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Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody (1987)

  • Video Views 393,472,499
  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 3.38
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" is a song recorded by American singer Whitney Houston for her second studio ...

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" is a song recorded by American singer Whitney Houston for her second studio album, Whitney. It was released as the album's lead single on May 2, 1987 by Arista Records. It was produced by Narada Michael Walden, and written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam, of the band Boy Meets Girl, who had previously written the number-one Whitney Houston hit "How Will I Know."

The song received mixed reviews from critics, who praised Houston's vocal performance but critiqued musical arrangement comparing it to her own "How Will I Know" and Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 30th Grammy Awards. The single was a commercial success, topping the charts in 13 countries including Australia, Italy, Germany and the UK. In the US, it became her fourth consecutive number one single and sold over one million copies, making it her first platinum single in the US; and her biggest hit in that country at the time.

Critical reception

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" received mixed reviews from critics. Vince Aletti of Rolling Stone magazine, in a review of the album Whitney, criticized the song, commenting that "not taking any chances, the songwriters [Merill Griffith and Shannon Rubicam] have simply come up with a clever anagram of their original hit [How Will I Know], and [Narada Michael] Walden has glossed it over in an identically perky style. The strategy is not so different from that behind Hollywood's blockbuster sequels: this is 'How Will I Know II'." Los Angeles Times's pop music critic, Robert Hilburn described the song as "a deliciously raucous tune with a bit of the synthesizer underpinning and giddy zest of Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun.'"

In his review of Whitney, Jon Pareles of The New York Times gave a negative comment, writing that listening to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and "You're Still My Man," another track on the album was like "watching television while someone fiddles with color controls." In 2006, Slant Magazine ranked the song at #88 in their 100 Greatest Dance Songs, commenting that "with its parenthetical title, gummy bassline, schmaltzy horns, tinkling keyboards, and half-step key changes, [the song] is definitive '80s dance-pop." However, the song begins in G-flat major and changes key by a whole step, not a half-step, to A-flat major just after the final bridge.

Music video

The video for "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" was directed by Brian Grant and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, who also worked with Houston on the music video for "How Will I Know". The video features Houston in a pink dress and a continuous shot of a purple backdrop that never changes its angle of vision. In the intro of this video, Houston just finishes a performance onstage. She walks backstage, and the scene is intercut with more vivid, colorful images of her. The song then explodes into its beginning, with myriad locations and various outfits by Houston, as dancers trying to impress her as she dances. Towards the end of the song she manhandles a guy, who has a mixture of a look of shock and surprise asking him "Don't you wanna dance say you wanna dance". It has over 150 million views as of July 2019 on YouTube.

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