Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Whitney Houston

  • Whitney Houston [Arista, 1984] C
  • Whitney [Arista, 1987] C+
  • I'm Your Baby Tonight [Arista, 1990] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Whitney Houston [Arista, 1984]
I'd never claim that this sweet, statuesque woman and her sweet, statuesque voice are victims of exploitation. She obviously believes in this schlock. But not counting the Jermaine Jackson duet from his own Arista debut, only one of the four producers puts any zip in--Narada Michael Walden, who goes one for one. And it could have been worse--they could have sicked Barry Manilow on her the way they did with cousin Dionne. Then the credits could have read: "To Barry Manilow, It was a privilege to work with a talented professional who's made so many millions of dollars for Clive Davis. Together, we can make many millions more." C

Whitney [Arista, 1987]
It takes more than unsullied venality and the will to power to reign as the most revolting pop singer in Christendom. It takes active aesthetic miscalculation and, truth be told, more than a little luck. Like falling into the lame dance grooves of Jermaine Jackson and the odious megaschlock of Michael Masser, with Narada Michael Walden limited to "How Will I Know"--which becomes your breakthrough song as well as the only critically forgivable thing on your best-selling debut album in history. So this time Walden gets seven shots, with Masser down to two and Jermaine returned to the bosom of his family, and the results are forgivable--she does have a good voice, you know. C+

I'm Your Baby Tonight [Arista, 1990] Neither

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