Belfast Telegraph

Whitney had it all, but that wasn't enough

By Gail Walker

Regardless of the outcome of inquests and police investigations into her death, you cannot help feel that Whitney Houston threw it all away.

And the truth is that none of us can say why. Yes, we can point to drugs and problematic husbands and come up with an arbitrary point and say "if only'' ...

Perhaps it was just her character.

Indeed, in the news coverage of the singer's death one was struck by how she contrasted with that other female face of the 1980s, Madonna.

Both were superstars but that was about all they had in common.

While Whitney was born with the gifts of natural beauty and a voice that would give an angel a rictus of jealousy, Ms Ciccone wasn't born with much of anything at all - pretty when polished up, a so-so voice and an equally so-so dancer.

In terms of pedigree Whitney was born with an R-amp;B silver spoon in her mouth, while Madonna was a tinny, trashy here today gone tomorrow popstar. At least that's what the script said ...

But Madge was born with qualities that Whitney probably lacked: persistence, determination and street smarts. None of her mean men were kept around long enough to do any damage.

Madonna was the outrageous bad girl many predicted would meet an early end in some gutter or other while church-going Whitney looked set for a life free from scandal.

Yet Whitney's comebacks came and went while Madonna just carried on ... and on ... and on. Now Whitney's dead at 48 while Madonna's 53 and her only vices are macrobiotic food and a love of Pilates. Looking at the clips of Whitney bought to mind Philip Larkin's poem Born Yesterday: 'May you be ordinary;/Have, like other women,/An average of talents:/Not ugly, not good-looking,/Nothing uncustomary/To pull you off your balance,/That, unworkable itself,/Stops all the rest from working.'

Maybe having all the gifts is a curse, not a blessing ...

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