Whitney Houston might consider changing the title of her recent hit from "I'm Every Woman" to "I'm Every Winner," based on the number of trophies she took home from Wednesday night's Billboard Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre.
The number of statuettes added to Houston's mantle, 11, set a record for the 4-year-old ceremony. The sweep came as no surprise, since the Billboard Awards are based strictly on sales and radio airplay. It didn't take an abacus to figure Houston's recording of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You"--which broke a record for the number of weeks situated atop Billboard's pop chart--would clean out nearly every category besides rock, rap or country.
For her climactic performance at the ceremony, though--televised on Fox TV from the Amphitheatre--the singer instead chose "I Have Nothing," a disingenuous anthem of co-dependency she subsequently dedicated not to her husband, Bobby Brown, and their daughter (who received profuse love sonnets each trip to the podium) but the fans: "I'd like to thank everyone watching at home," she cooed, "because there would be no me without you."
Brown--like his wife, dressed in bright red--leaped up and led the standing-O once she kicked into the song's key change. Houston's physically stationary, vocally mobile approach to the ballad--backlit behind the mike in a she-got-back-her-figure-flattering gown--effectively heightened the tune's diva dramaturgy, making it an easy highlight in a night otherwise short on compelling performances.