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ON THE HORIZON

She's welcome back, but not with him

August 03, 2008|Todd Martens

The artists: Whitney Houston & Akon

The leaked track: "Like I Never Left"

Back story: The diva has been missing from the pop landscape since 2003, when she released a holiday-themed collection. Much of the singer's headlines over the last few years have been more of the tabloid nature, focusing on health issues and her marriage to Bobby Brown. A new Whitney album -- one that's not embarrassing -- would ascend to blockbuster status.

The verdict: "Like I Never Left," featuring production and a collaboration from Akon, is as much an Akon song as it is a Whitney cut. As such, its mission isn't so much to be a knockout, but to reestablish Whitney as a contemporary artist, even featuring some electronically manipulated vocals from Akon. But while that's one of the song's more distressing qualities, it doesn't fully distract from what is ultimately an effortlessly light R&B cut. As feather-light as the song is, Houston still sounds pretty good, even though she has nothing to say. If anything, the song definitely doesn't need Akon.

Is it finished? According to a spokeswoman for Houston, no, the song that was leaked out is not "a finished song at all." "Yes, your girl is coming back," Houston sings in the song, but don't bet on it, at least not any time soon. The much-discussed return of Whitney has been years in the making, and a new album has been promised to be on the horizon dating back to 2005.

-- Todd Martens

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