Whitney Houston returns to the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 this week as her signature hit from 1992 — it reigned for 14 weeks — “I Will Always Love You” re-enters at No. 7, fueled by an enormous resurgence in digital sales (195,000, up 6723%, according to Nielsen SoundScan) and radio airplay (18 million audience impressions, up 915%, according to Nielsen BDS).
Houston places two other former No. 1s on the chart: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (from 1987) at No. 35 and “Greatest Love of All” (1986) at No. 41.
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While historically, catalog or recurrent songs have not been eligible for inclusion on the Hot 100, this is not the first time Billboard has charted such activity. As recently as 2001, following the attacks of Sept. 11, the Hot 100 welcomed Lee Greenwood’s 1984 country hit “God Bless the USA” and Houston’s spine-tingling rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” the latter of which had reached the chart’s top 20 a decade earlier. At the time, the inclusion of these songs properly captured the musical mood as the nation reacted to that tragic day.
“As the digital age has progressed,” says Billboard director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo, “with the immediacy it provides, the line has blurred between the relevancy of new and older recordings, which are for the most part equally accessible from one’s home computer.”
“Going forward we feel that it is the proper move to allow older titles posting enough activity to return to the Hot 100 if ranking in the chart’s upper half.” (Billboard’s policy of removing descending songs from the Hot 100 after 20 weeks if ranking below No. 50 remains unchanged).
Houston’s posthumous chart activity is hardly the only headlines on this week’s Hot 100.
Kelly Clarkson logs a second week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” which claims top Airplay Gainer honors for a second week. The song soars 15-7 on Radio Songs (76 million, up 31%). On Digital Songs, “Stronger” slips 1-2, although with a 10% gain to 260,000.
Adele’s former two-week No. 1 “Set Fire to the Rain” holds at No. 2 on the Hot 100. The song becomes her third No. 1 on Radio Songs, following “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You,” as it gains by 7% to 136 million. “Rain” drops 2-4 on Digital Songs but with a 14% improvement to 187,000.
Following its exposure in Chevrolet’s Sonic Super Bowl ad Feb. 5, fun.’s “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, vaults 41-3 as the Hot 100’s top Digital Gainer for a second week, powering 22-1 on Digital Songs (296,000 downloads, up 338%). On last week’s Hot 100, the song had bounded 63-41, fueled by early sales gains owed to its TV limelight (as last week’s sales tracking period ended mere hours after the Super Bowl the night of Feb. 5).
After LMFAO performed with Madonna as part of the Super Bowl’s halftime show, the duo’s former two-week No. 1 “Sexy and I Know It” rebounds 9-4 on the Hot 100. (The “Glee” cast’s cover of the self-confidence [confi-dance?] anthem, featuring Ricky Martin, concurrently debuts at No. 81).
Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” descends 3-5 on the Hot 100; Rihanna’s former 10-week topper “We Found Love,” featuring Calvin Harris, drops 4-6; David Guetta’s “Turn Me On,” featuring Nicki Minaj, slides 5-8; and, Tyga’s “Rack City” falls 7-9.
Rounding out the top 10, Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A, bounds 13-10 on the Hot 100 to become Madonna’s record-extending 38th top 10. (The Beatles ranks second with 34).
“Luvin'” jumps 7-6 on the Digital Songs survey with 165,000 downloads sold (up 44%) in the list’s tracking week. The period encompassed the first full week following Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance.
The track slides, however, 28-59 on the Radio Songs chart (20 million audience impressions, down 54%). “Luvin'” had benefitted last week from special promotion on Channel Media and Entertainment’s more than 50 monitored pop stations, which played it at the top of every hour from Friday, Feb. 3, at 9 a.m. ET until the big game’s kickoff.