Is It Still Okay?

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I don’t want to call anyone a liar, but:

A stunning-looking and strong-sounding Whitney Houston made a triumphant return to the stage at a pre-Grammy party honoring her mentor, music mogul Clive Davis. “I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” Houston, looking glamorous in a skintight leopard dress, sang early Sunday morning as she belted a line from one of her classic hits, “I’m Every Woman.” But more than a lyric, it summarized to the crowd of A-list superstars and top industry execs that the superstar — whose drug use and erratic behavior had caused a shocking fall from grace just a few years ago — was back in top form.

— Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

If there was a fear that her voice was gone, she dispelled it. And while she may not be singing the way she did at 25, the 45 year old is still among the very premiere song stylists in the world.

— Roger Friedman, FOX News

So how did she sound? Incredible! Was she back to the days when she was in top high-note hitting form? No, but close.

— Marc Malkin, E!

They must have heard something completely different inside the venue than what I just got from this YouTube clip. While she doesn’t sound like she just sniffed enough coke to make a snow man then washed it down with a pack of Newports and Olde English, I’m not sure if I’d give her the lead in the choir.

Some journalists were a bit more frank:

Though her voice was not the sterling instrument of her prime, she seemed vocally fit, if somewhat buried by the loud band, backup singers and exuberant audience that cheered her return.

— Edna Gundersen, USA Today

…Houston revealed she’s back in sparring shape; when she opened her mouth, what came out was strong and controlled (though, admittedly, she was still trading more on the theatricality of our anticipation than the power of the golden pipes she used to possess). So psyched was the crowd that it hardly seemed to miss the big notes in edited arrangements of both “I Will Always Love You” and “I Believe In You and Me,” and the fact that Houston’s backup singers had to carry much of “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” did not dim the dance party.

— Whitney Pastorek, Entertainment Weekly

OK, so it wasn’t just me. I liken the reaction to Whitney’s performance to be akin to that of Britney’s recent gigs: People have such low expectations at this point simply standing there and not falling down would illicit thunderous applause. I guess it’s a start. Just this morning I was listening to “Saving All My Love For You” and “You Give Good Love.” I miss that Whitney.

I must say, though, I did enjoy the way Nippy said, “Darkchild…Darkchild.” That performance was a little better. She still carries herself like someone’s crazy Aunt Cookie.

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