This joyful, uptempo track about love was released as the official worldwide lead single from Whitney Houston's seventh studio album I Look to You.
Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz wrote this song especially for Whitney. Houston recalled to MTV News that she wanted to work with Keys after hearing her perform at one of record executive Clive Davis' parties. Said Whitney: "When she performed at one of [Clive's] parties the year before last, I kind of looked at her, and it was when she had the 'No One' record out, and it was the only record that came on the radio that inspired me. It made me feel good and happy, and I thought, 'God, she's on the label with Daddy [Clive Davis] here.' I thought, 'I got to get to know her. I got to have a camaraderie with some of the people that were on the label where I came back home to.' I walked over to her, and off the cuff said, 'Hey, do you think you could produce me?' She said, 'Yeah, I think I can.'. Then I performed a year after, and she came up with the song 'Million Dollar Bill,' and I said, 'Wow, incredible.' "
Swizz Beatz, whose résumé includes "Ring the Alarm" and "Check On It" for Beyoncé, told MTV News that the process on the song started when he got a call from Clive Davis and record executive Larry Jackson. They said that they were working with Whitney and asked the songwriter/producer what material he had. Swizz explained: "I went to the office and vibed with Larry. I was like, 'She really sounds good. She's on her A-game.'"
Swizz added: "At the time I was working on some stuff with Alicia. I was like, 'We need to bring Whitney back. We need to do some stuff to support Whitney.' Then Alicia was like, 'I love Whitney, she's an icon. I would love to be a part of that.' I started vibing on different things. I didn't want to come with anything that would make her sound too old or too young. That's when I got the vibe to do something that had, like, a disco feel, but still with the hard drums on it - still musical but moving. I wanted to do something that was instant when it came on."
"Then I played the idea for Alicia to make sure I wasn't bugging out,2 he continued. "'Am I going too far with this?' She was like, 'Nah. That can be a big smash.'"
The duo then sat down and came up with lyrics. Swizz explained that the song "is all about the feelings new love can bring."
This old skool R&B/disco jam features a sample of American soul singer Loleatta Holloway's 1977 cut "We're Getting Stronger (The Longer We Stay Together)."
Alicia Keys told Billboard magazine about writing for Houston: "Whitney is an artist who inspired me from [the time I was] a little girl. Fast-forwarding to now and being able to work with her to help create this song that took off was fun. We had a lot of laughs; it was like being with a long-lost friend."