from serving side-eye to sassing mariah, 11 times whitney was great

Whitney was the greatest singer of her generation; offstage and on. Fact.

by Hattie Collins and Tish Weinstock
12 June 2017, 10:25pm

This article was originally published by i-D UK

Documentary maker Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac) returns this week with a new film, Whitney: Can I Be Me. Just under two hours, Broomfield's doc is an insightful, sympathetic look at Whitney's life that glances at the drug issues the singer faced, but focuses more on the reasons why she fell so hard, so far.

Featuring revealing testimonies from the artist's family, friends and her ex-bodyguard David Roberts (but noticeably not Bobby Brown, Clive Davis nor her former personal assistant Robyn Crawford) Can I Be Me is, like Asif Kapadia's documentary Amy, a brutally honest look at fame, addiction, self-destruction and abusive relationships.

But it's not all doom and gloom, with Broomfield determinedly peeling back the layers to reveal the human-being behind the multi-million dollar superstar. In among the chaos of her relationship with Bobby Brown, Can I Be Me captures Whitney at her best; a fiercely funny women full of sass and and self-deprecation. Whether taking down Serge Gainsbourg or Mariah, Whitney behind-the-scenes was far from the polished girl the record label relentlessly tried to portray. Whitney was really, truly fabulous.

Ahead of the film's release, we remember 12 moments of greatness in the life of Whitney Elizabeth Houston.

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1. The time she served a sweet slice of side-eye to sexist pig Serge Gainsbourg
It's 1986, Whitney is 22-years-old and she pops off to Paris to do some promo for her self-titled debut album. Invited onto the French TV show Champs Elysees, Houston takes a seat next to a sleazily sozzled Serge Gainsbourg who kisses the singer's hand and slurs something. TV host Michel Drucker attempts to soften the translating, which works to a point, until Gainsbourg translates for himself. "No, no, I said, I want to fuuuurck her," the filthy French actor grins. Whitney's reaction is awesome.

2. This footage from Whitney's 26th birthday party in 1989 when Bobby first met Whitney
In which Whitney enthusiastically raves about the decorations, but really has her eye on the irrepressible rascal that is Bobby Brown. From that moment on, fate took over. Say what you like about this couple, they were crazy in love.

3. Her DGAF reaction to being booed at the 1989 Soul Train Awards

4. The time she and Bobby went to a shop and danced, and the cashier didn't know what to do

5. The time she tried to pretend to Arsenio Hall that she actually cooks
"In this drawer?" [Opens it]. "Saucepans!"

6. The time she brought a bewildered Bobby Christina out on stage and everyone died

7. The time Whitney and Mary J had a leather-off
So much red leather, so little time.

8. Whitney and Mariah, always and forever
Oh lol.

9. Anytime Whitney performed.
Because besides anything else, Whitney was was one of the very best singers of her generation. You could argue the toss over which is Whitney's best performance -- there are so, so many -- but we'll go for this one; part of the Welcome Home Heroes set Houston did for the army vets, this performance of All the Man is errthang. The face sweat. The cleavage sweat. The towel sweat. The sax break. The vocals. The VOCALS. Controlled yet effortless. She builds and falls, builds and falls, before closing out on a note that would have dogs running for miles around.

10. This face

And this one.

And this one too because the internet.

11. This entire interview. So much face. So much.
Madonna gets it. Whitney gets it. The interviewer gets it. Everyone gets it.

Whitney: Can I Be Me is released 16 June. Watch for our interview with the director, Nick Broomfield, later this week.

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Text Hattie Collins and Tish Weinstock
Photography David Corio

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