For Whitney

Kathleen Posted by Kathleen at November 20, 2017 14:41:14 November 20, 2017 14:41:14

Viola Davis walked on stage at the AMAs to a standing ovation, as she should, to pay tribute to Whitney Houston and introduce Christina Aguilera. Viola Davis hadn’t finished speaking and I was already crying. The tribute marked the 25th anniversary of The Bodyguard and its soundtrack, the best-selling movie album of all time. Christina sang a medley of songs from the soundtrack including classics I Will Always Love You, I Have Nothing, Run To You and I’m Every Woman. Name a more iconic medley. I’ll wait. 

Whitney Houston means so much to me. I watch The Bodyguard at least twice a year. Lainey can attest to how much I stan for Whitney and The Bodyguard. Whitney’s voice has soothed me through all my breakups. Her songs have provided joy, relief and companionship through the hardest moments of my life. My attempts to sing I Wanna Dance With Somebody every time I do karaoke have provided my friends with joy, laughter and blackmail material on me for the rest of my life. I will fight anyone who tries to tell me that Whitney Houston wasn’t the greatest voice of her generation. 

I would like you all to understand how much I love and respect Whitney Houston so when I defend Christina Aguilera’s tribute, you don’t try to tell me it’s because I’m not a true fan. Some of the critiques of Christina’s performance are valid but I was not mad at what she did on that stage. I seem to be in the minority with that opinion. One big complaint I’ve seen is that the artist chosen to tribute Whitney should have been a black woman. Listen, especially on a show where we didn’t see a black artist perform until two hours in, I understand the call for more black voices. It’s valid to want to see a black woman tribute one of the greatest black female artists of all time. I will not argue with that but the reality here is NO ONE can do Whitney Houston’s voice justice. No living artist (especially on the recognition level needed to be invited to the AMAs) has the pitch or the precision to nail a Whitney Houston song. Not a single f-cking person. Whitney was singular. Sure, Jennifer Hudson could have tried and Deborah Cox may have been the choice I saw all over my Twitter feed last night but anyone would have been a letdown. Whitney’s estate chose Christina. When Whitney was alive, she gave Christina the highest praise possible. This is the statement Whitney’s estate put out when Christina’s performance was announced: 

“Whitney herself stated in 2001 that Christina Aguilera sang the best version of her song ‘Run To You'… It is with great appreciation and honor that she is returning to participate on the American Music Awards for a special tribute honoring the 25th anniversary of The Bodyguard. Whitney said that Christina is without a doubt one of the best voices she enjoyed in this generation of music. From the Estate of Whitney E. Houston, we thank you with great joy!”

Are we really going to argue with Whitney Houston’s family on who should tribute her? Christina’s voice is also singular. No, it’s not Whitney’s but it’s still pretty goddamn incredible. Xtina started strong and while she still does that annoying throat gargle thing (official musical term) too often, she held the emotion throughout and hit notes few artists can. It was solid. In her prime, Whitney Houston was never just solid but again, we would be having this discussion no matter who took on this tribute. 

Finally, let’s address Pink’s face throughout Xtina’s performance. The face in question: 


Do you see disdain in that face? I don’t. You know that face you make when you think something is so good, you don’t understand how it’s happening, like you’re simultaneously confused and mad at it for being so good? To me, Pink’s face was a sign of respect. Also, their beef has been squashed.The last we checked in on Pink and Xtina, a collaboration was in the works. There’s nothing to see here. 

Plus, this bullsh-t over who should have done this tribute and Pink’s face just overshadows the point: 25 years ago, Whitney Houston delivered an incredible piece of music history that still holds up. Today, we should only be talking about what an icon she was and how much we miss her. 

I’ll give Pink the last word. 


Michael Tran/ Jason LaVeris/ Valerie Macon/ Kevin Winter/ Jeff Kravitz/ AMA2017/ Lester Cohen/ Chris Polk/ Getty Images

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