Nostalgic News: Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ – 30 years on!


30 years later, ‘I Have Nothing’, one of Whitney Houston’s most enduring songs still continues to captivate listeners just as it did when first released, with Houston’s pristine vocals, the song’s bittersweet lyrics, and a majestically resounding instrumental all assembling to create this classic track.

The lyrics describe a relationship that is nearing its end, with Houston singing that she would be left with nothing if her partner were to walk away from her. The song’s orchestration builds up to every high point of Houston’s heart-wrenching belts, allowing her voice to take centre stage. Being such a difficult song to sing, it makes frequent appearances at talent shows, with contestants trying to replicate the same magic Houston does on the track. It can be said that Houston’s rendition has become a metric by which someone’s voice is measured, with her vocals acting as the definitive example of how to execute such difficult displays of technique and strength.

Via US Weekly

It is impossible to mention this song without acknowledging both The Bodyguard film and its corresponding soundtrack, which were both released in 1992. The film follows the gradual romance between Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), a famous singer/actor and Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), her bodyguard, who is hired to protect her after a series of disturbing stalking incidents. Marketed as a romantic thriller, the film was not highly appreciated by critics but was a blockbuster hit with audiences, citing the on-screen chemistry between Houston and Costner, the iconic soundtrack and the larger-than-life plot for its monumental commercial success. In some ways, it can be said that the film acted similar to an extended visual album, with the soundtrack’s songs interlaced within sections of the film’s plot. It helped to create a visual manifestation of the passion and longing in Houston’s voice through its cinematography. The film’s recurring use of cool-toned lighting with subdued blues, glowing whites and hazy greys created a wistfully dreamlike atmosphere and allowed for the romance and love between the leading couple to be the only source of warmth on the screen. The film and soundtrack coincided to create one cohesive piece of art that bragged both glamorously grandiose visuals and quintessential music.

Including ‘I Have Nothing’, The Bodyguard soundtrack also contained Houston’s career-defining hit: ‘I Will Always Love You’. She also showcased her signature soulful ballads through the songs ‘Run To You’ and ‘I’m Every Woman’ and even delved into gospel and dance genres with ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Queen of the Night’ respectively. It remains to be the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time even three decades after its release; it is easy to say that no other film soundtrack has come close. Being an admirer of Whitney Houston’s artistry, I believe that her mesmerising vocal performances in this soundtrack alone rightfully justifies her honorific nickname as ‘The Voice’. Every word sung by Houston is saturated with emotion and depth, rendering a timeless quality. Both ‘I Have Nothing’ and ‘Run To You’ got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1993 and the soundtrack won Album of the Year at the Grammys in 1994.

‘I Have Nothing’s’ longevity is a testament to the incomparable legacy Houston left behind. With her irreplaceable, soul-stirring voice and a newly founded acting career, she proved with The Bodyguard that she could do it all. One thing is very clear; there will never be another Whitney Houston.

Listen to ‘I Have Nothing’ here, via Arista Records:


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Third-year BSc Economics and Business Management student who loves film, music, art and everything else within the creative realm.

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