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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Taylor Swift now has more No. 1 albums than any woman in history

Taylor Swift performs at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., May 26, 2023. The pop superstar’s “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” debuts at No. 1 this week as the year’s biggest new album, and three of her other titles also made the Top 10.

By Ben Sisario

When Taylor Swift released “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” this month, there was no doubt it would debut at No. 1. The only questions were how forcefully it would smash records, how many mountains of vinyl it would sell and how far down the chart Swift’s catalog would push everybody else.

“Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” the third installment in Swift’s series of rerecorded albums — this one recreating “Speak Now” from 2010, with a thick appendix of tracks revisited from the cutting-room floor — is the year’s biggest new LP, notching the equivalent of 716,000 sales in the United States. It easily topped Morgan Wallen’s “One Thing at a Time,” which opened with 501,000 in March.

But that is not all. It is Swift’s 12th No. 1 album, beating Barbra Streisand for the most chart-toppers by a woman. Drake also has 12 No. 1 albums, but the only acts with more are Jay-Z (14) and the Beatles (19).

The popularity of Swift’s Eras Tour has lifted her entire catalog, and this week, in addition to the new “Speak Now,” she has three other titles in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart: “Midnights” (No. 5), “Lover” (No. 7) and “Folklore” (No. 10). Swift is the first living act to have four albums in the Top 10 since Herb Alpert in 1966. (Prince had five after his death in 2016, and for many years Billboard barred older “catalog” albums from reappearing on its main chart — a rule that was changed after Michael Jackson’s death, in 2009.)

Swift’s effort to remake her first six albums began after her old record label was sold without her participation, as a way for Swift to reclaim and control her earlier work. But the project has turned into its own phenomenon, with fans using the opportunity to revisit their own relationship with the music, and critics scouring the new recordings for rare — but notable — edits, like a change to a lyric on the track “Better Than Revenge” from “Speak Now” that had come to be seen as outdated or worse.

The new version of “Speak Now” had a bigger opening than her two previous rerecordings, “Red” (605,000) and “Fearless” (291,000).

The 716,000 “equivalent” sales for the new “Speak Now” — a measurement by Billboard and the data service Luminate that reconciles the various ways fans consume music now — incorporates 269 million streams and 507,000 copies sold as a complete package. It also includes 268,500 copies on vinyl, the second-biggest week for any vinyl album since the predecessors of Luminate began keeping reliable sales records in 1991 — the biggest was Swift’s own “Midnights,” which opened with 575,000 copies sold on LP back in October.

“Speak Now” continues an astonishingly productive run for Swift. It is her sixth studio album in three years, and according to Billboard she is the only artist to notch new No. 1 albums in each of the last five calendar years: “Lover” (2019); “Folklore” and “Evermore” (2020); “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” (2021); “Midnights” (2022); and now “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version).”

Also this week, Wallen’s “One Thing” holds at No. 2; Lil Uzi Vert’s “Pink Tape,” last week’s top album, falls to No. 3; and Peso Pluma’s “Génesis” is No. 4.

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