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Album Review

Pop diva. Tabloid fodder. Cautionary tale. Since her arrival on the music world’s stage in 1985, Whitney Houston has played all those roles. Now she seems on the verge of adding the title comeback kid—or perhaps comeback queen—to her résumé as well. Sales of the 46-year-old singer’s first new material in seven years have been strong. And the resilient tone on I Look to You seems like evidence that Whitney has left her celebrity-gone-wild antics behind. What Whitney’s voice may lack these days in terms of sheer power, she makes up for in her maturing perspective on life.

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Pro-social Content

I Look to You often exudes strength, perspective and self-awareness. "Nothin' But Love" praises those who've stood by Whitney's side through hard times as she chooses to relinquish bitterness and blame for past failures ("I could hold on to pain but that ain't what my life's about/I ain't blaming nobody if I ain't got my stuff worked out"). The title track is a prayer of gratitude ("As I lay me down/Heaven hear me now") for God's provision ("After all that I've been through/Who on earth can I turn to/I look to you"). Whitney also realizes that her faith helped her tap into inner reserves of resilience she didn't know she had: "My faith kept me alive," she says, "I picked myself up/Hold my head up high/I was not built to break" ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength").

Whitney focuses frequently on romance, often in a positive way. "Million Dollar Bill" celebrates how a man's love thrills a woman's heart. "Call You Tonight" finds a lady trying to carve out time for her man amid a hectic schedule ("Baby I'm gonna/Make a way to connect"). "A Song for You" reflects on lessons learned in a relationship that didn't work out, and "I Got You" explores love's enduring power as a woman hopes for a reconciliation with a guy she loves deeply.

Objectionable Content

"Like I Never Left" implies that a couple lived together and finds Whitney asking an ex, "Touch me/Like I never left." She calls "Worth It" a song "for the lovers" and says, "I know somebody's gonna make love to this song tonight." Meanwhile a song that's titled "For the Lovers" encourages couples on the dance floor to get close. "I can feel your love when our bodies touch," she sings about her own main squeeze. "For the next three minutes it's about the lovers." Album closer "Salute" includes a partially censored s-word. "Call You Tonight" has a passing reference to reincarnation ("I feel like I know you from another life").

Summary Advisory

If you flip to the back of I Look to You's liner notes, you'll find these words from Whitney: "Thank you to the love of my life, which is God, my heavenly Father. I thank you for everything I have." It's not uncommon for artists to thank God. What's less common is seeing evidence of how He might actually be influencing an artist's life. In Whitney's case, it seems clear that she's bottomed out and had to depend on divine aid (and that of close friends) to get back on her feet. A couple of mildly sensual allusions and one bleeped profanity are the only points of concern on Whitney Houston's mostly positive comeback album.

Plot Summary

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Whitney's sixth studio effort debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart.

Record Label





August 31, 2009

On Video

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

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