Saving All My Love for You
|"Saving All My Love for You"|
US vinyl edition
|Single by Whitney Houston|
|from the album Whitney Houston|
|B-side||"Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" "All at Once" "Greatest Love of All" "How Will I Know"|
|Released||August 13, 1985|
|Whitney Houston singles chronology|
"Saving All My Love for You" is a song written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin with arrangement by Gene Page. It was originally a minor hit for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. in 1978 on their album Marilyn & Billy. A cover of the song was recorded by American singer Whitney Houston, for her debut, self-titled album, which was released on February 14, 1985, by Arista Records. The song was the second single from the album in the United States and third worldwide.
The song received positive reviews from music critics, who picked it as one of the album's highlights and praised its melodious production and Houston's vocal performance. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Commercially, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100, being her first number one on the charts; it also went to number one in both the UK and Ireland, becoming her first major hit in these countries. In the United States, it was awarded a Gold certification from the RIAA in 1995, and Platinum certification in 2020.
Background and release
"Saving All My Love for You" was written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin during the 1970s and originally recorded with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. on their LP "Marilyn and Billy" (1978). Years later, Masser saw Whitney for the first time when he went into New York City's Sweetwater club, an invitation made by Arista Records president Clive Davis, and she was singing one of his songs, "The Greatest Love of All". After her performance, the singer told Masser that the song was one of her favorites and later, Masser was chosen by Arista to produce some tracks for Houston's self-titled debut. After getting the right emotionally vulnerable-tailored take from Houston, the producer guaranteed her that it would become "a woman's song", meaning that women will feel a special affinity for the song.
After the success of her previous single, "You Give Good Love", the label initially didn't think about releasing "Saving All My Love for You" as the next single. When Masser heard that another single besides the song was being considered for the next single, he made a friendly wager with Davis during one of Houston's performance at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. He proposed that if all the women get on their feet when Houston sings "Saving...", then Davis would agree that it should be the next single. Ultimately, the song was released as the second single in the United States and third single worldwide.
Composition and lyrics
"Saving All My Love for You" is a soul and R&B song, composed in the key of A major, having a slowly tempo of 84 beats per minute. Houston's vocal range on the song span from the low-note of F#3 to the high-note of F#5. The song features a saxophone solo by Tom Scott and lyrically talks about a young woman preparing for the arrival of her married lover, with lyrics like, "You've got your family, and they need you there/Though I've tried to resist, being last on your list/But no other man's gonna do/So I'm saving all my love for you." Dave Heaton of PopMatters wrote that Whitney sings some parts with bittersweet lightness ("that’s just an old fantasy") and other parts with urgent heaviness ("tonight is the night"), exactly right for carrying the feelings in the song.
The song also caused controversy due to its lyrics about having an affair with a married man. Houston's mother Cissy Houston didn't at all like the scenario described in the lyrics, claiming that the song's message would reflect badly on her daughter. However, Whitney herself confessed, "I was going through a terrible love affair. He was married, and that will never work out for anybody. Never, no way."
"Saving All My Love for You" received positive reviews from music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic picked the song as a highlight on the album, writing that the song "burns slowly and seductively." Dave Heaton of PopMatters praised Whitney for "singing as 'the other woman', ratcheting up the drama without overdoing it." Liam Lacey of The Globe and Mail wrote that 'Saving All My Love for You', 'Greatest Love Of All' and 'Hold Me In Your Arms' "are some of the loveliest pop singing on vinyl since the glory days of Dionne Warwick." Sputnikmusic called it "the sexiest, most romantic song on the record." Brad Wete of Vibe called it "goliath", writing that the song "was a fresh serving of precocious talent compared to 1985's mildly flavored R&B bluffet." Los Angeles Times praised her vocal performance, writing that, "it should mean a cinch Grammy nomination."
"Saving All My Love for You" earned Whitney her first Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1986. She also won the American Music Award for Favorite R&B/Soul Video for "Saving All My Love for You". The song also entered the list of her best songs. While listing her "25 Best Songs", editors from Entertainment Weekly placed the song at number 21, writing that, "The stuff that's been piped into thousands of dentist offices, it was also her first No. 1 hit." BET placed the song at number 7 on their "40 Best Whitney Houston Songs", writing that, "The song has it all: her breathy come-ons, her trademark epic high notes, her delicate runs." Kelley L. Carter of MTV also listed the track on their "Whitney Houston's Top 10 Songs", complimenting the singer for taking an already-recorded song and giving it new life."
'On "The New York Daily News"'s "The 100 Greatest Love Songs", "Saving All My Love for You" was placed at number 79. The song was also on The Telegraph,'s "The 50 Best Love Songs of the 80's", with the authors wrote that, "The song that launched Whitney, invented a newly minted variety of globe-storming soul diva", picking the line, "Though I try to resist, being last on your list/But no other man's gonna do/So I'm saving all my love for you," as "killer".
Released in 1985, Whitney's version of "Saving All My Love for You" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 53, jumping to number 39 the following week (August 24), and reaching the Top 10 five weeks later. The single reached the number-one spot the week of October 26, 1985, and would become the first of seven record-setting consecutive number-one singles in the United States for Houston; a record that still holds. The single eventually spent fifteen weeks in the top forty. It also hit the top of the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It ranked number 5 on Billboard Year-end Top Black Singles chart.
The song also became a global hit, hitting number-one or the Top 10 in various countries around the world. In the United Kingdom, the song hit number-one on December 8, 1985, spending two weeks at the top. The single went on to become one of the top 25 best-selling singles of 1985 in the UK, and has since sold 740,000 copies. In 2012, Dan Lane of The Official Charts Company listed "Houston’s Top 20 Biggest Selling Tracks In The UK To Date" and "Saving All My Love for You" was placed at number 3, only losing to "I Will Always Love You" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody".
In New Zealand, the song debuted at number 45, on November 3, 1985. It kept on climbing in the following two weeks, until it peaked at number 6, before dropping to number 8. However, on December 8, 1985, the song reached a new peak of number 5. The song was also a success in Switzerland, peaking at number 5, while in France, the song charted two times in different years. Firstly, the song charted when it was originally released in 1986, debuting at number 50 and peaking at number 11, while in 2012 (after Whitney's death), the song peaked at number 39.
The music video was directed by Stuart Orme and was filmed in London, where Whitney was doing a promotional tour. The narrative for the music video follows the song's theme: Whitney's character is a recording artist who is emotionally involved with her married producer, played by Ricco Ross. By the finale, he has returned to his wife and family, leaving her (the "other woman") romantically out in the cold.
At the time of release, the adultery theme of the video for "Saving All My Love for You" generated much media controversy, which led Whitney to insist, "I could never see myself in that position. I wouldn't just take whatever someone wants to give to me, especially if I am giving a lot to him but not getting that much back. I could never find myself in that situation, but someone else might. The video tells a story but it's by no means my story." Despite the controversy, the video won "Favorite Soul/R&B Video" on the American Music Awards of 1986. In July 2020, the music video has been remastered in HD.
Whitney performed "Saving All My Love for You" in a number of places. Whitney performed the track for the 28th Annual Grammy Awards and later took home the Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female Award for the song. Her performance of the ballad at the GRAMMYs won her an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. She also performed the song on Late Night with David Letterman in 1985. The performance was considered one of her best live performances by Digital Spy and VH1. While Liam O'Brien of Digital Spy wrote, "In this assured performance on Late Night With David Letterman, her vocal gymnastics left the host stunned," Mark Graham of VH1 simply picked it as her third best live performance.
She also included the track in all of her concert tours: The Greatest Love World Tour (1986), Moment of Truth World Tour (1987–1988), Feels So Right Tour (1990), I'm Your Baby Tonight World Tour (1991), The Bodyguard World Tour (1993–1994), Pacific Rim Tour (1997), The European Tour (1998), My Love Is Your Love World Tour (1999), Soul Divas Tour (2004) and on her final tour, Nothing but Love World Tour (2009–2010). "Saving All My Love for You" was also added to the setlist of her first ever solo televised concert and DVD/video release, Welcome Home Heroes with Whitney Houston (1991) and on her second DVD/video, Whitney: The Concert for a New South Africa (1994).
- Michael Masser, Gerry Goffin – writer
- Whitney Houston – lead vocal
- Dan Huff, Louis Shelton, Paul Jackson Jr. – guitar
- Nathan East – bass guitar
- Robbie Buchanan, Randy Kerber, Richard Marx – keyboards
- Debbie Thomas, Oren Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Julia Tillman Waters – background vocals
- Tom Scott – saxophone solo
- John Robinson – drums
- Michael Masser – producer
- Gene Page – arranger
- Bill Schnee – mixer
- Michael Mancini, Russell Schmitt – engineers
Charts and certifications
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