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Whitney Houston songs race up music charts

A Filipino fan writes a message on a tribute wall for the late American singer-actress Whitney Houston in Manila
A Filipino fan writes a message on a tribute wall for the late American singer-actress Whitney Houston in Manila

By Piya Sinha-Roy and Mike Collett-White

LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Reuters) - Late singer Whitney Houston's re-entered music charts on Wednesday with a greatest hits album that raced into the top 10 of the U.S. Billboard 200, selling 101,000 copies in just 24 hours after the singer's sudden death this past weekend.

"Whitney: The Greatest Hits," which includes songs such as "Saving All My Love for You" and "My Love is Your Love," hit No. 6 on the album chart, selling 91,000 digital copies and 10,000 physical copies, based on Nielsen SoundScan sales weekly data that is finalized on Sunday evening.

Houston, 48, died on Saturday in a Beverly Hills hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards. Her body was discovered underwater in her room's bathtub, and while speculation has centered on a possible overdose given her past problems with drinking and drugs, authorities have yet to determine a cause of death.

"There's certainly going to be a resurgence in Whitney music. We'll hear it on the radio a lot and that will lead to people listening to it on (online music streaming application) Spotify and downloading it on iTunes," said Bill Werde, editorial director of music publication Billboard, to Reuters.

Dramatic sales also followed the deaths of Michael Jackson in Los Angeles and Amy Winehouse in London. According to music magazine Billboard, more than 35 million Jackson albums were sold worldwide after he died in June 2009.

"It's sad when people discover an artist this way, but it is what happens when an artist dies," said Werde.

As fans of Houston rushed to rediscover the singer's music, single digital track sales of the artist's music rose to more than 887,000 song downloads in 24 hours.

The biggest selling digital song was Houston's signature ballad "I Will Always Love You" with more than 195,000 copies downloaded, fueled by Jennifer Hudson's emotional rendition of the song in tribute to Houston at Sunday's Grammy awards.

The song also was played more than 2100 times on U.S. terrestrial radio stations between Saturday and Sunday.

In the U.K., five of Houston's songs made it into the Top 40 by Wednesday, led by "I Will Always Love You" at No. 10. Since midnight on Saturday, 82,000 Houston singles and more than 37,000 albums had been sold in Britain by mid-week.

Britain's Official Charts Company reported a total of 27 Houston tracks were in the Top 200 as fans snapped up her music after her death on Saturday.

Earlier this week Houston's record label Sony Music Entertainment apologized after a price hike "mistake" on two of the singer's albums on iTunes just hours after her death. The price increase occurred on the UK iTunes, where Houston's "The Ultimate Collection" album jumped from 4.99 GBP to 7.99 GBP.

"Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the UK iTunes store on Sunday," said a statement issued by Sony to the New York Times. "When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused."

The sales surge in Houston's music is likely to continue through the week, ahead of the singer's funeral on Saturday.

Her greatest hits compilation may knock Adele's "21" from the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart next week, after the British singer, who swept the Grammys on Sunday with six awards, notched her 20th week at No. 1 on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)

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