(Photo: Patrick Demarchelier)
This week, the late Whitney Houston becomes the first woman to place three albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart at the same time.
"Whitney: the Greatest Hits" holds at No. 2 with 174,000 (down less than 1% according to Nielsen SoundScan), "The Bodyguard" soundtrack jumps 38-6 (47,000; up 176%) and "Whitney Houston" motors 37-9 (30,000; up 72%).
She's also found at No. 16 ("I Look to You," 19,000; up 109%), No. 30 ("My Love Is Your Love," 15,000; up 312%), No. 39 ("I'm Your Baby Tonight," 13,000; up 262%), No. 105 ("The Preacher's Wife," 5,000; down 30%), No. 126 ("Just Whitney," 4,000; up 57%), No. 133 ("Whitney," 4,000; down 43%). One more title is at No. 73. It's a three-CD bundle of "Baby," "My Love" and "Just Whitney." It sold 7,000 (up 423%).
Houston's Album Sales Climb:
In total, for the week ending Feb. 26, Houston's albums sold 320,000 (up 29% compared to the previous week's haul of 247,000). She also sold 373,000 tracks this week -- down 75% compared to the week previous (1.5 million). Since her death, she has sold 668,000 albums and 2.76 million tracks.
As physical stock of Houston's albums are finally reaching retail outlets, we see her older catalog sets moving up the list. Since her death on Feb. 11, the bulk of her album sales have come from digital downloads, as most retailers didn't have physical copies of her albums on-hand.
This past week, downloads made up 8.4% of her total album sales. That's a steep drop from her digital share the week previous, when downloads were 54% of her overall album sum .
A Historic Top 10
Houston's placement of three titles in the Billboard 200's top 10 amazingly marks the first time in almost 44 years an act has accomplished the feat.
The last time an act scored three simultaneous top 10 sets was on July 6, 1968, when Simon & Garfunkel were at Nos. 1, 2 and 10. That week, "Bookends" was tops, followed by "The Graduate" soundtrack in the runner-up slot and "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" at No. 10.
Billboard launched its first all-encompassing pop albums chart on Aug. 17, 1963 -- which combined both mono and stereo albums. Previously, we had separate tallies for mono and stereo recordings.
Since then, aside from Houston and Simon & Garfunkel, the only other acts to net three albums in the top 10 at the same time were the Beatles; Peter, Paul & Mary and Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass. (All did it on various weeks between 1964 and 1966).
Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass holds the record for the most concurrent top 10 albums on the Billboard 200, with four (April 4, 1966).
Don't Forget the King of Pop and the Fab Four:
Presently, the Billboard 200 ranks the week's biggest-selling albums in the U.S. -- regardless of their age. Thus, this is why Houston's self-titled 1985 debut is among the more recently-released in the top 10 this week.
However, as of the chart dated Dec. 5, 2009, the Billboard 200 altered its rules to let older albums -- also known as "catalog" titles -- to chart alongside newer releases.
Thus, it must be noted that had the Billboard 200 allowed catalog albums to chart previous to then, both Michael Jackson and the Beatles would have claimed three simultaneous top 10 titles that year.
On the now-defunct Top Comprehensive Albums chart (which ranked both new and old albums), Michael Jackson posthumously notched three or more of the top 10 for seven different weeks after his death on June 25. For two of those frames (July 25 and Aug. 1) he owned an incredible six of the top 10 best-selling albums of the week.
Later that year, on Sept. 26, 2009, after the Beatles' reissued and remastered its studio albums on CD, the fab four earned five of the top 10.