Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

Whitney Houston, who was found dead Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at 48 of unknown causes, set a standard in pop singing few could ever hope to reach.

After a brilliant start, signed to a recording contract before she was of voting age, releasing a string of seven consecutive No. 1 singles and one of the best selling albums of all time, she faltered and faded into an odd marriage with Bobby Brown that became even more odd when they starred in their own reality show “Being Bobby Brown,” a ridicule-ready show that raised more questions than it answered.

Her 2009 comeback was simply not that; she wasn’t quite back after years of drug abuse and the thing faltered despite her strenuous effort.

Still, her recent legacy came largely on “American Idol,” where she was something of a third rail. Hopeful singers always tried to do her songs, but were largely scolded for it, being informed that nobody sang Whitney songs like Whitney.

Her end came amid a flurry of excitement over the Grammys on Sunday, where another young, pure-voiced diva will likely reign, Adele. Now she’ll probably have to be persuaded to sing one of Houston’s song in tribute in addition to her own hits. (But while Sunday’s Grammys may focus on Houston, the BET Honors show Monday will not; it was taped last month).

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