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Houston, We Have A Problem hide

Whitney Houston's 'My Love Is Your Love' gets lost in the pre-holiday sales shuffle

Last week's Thanksgiving CD sell-a-thon gave the record industry plenty to be grateful for, but not everyone has something to sing about. Even though the top 10 albums moved 2.98 million units off record-store shelves, up from last year's high of 1.9 million, it was mighty crowded at the top of the charts -- and one major artist just might be in danger of slipping off.

Whitney Houston's first non-soundtrack-based album in eight years, "My Love Is Your Love," debuted at No. 13 in its first week, having been muscled out of the way by the likes of Jewel's "Spirit" at No. 3 and Mariah Carey's greatest-hits album at No. 4. While Houston's ranking is none too shabby, it may not be what Arista hoped for, considering that Houston has sold 100 million albums worldwide.

"I'm sure a lot of people at Arista are wondering what they were thinking, putting out Whitney Houston the same week as Mariah Carey and Jewel and 'Prince of Egypt,'" says Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman, "because that was pretty humiliating to come in at No. 13."

Despite the blow to her ego, Houston still has a shot at climbing a pop peak with this album. "Music has a longer shelf life than movies, so Arista can make it up with Whitney," says Willman. "It's going to depend on whether they can get her on the radio."

On the new album, Houston recruited the likes of Missy Elliott and Babyface to help her switch from her usual mushy super-ballads to a new style of street-smart grooves. But the change may disappoint some fans who are hoping for another "I Will Always Love You" -- especially when they can get their fill of old-fashioned emotion on the new Mariah Carey album, which includes every huge single she's ever done.

Ultimately, Houston may wish that she'd sent her fans a valentine instead of trying for holiday sales. "They rush-released the album to get it into stores," says Willman, "but the truth is if it had come out in February, it could have debuted in the top 5."

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