The Atlantic

The Imperial Whitney Houston

At her height, her power and reach was the stuff of royalty.
Source: AP

The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

Whitney Houston was arguably the most important woman in pop music for 10 years, and for the next 15 years watched the world she had made over in her image slowly unravel in beauty, heartbreak, and eventual squalor.

Between 1985, when "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All" announced a powerful new voice in both dance-pop and balladry, and 1995, when her imperium began to fade into the complacency of soundtracks, the compromise of collaboration, and the indignity of having every new record called a comeback, her only peers were called the and —which would have made her also a Queen (or, perhaps, an Empress) if such jockeying for titles weren't beneath her dignity.

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