Taylor Swift’s Million-Selling ’1989′ Towers Over Album Chart

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 11.05.14 in News

On “Blank Space,” the song from Taylor Swift‘s lackluster new album 1989 where she sounds like she’s having the most fun, the country-pop crossover star admits to “a long list of ex-lovers.” Longer still, though, is the list of 2014 albums she has outsold. The Spotify-spurning singer/songwriter (see contributor Eric Harvey’s essay, Taylor Swift’s Spotify Decision Means Nothing For Smaller Artists) tops this week’s Billboard 200 chart, moving 1.287 million copies of 1989, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

That expectation-beating figure is all the more impressive when looked at in context. For the first nine months of 2014, no single act’s album sold 1 million copies, though the common notion that not one artist’s album had “gone platinum” this year happened to be misleading at best. The last album to sell more copies in a week than 1989 was Eminem‘s The Eminem Show, with 1.322 million in 2002. And Swift is already well out in front of the previous best-selling album released this year, Sam Smith‘s In the Lonely Hour (756K), though she still trails the year’s biggest seller overall, 2013′s Frozen soundtrack (3.2 million just in 2014).

Swift’s dominance is all the more staggering when compared with the rest of the chart. Add up the number of albums sold this week by every record from No. 2 to No. 107, and 1989 still sold more. Add up the number of album sales it took to top the chart each week since early September — a span that covers Slipknot‘s .5: The Gray Chapter, Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes, Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt, Blake Shelton’s Bringing Back the Sunshine, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s Cheek to Cheek, Barbra Streisand’s Partners, Lecrae’s Anomaly and Maroon 5′sV— and Swift still comes out ahead.

At this point, it’s as if Swift is mainly competing with herself. A slight majority of 1989‘s sales (647K) were physical copies. The last record to sell more physical albums in a week was Swift’s previous album, Red, with 743K in 2012.

There are, however, other albums on the chart, far behind Swift though they may be. Now 52 opens No. 2 with 103K, becoming the 52nd Now compilation to crack the top 10. Country’s Sam Hunt, who is not the guy that made a record with David Kilgour, launches debut Motevallo at No. 3 with 70K. Barry Manilow‘s David Byrne-critiqued My Dream Duets bows at No. 4 on sales of 51K.

The next few chart entries have been there before, with Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt (No. 5, 43K), Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes (No. 6, 38K) and Led Zeppelin‘s reissued Led Zeppelin IV (No. 7, 35K). By the way: Swift can probably now afford to buy not only a stairway to heaven, but also “Stairway to Heaven.”

Oh, but wait, there are more albums that share a chart with 1989. Rounding out the top 10 are Christian singer Chris Tomlin’s just-released Love Ran Red (No. 8, 35K), that Slipknot album again (No. 9, 34K) and rock band Black Veil Brides’ brand-new self-titled album (No. 10, 30K). Kendrick Lamar better not be too busy singing Swift songs to release his follow-up to 2012′s good kid, m.A.A.d. city, because he’s our only hope. Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you.