Ask Billboard

Answers to readers' questions about the 'Grease' Soundtrack, Whitney Houston and Crossfade.



As the manager of Billboard's Pop Catalog and Soundtracks charts, you must certainly be aware of how well the "Grease" soundtrack continues to sell 27 years after its initial release. Although it has not appeared on the Catalog chart since 1999, it does still periodically appear on the Soundtracks chart.

Yet, the U.S. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sales certification of "Grease" has not been updated in over two decades.

This is particularly surprising since the soundtrack spent 52 weeks at No. 1 on the Pop Catalog chart and was the top-selling Pop Catalog album of 1997 and 1998. In fact, I recall reading an article in Billboard when the film was re-released in 1998 that "Grease" would have ranked in the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 albums chart if it was eligible to chart!

Why have Polydor/Universal/UMe (the current labels for the soundtrack) not submitted its shipments to the RIAA for certification? I would imagine that "Grease" could possibly rank as the best selling soundtrack ever if its certification was updated. This is especially perplexing since another Polydor soundtrack, "Saturday Night Fever," was updated in 1999.

Since its certification is not up to date, I was wondering if you could instead provide the Soundscan sales for "Grease."

Thanks for reading and happy 2006!

Dan White
New York

Hello Dan,

Believe me, the mystery of why the "Grease" soundtrack has not been recertified since 1984 is perplexing. The 1978 album was last certified by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1984, when it claimed 8 million copies shipped to U.S. retailers.

More than 21 years later, the album continues to maintain a certification of only 8 million copies shipped in the United States, according to the RIAA. As you pointed out, in the '90s, "Grease" was a huge selling album. It was an especially strong seller around the time when Paramount re-released the film to theaters in 1998.

All told, since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991, "Grease" has sold 5.3 million. Therefore, one would assume the "Grease" soundtrack is due for at least a few more million in its platinum count.

In order to receive a gold or platinum certification, one must apply to the RIAA and pay an auditing fee. There is sometimes a lot of paperwork and research involved, especially with older titles. However, you'd have to think that with certain albums, and the level of achievement that is anticipated, the work involved would be worth it.

We contacted the RIAA regarding the "Grease" soundtrack, and they did not know why the album's certification had not been updated since 1984. We also reached out to Universal Music Enterprises, though they had "no comment" on the matter.

Really, it's baffling. "Grease" may be the biggest selling soundtrack of all time, but right now, we don't definitively know. As it stands, 1992's "The Bodyguard" is the biggest selling soundtrack, with a certification of 17 million in the U.S. by the RIAA. "Saturday Night Fever" is in second place with 15 million. Prince and the Revolution's "Purple Rain" is third with 13 million.

To compare, here are the top sellers according to Nielsen SoundScan from 1991 to the present:

"The Bodyguard," (1992, 11.8 million)
"Titanic" (1997, 10.0 million)
"The Lion King" (1994, 7.7 million)
"O Brother, Where Art Thou" (2000, 7.1 million)
"City of Angels," (1998, 5.5 million)
"Grease" (1978, 5.3 million)
"Waiting To Exhale" (1995, 5.1 million)
"Space Jam" (1996, 4.8 million)
"8 Mile" (2002, 4.7 million)
George Strait's "Pure Country" (1992, 4.6 million)
"Forrest Gump" (1994, 4.4 million)


Hi Keith,

I am huge Whitney Houston fan and I was wondering when to expect her next album. I heard that she was actually working with Lil Jon -- is there any truth to that? I'm hoping she makes a big comeback like Mariah Carey did.

One last thing, is there any way you can tell me how many copies all of her albums have sold?

Thanks in advance, enjoy the New Year.

Eric Dawkins
Lanham, Md.

Hi Eric,

Sources say that a Whitney Houston album may see the light of day in 2006, however nothing has been announced by the artist or her label, Arista.

When we last wrote about Houston in Ask Billboard (March 20, 2005), there were rumblings that a new studio release from the singer were on the way.

Reportedly, producers and songwriters as varied as Underdogs, Cathy Dennis and Rodney Jerkins had all been asked to submit material for inclusion on Houston's new album. There's no word on if the Lil Jon collaboration is true. Only time will tell.

Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking U.S. sales data in 1991, Houston has only appeared on two studio albums, 1998's "My Love Is Your Love" and 2002's "Just Whitney." However, she was the predominant artist on the soundtracks to 1992's "The Bodyguard" and 1996's "The Preacher's Wife," and contributed to the companion album to her film "Waiting to Exhale."

Here are Houston's Nielsen SoundScan-era sales:

"The Bodyguard" (1992, 11.8 million)
"The Preacher's Wife" (1996, 2.5 million)
"My Love Is Your Love" (1998, 2.7 million)
"The Greatest Hits" (2000, 1.5 million)
"Just Whitney" (2002; 731,000)
"One Wish: The Holiday Album" (2003; 348,000)

Previous to the establishment of SoundScan in 1991, Houston released three studio albums: "Whitney Houston" (1985), "Whitney" (1987) and "I'm Your Baby Tonight" (1990). According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), they have shipped 9 million, 13 million and 4 million copies to U.S. retailers.


Hi Keith,

I recently heard a remixed version of Crossfade's hit "Cold" on a Hartford, Conn. radio station. It sounds like the original vocals are sped up and it also features a female rapper -- who sounds a lot like Lil' Kim -- reminiscent of the Linkin Park/Jay-Z collaborations found on "MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups Presents Collision Course."

I can't find any information on this Crossfade remix and the station's Web site only identifies the song as a "remix" (and doesn't give any other information). Do you know who is featured on it and if it's been released? The band's Web site gives no indication it exists.



Hi Steve,

The hip-hop remix of "Cold" interpolates the old Club Nouveau hit "Why You Treat Me So Bad" while the featured rapper on the track is Paris Hilton-associate MISS 86 (aka Ms 86).

The band's management had no comment on if the remix will ever be commercially released.

Crossfade's "Cold" spent three weeks at No. 2 on Billboard's Modern Rock chart and a whopping 46 weeks on the tally altogether. Additionally, the band charted two more singles: "So Far Away" (No. 14) and "Colors" (No. 18).

The group's self-titled FG/Columbia album peaked at No. 41 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The band is in a studio working on material for a new album that may be out by the summer.