Glee‘s Amber Riley Delivers Spot-On Whitney Houston Tribute. Is She Our Next Gay Icon?

Glee belter Amber Riley is having a very gay week! On last night’s episode, she followed in the footsteps of Whitney Houston by delivering a spot-on rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” (Dolly Parton originally wrote the song, but Whitney’s version is the most memorable.)

And, on Monday, Amber popped up on RuPaul‘s Drag Race as a guest judge. Amber’s character on Glee, Mercedes, is besties with Chris Colfer’s openly gay character—and Chris’ openly gay real life persona is good friends with Amber too.

Is girlfriend on the way to becoming a gay icon? Or is she just a temporary gay fan fave?

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  • Marcus

    It sure doesn’t take a lot to become a gay icon these days.

  • William

    Jesus Christ can we have an actual gay man be a gay icon?

    I shouldn’t blame the community because there are slim pickings but dear God I am holding out for that.

  • MikeE

    well, I DID appreciate that they actually used Dolly Parton’s song in the right context…

  • Tallent

    She was really really really wonderful, but in no way was she “spot-on.”. Whitney had that immeasurable sort of je ne sais quoi that no amount of technical impersonation could ever match.

  • Red Meat

    What 1 and 2 said.

  • christopher di spirito

    Amber Riley is spectacular. Where did they find her? Amazing voice.

  • Tangelo

    Wrong song to pay tribute with. She did a good job but in the end only really showcased how great Whitney’s voice was and how good hers is. I like her character and her voice but there are just some songs that should not be attempted unless you are sure you can eclipse it or change the style so you cannot be compared with it.

    Gay Icon? Hell No! A Gay Icon does not “ask” should be we serenade lesbians. A Gay Icon tells!

  • redcarpet

    No, it doesn’t take much these days.

  • Christopher

    @Tangelo: just to clarify, I believe the article Is about Amber Riley becoming a gay icon. Amber Riley plays a character on TV who had a script that told her to ask if the bible group should sing for lesbians. You can’t guess an actor’s personal feeling based on a line their character is given by a writer.

    Also, for those who are unaware, this wasn’t conceived as a tribute to Whitney. It was recorded and filmed weeks ago as part of the love song theme for the episode. The only addition the the script was the memorial placard.

  • mylife

    Gay Icon? Please. She needs to do a Weight Watchers commercial and become a role model who proves that all women CAN lose weight.

  • Paul

    She was just the guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race on Monday too.

  • whatever

    she gave a passing, studio-enhanced performance.

  • ohplease

    @mylife girl go home, take a xanax, and stop spreading your hate around. your ignorance is unappreciated.

  • JG

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say “spot on”. It was very good but when Whitney sang it, you felt it. Not even Whitney herself could replicate her own rendition after a few years once the voice started to go.

  • nik

    ….uh why is this site so damm full of cynics? almost everyone is negative.

  • Charlie

    @nik: Because it’s easier to destroy something than to create or support it.

    Her voice was lovely, I look forward to more from her.

  • MikeE

    I don’t understand the adoration that is given to Whitney Houston.
    She was a fine pop singer, big voice and all, but so what? those are a dime a dozen.

    As for Whitney’s version of “I will always love you”, I never could stand it. I knew the Dolly Parton version first, and Whitney’s “guts for glory” bombastic version was a complete turn off and not at all in character with the lyrics of the song.

    I thought Amber Riley rendered the song FAR more authentically, and much closer to the original meaning of the song. She was most definitely NOT trying to imitate Houston.

  • prettygirls

    @MikeE: maybe some can say the same about Dolly Parton Because I had NEVER heard ” I will always love you” untill Whitney sang it. Why are you getting your lace front wig all crooked in the first place, some of us happen to have been fans of whitney? Calm down, have a sip of water girl.

  • JayKay

    Or maybe we could all stop bowing at the feet of screechy female divas for no reason and try having some actual gay men as gay icons. Hell, straight men for that matter.

  • Oh, ok.

    I love both Amber and Naya on Glee, they are extremely talented, and underused(until recently).

    Haven’t watched the episode yet so I’ll wait to hear it, but I’m sure she did excellent. I won’t compare her to Whitney because I doubt she’s trying to be Whitney. Amber is very humble and nice in interviews and her castmates seem to love her so I really don’t get the animosity towards her in some of these comments.

    Beyond all that I do agree that gay men should find other gay men to be icons for once. I mean there are plenty out there with talent who we could be supporting. If our niche didn’t have money behind it then people wouldn’t be marketing towards us, but they are in droves.

    @MikeE: LOL! I had never heard Dolly’s version until Whitney made it famous and I still prefer Whitney’s. To this day when I think of her I think of that song. Big voices that make you FEEL are certainly not a dime a dozen. Whitney, Patti, and maybe a few others are the only voices I know of that invoke a myriad of emotions in a single song every time I hear them sing. That’s true talent.

    Singing is not some dime a dozen talent, it’s the fact that the word has been butchered(along with “artist) to mean any person who holds a note or opens tir face and makes sound come out. You used to have to be great to get a singing contract, then it was changed to just pretty, and now you don’t even have to be pretty anymore. Anyone with the money or who sleeps with someone with the money can get a record deal and release generic garbage generated by a computer.

    I think Dolly is adorable, but she’s really not the best singer around. Whitney deserved the praise she got for her voice, there’s really no downplaying it.

  • Joseph

    I was familiar with Dolly’s version and I like both quite equally. Dolly’s is more tender, Whitney’s is more emotional. I love how Whitney reaches a crescendo with “I wish you JOY!” — she really means it — then shifts immediately to soft despair — “and happiness.”

    As for this version, it was a good take on the Whitney version, certainly much better than Jennifer Hudson’s horrendous version on the Grammy’s.

  • Chad

    I thought that her version was miles better that Jennifer Hudson’s version. Good for her.

  • Jake

    I think she did a fine job but how can you seriously compare a good singer like Amber with technical perfection that Whitney was. Whitney Houston had perfect tone, pitch, range, technique etc. She was the GOLD standard of singing and nobody will ever compare.

  • Henry Holland

    She was the GOLD standard of singing and nobody will ever compare

    [rolls eye] Except anyone singing at the highest levels of the opera business. Birgit Nilsson in her heyday could wipe the floor with Houston in all the aspects you mention AND she could do it without a microphone, she could be heard at the back of any opera house over a 100 piece orchestra.

    Or Franco Corelli or Luciano Pavarotti or Mario Del Monaco or Renata Tebaldi or [on and on and on]

  • the crustybastard

    Amber’s bangs make her look like Thulsa Doom.

    Seriously, fix the hair.

    /yeah, I know how gay that sounded.

  • Oh, ok.

    @Henry Holland: Yet I don’t own or listen to any of her music.

    I think the public has spoken on who they prefer to listen to.

    Whitney haters, you do know you really don’t have a leg to stand on right? She’s passed on, may as well let the argument rest.

  • vanfanusa

    @Tallent: Agreed. There was a richness to Whitney’s voice that was absolutely missing here. Nice try but not close.

  • Robert

    Sing it live, then talk gay icon.

    this is an icon:

    Jennifer Holiday in 1982. That’s an icon.

  • steve sydney

    If she were to lose 50 pounds and release a Deborah Cox style dance number.. the powers that be would crown her a gay icon.


  • Lazycrockett

    As long as Dolly is making coin, I don’t give a shit who sings it.

  • Lazycrockett

    Oh and this is one fag that doesn’t need an icon.

  • Sebizzar

    Amazing! Haven’t been watching Glee since season 2 but i love it, those kids have some powerful voices.

  • chrissie riot

    @William: There aren’t just gay men in the community.

  • Carl

    @Jake: I’d give the Gold standard to Freddie Mercury, personally. Whitney was truly great, of that there is no doubt, but Freddie had the best voice that has ever – and likely will ever – be heard.

  • Josh in OR

    While I like and enjoy Whitney’s version of the song, I have to agree with MikeE on this. Dolly’s version (the original) is more heartfelt and bittersweet, more in line with the actual message of the song. You can hear Dolly struggling with her emotions, trying not to break down as she bids the love of her life goodbye.

    Whitney’s version, with all of it’s theatricality and bombast, is simply a song that showcases her formidable (and sadly, lost to us) talent. Of course, that falls to the arranger of the song more than the singer (unless they are one and the same) but either way, Dolly’s version is far, far more authentic, and therefore, to this music fan, the better of the two.

  • Torrie

    Wow, Amber’s version was amazing! I had tears in my eyes listening to this… Great job, Amber!

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