Producers: Narada Michael Walden, Michael Masser, and Kashif
Track listing: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) / Just the Lonely Talking Again / Love Will Save the Day / Didn’t We Almost Have It All / So Emotional / Where You Are / Love Is a Contact Sport / You’re Still My Man / For the Love of You / Where Do Broken Hearts Go / I Know Him So Well
June 27, 1987
Songwriter/producer Narada Michael Walden first worked with Whitney Houston on the track “How Will I Know,” featured on her album, Whitney Houston. The song went on to become Houston’s second Number One single, but after Walden cut the track, Houston wasn’t as receptive as Walden had hoped.
“When I finished putting the song together, I told I her I would like to be friends with her and asked if we could exchange phone numbers, but she said no.” Walden recalls. “She didn’t want to give me her phone number.”
In spite of the rejection, Walden wasn’t put off by Houston. “I took it in stride,” he says. “She was a top model who had guys hit on her all the time, so she didn’t want to give out her phone number.” Walden, however, did receive a phone call from Arista president Clive Davis, who asked him to work with Houston on her second album.
“Clive gave me five songs to do, so I just did them really quick,” says Walden. The producer had been impressed by Houston’s professionalism when they’d worked together on “How Will I Know,” and Houston was even more impressive on the second meeting.
“I asked Whitney if she was nervous about doing the second album, because the first album as so successful. She said, ‘No, if they liked me the first time, they’ll like me again.'”
Walden recorded Houston’s vocals fairly quickly. “Sometimes she didn’t know the songs, so it may have taken her a day to sing it through a bunch of times to learn it, but then on the next day, she would knock things out in one or two takes.”
A particular highlight for Walden was “I Know Him So Well,” a song written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba and Tim Rice. Houston recorded the song as duet with her mother, Cissy. “That was really touching moment, to see Whitney sing with her mother,” Walden says. “They really, truly love each other.”
Walden wasn’t as impressed, initially, with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).” He says the song, written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, was “too pop and almost kind of country-sounding. The whole trick was to figure out how to make it black and more R&B, because I wanted her to keep her fans at black radio.” Using a production technique that he describes as “like a black Phil Spector,” Walden succeeded in making the cut groove.
On June 27, 1987, the song became Houston’s fourth consecutive Number One single (as well as Walden’s third Number One production in less than three months — he had also produced Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” and Aretha Franklin and George Michael’s “I Knew You Were Waiting [For Me]”). The success of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” also helped Whitney debut at Number One, making it the first album by a female artist ever to bow at the pole position.
While Houston’s second album couldn’t match the duration of her debut’s reign at Number One, it did top the first album in another category. Whitney went on to yield three more Number One hits — “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” — giving Houston seven consecutive chart-topping singles. Whitney Houston had spawned the first three, but Whitney spun off four.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of June 27, 1987
1. Whitney, Whitney, Houston
2. Girls, Girls, Girls, Motley Crue
3. The Joshua Tree, U2
4. Whitesnake, Whitesnake
5. Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi