Taylor Swift’s blockbuster ‘1989’ rerecording tops sales of original
By Ben Sisario
Exactly nine years ago, Taylor Swift made a huge splash on the music charts with “1989,” the album that represented her full transformation into a mainstream pop star. With 1,287,000 sales in the United States, it was the biggest start for any album in more than a decade and affirmed Swift as a mega-selling force.
Since then, Swift has scored eight more No. 1 albums. But incredibly, she has now topped the first-week total of her original “1989” with a remake of the same LP. It starts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with the equivalent of 1,653,000 sales in the United States — the biggest opening sales week of Swift’s career — and 3.5 million around the world, according to Republic Records, her label. It is the biggest debut for any album since Adele’s “25” eight years ago, which started with nearly 3.4 million in the U.S., a number that remains unsurpassed.
“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” is Swift’s 13th No. 1 album and her sixth to have more than 1 million sales in a single week — more than any other artist since at least 1991, when Billboard’s charts were first based on reliable sales data. It also caps an extraordinary year for the pop star, who has saturated nearly every corner of popular culture.
The new “1989” is Swift’s third title to reach No. 1 in 2023, after an expanded version of her last studio album, “Midnights” (2022), returned to the top spot in June; “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version),” the last installment in her project to rerecord her first six studio albums — an effort to reclaim her music after the sale of her former record label — arrived in July. Her Eras Tour has been a record-breaking phenomenon, expected to gross well over $1 billion in ticket sales by its finale next year. Her movie “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” released last month, easily became the biggest concert film of all time. And let’s not even get into how Swift has lifted NFL television ratings.
When the original “1989” came out, it was not available on streaming services. Swift was then one of a number of prominent holdouts who kept her music off the new format, over concerns about its financial model. Since then, of course, streaming has taken over the music business, and Swift has long since made her music available on all major platforms. But “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” still outperformed the original in old-fashioned sales, thanks in part to her canny marketing of collectible physical media — a strategy now widely used across the pop world but perhaps most effectively by Swift, rapper Travis Scott and an array of K-pop acts.
Of the 1,653,000 “equivalent album units” attributed to the new “1989” — a composite number that Billboard and its data partner, Luminate, use to reconcile sales and streams — 1,359,000 were for sales of albums, surpassing the total for the original “1989.” The new album sold 693,000 copies on vinyl, the largest week of sales for that format since at least 1991. It also surpasses Swift’s own vinyl record of 575,000 for “Midnights,” a year ago.
“1989 (Taylor’s Version)” sold 554,000 copies on CD, the biggest weekly number on that format since Adele’s “25.” According to Billboard, the new “1989” was available in 15 versions on physical formats, including five colored vinyl variants, eight CDs and two cassettes.
In addition, “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” had 375 million streams, the most in a single week for any of Swift’s four rerecorded albums.
Also this week, K-pop ensemble Seventeen opens at No. 2 with “Seventeenth Heaven,” an eight-track release that the group calls its 11th “mini-album,” which sold 98,000 copies on CD. Drake’s “For All the Dogs” is No. 3, Bad Bunny’s “Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana” is No. 4, and Morgan Wallen’s “One Thing at a Time” holds at No. 5.