Spurred on by a massive uptick in digital sales and radio airplay following her death this past weekend, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" re-entered Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart this week, landing at #7. And, in the process, it forced the magazine to adjust the way it handles so-called "catalog" tracks on the chart.
Historically, catalog songs — tracks still frequently aired on contemporary radio months or years after their initial debut — were ineligible for the Hot 100 (Billboard moves them to several "recurrent" charts once they've spent 20 weeks on the chart and have fallen below position number 50), though, in a statement, Billboard director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo said that will now officially change.
"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," he said.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, "I Will Always Love You" — which topped the Hot 100 for a staggering 14 weeks in 1992 — posted a 6,723 percent increase in digital sales, while Nielsen BDS reported radio airplay of the song leapt by 915 percent, both of which helped it vault back into the Hot 100. In addition, Houston will also place two more songs on this week's singles chart, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" at #35 and "Greatest Love of All" at #41.
Houston's back catalog has also seen marked increases in sales, as Whitney: The Greatest Hits re-entered the Billboard Top 200 albums chart at #6, and several of her biggest hits have combined to rack up nearly 900,000 downloads in the days since her death.
The resurgence of "I Will Always Love You" is historic, though not entirely without precedent. In 2001, following the attacks of September 11, Lee Greenwood's 1984 hit "God Bless the USA" and Houston's iconic performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" both returned to the Hot 100, though, as Billboard explains "at the time, the inclusion of these songs properly captured the musical mood as the nation reacted to that tragic day."
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