May 18, 2024

Taylor Swift‘s “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” has now gone down on the books as giving the singer her best first week tally for an album ever. The release tops the Billboard 200 with 1.653 million equivalent album units. That puts it ahead of her previous personal best, which was 1.578 million for “Midnights,” released just over a year ago.

Needless to say, among the Swift albums this one performed better than in its first week is the original “1989” — Big Machine’s version, circa 2014 — which bowed nine years ago with a then-astonishing 1.297 million units.

Billboard reports that this is officially the biggest first week for any album since 2015, when Adele’s “25” debuted with 3.482 million album units. It’s also the sixth largest week for an album since Luminate’s predecessor, SoundScan, began providing immediate weekly data in 1991.

Traditional album sales accounted for 1.359 million of this week’s 1.653 million tally. Physical sales were a big draw, with five different variants of the vinyl version alone. Limited CD variants and even a cassette edition have been available, upping the collectibility factor in an era when streaming accounts for the overwhelming amount of consumption for most new releases.

The news of the latest album’s success comes as the film “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” was still raking in millions over the weekend after being out for a month in theaters. Over this weekend, the movie’s fourth, it grossed $13.5 million, bringing its North American box-office total so far to $166 million.

Swift has, of course, guaranteed massive amounts of interest in her “Taylor’s Versions” by tagging on previously unheard “Vault” tracks. Several of those songs are expected to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 when the top ranks of that chart are announced Monday. She’s believed to have a shot at a No. 1 single with the Vault number “Is It Over Now?,” which continues to lead Spotify’s daily U.S. top 50 chart, 11 days after all the new material came out.

What’s surprising about the big numbers for the “1989” remake — even to those with sky-high expectations for a Swift release — is that this figure more than doubled the previous high benchmark for any of her previous “Taylor’s Version” re-recordings. The highest prior figure for a “TV” album came just three and a half months ago, when “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” premiered in July with 716,000 units.

The blockbuster debut for “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” also comes in well ahead of the first weeks registered in recent years for “Lover” (867,000 units in 2019), “Folklore” (846,000 units in 2020), “Evermore” (329,000 units, 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. “1989,” her fifth album, is widely considered her most popular, even if in actual sales numbers it lags behind “Fearless,” her second release. The original “1989” released in 2014 has been certified by the RIAA as nine-times-platinum, while “Fearless” crossed the 10-million mark to earn a diamond certification.

That this “1989” version would either surpass or come near Swift’s previous highs was evident just from the first-day streaming results. Spotify announced soon after the album debuted that it had become the service’s most-streamed album in a single day in 2023… and that, simultaneously, Swift herself had broken a record in becoming the artist with the most streams in a single day in the streaming service’s history.

The original Big Machine release of “1989” has been hovering in the top 20 of the Billboard 200, in recent weeks, reflecting both interest in the impending remake but also just traffic generated by the “Era Tour” film. Since she began issuing re-recordings in 2021, there’s been a pattern of consumption for her Big Machine albums spiking right before the “Taylor’s Version” album coming out, followed by a sharp drop for those older versions once most fans move on to the new.

Even with the “Eras Tour” film still in cinemas globally, the actual tour is about to ramp up again, after a break. Swift resumes her concert schedule in four days with Nov. 9-11 shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina, moving on to Brazil after that. This past week, Swift added three dates in Vancouver, B.C., that represent the final known stretch of 2024 dates, on Dec. 6-8 of next year — although there’s been no indication that that will actually be the tour finale.

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