by Dan Gibson
Crazy news today, as her publicist announced that Whitney Houston is dead at the age of 48. No real details yet, but Houston has largely been an enigma in recent years, falling far from her heights as one of the world's biggest recording artists (she sold over 55 million albums in her career). I still remember hearing her music nearly everywhere in 1987 and 1988 when her album Whitney came out. By that time, I wasn't going to the roller rink anymore and I was trying to reshape my musical taste into something cooler than the oldies my parents listened to, but I still probably sang along to "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" whenever I heard it, even if I drew tributes to Husker Du and the Replacements on my school notebooks. Those songs were just absurdly hooky, even if they're wildly dated now, and Whitney managed to bring the big soulful sound of gospel to lightweight pop.
It's really a shame that her odd behavior, issues with substance abuse and a particularly embarrassing stint as a reality TV star will likely overshadow what an immense talent she was, both on record and as an actress.