The title track of Whitney Houston's new album, "I Look toYou," is also the set's debut single. The song, written by R. Kelly, was releasedTuesday as a free download on Whitney's official website, WhitneyHouston.com.
Clive Davis, chief creative officer for Sony MusicEntertainment Worldwide, recently previewed the song, as well as eight other tracksfrom the album, at a listening event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The party broughtout Hollywood's elite, including Jane Fonda, Barry Manilow,Penny Marshall, Halle Berry, Beverly Johnson, Stevie Wonder, BrianMcKnight, Magic Johnson, and Brett Ratner.
Whitney delivers one of her best vocal performanceson the stripped-down, piano-driven "I Look to You." The song pays homage to an unnamed unconditionalsource of support.
Whitney identified with the song's lyrics. "I know that if Idid not have faith, I would have not been able to go through life's tribulationsthat I have gone through," Whitney said in a statement read by Clive.
Clive noted that the critics who wondered whether Whitney could stillsing got their answer at his annual pre-Grammy party in February, when sheperformed among the likes of Rod Stewart and Jennifer Hudson.
Watching Whitney perform at the pre-Grammy party prompted Alicia Keysto call Clive. "Alicia said, 'I've got to write a song for Whitney, is [that] okay?'"Clive remembered. Alicia ended up writing "Million Dollar Bill" for Whitney--anupbeat dance track with disco drums, produced by Swizz Beatz. The anthemic songis about finding a man who "made you feel like a million dollar bill."
The nine songs Clive played were mainly mid-tempos and dancetracks, with only a few ballads. It was clear that Whitney was still a farsuperior singer than most of her chart topping young contemporaries.
She gives good attitude on an R. Kelly collab called"Salute." It sends off a man who wants to leave the relationship."You say you want to walk--I salute you," Whitney sings. On the Akon and ClaudeKelly song "Like I Never Left," Whitney offers a perfect feel-good summerrecord. "Call You Tonight," by Stargate and Johnta Austin, is equally vibrant,refreshing and infectious.
It's clear that Whitney and Clive spent three-and-a-halfyears working on this album, and picking the right songs and producers. In each track, Whitney sings about some aspect of life that conveyswhat she must have been dealing with during her hiatus. It feels like I've caughtup with an old friend I haven't spoken with in years.
Welcome back, Whitney. We've missed you.