As comebacks go, Whitney Houston’s has been kind of saggy so far. Her droopy ballad “I Look To You” is No. 20 on Billboard‘s R&B chart in its second week but has yet to dent the Hot 100. Perhaps sensing a potentially terminal lack of interest, Arista Records is already drumming up publicity for “Million Dollar Bill” (listen here), the apparent second single, written by Alicia Keys and produced by Swizz Beats. If you ask me, this is the song that should have announced Whitney’s return.
If you’re looking for the fresh beats that Swizz has constructed for the likes of Beyoncé, Busta Rhymes and Eve, you’ve come to the wrong place. And as Alicia Keys compositions go, one suspects that she saves the best for herself (and why shouldn’t she?).
As for Whitney’s “Million Dollar” hope, she’s hardly treading on the cutting edge here. The song has a classic R&B feel, which is not to say that it sounds old-fashioned — though it easily could have been on one of Whitney’s early albums, except, well, her voice just isn’t what it used to be. No matter. The chorus is crazy catchy — after a few listens, it’s stuck in your head, for better or worse — and it sort of makes me want to run out and fall in love. The unfussy, dressed-down production and vocals remind me a little of Mariah Carey’s failed 2008 single “I’ll Be Loving You Long Time,” which I loved. Let’s hope Whitney has better luck.
Side note: As she gets older, isn’t she looking more and more like a cross between Tina Turner and her cousin Dionne Warwick? One could certainly do a lot worse. Love the cleavage, by the way. Work it, girl!