“How Will I Know” was the first MTV video that my sister and I actively sought out. We would cross our fingers, hoping Downtown Julie Brown or Martha Quinn would give Whitney an intro. It was a catchy, pop-y song that sounded as fun and colorful as the video looks. And blissfully, my parents didn’t really notice that we were watching MTV. (An oversight that would abruptly halt as of their first awareness of Beavis and Butt-head.)
In the video, La Houston epitomizes the ’80s female pop star—that “done” make-up, that glittering dress, that big and accessorized hair, all that choreography and “performance art.” And best of all, Whitney was selling it and selling it hard. Girl works the choreography, works the camera, and gives good face. If I could star in any ’80s video, this would be it.
All that, and the lyrics are poignant and deep: “This love is strong…why do I feel weak?”
Even amid the confusion of love and hectic nature of her surroundings, Whitney looks fierce and put together, clicking through it all in heels. Ladies, take note.
Video highlights: Gold/Glitter Guy pop-up at 1:50; random “Victor/Victoria” performance artist at 2:04; invocation of Aretha Franklin at 4:01.