1989’s “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” has now made headlines, giving the singer her best-ever first week of an album. The release tops the Billboard 200 with 1.653 million equivalent album units, surpassing her previous personal best of 1.578 million for “Midnights,” released just over a year ago.
Needless to say, among Swift albums, this one performed better than its first week, the original “1989” – Big Machine’s circa 2014 version – which hit nine years ago with a then-astonishing 1.297 million units.
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billboard reports that this is officially the biggest first week for an album since 2015, when Adele’s “25” debuted with 3.482 million album units. It is also the sixth-biggest week for an album since Luminate’s predecessor SoundScan began providing instant weekly data in 1991.
Traditional album sales accounted for 1.359 million of this week’s 1.653 million. Physical sales were a big draw, as there were five different variants of the vinyl version alone. Limited CD variants and even a cassette edition are available, adding to the collector’s value at a time when streaming accounts for the vast majority of consumption for most new releases.
News of the latest album’s success comes as the film “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” was still grossing millions over the weekend after a month-long run in theaters. This weekend, its fourth, the film grossed $13.5 million, marking its North American success The previous box office total was 166 million US dollars.
Swift, of course, has generated a lot of interest in her “Taylor’s Versions” by tagging previously unreleased “Vault” tracks. Several of these songs are expected to land in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 when the top spots on that chart are announced on Monday. She is believed to have a shot at a No.1 single with vault number “Is It Over Now?”, which continues to top Spotify’s daily US Top 50 chart, 11 days after the entire new material came out.
The surprising thing about the high numbers for the “1989” remake – even for those who have sky-high expectations for a Swift release – is that the number more than doubles the previous high benchmark for any of her previous “Taylor’s Version” remakes has. The highest ever for a “TV” album was reached just three and a half months ago, when “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” premiered in July with 716,000 units.
The blockbuster debut of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is also well ahead of the first weeks seen in recent years for “Lover” (867,000 units in 2019), “Folklore” (846,000 units in 2020) and “Evermore “ (329,000) units were registered, also in 2020), “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” (291,000 units in 2021) and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” (605,000 units, also in 2021).
If the actual number is surprising, the fact that “1989” would be the most successful of Swift’s re-recorded albums is not surprising. “1989,” their fifth album, is widely considered their most popular, although it lags behind “Fearless,” their second release, in terms of actual sales. The original “1989,” released in 2014, was certified nine-times platinum by the RIAA, while “Fearless” surpassed 10 million sales and received a diamond certification.
That this “1989” version would either surpass or come close to Swift’s previous highs was evident from day one streaming results. Spotify announced this shortly after the album’s release that it was the service’s most streamed album in a single day in 2023… and that Swift herself had simultaneously broken a record by becoming the most streamed artist in a single day in the streaming service’s history.
Big Machine’s original release of “1989” has remained in the top 20 of the Billboard 200 in recent weeks, reflecting both interest in the upcoming remake and traffic generated by the “Era Tour” film. Since she began releasing new recordings in 2021, there has been a trend in consumption of her Big Machine albums, spiking just before the release of the Taylor’s Version album, followed by a sharp decline for the older ones versions as soon as most fans switch to the new ones.
Although the film “Eras Tour” is still playing in cinemas worldwide, the actual tour will soon resume after a break. Swift resumes her concert schedule in four days with performances Nov. 9-11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then heads to Brazil. Last week, Swift added three dates in Vancouver, B.C., representing the last known stretch of 2024 dates, December 6-8 next year – although there is no indication that these will actually be the tour finale becomes.
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