Whitney Houston sparkles on her last-ever recording, the feel-good "Sparkle" soundtrack number "Celebrate."
Recorded with co-star Jordin Sparks and produced by R. Kelly, the song serves as the lead single for the late Houston's last-ever film.
The track pays homage to Motown thanks to Kelly's uplifting production, which focuses more on Houston and Sparks' vocals and harmonies than on any studio magic. The instrumentation, including a vintage-sounding bass, highlights the lyrics, where Houston and Sparks sing, "It's time to celebrate/ Come on and celebrate/ I want to celebrate/ I celebrate you, I celebrate me."
On the song, Houston sings in the deeper register she had been using in the last few years, but it works well alongside Sparks' lighter tone. As the track fades out and Houston sings about celebrating life, Sparks is heard saying, "We love you, Whitney."
"Celebrate" premiered on Ryan Seacrest's website on Monday, a day after Sparks appeared at the Billboard Music Awards to pay tribute to her co-star by performing Houston's legendary "Bodyguard" single "I Will Always Love You."
"I put myself completely, 100 percent onstage every time I perform," Sparks told MTV News of giving "everything" for her Houston tribute. "It's just very special. I feel very honored to be able to honor Whitney in this way and to sing one of her songs. I've actually never performed this song before ever. It's one of the songs I've always been like, 'Leave that alone,' so it's nerve-racking for me," she admitted.
"Sparkle" is set to open in August. A remake of the 1976 Irene Cara film, it follows three talented young Harlem sisters whose musical aspirations are affected when one begins to struggle with drug addiction. The 2012 version features "American Idol" alum Sparks as the titular character and Houston, who also served as executive producer, as her mother, Emma. It's the last movie the singer filmed before she died in February, the same night she was slated to make an appearance at mentor Clive Davis' Grammy fete.