Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Madonna, Cher and Clay Aiken.



I was wondering how Whitney Houston's "Just Whitney" album compares in sales to Mariah Carey's "Glitter." Granted the both artists received huge salaries for these albums, but while Mariah was under a microscope I have heard nothing about Whitney's flounder. Also how is Madonna's "American Life" doing?

Thank you!


Hi Matt,

Whitney Houston's "Just Whitney" has sold 672,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, since its release on Dec. 2, 2002, while Mariah Carey's "Glitter" sold 577,000. "Glitter" was released in September 2001.

Carey's most recent album, "Charmbracelet," issued on the same day as Houston's disc, has sold 1.1 million copies.

Finally, Madonna's "American Life," which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 upon its release in April, has sold 498,000.



I am a huge Cher fan and am happy to see her latest compilation, "The Very Best of Cher," so successful on The Billboard 200. I was wondering how many copies that album has sold, as well as her previous albums in the SoundScan era.


Gabriel Ortiz
Alameda, Calif.

Hi Gabriel,

"The Very Best of Cher" has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, since its bow in early April. It has seemingly seen its peak at No. 4 on The Billboard 200, as this week it is No. 15.

Here are Cher's other SoundScan-era albums, with their respective release years and sales to-date. "Love Hurts" (1991, 584,000 copies), "It's a Man's World" (1996, 194,000), "Believe" (1998, 3.6 million), "If I Could Turn Back Time - Cher's Greatest Hits" (1999, 839,000), and "Living Proof" (2002, 485,000).



Why does Billboard refer to the Clay Aiken single as "This Is The Night" when everyone, including myself, bought it for "Bridge Over Troubled Water?" How does Billboard determine which song is the "hit" track?

I'm aware that "This Is The Night" is the official "A" side, and that "Bridge" was added at the last minute, but for which song are people buying the disc? Album tracks are singled-out on the "Singles" chart, and not listed by the album title, so don't you think "Bridge" should get it's due recognition, too?

Mike Focar

Hi Mike,

Billboard chart manager, Silvio Pietroluongo, covered this exact topic in the "Singles Minded" column in this week's issue of Billboard. He wrote:

"The second track on Clay Aiken's single, 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' has been added as the B-side to 'This Is the Night' on Hot 100 Singles Sales, as the song debuts at No. 30 on [Billboard's] Adult Contemporary chart. It was noted in last week's column that the track with the most cumulative audience would get placement on the Hot 100 and R&B Singles & Tracks chart, while the B-side would be listed on the respective sales list if it appeared on any other singles chart."

That said, "This Is The Night" was the track that had the most audience when the single debuted on the charts - therefore, it was listed on the Hot 100. However, since "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was also getting enough airplay to appear on one of our genre airplay charts, it was added as the B-side on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, where the double-sided single is No. 1 this week.