CSPC: Whitney Houston Popularity Analysis

Whitney Houston

UPDATE: Please note all figures have been updated as of May 4, 2017.

On February 11, 2012, big news saddened millions of people – the death of legendary diva Whitney Houston. The woman that used to be recognized for her pure voice and image faced bad timesuntil her ultimate passing.

Memories of her stand-out performances and songs were still very much alive in the minds of many, yet her catalog still received, quite naturally, a sizable boost after her untimely passing.

How much is her catalog worth though? Everybody remembers the iconic The Bodyguard. Everything is iconic about it – the movie, the album, the single, and, of course, its main actress and singer, Whitney Houston. Such a juggernaut would shadow the remaining albums of most acts. So how do other studio albums from her stand in comparison?

Starting way back in 1985 with an eponymous album, she then returned with Whitney in 1987 and kept recording until her last effort, the 2009 release I Look To You. If her career had ups, it definitely had downs too. Thanks to the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept, we will be able to perfectly visualize this evolution and compare her albums with those of her peers like Madonna or Celine Dion.

The concept will not only bring you sales information for all of Whitney Houston’s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming, but it will also determine her true popularity. If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, the next page explains it with a short video. I fully recommend watching the video before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free skip the video and get into the figures. Let’s go!

41 thoughts on “CSPC: Whitney Houston Popularity Analysis”

  1. MJD, i know i said this a thousand times, but again, absolutely fantastic work! Especially with this analysis! You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to see an analysis on Queen Nippy!

    If I could provide some comments, I’m quite surprised by her debut album “only” at 21,9m considering it was widely reported as a 25m seller, as well as the biggest selling debut album ever. I’m Your Baby Tonight being under 10m, as well as selling less than My Love Is Your Love surprised me as well. Still, what surprised me the most is how freaking massive The Bodyguard Soundtrack is on pure album sales! It truly smashed in every single continent worldwide! I want to ask something about it’s sales though. There’s still 4m left from that album that isn’t listed in the countries mentioned, and those 4m should come from Asia (bar Japan) and the Middle East. Can you tell me how many copies that album sold in Asia, and answer me whether it is the biggest selling international album in the continent, or perhaps there are others who hold that title? (Eg. Mariah’s #1’s, Music Box etc.)

    Also, I’m positively surprised by how many singles Whitney sold. 50m+ physical singles was already massive, but adding 34m digital downloads is quite impressive as well. For comparison sake, Whitney’s only 6m behind Madonna in terms on digital downloads, and the majority of Whitney’s download sales comes from her earlier works, whereas Madonna had some big hits in the digital era.

    Finally, i know you and Hernán did amazingly with this analysis and the one you did with The Backstreet Boys in these past few days, but all of us are quite thirsty for more! Take your time of course, but I hope that you would do a CSPC analysis on these artists:
    1. Mariah Carey
    2. Janet Jackson
    3. Christina Aguilera
    4. Pink
    5. Usher
    6. Aaliyah
    7. 2Pac

    Once again, thank you and great job for your work. Hope to see more in the future!

    1. Hi Raffi!

      Well, as you know we can find easily a lot of fanciful figures over the internet. No serious source ever claimed 25m units for Whitney debut album – such a tally is completely out of question giving its results.

      It was indeed the higher selling debut album ever when first released – but it wasn’t meaning that much since 7m was enough to occupy that position at the time, as it was the figure of previous record holder by Boston. This is the first time the record was awarded to the album by the Guiness Book:
      “The best-selling album by a woman is Whitney Houston by Whitney Houston released in 1985. It had sold over 14 million copies by May 1987, including over 9 million in America, one million in the UK, and a further million in Canada. This is also the “best- selling debut album of all time”.

      Then, by June 1994, she had sold 62 million albums including 25 million units of Bodyguard, letting 37 million units for her other albums. As you know, her first two albums haven’t sold that much as catalog items making usual fans claims of 25/23/12 million for her first three albums completely ludicrous. This is also validated by breakdowns which add for nowhere near such figures. One must consider Asian markets were still fairly weak during the 80s.

      Bodyguard has an estimated 3,4 million Asian sales outside Japan, 250,000 units in Latin America outside Argentina / Brazil / Mexico and 400,000 units in Africa / Middle East. By best selling album in Asia, do you mean with or without Japan? Without Japan, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous sold more than 3,4 million units. I haven’t studied it in details lately, but Mariah Carey album Music Box must be close to that figure too. Factoring in Japan, then Bodyguard is likely the top seller at 6,3m, ahead of Mariah’s #1’s.

      I keep in mind the list of acts you provide, I would expect P!nk to be the next studied among that pack 😉

      BTW, one word about me and Hernan doing a great job: Anthony is also extensively contributing, doing wonders to facilitate the task for us by collecting streaming figures and building all Excel macros which generate every calculations / screenshots displayed / articles templates / final rankings etc. Thus, you should thank him too! 😉

  2. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been waiting on a Whitney article! Could you please consider analyzing Mariah Carey’s career next?

  3. Strangely low ESTIMATIONS for “Whitney Houston”, “Whitney”, “I’m Your Baby Tonight”, “My Love Is Your Love” and “Greatest Hits”

    1. Hi Xyz!

      The success of Bodyguard in Latin America / Asia was often extrapolated into her earlier albums creating inflated sales figures as those records sold nowhere near *that* well in those markets as explained in previous comments. Considering the amount of figures I have and how consistent all valid sources are I’m very safe on sales displayed in this article.

  4. I think you guys have dubbed down sales for Whitney’s first two albums.just dont know how you have come up with these sales figures.no doubt mariah carey’s sales will proberly be inflated because she is suppose to be the best selling female artist of all time according to sources which i doubt.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Sales of Whitney Houston are just like figures of all other artists figures – as realistic as possible. Absurd inflations / deflations are good for fans boards, they are not welcome here. Mariah Carey will be treated just like every other act.

  5. Thanks but excluding Waiting to Exhale from her tally is ridiculous.

    1) She had multiple songs on it and the promos mostly used her name for the soundrack. She’s even on the cover and wrote the thank you’s inside
    2) It was her movie
    3) it was her long awaited comeback after The Bodyguard and the main reason why it sold so much.
    4) At the grammys she got nominated for album of the year under her name “Whitney Houston – Various Artists”
    – All the ladies were so thankful and greatful publically that they were invited by Whitney for the soundtrack because they knew that with her name headlining it it was going to be massive.

    Basically Whitney’s music career can’t jump from The Bodyguard to The Preacher’s Wife, in the 90’s she starred in 3 movies and 3 soundtacks.

    1. Hi Sam,

      No official organization ever considered Waiting to Exhale as a Whitney Houston album. The album sold so much because it had various successful singles from various artists – Brandy, Mary J Blige and Toni Braxton all had Top 2 hits from it. Arguying WTE was all about Whitney is pure nonsense.

      Grammy’s just used her name for their own publicity – check the Billboard, the RIAA, the BPI none they all put the album under Various Artists category.

      I don’t think even Whitney Houston fans would rate it as her album. Claiming it should be counted for her just because she was the most famous singer on it doesn’t held, that’s a powerless argument. Following that logic each and every time a popular singer features on a song from a less known act he should be assigned the album sales of the other – like counting Mark Ronson album Uptown Special into Bruno Mars discography. That makes no sense. Credits have a meaning.

      1. Arista records credits it to Whitney’s sales totals cause they know that her name sold the soundtrack. Without Whitney not only there would be no soundtrack made but if there were it would top max at 2-3 million and not 10+ million. It was her star power and comeback after the Bodyguard that made Waiting to Exhale (both the movie & soundtrack) become blockbusters. It can’t be erased from her career.

        1. That’s utterly incorrect.

          First, when speaking about “records sold”, all majors quote sales of all products on which artists got involved, this doesn’t mean a thing. Second, as previously mentioned, no official organization ever considered it as a Whitney Houston album. Third, your comments about sales coming from her only is not only powerless as this is irrevelant in a credits discussion, it is plain wrong. The album is fully written and produced by Babyface who was turning everything into gold – most notably the Boyz II Men. Not only that, most artists in that soundtrack releasded 3+ million selling albums like Brandy, Toni Braxton, Mary J Blige and SWV.

          It isn’t a Whitney Houston – that’s quite clearly an Arista compilation. Whitney features on it, which is a very different thing that being her album.

          1. No official organisation counts sales like you do either (for example by not counting Greatest hits and accrediting the songs for their albums, etc.). So what’s your point by using this argument?

            Look, Whitney started her career by releasing 3 studio albums (WH, W, IYBT) and following them with 3 movies/soundtracks (TBG, WTE, TPW). To completely erase WTE from her career is ridiculous. Every Whitney fan went out and bought it because it’s her movie, multiple songs, on the cover, follow up to TBG, etc. but a Mary J Blige or Brandy fan needed to only buy their 1 single Whitney headlined all these projects that I mentionned. The impact and sales of WTE cannot just be completely ignored from her career.

            If you want to at least count half of its sales towards her it’s one thing and more logical than to count it for ZERO. If she had even more songs on it it would have sold more and if she had no songs on it it would have sold less. She was the biggest star in the world after TBG and the fact that she headlined her movie WTE with multiple songs is what made it the event it was.

            I understand that you are trying to set and follow rules for yourself, but to *completely* ignore Whitney’s selling power for the WTE project when she both headlined the movie & soundtrack is not fair. It doesn’t have to be a 0 or 100 thing, leave that to a robot calculating sales not a human being that can use a brain.

          2. Which human with a brain would consider Waiting To Exhale a Whitney album though?

            The logic adopted by the RIAA has pretty much the same basics as mine. Within’ a few years it will be the industry standard as we won’t be talking about studio albums or compilations anymore but playlists only. Billboard Top Artist ranking is quite on par with CSPC system too. The comparison is pointless anyway since objectives are different for the formula, while assigning credits now that’s something all organizations do. And when they did, they never gave WTE credit to Whitney, a fact you can’t deny.

            The contribution of Whitney into WTE got considered – she received sales of all her physical singles, their downloads, their streams and sales of greatest hits they generated. There is no reason why she would be getting sales of a physical CD made by Babyface for Arista, no matter her popularity. Once again, would you include sales of Uptown Special album by Mark Ronson into Bruno Mars tally? Should sales of Pipes of Peace by McCartney be given to Michael Jackson too? I don’t think so.

    1. Hi NicoleJen!

      Lately I have been reading various messages on boards showing a strong misunderstanding of presented figures. It now appears quite clear to me that explanations are not good enough and no doubt I’ll try to improve it within’ the next CSPC article which is almost ready 🙂

      1. Hey MJD,

        would you be so nice to give us the breakdown for “The Ultimate Collection”, too ?
        (It sold in the same range as Mariah’s Greatest Hits, for which you were so kind to give us a breakdown for).


  6. Great Analysis! Do you include all the Divas’s idol Barbra in your next plans to study? She is the top2 choice in vote, and now the only “miss” one of the Biggest Five Divas in your site.

    1. Hi Skkywill!

      She won’t come within’ the very next artists as the schedule is already very busy for next 4-6 weeks while Barbra requires a lot of time, hopefully she will come during the summer!

      1. Thank you very much, I wait to, as we know, she is one of the top album sellers, but she also sold millions of single, and it’s interest to read how her digital and streaming

  7. Thank you for updating Whitney! Thankfully her totals didn’t drop that much. Great job as always by the way.

    Which artists can we expect to be updated next?

  8. I don’t understand your criteria… You put Mariah’s Greatest, which was a platinum record in Brazil, as only 90k , because you said that here in Brazil double albums are certified like in USA, and Whitney’s Greatest as 135k. Why not 67,5k?? And why “Just Whitney” has 100k copies, if this album flopped here and everywhere, and Spice Girls Forever, which is also certified Gold here, you put as 40k sold…?

    1. Hi Marcus,

      Criterias are not mine, they are from ABPD. Greatest Hits hasn’t stop selling, may I remind you Whitney Houston passed away a few years ago ? It remains the leading compilation of her catalog, its DVD got a single shipment of 42,000 units after her death. Mariah’s Greatest Hits is replaced for long, selling only 9/10k since 2003. Just Whitney had a single shipment of 12,000 units on its 10th post-June 2003 shipment, proving it was successful there, while Spice Girls Forever never shipped a single copy after its release, which proves the opposite, that the initial shipment was never sold.

  9. Hi, MJD

    Great article and thanks a lot for update Whitney. I have a question: Is Whitney a good catalog’s saller?

    I am always impressed that “The Ultimate Collection” always back to UK Charts.

  10. Hi MJD,how many of Whitney and mariah’s singles have RIAA certifications?Do you have the actual sales of their compilation albums? Is One Wish certified in the USA? How do you get to know their Spotify views?
    thanks a lot and keep up the nice work.

    1. For questions 1) and 3), you can check it yourself at RIAA.com
      For question 2), yes… he provides the sales right here
      For question 4), Spotify has a counter. Easy to see

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *