LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) ? Pop diva Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” was the hottest-selling single in the United States this week as patriotism continued to be a driving theme at radio stations and music stores.
Music-sales tracker SoundScan said Houston’s rendition of the national anthem, originating from her 1991 Super Bowl performance, sold 60,000 units in the week ended Oct. 7.
The song was reissued on Sept. 27 as a charity CD single after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and it has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), meaning Houston’s label, Arista Records, has shipped more than a million copies.
The CD, which couples the national anthem with her version of “America the Beautiful,” has already raised more than $1 million to benefit the New York police and fire departments.
“This anthem has always been the musical symbol for the United States of America. I am proud to be able to participate in this way,” Houston said in a statement.
While radio airplay of such songs may have already peaked and has been declining since the days immediately after the attacks, they keep hitting a note with consumers.
“We saw a huge response from retailers who gave it great placement and showed such a patriotic spirit,” said a spokeswoman for Arista, a unit of Bertelsmann AG.
While patriotic songs like Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” may not be getting as many spins as they did a few weeks ago, radio audiences and stations are still showing the flag.
RADIO STATIONS ‘LITTLE MORE PATRIOTIC’
“I would say that generally it appears that stations have been a little more patriotic due to the recent tragedy,” said Kid Kelly, operations manager for Z100 in New York.
“Playing of these songs probably has peaked. But . . . the demand is still there and relatively high,” said Lorrin Palagi, a radio consultant for Zapoleon Media Strategies. “We think that is partly due to people (being) unsettled and nervous. Patriotic songs help people to feel better.”
Geoff Mayfield, director of charts for Billboard Magazine, said many of the patriotic songs on the airwaves are not currently available at retail, but those that are available have sold quite well, including Houston’s single and country artist Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”
Several record labels are already tapping into the trend by releasing several new CDs, inspired by the tragedy. The proceeds of these projects are being donated to charities.
Industry sources said Interscope Geffen A&M Records, a unit of Vivendi Universal, is overseeing efforts to release a CD of the Sept. 21 all-star telethon dubbed “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” which featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, U2, Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel, Neil Young and many others.
Columbia Records, a unit of Sony Corp, is releasing “God Bless America” on Oct. 16, a compilation of patriotic songs that includes unreleased versions of Dion’s “God Bless America” and John Mellencamp’s “Peaceful World”. Other stars on the album include Springsteen, Carey and Bob Dylan.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney plans to release a new charity single worldwide on Oct. 29. All proceeds from the song “From a Lover to a Friend,” from his forthcoming album Driving Rain, would go the New York police and fire departments.
On Oct. 20 McCartney will join The Who, Macy Gray, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Melissa Etheridge and Bon Jovi at New York’s Madison Square Garden for the “Concert for the Americas,” a benefit for the victims and families affected by the attacks.