No matter how you Style it, Taylor Swift‘s 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is a juggernaut. The re-recorded set debuted with 1.653 million equivalent album units (EAUs) in the United States in the week ending Nov. 2, according to Luminate, making it far and away the biggest debut for an album so far in 2023. To give a sense of just how phenomenal its performance is, we’ve stacked it up against every other No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 so far this year — a list comprising 15 additional titles in all.
It bears reiterating that first-week EAUs for 1989 (Taylor’s Version) dwarfed those of all other No. 1 albums released this year, topping every other debut week by more than double. That includes her own Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which had the second biggest debut week of the year with 716,000 EAUs in July, as well as the third-place finisher, Morgan Wallen‘s One Thing at a Time, which racked up 501,000 EAUs in its first week. Swift’s top-two placement on the list is a remarkable feat, underlining the fact that in some ways, the megastar’s only real competition these days is herself.
Case in point: In its first week, 1989 (Taylor’s Version)‘s 1.359 million in traditional album sales — a metric that encompasses physical sales (vinyl, CD, cassette) and digital downloads — quickly surpassed 2023’s previous best-seller, Swift’s own Midnights, which dropped in October 2022 and had racked up 791,000 in sales so far this year. Swift also has the third most-sold album of the year with Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which has racked up sales of 755,000 since its July release. All three got to those numbers due to Swift’s strategy of offering multiple collectible physical formats; in the case of 1989 (Taylor Version), that includes five color vinyl variants, eight CD editions and two cassette editions — not to mention two digital download editions (standard and deluxe).
The strategy of offering multiple physical variants is one that’s also successfully employed by many of today’s top K-pop acts, including three who enjoyed No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 this year: TOMORROW X TOGETHER, Stray Kids and NewJeans. As a result, like Swift, the majority of those acts’ first-week EAUs consist of traditional album sales. The first-week sales of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) comprise a whopping 82.2% of total EAUs — more than any other No. 1 debut album this year aside from TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s The Name Chapter: Temptation EP (94.41%) and Stray Kids’ 5-Star (94.38%). NewJeans’ Get Up EP had nearly as high of a sales percentage at 80.6%. The only other non-K-pop act to boast a similar first-week sales-to-streams ratio was blink-182‘s One More Time…, whose first-week sales made up 81% of total EAUs thanks to the band’s offering of 11 vinyl variants, as well as a CD, cassette and deluxe boxed set.
In fact, the first-week sales of 1989 (Taylor's Version) were larger than the next five biggest first-week sales tallies of 2023 combined: Speak Now (Taylor's Version) (507,000), Travis Scott's Utopia (252,000), Stray Kids' 5-Star (235,000), TOMORROW X TOGETHER's The Name Chapter: Temptation EP (152,000) and Olivia Rodrigo's Guts (150,000).
Unlike these top-selling K-pop acts, whose first-week streaming units tend to hover in the low-five-digit range, Swift's streaming game stacks up well against the heaviest hitters on that metric. 1989 (Taylor's Version) racked up 294,000 streaming units in its first week, third only to Drake's For All the Dogs and Wallen's One Thing at a Time, which drew 392,000 and 390,000 streaming units, respectively.
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