When Whitney Houston died this past Saturday, I was out of town and unplugged for a bit. I found out late Sunday afternoon in an annoyingly modern way. Yep, from some forgotten friend’s Facebook status update on my news feed. And so, another major pop star from my youth is gone.
And I know what you’re thinking…
As I thought about Whitney Houston that night, the song of hers that came into my head was one from my youth that I had forgotten. It’s strange because I listen to 80s music on the regular. I mean, have you ever read this blog? Exactly. And Whitney is a huge part of 80s music. I listen to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (Double S loves to sing the “I wanna feel the HEAT with somebody!” part) and “How Will I Know” pretty frequently. How could I not?
To me, these songs are her classics, from a synthed out soundtrack to an 80s childhood. To hear just how good her voice was, listen to just her vocals from “How Will I Know.”
I know, right? Then listen to those vocals played over Robyn’s awesome “Dancing On My Own” from her 2010 Body Talk album.
Also, just listen to Robyn. She should be much more popular than she is. Watch her dance, and before you do, for the love of God remember that she’s Swedish.
That’s my jam!
Whitney’s ballads were never my cup of tea, but they were popular. How many times have you heard people ironically quoting “Greatest Love of All”?
Then there was the juggernaut that was “I Will Always Love You.” I was 17 when it came out and I kinda hated it. I was all REM this, They Might Be Giants that, Rock The Vote this, I’m gonna move to NYC and be a comedy writer that. Not Double S! Double S’s first R rated movie (a big deal to a wholesome young Lutheran girl! Or maybe not so wholesome. She wasn’t 17! She snuck in! ) was The Bodyguard and she loved “I Will Always Love You.” Yep, I’ve put it on a mixtape for her too. Ironically? I’ll leave that for you to guess.
The Whitney Houston song that came into my head when I read the news, today’s sad forgotten song, and the one Whitney Houston ballad that I had a special relationship with, was “One Moment in Time.” But until seeing the sad news on Sunday, I had forgotten about it completely. It wasn’t even on my ipod. And lemme tell you, I’ve got a stocked music library when it comes to the 80s. Friends, here is “One Moment in Time.” Get your kleenex for this video, for real.
“One Moment in Time” will always be associated with sports, and specifically with the Olympics, to me. It was the theme of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and Whitney performed it at the opening ceremonies.
As you may remember, I really like the Olympics. When I was a kid, I LOVED the Olympics. The 1988 games especially stick out in my memory. Carl Lewis! Janet Evans! Flo Jo! Greg Louganis! That US woman runner who fell down (Mary Decker, fyi)! Volleyball!
When I hear “One Moment in Time” now and watch that video, I remember that moment in time. It takes me right back to being 13 and unjaded in 1988. I had grandiose and romantic notions about sports and life. Didn’t we all? I loved sports then. Softball especially. Yeah, I know. My team almost went to the CYC (Bonus points if you know that abbreviation!) seventh and eighth grade Missouri girls state softball tournament! Or at least I think we did. Things get foggy in your late 30s. But then there was a crushing surprise loss, ending our season, and there were a lot of Richard Marx songs on the radio at the time to make one contemplate what could have been. When Whitney Houston sang about that moment in time, and that moment was about excelling at sports, and you thought maybe you could be cool and excel because you hit the most home runs on the team (True story! Virtual high five?) but still wore Converse All Stars in the team photo (up on the wall at the homestead!)? I was in. I watched the Olympic montages and thought about what could be.
I was getting to the tail end of the period in my life when sports were so important. The next year I’d start high school, listen to a lot less Richard Marx (whilst still holding on to the nights, the endless summer nights), make what I thought were scathing critiques of the cronyism rampant in my high school sports programs, and lose some of those romantic notions for awhile. Don’t worry. They’re back, and not mainly about sports anymore. But I’m still a sucker for the Olympics and underdog sports movies and nostalgia.
I liked being reminded of that moment. RIP Whitney.