Pop Culture Princess

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Monday, February 13, 2012

A set of cinematic swan songs for Whitney Houston

It was with a heavy heart that news of Whitney Houston's death reached us over the weekend,with many tributes to her memory still under way from fans and friends alike at this point.

The Grammy awards ceremony last night honored the loss of one of their most cherished songstresses,complete with a touching rendition of "I Will Always Love You",Whitney's signature tune from her first major film role in 1992's The Bodyguard.

As a salute to the pop culture legacy of Ms. Houston,I have set up a small play list of her songs that were tied into the various film projects she participated in over the years.

Starting with The Bodyguard,where she played Rachel Marron,a celebrated diva who was being stalked by a crazed fan and needed the services of Kevin Costner's title character,a movie that was adored by audiences and slighted by the majority of film critics.

The music from the film was immensely popular,becoming one of the best selling soundtracks of all time. Two of the tracks were nominated for Best Original Song that year at the Oscars,"Run to You" and "I Have Nothing"("I Will Always Love You" wasn't eligible,due to being written years before this movie was made). Both of these songs were amazingly wonderful ballads that deserved to be recognized in their own right,with the latter being quite the show stopper:

One of my personal favorites from The Bodyguard soundtrack was "Queen of the Night",a funky little number that let both Whitney and her character cut loose on stage. Sure,she was known to do some dance ready songs but this one had a little more edge to the groove there:

Houston's next big film was as part of an ensemble cast in Waiting to Exhale,an adaptation of Terry McMillan's popular female friendly novel. Whitney played Savannah,a successful TV producer who kept putting her romantic future on hold in hopes of her married lover being one day free to be by her side.

This movie was considered more of a serious role for Whitney and she received plenty of praise for her performance. Granted,audiences once again loved it a bit more than the critics but this film was seen as more of an artistic step up for all involved than a cinematic step back.

Whitney contributed two songs to the soundtrack(which featured music from numerous contemporaries such as Mary J. Blige,Brandy and Aretha Franklin),with one of them being the title track for the film called "Exhale(Shoop)".It's a thoughtful and touching tune that accents the themes of the story in a subtly sweet manner:

A couple of years later,Whitney starred in a remake of the Christmas classic,The Bishop's Wife,which had her co-starring with Denzel Washington playing the Cary Grant to her Loretta Young.

The Preacher's Wife also reunited her with one of her friends from Waiting to Exhale,Loretta Devine. The film did decent box office but it was the soundtrack that really made a huge impact with folks.

Still to this day,it is considered to be the top selling gospel album of all time and the album received a number of nominations(plus a few wins) from both music and film associations,including the Academy Awards and the Grammys for that year. Whitney's cover of a Four Tops hit,"I Believe in You and Me" was a strong standout track from this album and earned her two Grammy nominations for that one alone:

Her next to last movie role was in a made for television remake of Rodger and Hammerstein's Cinderella as the Fairy Godmother. Whitney was one of the producers and originally cast in the lead role but she wisely chose to have Brandy play that pivotal part.

That worked out well for the both of them. The musical chemistry between Brandy and Whitney was one of the highlights of this production and despite being the third version of this musical,the film was an instant ratings hit.

The movie garnered several Emmy nominations,winning one award for Art Direction. This was meant to be a revival of The Wonderful World of Disney,which didn't last long,but there was wonderment all the same:

I ,along with many longtime fans out there,send the family and personal friends of Ms. Houston my most sincere condolences and sorrow for their loss. Seeing such a pop culture princess depart from us much too soon is hard to bear but remembering the best of her at this time,rather than the worst,is the kindest thing we can do for those who knew her well. No doubt,where ever her spirit now resides,Whitney Houston is being shown the love that she gave so generously to others through song:

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