Feb. 18th’s SNL with Maya Rudolph hosting was generally considered one of the best this season. I just caught a link to an Update segment of Rudolph as Oprah cut from the live broadcast but online in an edited clip filmed at dress rehearsal.
Rudolph didn’t reprise her Whitney Houston due to the singer’s untimely death the week before. I wasn’t a hardcore fan but certainly appreciated Houston’s vocal talent — and I’ll be eternally grateful for her music providing the backdrop to the memory of my cousin’s daughter Sarah, first member of the next generation in our family, dancing before she could even talk anytime her mom put on “I’m Every Woman”.
Yet I thought Houston squandered her gift to an extent on pop fluff like “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” — which I say as a great admirer of well-executed pop fluff (including songs in that vein like Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” and Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”) — rather than sticking with the romantic and inspirational ballads that better showed off her range or taking a turn into Etta James or Sarah Vaughan territory.
Fortunately, I also recently caught a link to Houston’s isolated vocal tracks for “How Will I Know” that makes the song, and Houston’s work on it, heaps more impressive to me. Although it’s not an intentional a cappella rendition, merely part of the finished product we’re all familiar with and so in parts obviously incomplete, it’s quite stunning and a mighty testament to her abilities. Headphones are recommended if you have them.
Related: Vuelvo • Look and Listen • Mad Mix