“Count On Me” by Whitney Houston (ft. CeCe Winans)
“Count on Me” was written specifically for a movie entitled Waiting to Exhale. Said film came out around the time where African-American academia and arts had taken a special interest in what Black women have and continue to endure within the dictates of American society and especially, as far as the latter was concerned, in the field of romance.
As such Waiting to Exhale, itself being based on African-American female characters, played out as sort of a buddy film between four ladies with challenging love lives. And thus we have the inferred theme of “Count on Me”.
To some extent the lyrics or let’s say the feel of this piece are ambiguous enough that they can actually be applied, using a bit of imagination, to any type of relationship between loved ones, whether it be romantic, familial, platonic, etc.
But it is specified in the chorus that what the vocalists actually share is a friendship, thus once again keeping in line with the aforementioned film. And as revealed in the first verse, one of them is going through some type of hardship which the other is able to perceive, even without being told.
So the latter is assuring her friend that no depression is permanent, but in the meantime she shouldn’t give in to the melancholic feelings.
Then the second verse implies that the two of them will go through this together, i.e. the supporter strengthening the victim.
In the third verse, the supporter is once again driving the point home that depression, most simply put, is something that must be actively combated – which by the way seems to be sort of a permeating philosophy throughout the music industry.
So when you combine all of the above with the titular assertion, that the vocalists have each other’s backs, what we have is the assurance that yes, something can and in fact has gone wrong in one of their lives. But the other, being a true friend, is there for her. But that said, the other is also letting her friend know that at the end of the day, at some point she’s going to have to look for hope within. So it can be said that whereas one friend is there for the other, in the process she is also encouraging her to claim her own emotional healing, so to speak.
But all of the philosophical and psychological stuff aside, this is simply a friendship song. And as relayed in the title, it centers on a camaraderie whereas one can always rely on the other if need be.
When was “Count on Me” released?
“Count on Me” is an inspirational song, performed by Whitney Houston along with accomplished gospel singer CeCe Winans. The song was released, in March 1996, as the fourth of seven singles from the soundtrack album to 1995’s film, “Waiting to Exhale”.
Chart Performance and Accolades
On May 4, 1996 “Count on Me” reached its peak position in the U.S. And with the said position being #8, it became one of several Houston’s songs to chart in the top 10 on the Hot 100. And for Winans, this song became her first top 10 single in the U.S.
Aside from the U.S., the song’s performance in other countries could be described as remarkable. For instance, in the UK, the track peaked at #12 on February 24, 1996.
On May 1, 1996 this inspirational duet received a Gold certification by the RIAA. British music magazine Music Week gave it a 4 out of 5 rating.
In 1997 this single was nominated for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” at the Grammy Awards. The award went to “When I Fall in Love”, a collaborative work between two accomplished musicians, Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole.
Who wrote “Count on Me”?
Houston wrote this tune together with its producer, Babyface. They received songwriting assistance from Michael Houston.
Popular Covers of “Count on Me”
Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy performed a cover of this track in 2000. And in 2012 CeCe Winans teamed up with Yolanda Adams to record another version of this song.
The “Waiting to Exhale” Album
The project “Waiting to Exhale: Original Soundtrack Album” came out in late 1995. It was released through Arista Records.
As earlier mentioned, “Count on Me” and six other singles promoted this project.
“Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”, also recorded by Houston, was released in November 1995 as the project’s first single. Other singles from the project are as follows:
- “Sittin’ Up in My Room” by Brandy
- “Not Gon’ Cry” by Mary J. Blige
- “Let It Flow” by Toni Braxton