The 25 best Whitney Houston songs, from deep cuts to chart-toppers

As the Voice's legacy lives on, so does her catalog.

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)'

We will always love the Prom Queen of Soul. One of the most-awarded female artists ever — with more than 400 accolades, including six GrammysWhitney Houston's acclaim stems not only from possessing one of the most singular, spectacular voices in pop music history but also from cultivating an expansive and high-quality discography. From her debut in 1984 to her death at age 48 on Feb. 11, 2012, the New Jersey-born singer recorded 200-plus songs, leaving behind decades-worth of high notes that still resonate with her fans and future generations (proved by her status as the highest-paid dead female celebrity, as of 2023).

From deep cuts like "One of Those Days" to ageless numbers such as "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," here are the 25 best Whitney Houston songs.

25. "When You Believe" (1998)

<p>TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty</p> Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston perform 'When You Believe' during the 71st Academy Awards on March 21, 1999

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty

Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston perform 'When You Believe' during the 71st Academy Awards on March 21, 1999

While not exactly cross-generational (only seven years separate them), this duet between Houston and Mariah Carey from the animated film The Prince of Egypt felt like the passing of a torch. The movie (and the song) weren't particularly memorable — though Ariana Grande and Cynthia Ervio may argue otherwise, as the Wicked costars performed the duet at the 2024 Met Gala — but "When You Believe" is noteworthy merely for bringing together two of the most head-spinning vocal talents pop music has ever known.

24. "Same Script, Different Cast" (2000)

<p>Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty</p> Deborah Cox and Whitney Houston performing 'Same Script, Different Cast' during the Arista Records' 25th Anniversary Celebration.

Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Deborah Cox and Whitney Houston performing 'Same Script, Different Cast' during the Arista Records' 25th Anniversary Celebration.

This song is as if the "boy" from the Brandy and Monica duet "The Boy Is Mine" grew up into a cad, burned Whitney, and took up with Deborah Cox. And girlfriend is pissed: "Enjoy it now 'cause it won't last/Same script, different cast," Whitney purrs.

Fun fact No. 1: "Same Script, Different Cast" samples the third song that everybody who's ever taken piano lessons learned to play — Beethoven's "Für Elise." Fun fact No. 2: It spawned a host of dance remixes; the "Victor Romeo Slang Vocal Mix" is required treadmill listening.

23. "All the Man That I Need" (1990)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for "All the Man That I Need"

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for "All the Man That I Need"

Houston took what had been a minor R&B hit for Sister Sledge and turned it into yet another No. 1. Her celebration of finding a love that didn't have "to hurt to turn out right" gave hope to forlorn singletons everywhere.

22. "All at Once" (1986)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney performing 'All at Once' at Wogan in 1986

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney performing 'All at Once' at Wogan in 1986

Over a quiet keyboard line, Houston mourns a relationship that is finally irrevocably over.

21. "Saving All My Love for You" (1985)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in her music video for 'Saving All My Love for You'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in her music video for 'Saving All My Love for You'

Houston's guy has other priorities — and a wife. She knows she shouldn't be last on his list, but she swears she'll wait for him to leave his lady, 'cause he's worth it. The stuff that's been piped into thousands of dentist offices, was also her first No. 1 hit.

20. "Love Will Save the Day" (1988)

<p>Graham Wiltshire/Getty</p> Whitney Houston performs on stage at Wembley Arena, London, on May 15, 1988

Graham Wiltshire/Getty

Whitney Houston performs on stage at Wembley Arena, London, on May 15, 1988

Though the single broke her streak of consecutive No. 1's, the Miami bass and spicy horns on this high-BPM dance-pop workout pointed to Houston's willingness to experiment and evolve.

Related: Do we need a Whitney Houston biopic? With I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the answer is complicated

19. "One of Those Days" (2002)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'One of Those Days'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'One of Those Days'

An underrated single off an underrated album. Houston gave her listeners an instruction manual for pampering themselves in the Sex and the City era: "Light the candles, aromatherapy/Hot tub bubbles surrounding me/Mr. Big is in the background/The Isley Brothers gonna hold it down." Not so coincidentally, the Isley Brothers' iconic 1983 jam "Between the Sheets" provided the song's backbone.

18. "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I'm Your Baby Tonight'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I'm Your Baby Tonight'

Houston greeted the new decade by changing her sound. Producers Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and L.A. Reid prodded her in a grittier, more street-oriented direction, but even in that altered (and frankly, less vocally demanding) setting, her voice remained a technical marvel.

17. "Million Dollar Bill" (2009)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Million Dollar Bill'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Million Dollar Bill'

It failed to catch fire on the mainstream charts, but the Alicia Keys-co-penned single from Houston's final studio album was a sweetly saucy celebration of feeling like hot currency in the right relationship, with a thrumming bassline and a climbing "oh whoa whoa" chorus.

16. "Didn't We Almost Have It All" (1987)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Didn't We Almost Have It All'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Didn't We Almost Have It All'

So transformative was Houston's voice that she was able to make lite-FM ballads like this one sound effortlessly rich and melancholic, and send them directly to the top of the Hot 100.

15. "It's Not Right but It's Okay" (1999)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'It's Not Right but It's Okay'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'It's Not Right but It's Okay'

The anthem for anyone done wrong by a two-timing man. Is he forgiven? He is not. But will they move on, and eventually triumph? You bet your cheating, no-good heart. Just make sure you leave your keys by the door on your way out.

14. "One Moment in Time" (1988)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'One Moment in Time'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'One Moment in Time'

The 1988 Seoul Olympics needed an anthem, and Houston rose to meet the challenge with this majestic carpe diem chest-thumper. The song — a staple of sports montages — yielded one of Houston's all-time best performances at the 1989 Grammys ceremony.

13. "Step by Step" (1997)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Step by Step'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Step by Step'

The Preacher's Wife 1996 remake wasn't a masterpiece, but for gospel lovers, its soundtrack was: It became the best-selling gospel album of all time, moving some 6 million copies. And its Annie Lennox-penned second single — an ode to not biting off more than you can chew, set to a churchy dance beat — peaked at a respectable No. 15 on the pop charts.

12. "Greatest Love of All" (1986)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Greatest Love of All'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Greatest Love of All'

Sure, the production is dated — oh, those tinkly Casio chords! — but her inspirational ballad was an adult-contemporary touchstone for a reason, and even inspired an especially memorable monologue from Christian Bale's yuppie sociopath in the 2000 film American Psycho.

11. "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" (1988)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston performing 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' at Wogan, 1988

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston performing 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' at Wogan, 1988

"Where Do Broken Hearts Go" actually went to a lot of places — including the top of Billboard's Hot 100. This searching ballad made Houston the first artist to land seven straight No. 1 songs: an astonishing record that still stands.

Related: Most memorable Super Bowl national anthem performances, from Whitney Houston to Lady Gaga

10. "You Give Good Love" (1985)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'You Give Good Love'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'You Give Good Love'

This pretty bedroom ballad — the first big single from her debut — proved that soulful R&B and Top 40 pop can be hard to tell apart when the lights are off.

9. "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" (1995)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Exhale (Shoop Shoop)'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'Exhale (Shoop Shoop)'

Perhaps knowing that it would be unjustly compared with the mammoth Bodyguard soundtrack, Houston was determined not to record new songs for Waiting to Exhale. But producer Babyface persuaded her to lend her voice to this warm, simple groove. And wisely: "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" became only the third single in history at the time to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100.

8. "I'm Every Woman" (1993)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I'm Every Woman'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I'm Every Woman'

Houston took the Chaka Khan original out of the disco era and transported it into early-'90s R&B funkland. It wasn't the biggest hit off the album — there was that Dolly Parton cover you may have heard of — but it's the most irresistible. By the time the last chorus kicks in, even the most Y-chromosome-laden among us were name-checking Chaka and singing along.

7. "I Have Nothing" (1993)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Have Nothing'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Have Nothing'

This steadily escalating stunner put the "power" in power ballad, allowing all of Houston's lyrical self-doubt and pathos to erupt into sonic tidal waves of goosebump-worthy bombast.

6. "So Emotional" (1987)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'So Emotional'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'So Emotional'

"I don't know why I like it/I just do," Houston giggles at the top of this giddy confession of a first-blush crush, which illuminated a naughtier, more rollicking side of the sweet-faced starlet. Ain't it shocking what love can do?

“So Emotional” circled back into popularity in a big way 30 years later with a huge bump in Spotify streams after Sasha Velour iconically lip-synced to it on the season 9 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, culminating in an outpouring of rose petals from under her wig.

Related: Whitney: Ranking every song on Whitney Houston's seminal 1987 album

5. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" (1987)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)'

A spirited descendant of "How Will I Know," this triumphant summer single met the gold standard of '80s pop, inspiring TIME magazine to crown her "The Prom Queen of Soul." And the music video, showcasing a shimmying, bow-bedecked Houston who just wanted to have some fun and "feel the heat with somebody," became an indelible clip of the era.

4. "My Love Is Your Love" (1999)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'My Love Is Your Love'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'My Love Is Your Love'

Many had already written off Houston as past her career prime when she released My Love Is Your Love, her first studio album in eight years. But this gorgeously syncopated soul-pop lullaby — featuring a sweet cameo ("Sing, Mommy") from her then-toddler daughter, Bobbi Kristina — rightfully went on to become her third-most-successful single ever, and redefined her for a younger generation.

3. "How Will I Know" (1985)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'How Will I Know'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'How Will I Know'

While it was first offered to Janet Jackson, the fifth single off Houston's debut album ended up being exactly the sort of buoyantly dancey hit — hey there, sax solo! — that the young woman until then known primarily for stately ballads needed to be a true pop crossover star. And if you haven't heard the remarkable vocals-only version, go listen right now. No really, go. We'll wait for you.

2. "The Star-Spangled Banner" (1991)

<p>Michael Zagaris/Getty</p> Whitney Houston sings the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991

Michael Zagaris/Getty

Whitney Houston sings the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991

Perhaps the most iconic, chills-inducing version of the national anthem ever rendered, it was also the only one to chart as a top 20 hit...twice. Her powerhouse performance at Super Bowl XXV stirred the patriotism of a country in the midst of the Gulf War, and did so again in the wake of 9/11; in both cases, Houston donated her share of profits from the song to those serving in the armed forces.

1. "I Will Always Love You" (1992)

<p>Whitney Houston/YouTube</p> Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Will Always Love You'

Whitney Houston/YouTube

Whitney Houston in the music video for 'I Will Always Love You'

The song that went on to become a defining highlight of Houston's career almost never happened at all. Originally, the then 28-year-old was slated to cover Jimmy Ruffin's early Motown hit "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" for the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, in which she also had her first major film role. It was her costar, Kevin Costner, who suggested she take on Dolly Parton's plaintive 1974 country ballad instead. (Against the record company's wishes, Houston and Costner fought to keep the extended a cappella intro, and won.) Her gospel-tinged reworking of the song — a towering showcase for the singer's phenomenal three-octave range — was an immediate global smash, topping the charts in 16 countries, and spending a record-shattering 14 weeks at No. 1 in the U.S.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.