistle notes.

8) Get Your Number

For “Get Your Number”, Mariah teamed up with Jermaine Dupri again for this club-banging R&B hit. I like the contrast between the song’s groove while she’s singing and the beat when he raps.

9) Honey

As cliché and as cheesy as it may sound, but Mariah’s vocals on this song are just like that of its title – thick, sweet, oozing and sexual.

10) Sweetheart

Lyrically and vocally, “Sweetheart” is very reminiscent of “Honey”, although the song is more Jermaine Dupri featuring Mariah than anything else. This was also the first of three times that the two of them have collaborated together.