In a world where everyone else — EVERYONE else — is selling a fraction of what they once did, Taylor Swift keeps not only one-upping her own sales recrods, but setting historic marks in the process. Last night, Billboard announced the official tally for the first-week sales of Taylor Swift’s fifth album, 1989, and as previously predicted, they’re her best yet: 1.287 million, beating her previous first-week peak (1.208 mil, earned by fourth album Red) by about 80,000, and besting any other album released in over a decade, since Eminem‘s The Eminem Show moved 1.322 million in its first full week of availability back in 2002.
Swift’s sales are not only the best first-week numbers of 2014, they’re the best 2014 numbers, period — no other album from this year has even sold 750k yet total, and only the juggernaut Frozen soundtrack (3.2 million in sales this year, after being released in 2013) has sold more among all-time albums. And perhaps most impressively, 1989‘s opening bow makes Taylor the only artist in Soundscan history to move a million in a first week three separate times — let alone to do it three times in a row, with bigger numbers earch time.
It’s hard to put the singer/songwriter’s commercial accomplishments in proper perspective, but think of it this way: Remember around the turn of the century, when Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were breaking previously unbeatable single-season home-run records with disturbing regularity? And since then, how with the end of the steroid era and with changes in pitching rules and a whole bunch of other stuff, the home-run totals have sloped precipitously downward? Well, Taylor Swift is coming around and still smacking 65-70 dingers a year, in a time when nobody else can even break 40. She might need to be the first artist ever investigated for chart-performance-enhancing drugs.
Congrats to Taylor, and congrats to the rest of America for demonstrating that there is still this thing called “the music industry” that totally exists and occasionally serves to move product and get people paid. Who knew?