Higher Love

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"Higher Love"
Steve Winwood - Higher Love.jpeg
Single cover
Single by Steve Winwood
from the album Back in the High Life
B-side"And I Go"
Released20 June 1986
Recorded
  • Unique Recording Studio
  • New York, autumn 1985
Genre
Length
  • 5:45 (album version)
  • 4:14 (single version)
LabelIsland – IS 288
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Russ Titelman
Steve Winwood singles chronology
"Valerie"
(1982)
"Higher Love"
(1986)
"Freedom Overspill"
(1986)

"Higher Love" is a 1986 song by English singer Steve Winwood.[1] It was the first single released from his fourth solo LP, Back in the High Life. It was written by Winwood and Will Jennings and produced by Russ Titelman and Winwood. The female vocals on the song were performed by Chaka Khan, who also appeared in the promotional music video.

"Higher Love" was Winwood's first Billboard Hot 100 number-one song, topping the chart for one week. It was preceded by Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" and followed by "Venus" by Bananarama. The song also spent four weeks atop the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart and earned two Grammy Awards, for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. It also peaked at number 13 in the United Kingdom, Winwood's highest charting solo entry there, and reached number one in Canada for a week.

Whitney Houston covered the song in 1990 and it was included as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of her third studio album I'm Your Baby Tonight. James Vincent McMorrow covered the song in 2011, on his first album "Early in the Morning". In June 2019, Norwegian DJ Kygo reworked Houston's cover into a tropical house track and it was released as a single worldwide,[2] and on August 21, 2019, their version hit number one on Billboard magazine's Dance Club Songs chart, making it Houston's highest-charting posthumous release to date.

Music video[edit]

The music video, which uses the shorter single version, was shot in June 1986 by directors Peter Kagan and Paula Greif. It was edited by Laura Israel and Glenn Lazzaro. Kagan and Greif shot an almost identical video for Duran Duran's "Notorious" in November of that year; coincidentally, both videos were nominated for several awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards though neither won. Chaka Khan appears in the video, as does Nile Rodgers, who plays guitar with the backing band.

Track listings[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Kygo and Whitney Houston version[edit]

"Higher Love"
Black-and-white faces of Kygo and Houston above the title "Higher Love" and below it is the words Kygo X Whitney Houston.
Single by Kygo and Whitney Houston
from the album Golden Hour
Released28 June 2019 (2019-06-28)
Recorded
  • December 1989
    (Houston's vocals)
  • December 2018
    (Kygo's arrangement)
GenreTropical house[22]
Length3:48
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Kygo singles chronology
"Kem kan eg ringe"
(2019)
"Higher Love"
(2019)
"Family"
(2019)
Whitney Houston singles chronology
"Memories"
(2016)
"Higher Love"
(2019)
"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
(2019)
Music video
"Higher Love" on YouTube

A cover of "Higher Love" was released as a single by Norwegian DJ and record producer Kygo and late American singer Whitney Houston on 28 June 2019. The song was released to streaming and digital download formats on 28 June 2019 by the label RCA Records. The song is the lead single from Kygo's third studio album, Golden Hour. The song marks Houston's first posthumous release in two and a half years, following the song "Memories", which was released as a duet with Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza in December 2016. It was also featured in a Ford Summer Sales Event commercial in 2020.

Houston's cover of the Winwood track was originally featured on the Japanese edition of her third studio album, I'm Your Baby Tonight (1990). This version of the track was produced by American musician Narada Michael Walden, and therefore Walden is credited as a producer of "Higher Love" alongside Kygo.[23][24] Houston performed her rendition of "Higher Love" at the 14 dates of her 1990 Feels So Right Tour in Japan.

In the UK, "Higher Love" was a commercial success, surpassing the Winwood version in terms of chart performance. It peaked at number two in the UK Singles Chart, making it Kygo's third top ten song there and first to reach the nation's top five, and Houston's eighteenth to peak within the top ten. It is also Houston's first posthumous top 10 track. She had last reached the top ten with "Million Dollar Bill" charting at number five in October 2009. Therefore, "Higher Love" became her highest-charting single in the UK since 1999 when "My Love Is Your Love" peaked at number two. In Scotland, the song peaked at number one.

Since its release, "Higher Love" has reached the top five in Croatia, Flanders, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Norway, Slovakia, and Slovenia, plus the top ten in the Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden and Switzerland. It also hit the top twenty charts in Australia, Austria, China, Czech Republic and Wallonia. In the U.S., "Higher Love" debuted at number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 6.6 million US streams in its first week;[25] it was also its peak position. The song topped Billboards Dance Club Songs chart in the US, becoming Kygo's third number one on the chart and Houston's fourteenth.[26]

In September 2020, the song was nominated at the Billboard Music Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Song.[27] The Recording Industry Association of America would certify the single Platinum in the USA also.

Notably, "Higher Love" was used immediately following Joe Biden's victory speech after his election as the 46th President of the United States on November 7, 2020. Writing for Billboard, Katie Bain described the song's use in a political setting, writing "Indeed, after Biden shared his vision of 'a nation united, a nation strengthened. A nation healed,' “Higher Love” backed up the message, particularly for those who know all the words. ... Few sentiments could so effectively summarize the weary travails of the American collective consciousness during the past four years."[28]

Music video[edit]

The official video, directed by Hannah Lux Davis, was made available on YouTube on 26 August 2019.[29] It begins with a group of men in modern clothing walking through seemingly abandoned warehouses. They are impressed to see a 1980s aerobics class led by an instructor played by Canadian actress Vanessa Morgan. After initially being shooed away, the male lead walks into the room and suddenly wears a 1980s aerobics outfit. He starts dancing with the female lead and is eventually joined by his male companions. The video has brief snippets of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" music video showing on a TV along with posters of her from the 1987 Whitney album on the wall. In the end, the instructor is accidentally kicked in the face by one of the dancers and wakes up in a present-day restaurant, revealing that the 1980s aerobics class was just a dream and that the male lead is actually the waiter at the restaurant she's in.

Personnel[edit]

  • Whitney Houston – lead vocals, backing vocals/arrangement, vocal production
  • Narada Michael Walden – backing vocals arrangement, producer, arranger
  • Kygo – producer, remixer, arranger
  • Claytoven Richardson, Cynthia Shiloh, Greg "Gigi" Gonaway, Jeanie Tracy, Larry Batiste
    Raz Kennedy, Skyler Jett, Sylvester Jackson, Tina Thompson, Renee Cattaneo – backing vocals

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2019–2020) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[30] 20
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[31] 20
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[32] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[33] 12
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[34] 22
China Airplay/FL (Billboard)[35] 16
Croatia (HRT)[36] 2
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100)[37] 2
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[38] 18
Denmark (Tracklisten)[39] 28
Estonia (Eesti Ekspress)[40] 23
Euro Digital Songs (Billboard)[41] 2
France (SNEP)[42] 72
Germany (Official German Charts)[43] 22
Greece International Digital (IFPI Greece)[44] 35
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[45] 6
Hungary (Single Top 40)[46] 9
Hungary (Stream Top 40)[47] 19
Ireland (IRMA)[48] 4
Israel (Media Forest)[49] 3
Latvia (LAIPA)[50] 25
Lithuania (AGATA)[51] 16
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[52] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[53] 27
Mexico Ingles Airplay (Billboard)[54] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[55] 26
Norway (VG-lista)[56] 2
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100)[57] 51
Portugal (AFP)[58] 93
Romania (Airplay 100)[59] 25
Scotland (OCC)[60] 1
Serbia (Radiomonitor)[61] 16
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)[62] 3
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[63] 13
Slovenia (SloTop50)[64] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[65] 9
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[66] 10
UK Singles (OCC)[67] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[68] 63
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[69] 7
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[70] 12
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[71] 1
US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs (Billboard)[72] 2
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[73] 29
US Rolling Stone Top 100[74] 27

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Position
Australia (ARIA)[75] 82
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[76] 45
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[77] 27
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)[78] 83
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[79] 63
Germany (Official German Charts)[80] 58
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[81] 73
Hungary (Single Top 40)[82] 63
Ireland (IRMA)[83] 39
Latvia (LAIPA)[84] 71
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[85] 23
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[86] 58
Portugal (AFP)[87] 412
Slovenia (SloTop50)[88] 26
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[89] 62
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[90] 30
UK Singles (OCC)[91] 26
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[92] 34
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[93] 28
US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs (Billboard)[94] 9
Chart (2020) Position
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[95] 81
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[96] 91
UK Singles (OCC)[97] 67
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[98] 13
US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs (Billboard)[99] 9

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[100] 3× Platinum 210,000double-dagger
Belgium (BEA)[101] Platinum 40,000double-dagger
Canada (Music Canada)[102] 2× Platinum 160,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[103] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[104] Gold 100,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[105] Gold 35,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[106] Gold 15,000double-dagger
Poland (ZPAV)[107] Platinum 20,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[108] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[109] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

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External links[edit]