On a night full of all-star performances, Christina Aguilera may have had the most powerful one of all. Midway through Sunday night’s American Music Awards, she got the entire crowd at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on their feet with a show-stopping medley of four of Whitney Houston‘s greatest hits.
Xtina, who donned a floor-length black dress with a plunging neckline, kept her makeup dewy and neutral, and wore her platinum blond hair slicked back, belted out “I Will Always Love You,” “I Have Nothing,” and “Run to You,” before she kicked it up even higher for her finale performance of “I’m Every Woman.” She started a slow tempo before getting the audience involved in her high-energy rendition of the empowering track. “Everybody! This is a Whitney celebration,” she yelled while a full choir backed her up. “This is for every woman in the audience, on your feet for Whitney Houston. We love you, Whitney!” After she took her final bows, Aguilera added, “Thank you, Whitney Houston, for being the best inspiration ever!”
Houston was honored at this year’s AMAs because this Saturday, November 25, marks the 25th anniversary of the late singer’s 1992 film The Bodyguard, which features all four of those songs and was the best-selling soundtrack of all time (sorry Titanic). Throughout Aguilera’s performance, clips from The Bodyguard played on the screens behind her, and the cameras showed several members of the audience wiping tears from their eyes as the pop star sang some of Houston’s most iconic hits.
When it was announced last week that Aguilera would perform the tribute to Houston, who passed away in February 2012, the “Beautiful” singer expressed her excitement in a press release. “To be honoring THE one and only, Whitney Houston, is a blessing and I am grateful to celebrate the spirit of her songs and legend that lives on,” Aguilera said. “I feel eternally fortunate to have personally met her on and off the stage. My deep appreciation for her kindness to me while coming up in the business — her graciousness, generosity, humanity and beauty — lived up to everything I could have hoped for in meeting my idol and will forever be cherished in my memory of her.”
Although the crowd at the AMAs seemed to be all-in on Aguilera’s performance, Twitter users were divided: While some were brought to tears by her impressive pipes, others claimed that Houston would not have approved of the tribute.
The Whitney Houston Biennial Is Not Messing Around
Kira Nam Greene, “Grab It By the Papaya,” 2016.
Alex Nuñez, 2016.
Haley Hughes, “Amerikkka,” 2017.
Nicole Maloof, “I Drink to Make Them Go Away,” 2016.
Marzena Abrahamik, “Jade,” 2016.
Cat Del Buono, still from “Tears,” 2015.
Elizabeth Bick, “Street Ballet,” 2016.
Qinza Najm, “Groom Hunter,” 2015.
Jenny Kemp, “Dream Team,” 2016.
Amanda Nedham, 2016.
Haley Hughes, “Dead Fish Flood,” 2016.
Beka Venezia, “Women’s March on Washington,” 2017.
Maxi Cohen, “Area,” 1985.
Victoria Sambunaris, “Specimen 40,” 2015.
Ingrid Baars, “Lucrezia,” 2015.
Natalee Cayton, “Caddoan Whalebird,” 2017.
Haley Hughes, “Standing Rock,” 2017.
Patrice Helmar, “The Arctic,” 2016.
Sarah Alice Moran, “Sweater Eater,” 2017.
Saira McLaren, “Untitled,” 2017.
Maureen St. Vincent, “Rock, Tit, Lipstick,” 2016.
Denée Benton Loves Singing Whitney Houston at Karaoke: