HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: Once upon a time, Musica hit all the right notes


In December 1992, within a week of its release, the soundtrack to film The Bodyguard sold more than 1 million copies. The album remains the bestselling soundtrack album of all time, clocking 45 million copies sold globally. One of those copies resided in my household.

Of course, we were no strangers to Whitney Houston’s music. She was a staple in the catalogue of artists we listened to. More than that, she was ethereal, untouchable and had a sort of angelic quality to her. One can never get close to a star, but in Whitney’s case, it was more than that. She was completely untouchable, unreachable and unbelievable and so, seeing her on a screen, doing what she did best, brought her adoring fans closer to her. That and also, in my opinion, the movie remains a classic.

The film starred Whitney and Kevin Costner in lead roles. At the time, the narrative was sweet in its controversy – an interracial love affair between a pop star and well… her bodyguard. But more than that crossover, what everyone will always recall is the soundtrack with each song belted out by she known as “the voice”.

This album was the first CD my dad brought home and while I can’t tell you when he bought our first CD player, I can tell you that that album was the first thing we played on it. Loudly. Over and over again.

One night he and my mom went to the movies with some friends, you know, a proper stand-alone music house, a proper bioscope if you will, not “the movies” as we call it now in a mall. I don’t even know if you get these anymore except for the Labia in Cape Town. Anyway, with the advent of CDs, Musica stores started to pop up close to the entrance/exits of these buildings.

If you were early for your movie you could have a browse through some CDs. But more importantly, the sort of religious thing to do was to visit the store after having seen the movie because for the first time, people could watch something on screen, enjoy what they heard in the form of the soundtrack and then walk into a Musica and request said album. All the songs. On one disc. Infinite enjoyment, the memory of going on that date, or to that movie and simply enjoying it and then, the simplicity of having the music at hand so easily. You hear what you like. You walk out. You buy it.

And that’s exactly how The Bodyguard soundtrack ended up in our household. My parents saw the movie, fell in love with the songs and “the voice” and popped into the Musica immediately after and brought the bestselling soundtrack of all time into our lives.

Now, of course, all this is available at the click of your fingertips, through services like Spotify or Apple music. It’s cheaper, it requires less equipment, it’s more mobile and the catalogues are larger. Almost infinite. Cineplexes like I mentioned before eventually started to disappear and be replaced by movie houses in malls where you would still find a Musica, although sometimes not as strategically placed and then slowly, not at all. And now, just one year short of three decades of existence and serving the soundtrack-loving public, the franchise is shutting its doors forever.

Many people attribute the success of The Bodyguard soundtrack to Whitney’s creative direction, her lack of play pretend in a role where she could just sing as she sang, she was who she was and she owned it. And its impact, its music and the memories they stir up will never be forgotten. Much like Musica itself. Soon gone, but never forgotten.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.

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