Single Review: Whitney Houston “So Emotional”

So Emotional
Album: Whitney
Year: 1987

Although Whitney Houston has a boyfriend, she’s attracted to another guy in the bright “So Emotional.”

Kittenish drums and hyper synthesizers accompany Houston as she comments she’s likes the guy for some unknown reason. She then vocalizes “woo hoo” ( I don’t know why I like it/I just do/Woo hoo hoo/hoo hoo.”) A zippy electric guitar then jumps with excitement.

She’s been imagining lying next to him. She looks a photo she took with him every night which she put on her nightstand. She can’t stop thinking of him and what they would do together. She gave him her phone number and anticipates talking to him. She scolds herself for liking the guy when she has a boyfriend. It must not be serious if he’s unaware of the photograph. (“I’ve been hearing your heartbeat inside of me/I keep your photograph beside my bed/Livin’ in a world of fantasies/I can’t get you out of my head uh/I’ve been waiting for the phone to ring all night/Why you wanna make me feel so good/I got a love of my own babe/I shouldn’t get so hung up on you.”)

In the sparkly synthesizer laden pre-chorus, she says a casual, friendly touch is enough to make her smile. (“I remember the way that we touch/I wish I didn’t like it so much uh.”)

The drum machines take over for the chorus. Houston notes she gets easily affected as she thinks of the day they spent hanging out together or how he laughs a certain way. (“I get so emotional baby/Every time I think of you/I get so emotional baby.”)

The zippy guitar returns for the last section of the chorus. Houston comments that love has an unexpected aspect to it. (“Ain’t it shocking what love can do/Ain’t it shocking what love can do/Ain’t it shocking what love can do (hee.”)

In the second verse, she’s rapt in his graceful movements. She can’t concentrate when he speaks. She thinks of kissing him with his pouty lips. (“I gotta watch you walk in the room baby/
I gotta watch you walk out (noo noo)/I like the animal way you move/And when you talk I just watch your mouth.”)

After the second time the chorus is sung, there’s a dance break. The synthesizers jingle nervously. Then, the electric guitars roar. Houston laughs at the end of it.

After the last chorus, Houston adlibs “hey yeah baby baby” and grunts. She repeats again “ain’t it shocking what love can do” and continues with a few more “yeah baby’s” to close the single.

Whitney Houston’s influence on Mariah Carey’s early sound is evident here in the stunning “So Emotional.” Full vocal power is used in the choruses. The adlibs of the chorus. The high notes saved until the end. A fantastic dance single worthy of imitation.

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