CSPC: Whitney Houston Popularity Analysis

Whitney Houston Completed Popart

And once again, when coming to Just Whitney, there is no party anymore. Only  I Look To You did ok-ish in download sales from this list.

Those last songs push the diva total of download singles sales to 34 million.

Just Whitney… (2002) – 50,000 equivalent albums

Remaining tracks – 500,000

One Wish: The Holiday Album (2003) – 80,000 equivalent albums

Remaining tracks – 800,000

I Look to You (2009) – 200,000 equivalent albums

Million Dollar Bill – 700,000
I Look to You – 600,000
Remaining tracks – 700,000

Orphan – 380,000 equivalent albums

One Moment in Time – 1,300,000
The Star Spangled Banner – 600,000
Exhale (Shoop Shoop) – 400,000
Do You Hear What I Hear? – 400,000
Remaining tracks – 1,100,000

22 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 🙂

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