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Whitney Houston releases 'I Look to You' for free, sets sights on Grammy

July 28, 2009 |  1:49 pm

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With Mariah Carey's album pushed back until Sept. 15, the path to the Grammy for best pop vocal album should be relatively clear for Whitney Houston. The artist's comeback effort, "I Look to You," has been bumped to Aug. 31 from Sept. 1, a 24-hour difference that will now make the artist eligible for Grammy consideration.

The artist's official website credits buzz from recent listening events in New York and Los Angeles for the bump. But the holiday sales jump that will greet the album when Grammy nominations are unveiled in early December probably didn't make it a too-difficult decision for Arista Records.

Meanwhile, the R. Kelly-penned title track has been released today as a free download. It's the second ballad from the album to make its way to the Web, after an earlier leak of "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." You can go to Houston's site to trade your e-mail information for a song.

Friends of ours who attended the Whitney listening events gave us positive reports, but we're going to need to hear much more than these big, over-produced end-credit ballads to be sold. Of course, "I Look to You" will probably sound swell at any weddings you attend in 2011, and that's largely a credit to Whitney.

She makes cringe-worthy lyrics ("winter storms have come and darkened my sun") sound like the most important Hallmark card ever written.Yet when all is said and done, the song fails to leave much of a lasting impression. Just when Whitney seems to power the song to another level -- breaking from the verse for a brief, energy-rising "oh yeah" -- the band and backing singers fail to rise to the occasion. Instead, we get a swipe of orchestral synths, resulting it an inoffensive slow dance, but little more.

Take a listen and judge for yourself.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: EPA

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