CSPC: Whitney Houston Popularity Analysis

Day 229: Soundtrack

To Count or not to Count

Estimating album sales always brings a lot of debates. I’m well aware that Whitney Houston fans won’t be happy with Whitney being under 20 million and I’m Your Baby Tonight under 10 million, although that’s what facts dictate. Even more than estimates judged too conservative or too optimistic, a subject that ends up with heavy contestations day in day out is the credits of soundtracks issue. As Whitney Houston is massively impacted by such decisions since she participated in three high selling Soundtracks – The Bodyguard, The Preacher’s Wife and Waiting to Exhale, the latter being excluded from her tally in this study – it is important to answer this soundtracks credit question.

The Bodyguard, Titanic, Saturday Night Fever, The Lion King are all massively successful albums. Naturally, fans of artists who contributed to their achievements want them to be reattributed with their sales. The main argument to claim the rights of an album’s sales is often the number of songs on it or their success. Those points can be understood but aren’t really valid though.

Madonna performed only 4 songs out of 9 on Who’s That Girl, just like Whitney Houston is responsible of only 6 songs out of 13 on Bodyguard. Yet, both albums feature among those artists discographies. Then, Phil Collins is part of 8 songs out of 13 from Brother Bear, yet it isn’t considered as one of his albums.

In the same way, success doesn’t tell the real story. All Mariah Carey songs from Glitter kind of flopped, undoubtedly Rihanna brought more sales in for Eminem‘s Recovery thanks to the Love The Way You Lie smash single than Mariah Carey singles to the Soundtrack. Still, Glitter is a Mariah Carey album while Recovery is clearly not a Rihanna record.

The only question that one should consider is – who is the owner of the album? The Bodyguard is a Whitney Houston project. James Horner is the owner of Titanic. Disney is the owner of Brother Bear. How do we define that? Well, actually it is quite easy as covers make it very clear.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "brother bear soundtrack"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "TITANIC soundtrack"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "WAITING TO EXHALE soundtrack"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "PULP FICTION soundtrack"

As you can see, all those albums are tagged as Original Soundtrack Album. The one of Titanic highlights that all songs are conducted by James Horner, with no mention to Celine Dion, which indicates that she featured on the album but wasn’t responsible for it. The image is important too as all those soundtracks present a picture extracted from the movie rather than axing it around a recording artist.

On the other side, the following soundtracks explicitly focus on one artist:

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "who's that girl soundtrack"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "bodyguard soundtrack"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "the preacher's wife soundtrack"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "glitter soundtrack"

Not only the visual is artist-axed, but it also includes clearly the name of the singer. All those albums were promoted as albums from the related artist, rather than as a Soundtrack.

As a trademark of that treatment, all those albums were released within’ the sequence of the artist’s discography. They perfectly fit between other eras from them. On the other side, Titanic was released and promoted at the same time as Let’s Talk About Love from Celine Dion, which shows it doesn’t belong to her discography.

Applying this logic to Whitney Houston forces us to include The Bodyguard and The Preacher’s Wife while excluding Waiting To Exhale.

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can you give a break up of IWALY 33M EAS?

Ultimate Master

MJD, If Waiting To Exhale Soundtrack wasn’t included in Whitney’s Albums, can you still have study on it at least?

Kanye best

You mean to tell me she didn’t sell anything in africa. When she had 3 successful concerts in africa??


Where is it stated she sold nothing in Africa exactly? 😉

Kanye best

Well where are her sales for africa then?


They’re just now shown in the breakdown but they are taken into account. Africa + Middle Eastern sales should be around 1.6m


The ‘Whitney’ album has finally gone diamond! The first African American artist to ever have 3 diamond albums in the US

Stephon Jackson

This needs to be updated. I know for a fact she has sales in Africa!!

Love Whitney

Please update Whitney’s discography. We wait for so long


Her appeal in Europe surprises me. 40 million albums sold there is very impressive. Even during her most R&B era “My Love Is Your Love,” that album sold an impressive 4 million copies in Europe.

Her latest hit “Higher Love” did best in Europe and was a true hit for her. Europeans have stayed loyal to Whitney no matter what.

Stephon Jackson

This needs to be updated. I know for a fact she has sales in Africa.

john ling

Higher love sold more than 2 million in 2019.. it is still in UK chart on it’s 47th week. Her Ultimate album is in the top 40 again in UK after what 7- 8 yrs in the chart? it is gonna be 6x platinum in us soon, Whitney’s second album will be diamond in US soon, I read somewhere only less than 50k needed to be certified 10x platinum . and her first album is almost 14x olatinum if that happens, whitney will have 3 diamond albums. This is from world music 1994 award whitney was the biggest selling female… Read more »

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