Remember when George Michael and Whitney Houston came together for a soul-stirring duet?

13 June 2024, 13:55

George Michael and Whitney Houston showcased a unique chemistry for their one-off duet.
George Michael and Whitney Houston showcased a unique chemistry for their one-off duet. Picture: Arista/BMG

By Thomas Edward

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They were two of pop music's greatest talents.

But both Whitney Houston and George Michael ventured into a more mature and meaningful R&B-influenced sound as they progressed in their careers.

It was almost written in the stars that their paths would cross musically, and that eventually happened in 2000.

Though for the two decades prior to their duet, the pair were deemed to have some sort of rivalry.

During the late eighties, George reportedly commented that Whitney's voice left him feeling "cold", so understandably they didn't necessarily see eye-to-eye at first.

George and Whitney put any rumours of a rift between them to bed, when they came together for soul-stirring R&B hit 'If I Told You That'.

Though, oddly enough, the artist originally intended to join Whitney on the song was none other than Michael Jackson.

Whitney Houston, George Michael - If I Told You That (Official HD Video)

'If I Told You That' was written by legendary producer Rodney Jerkins for Whitney's 1998 comeback album, My Love Is Your Love.

But for her greatest hits album she released two years later, Whitney and Rodney wanted to rework the song to incorporate a duet with another major star.

Given he was working with both Whitney and Michael at the time, Jerkins demoed the duet with the intention of convincing MJ to sing alongside Houston, but he declined.

Michael and Whitney had a rumoured fling from years before, with their potential duets having both been shut down.

For his 1987 album, Bad, Michael wanted Whitney to feature on 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You', though Arista Records blocked the request, with Michael doing the same thirteen years later when Whitney asked him a favour.

Whitney's longtime manager Clive Davis had previously worked with George on his duet with Aretha Franklin, 'I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)', and felt he'd be perfect for the song so he suggested reaching out.

George took the opportunity, and much like his duet with Aretha, totally holds his own up beside Whitney's powerful vocal.

Whitney and George showed as much chemistry in person as they did on the record.
Whitney and George showed as much chemistry in person as they did on the record. Picture: Arista/BMG

The accompanying music video - filmed in a New York City club - shows the pair having so much fun together, hugging, dancing, and showing genuine affection for one another.

Evidently, their friendship had a similar level of chemistry as their singing talents in the studio.

A backing dancer shooting the video recalled how they joked with one another and the extras between takes.

Commenting on the official music video on YouTube, @TheJellyMonty wrote: "It was so much fun! George and Whitney were so hilarious and easy going and their chemistry was off the charts."

"At one point I remember George joking during takes and he said: "She's gonna un-gay me in a minute!", and Whitney responded: "Boy please, I un-gayed you the moment you laid eyes on me!" And everybody just died of laughter!"

RIP George Michael

Posted by Whitney Houston on Monday, December 26, 2016

'If I Told You That' peaked at number nine in the UK charts after its 2000 release, but failed to make an impact in the US.

Whitney still performed the song frequently throughout her career from then onwards, despite never actually getting to perform live alongside George which is a real shame.

Tragically, the world lost both talents prematurely with Whitney passing away on 11th February 2012, and George sadly succumbing to the same fate four years later on 25th December 2016.

Both will rightly be remembered as legends of pop music, whose voices will continue to grace the airwaves for years to come.