Adele is starting to close in on another record that Houston has held since 1986: the longest run at #1 on Billboard's Top Music Videos chart by a female artist. Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall is about to log its 12th week at #1. Houston's The #1 Video Hits held the top spot for 22 weeks in 1986. (More about that later.)
Both of these albums were sleeper hits. Adele's album entered The Billboard 200 at #62 and broke into the top 10 in its 36th week. Houston's album entered the chart at #166 and broke into the top 10 in its 23rd week.
Both artists entered The Billboard 200 at #1 with their sophomore albums. Houston's 1987 album Whitney was only the fifth album, and the first by a female artist, to debut at #1. Both Whitney and Adele's 21 were hit-laden. Whitney spawned four #1 singles: "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go." 21 has yielded three #1 singles: "Rolling In The Deep," "Someone Like You" and "Set Fire To The Rain." Houston's sophomore album didn't sweep the Grammys, as Adele's did, but it did bring her a second award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)."
Six more singles have since reached this mark: a Disney children's record, "Bambi," Elvis Presley's double-sided 1956 smash "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog," the Beatles' 1968 classic "Hey Jude," Tag Team's 1993 hit "Whoomp! (There It Is)," Los Del Rio's 1996 novelty smash "Macarena," and Elton John's tribute to the late Princess Diana, "Candle In The Wind 1997" (which towers over them all with RIAA-certified sales of 11 million).
Both "I Will Always Love You" and "Rolling In The Deep" received Grammys for Record of the Year and in the appropriate performance category. "Rolling In The Deep" also won Song of the Year. "I Will Always Love You" would have won that one too, but it was ruled ineligible because Dolly Parton's song was already well-known prior to the Houston recording.
Here are the other video collections by female artists that have logged 10 or more weeks at #1 on Top Music Videos: Barbra Streisand's Barbra—The Concert (16 weeks from 1994 through 1996), Madonna's The Virgin Tour—Madonna Live (10 weeks in 1986), Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen's Our First Video (10 weeks in 1993-1994) and Britney Spears' Time Out With Britney (10 weeks in 1999-2000).
Mary-Kate & Ashley are up there with Whitney, Barbra, Adele, Madonna and Britney? It's a crazy business.
One final note: Houston's death the day before the Grammys inevitably overshadowed Adele's sweep of the awards, but it also doubtless increased the size of the TV audience. This year's show had a total audience of 39.9 million, which was up nearly 50% from last year's audience of 26.7 million. It was the second highest-rated Grammy telecast ever, topped only by the 1984 show when a red-hot Michael Jackson swept the awards. The huge audience for this year's show is a key reason that Adele's 21 sold 730K copies this week.