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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HI MDJ, can you tell us how many physical singles has whitney houston sold in USA?


What about Waiting To Exhale?


I wonder why hers and mariah touring numbers arent nearly as good as celine and madonna even if all their sales are insane


Mariah was never a huge touring act, even at her commercial peak, she only did like 13 shows total. Whitney Houston was a touring machine, doing over 400 shows between 1985 – 1999, but she toured before ticket prices spiked thru the roof, during the 00’s and 10’s. She didn’t overcharge people to come see her during her peak in the Bodyguard years too. Madonna’s touring numbers were good in the 80’s & 90’s, but she didn’t start bringing in huge numbers until the 2000’s, when artists started charging hundreds – thousands of dollars for 2 hour shows. Celine benefited… Read more »


What’s interesting is that even in the 80s and 90s Madonna far outgrossed both Whitney and Tina if you compare how many concerts they did.

Tina for example did hundreds of shows on her tours, but Madonnas tours were far more successful if you compare how much they grossed with the number of shows they did.

Tina Turner Break Every Rule tour made 60 million out of 218 shows.

Madonnas Who’s That Girl made 25 million out of 38 shows.


Well, yes. Because Madonna overcharged people back then. She always did.


Or maybe other females couldn’t afford to charge as high prices as Madonna?

That shows a lot about Madonnas star power if anything.


Yes, Barbra Streisand charges even more than her. But its still greedy imo. Adele is starting to do it now. Horrible.

Ultimate Master

Can you please correct in Page 34 at the article, the seventh album doesn’t have question mark(?) in it’s name, which looks like (Just Whitney?) instead of the correct one (Just Whitney)

Ultimate Master

To those creators of this site, especially MJD, we need an update for Whitney’s article since it’s already longer than we expected.


Hello MJD , what are your estimations of Whitney’s albums sales in Argentina , Mexico and Brasil besides The Bodyguard? for the markets that are N/A i read that you use some formula were there’s no certification/known sales.

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