I don’t make a habit of blogging when a famous dies. The internet is always awash with a million obituaries, the televisions sigh relief that they finally get to air that too often pre-prepared VT on loop for 12 hours; the grief becomes overwhelmingly public. From the “Whitney was my hero” and the “I listened to Whitney growing up” to the “what a waste of a unique talent” and the hysterical “WHY OH WHY”, all many want to do is offer an autobiographical anecdote as a tribute to the deceased.
For Whitney Houston, there will be many an autobiographical anecdote. There is absolutely no way on this Earth any one of us could have missed out on Whitney. From the ‘80s, Whitney’s voice has soundtracked our lives; school discos, Friday night clubs, karaoke bars, Tesco, car trips on the way to Tesco, dinners for two, airport lounges, bar mitzvahs, marriages, deaths… Whitney Houston was there. Within an hour of the news last night, Jedward clearly saddened by the loss had tweeted, “Whitney Houston Rocks She sang for us on our 18th Birthday Much Love from John and Edward”. Not to burst your hyperbubble, Jedward but… Whitney Houston sang at all of our 18th birthdays. And she nailed it every time.
Unfortunately with all celebrity death situations, other people less aclimatised to this thing we call “life” were abusing Twitter’s 140 characters to spread banal, pointless cowpat along the lines of “Houston, we have a problem.” It will never not be too soon to make that joke, but (CHRIST ALIVE) I’m guessing that 30 seconds after the announcement came from TMZ definitely forms part of a brutally obvious grace period of, well, showing some fricking GRACE. Perhaps that’s just me struggling to see the LOLs in the story of how Whitney Houston’s talent has been wasted, though…
On the other end of the enormoknob scale came the one and only Dan Wootton, who tweeted “Whitney Houston death is CONFIRMED. This is NOT a Twitter hoax. Only 49-years-old” and immediately updated his Twitter profile picture to an image of Me And My Mate Whitney. Well, indeed. Except if she was your friend, Mr Wootton, perhaps you would have been up to speed with her birthdays and not got her age wrong. Whoops. “My job as a showbiz reporter involves reporting and providing tributes at these very sad times. I hope people can understand that,” Dan tweeted after his live feed on Sky. Loud and clear, Dan. Let’s just report accurately, yeah?
Not before long did Dan Wootton receive competition and a battle of Who Can Make Whitney’s Death More About Me ensued. Katie Price got busy. Catching Wootton’s live feed on Sky News while being “soooooo shocked soooooo upset” on Twitter a minute previously, Price took this opportunity to air some old grudges: “Dan wooton on sky fuck you! you slate me sooo much you don’t even no me how dare you make out you know what it is like you big loser”. Handbags at actual dawn.
Unlike many incredible, joyous inventions in life, Twitter doesn’t suffer from that problem of the “ones who ruin it for the rest of us”. The ones who are ruining it for me simply get unfollowed. All I wanted to do last night was play My Love Is Your Love (which I bought in 1998 in Woolworths), while getting a second midnight snack’s crumbs on my bed; it’s what Whitney would have wanted. What a towering late-’90s R&B album of killer soul hooks and defiant lyrics that was (“If tomorrow is judgement day/And I’m standing on the front line…”, “It’s not right but it’s okay.I’m gonna make it anyway” and “Baby I learned the way to break a heart/I learned from the best, I learned from you”).
Whitney’s voice was so unwavering and empowered it made the 12 year-old me feel more badass just listening to it. I remember the first time I heard Whitney’s duet with Mariah Carey on that album (When You Believe) I considered it a gladiatorial vocal duel, for which I batted for Team Whitney – the paced, strong, modest pro to Mariah’s hysterical peacocking. My dad, of course, would wind me up by merging Britney Spears – another obsessionat the time – and Whitney together to create one indestructible “Britney Houston” and then… OH GAWD WAIT I’M DOING IT. Here I go making Whitney’s death about me and my silly dad. What a stupid, soppy, irrelevant autobiographical anecdote that nobody cares about and that doesn’t say anything at all. Sorry, Whitney. Sorry, World.
I’m sure there will be a prolific number of far more authoritative tributes tonight at the Grammys – an event Whitney dominated for years. I’m sure many more artists will continue to learn how to sing while listening to Whitney and be living tributes to her. I’m sure many Valentines couples will get all I Will Always Love You’d on Tuesday night and continue to eat chocolates together to Whitney. I pray that Simon Cowell out of respect might cease to search for a Whitney replacement; Whitney Houston was proof that there is an x factor and very few people have it. And as for all you HYSTERICAL jokers out there, I’m sure that Whitney’s death, like Winehouse’s months earlier, was predictable. But beware. When it’s time for you to depart the world and take your lame gags with you, Whitney – as promised – will be waiting for you on judgement day.