The Farr Side column: Houston to Swift: A legend and one in the making
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
In a few weeks, the incomparable Whitney Houston will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The late singer was one of music’s most successful artists. She was the most-awarded female artist in the rock ’n roll era, according to Guinness World Records.
I was a fan from the get-go. Having been an avid watcher of the music charts and a dedicated listener to Casey Kasem’s “Weekly Top 40” countdowns, Whitney Houston was a game changer.
It was awesome to see the rise of the female artist in the 1980s. Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Connie Francis, Olivia Newton-John, Linda Ronstadt and others had made significant contributions to music, but Houston was on another level.
I remember listening to the countdowns just see how Whitney, Madonna and Janet Jackson stacked up. All three were amazing. For a while, they were giving each other a run for their money with setting new chart records. Houston and Madonna went head-to-head with females with the most consecutive No. 1s, which topped out at seven.
Whitney Houston also became a dominating force on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart. Her debut album held the No. 1 spot for 14 weeks in 1986. The follow-up, “Whitney,” was on top for 11 weeks in 1987.
Her third album didn’t reach No. 1, but that didn’t keep her from trying. The massive movie soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” in 1992-93 spent an unprecedented 20 weeks atop the album chart. She returned in 2009 with “I Look To You,” which spent one week at No. 1.
If you add those weeks up you will note the superstar racked up a total of 46 weeks occupying the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 200, a record she has maintained for 30 years.
Why am I talking about this now? Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I don’t follow the charts anymore. Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Folklore,” spent its sixth week at No. 1, tying Whitney’s long-standing record of female artist with the most weeks at No. 1 in the rock era. This is huge. However, Big Sean stopped her momentum this week as his debut album captured the No. 1 spot.
“Folklore” is Swift’s seventh No. 1 album, tying her with Janet Jackson for third place in the overall count for No. 1 albums. Only Barbra Streisand with 11 and Madonna with nine have had more.
Swift’s impressive list of accomplishments just continues to grow. “Folklore” is her fifth album to log in six or more weeks in the No. 1 position, making her one of only two artists in the rock ’n roll era to achieve such a feat. Only Swift and The Beatles have at least five albums that spent six or more weeks at No. 1.
Her album is also the biggest album of the past four years.
David T. Farr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.