Whitney Houston, ‘I Look to You’ (Duet Version) | Track Review
R. Kelly joins Whitney Houston on a duet version of “I Look to You,” the promo single for compilation ‘I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston.’
Often times, it is easy to place emotion before objectivity when listening and evaluating posthumous works by an artist. Many times, the quality of that posthumous work is elevated to loftier extremes than are justified. Here, merely a duet version of a past Whitney Houston single, “I Look to You” is in examination, with songwriter and producer R. Kelly guesting. “I Look to You” isn’t the second coming in duet form, but there are some positives. It serves as the lead single from the upcoming greatest hits compilation, I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston.
This version of “I Look to You” is slower than the previous, already slow original. A quicker tempo would not have disrupted the reverence, but it’s not a deal breaker. Houston‘s portions here sound much clearer than the previous version, a positive. She’s not ‘back’ to her peak, but she sounds much more compelling than many of her other recent showings.
R Kelly sounds solid, but no less is expected. It’s rare the standout R&B singer falls flat, unless it’s the material itself. Kelly handles the first portion of the second verse with Whitney taking the reins on the second half. What does make “I Look to You” a little strange is that while Kelly takes the second chorus, and we don’t hear from Houston anymore. Part of that seems almost symbolic, particularly after the second refrain finishes subtle background vocals echoing “Whitney, Whitney, Whitney,” before R. Kelly utters his ‘farewell message’ to the fallen singer.
All in all, “I Look to You” in its duet form won’t supersede the Whitney Houston classics, but it leaves us with a more optimistic impression of singer. It’s all because this particular vocal take sounds more promising than others. Maybe that’s meaningless now, but what’s not meaningless is we’ll never forget the late, great Whitney Houston, another one “gone too soon.”