By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated September 08, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT
Patrick Demarchelier

Last Monday was a big day for Whitney Houston, whose first all-new album in seven years finally arrived in stores. An even more important day might be tomorrow, when first-week sales results will be announced, providing one answer to the question of just how much the public has missed her.

Right now, trade gossip site — whose estimates are usually pretty reliable — is projecting that Houston’s I Look to You will top the albums chart with sales of about 301,000. That’s not too shabby. It’s considerably more than the underwhelming 205,000 that her last album managed in its first week. Then again, it’s no blockbuster, either.

By way of comparison, Maxwell performed similarly this July, selling 316,000 copies of BLACKsummers’night in its first week. Now, Maxwell, like Whitney, is an R&B/pop singer who hadn’t put out a new album in many years (eight, in his case). But Maxwell was never a megastar on Whitney’s level. Not even close. Maxwell never had a record certified 17 times platinum. If Houston can’t even beat his sales today, what does that say about her relevance?

Check back on the Music Mix tomorrow morning to find out the final sales results for last week. ‘Til then, what do you think of these predictions? Is 301,000 a number to be proud of for Whitney Houston? Do you even care how many copies she sells in week 1?

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Photo credit: Patrick Demarchelier