Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about "The O.C.," Fantasia, Kelly Clarkson and best-selling female artists.



I'm a big fan of "The O.C." on Fox. How do they go about selecting music for the show? Does the production company (in this case Warner Bros.) call the shots? Or do the show producers and writers have a say? Sometimes the music seems integral to the story, so I was curious whether it's an organic thing or more calculated?

Los Angeles

Hello Nicholas,

Alexandra Patsavas, the music supervisor for "The O.C.," has said in the past that she, cast members and series creator Josh Schwartz all have ideas about what music should be included in the show.

"The O.C." has spawned three soundtracks already. The first two have sold 229,000 and 133,000 copies in the United States respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The third, a holiday edition, has sold 38,000.



I have a question about Fantasia. On your charts, her CD "Free Yourself" has a symbol indicated that it went platinum a month or so ago. But as of today, I am hearing it just now certified platinum. Also, I've heard Kelly Clarkson's "Breakway" has sold under 2 million, but she doesn't even have a symbol or anything next to her name on the chart. What gives?

Ryan Mooney

Hi Ryan,

Fantasia's "Free Yourself" was certified platinum in January by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), indicating 1 million units shipped to U.S. retailers. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold 914,000 copies in the United States.

"Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson was only recently certified platinum by the RIAA, and will soon have the appropriate symbol listed next to the album on Billboard's charts. The RCA set has shifted 1.3 million units since its release in December 2004.

Questions regarding the RIAA can be directed to its Web site at


Hello Keith,

I know that the best selling album by a female solo artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era (1991-present) is "Come On Over" by Shania Twain, followed by Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill." Could you please provide me a top 10 list of the best selling albums by female artists of the SoundScan era and the actual number of copies they sold?


Hello John,

To put your question in the proper perspective, we should look the Nielsen SoundScan era (1991-present) and the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) lists of all-time top sellers.

Nielsen SoundScan bases its tallies on actual sales to consumers, taken from a comprehensive national sample of U.S. retailers, mass merchants and Internet sites (such as, etc.). Here is the company's list of top-selling female solo artists:

1. Shania Twain, "Come On Over" (15.3 million)
2. Alanis Morissette, "Jagged Little Pill" (14.4 million)
3. Soundtrack, "The Bodyguard," (11.8 million)
4. Celine Dion, "Falling Into You" (10.7 million)
5. Britney Spears, "...Baby One More Time" (10.5 million)
6. Celine Dion, "Let's Talk About Love" (9.4 million)
7. Norah Jones, "Come Away With Me" (9.2 million)
8. Britney Spears, "Oops! ... I Did It Again" (9.2 million)
9. Christina Aguilera, "Christina Aguilera" (8.1 million)
10. Shania Twain, "The Woman in Me" (7.6 million)

The RIAA, on the other hand, has since 1958 based its figures on the number of units shipped to U.S. retailers, including mail order record clubs, and counts each disc of a multiple disc album towards a title's total (ie. 1 million copies shipped of a two-disc album would actually count as 2 million). Here is the RIAA's list of top selling albums by solo female artists:

1. Shania Twain, "Come on Over" (20 million)
2. Soundtrack, "The Bodyguard" (17 million)
3. Alanis Morissette, "Jagged Little Pill" (16 million)
4. Britney Spears, "... Baby One More Time" (14 million)
5. Whitney Houston, "Whitney Houston" (13 million)
6. Shania Twain, "The Woman In Me" (12 million)
7. Celine Dion, "Falling Into You" (11 million)
8. Jewel, "Pieces of You" (11 million)
9T. Shania Twain, "Up!" (double album, 11 million)
9T. Carole King, "Tapestry" (10 million)
9T. Madonna, "The Immaculate Collection" (10 million)
9T. Madonna, "Like A Virgin" (10 million)
9T. Celine Dion, "Let's Talk About Love" (10 million)
9T. Mariah Carey, "Music Box" (10 million)
9T. Mariah Carey, "Daydream" (10 million)
9T. Norah Jones, "Come Away With Me" (10 million)
9T. Britney Spears, "Oops... I Did It Again" (10 million)


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