Whitney Houston Remembered: 'I Wanna Dance' Songwriters Mourn 'Sad Ending'
Whitney Houston's early hits in the mid to late '80s were mostly ballads, such as 'Saving All My Love For You,' 'The Greatest Love of All' and 'Didn't We Almost Have It All,' but the singer also brought an infectious energy to more uptempo material. Two of those memorable upbeat songs -- 'How Will I Know' (1985) and 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)' (1987) -- both went No. 1 on the Billboard charts and were written by the songwriting duo of George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam.
"I must say that we were fortunate to have Whitney sing our songs," Rubicam tells Spinner after Houston's death last Saturday. "She just nailed them both with her incredible voice, taking them to heights that I'm certain only she could have done."
Merrill and Rubicam -- who are also the musical act Boy Meets Girl, known for their song 'Waiting for a Star to Fall' -- were originally commissioned by their publishing company to write a song for Janet Jackson.
"What we knew of Janet's voice at the time was from her first album, on which she sang very soft and sweet. So we wrote and submitted 'How Will I Know,' drawing inspiration from that often-asked romantic question. Her record company turned it down, because she had already begun work on her concept album called 'Control,' and our song would simply not have fit with that collection.
"The song was then sent to Clive Davis -- head of Arista Records at the time -- who was looking for material for the then-unknown young singer, Whitney Houston. Clive loved the song, passed it on to Narada Michael Walden to produce, and with his punchy production magic, the song became the full-blown hit that