Music

Taylor Swift and Gracie Abrams Score Billboard 200 Feats: What Does It Mean for Both Eras Tour Artists?

A pair of good friends, tourmates and collaborators reside in the top two spots of the Billboard 200 this week: Taylor Swift remains at No. 1 with her April blockbuster The Tortured Poets Department, while Eras Tour opener Gracie Abrams bows at No. 2 with sophomore album The Secret of Us.

It’s a notable week for both artists. Poets reigns for the 10th consecutive frame, making Swift the only artist with three 10-plus-week No. 1 albums in the 21st century. Meanwhile, The Secret of Us easily marks Abrams’ best showing on the chart to date, beating the No. 52 debut of her 2023 debut LP Good Riddance by a full 50 spots.

How much does this particular chart benchmark mean for Swift? And does Abrams’ strong debut mean she’s now countable among this year’s class of breakout pop stars? Billboard staffers answer these questions and more below.

1. This week, Taylor Swift notches her 10th consecutive week atop the Billboard 200 with The Tortured Poets Department — the longest total reign of any album since Morgan Wallen’s One Thing at a Time notched 19 combined weeks between 2023 and 2024, and her own longest rule since her original 1989 spent 11 weeks on top between 2014 and 2015. On a scale from 1-10, how meaningful do you think this run is for Swift and where she’s at in her career?

Rania Aniftos: I’m going to say 3, because this is the standard for Taylor at this point! She is without a doubt the biggest music star in the world at the moment, and it would shock me if any album from here on out spends less than 10 weeks atop the Billboard 200. 

Katie Atkinson: Let’s give it a 10 for 10. Looking at the releases that stood in her way, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that Swift would have an uninterrupted 10-week run at No. 1 back in April. After favoring late-year releases for the bulk of her career – especially October and November – it looks like Swift should maybe make the switch to April albums from here on out, seeing just how long she’s able to dominate the spring-into-summer conversation. Taylor continues to unlock new heights in her career just when you think she’s reached the very pinnacle.

Hannah Dailey: I’d say 7. On paper, that’s an incredibly impressive feat and very indicative of the career apex/popularity high Swift is currently riding. However, I can’t help but think the achievement is a little bit watered down by the fact that she released so, so many digital alternative versions along the way to stay on top (assuming that was her intention). Regardless of whether those sales were actually needed to elongate her reign, her latest accolade remains diluted by public perception that she was purposefully blocking other artists from nearing the No. 1 spot with that strategy.  

Jason Lipshutz: A 6. Obviously spending 10 straight weeks atop the Billboard 200 represents a towering commercial feat, although these types of accomplishments are all relative for the biggest artist in the world, who’s in the middle of a precedent-smashing stadium tour, fresh off a record-setting fourth album of the year Grammy win, and who started this run at No. 1 with the biggest album debut of the 2020s. Plus, Swift has already spent more weeks atop the Billboard 200 with a different album (albeit one with a more radio-friendly sheen). So while TTPD reaching double-digit weeks at No. 1 is another testament to Swift’s continued enormity, the achievement itself probably feels less meaningful when stacked next to all of Swift’s other, bigger ones.

Andrew Unterberger: An 8. As massive as so many of Swift’s wins have been this decade, this is a sustained chart victory like she hasn’t really seen before. And of course, it’s one she’s seemed particularly motivated to maintain, so clearly it’s one of some amount of personal significance to her.

2. Just below her on the chart this week, Swift’s Eras Tour opener Gracie Abrams bows at No. 2 with 89,000 units moved for her new album The Secret of Us — both easily the best numbers of her career. What do you think is the particular “secret” to Abrams’ success with this album?

Rania Aniftos: Her songwriting, for sure. Today’s music fans seem to love a storyteller, as we’ve seen with stars like Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Noah Kahan, Teddy Swims and more. Gracie is so honest in her music, and this album is a masterclass in authenticity and musicality. She deserves this overdue success! 

Katie Atkinson: We can’t overlook the Taylor bump, of course. Sabrina Carpenter is currently reaching her apex just after opening for Swift in Latin America, Australia and Asia. Now Gracie is having her breakout moment after putting in more than a year as an Eras Tour opener. In this case, she quite literally has a hit Taylor collaboration on her new album, so it’s not just the appearance of a Taylor bump; it’s an actuality. But none of this would be happening if Abrams weren’t a solid artist in her own right who has earned the loyalty of the Swifties through her diaristic songwriting and fondness for Taylor-connected producers (Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff).

Hannah Dailey: I think Abrams has long been on an upward trajectory, steadily accumulating listeners from the moment she debuted in 2019 with “Mean It.” But it’s also clear to me that Swift’s cosign – from inviting Abrams to be an opener on the Eras Tour to collaborating on “Us” — is the thing that gave her the extra big push she needed to make it as high as No. 2, a huge improvement from debut album Good Riddance’s peak of No. 52.  

Jason Lipshutz: The combination of Abrams’ artistic evolution and tireless work ethic has led her to her career-best chart showing. The Secret of Us marks a significant leap forward for Abrams as a songwriter, co-producer and vocal performer — last year’s Good Riddance was a strong debut, but its follow-up is more distinct and revealing, as if Abrams has dug deeper into what makes her special this year after scratching the surface in 2023. Meanwhile, Abrams has been grinding out tour dates, including headlining gigs and opening stints for her pal Swift, as well as executing a promo blitz for The Secret of Us that put the album release on a lot of radars. She’s issuing the best music of her career to an audience eager to lap it up.

Andrew Unterberger: It’s easy to just give a two-word answer to this — and it’s inarguable that the added spotlight that Taylor Swift has granted Abrams both on the Eras Tour and via her appearance on this set’s “Us” has helped greatly increase her profile. But it’s important to note that Abrams was headed in this direction for years before her association with Swift really developed, building a devoted fanbase, honing her writing and strengthening her performance, securing the right collaborators and slowly but surely extending her reach. She was always likely to get here, Swift just basically ensured that it would definitely happen — and quickly.

3. After a tough few years for rising pop artists attempting to break through, we’ve seen a number of very impressive crossover success stories this year, including Sabrina Carpenter, Chappell Roan and Tommy Richman. Do you think Abrams now belongs in the category with those still-rising new star artists, or does she still have a little more yet to prove?

Rania Aniftos: I think she’ll need one more big hit to follow “Close to You” to solidify her as a pop star, but she’s so close to sitting at that table. We’ll be seeing her headlining festivals in the future for sure.

Katie Atkinson: I think Gracie is at the moment now that Sabrina Carpenter was at last year – which is to say she has a strong following, some A-list endorsements, and a handful of buzzy songs, but she doesn’t yet have her jolt of “Espresso.” When Abrams has an undeniable signature song like that one break through not just on pop radio or with fringe pop fans but to the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, that’s when she’ll have officially arrived.

Hannah Dailey: As pop-facing as The Secret of Us is, Abrams is still way more in the indie singer-songwriter lane than Carpenter or Roan are, which makes it hard to compare them. Even so, there’s no matching the astronomical rises those latter two artists have seen this year. To Abrams’ credit, though, I can’t think of many other rising stars who are as close behind them as she is. It might just be a matter of time.  

Jason Lipshutz: Yep, she belongs in that class to me. Those aforementioned artists all have singles that have either reached the top 10 of the Hot 100 or come darn close; Abrams isn’t there quite yet, but I could see the singles from The Secret of Us, “Risk” and “Close to You,” make a push as the album receives more streams this summer. And in the same way that Carpenter turned an opening spot on the Eras tour into her own arena headlining gigs, Abrams is playing some major venues in support of The Secret of Us, with arenas not too far away, in my opinion. Abrams was already rising prior to this album release — she scored a best new artist Grammy nom, after all — but The Secret of Us is going to level her up into a new class of young stars.

Andrew Unterberger: In a different way, but basically, yes. She doesn’t have a major pop hit yet anywhere near the level of “Espresso,” “Million Dollar Baby” or even “Good Luck, Babe!” — that might come soon or it might still be an album or two away. But what she does have is arguably more valuable: a fanbase willing to shell out for physical albums, as Secret tops Billboard‘s Top Album Sales chart this week with its 50,000 sold, also adding another 38,000 in streaming equivalent album units. When you’re both selling and streaming in strong numbers, that means not are you really big, but you’re probably gonna stay that way for some time to come.

4. Swift and Abrams have a song together, “Us,” that debuts at No. 36 on the Hot 100 this week — becoming Abrams’ highest-ranking hit yet on the chart — while Abrams’ own “Close to You” remains at No. 60 after debuting at No. 49 a couple weeks ago, and her previously released “Risk” makes its debut at No. 94. Which of the three do you see ending up becoming the biggest hit from The Secret of Us, if any of them?

Rania Aniftos: I do love “Close to You” because it really has something for every pop fan. It has the songwriting, it has the catchiness, it has the vocals, it has the TikTok virality. I see it becoming a longtime fan favorite hit.

Katie Atkinson: I’m going to put my money on “Close to You,” just because I can see its uptempo production hanging around a little longer than the Taylor duet. To keep the Sabrina analogy going, maybe “Close to You” will be Gracie’s “Feather,” which was Carpenter’s first Pop Airplay No. 1 before her certified breakout with “Espresso” and then “Please Please Please.”

Hannah Dailey: “Close to You” is such a bop, and fans have been begging her to release it for about seven years now – that’s a lot of built-in hype. Plus, it’s all over TikTok. I think that song’s the front-runner. 

Jason Lipshutz: I was a big fan of “Risk” upon its release, and “Us” sounds like a worthy addition to Swift and Dessner’s enchanted forest of indie-leaning folk-pop. But “Close to You” is the one, thanks to its tempo and urgency: the song stomps forward as Abrams declares “I burn for you / And you don’t even know my name,” in a way that recalls Lorde’s subtle yearning but also sounds primed to soundtrack thousands of crestfallen TikTok clips. “Close to You” is going to make noise, and I, for one, can’t wait to see Abrams blow it out on tour.

Andrew Unterberger: “Close to You” is definitely the frontrunner right now, but I heard “Risk” on the radio over the weekend and it felt like a better fit than I would’ve expected. Would probably still bet the former if I had to — and it certainly has a good lead to start — but I could definitely see a world where the latter has the longer tail.

5. Make a prediction: How many total weeks will The Tortured Poets Department spend at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 before ceding the top spot for good?

Rania Aniftos: Let’s say 20! Why not beat Morgan Wallen?

Katie Atkinson: Well, I wish we knew when, exactly, Zach Bryan’s next album is coming out. According to his InstagramThe Great American Bar Scene is coming out July 4th, but it’s unclear what time of day. And since Independence Day is a Thursday, if he releases it during the day, he would only have 24 hours of tracking in this chart week if it comes out early, or he could have a full week on our charts if it came out at midnight into Friday. He’s Taylor’s strongest competition, so I’m going to guess that his first full week will beat hers – meaning she would have 11 straight weeks atop the Billboard 200. But I think she’ll have *at least* one more week left in the tank after that too, with a potential Anthology vinyl release waiting in the wings. So my prediction is 12 weeks at No. 1 overall, surpassing the 11-week runs of the original 1989 and Fearless.

Hannah Dailey: It would be easier to predict if another comparable star was planning to release an album soon, but the front half of the year was so loaded that the second half is kind of a question mark. With that in mind, I’ll give her an even, optimistic 20 weeks. She may be looking to beat Morgan Wallen’s 2020s record, and it definitely seems like it’s in reach for her right now.  

Jason Lipshutz: Without a ton of heavy competition in the coming weeks and six-figure equivalent album units months after its release, I could see Department ruling the roost for quite some time. Let’s go with 15 weeks before all is said and done.

Andrew Unterberger: My instinct is 16 or 17, but I feel like if Taylor seems herself being within arm’s reach of 20, she’s not gonna let that opportunity go by. So yeah, let’s say she takes advantage of a couple slow weeks towards the end of the calendar to get to an even 20 weeks this time — and maybe tries to match her second-favorite-number next time out.

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