The Beatles & Taylor Swift (Updates)

Even Classic Rock fans should be impressed with how Taylor Swift is setting records!  Let’s start with a recent record that involves The Beatles, then look at more of Swift’s accomplishments, and compare more of her records with the Fab Four, including her total #1’s.  Her records keep coming, and they’re updated.

Taylor Swift broke a record The Beatles held for 54-years.  The Beatles had three #1 albums in England within just 364 days.  Now, Taylor Swift has had three #1 albums in only 259 days.  Wonder if that record will stand for 54 years.

Naturally, Swift breaking The Beatles’ record really upset Ringo Starr.  Just kidding.  In a recent interview about today’s music, Ringo said “I love Taylor Swift…she’s the only one who’s doing well.”  Ringo is overstating it, but no one else is coming close to all the records Taylor Swift has been setting.

The three albums that broke The Beatles’ record are Folklore, Evermore, and her 2021 re-recording of her 2008 album Fearless.

The original version  had 13 songs, and the new one has 26, including six she wrote in 2008, but had never recorded.  Who writes 26 songs for an album?…and she was just 18!  The new album, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), was done because Taylor Swift was unable to purchase her old recordings.  She hopes to have control over her songs by re-recording her first six albums, and basically have the new recordings (labeled “Taylor’s Version”) replace the old ones.  She already owns her three most recent albums.

(Swift’s original 9 albums before re-recording began)

So how did the new Fearless (Taylor’s Version) perform in its first week?  It became Taylor’s 9th straight studio album to debut at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200.  It also started at  #1 on the Country chart.  It had the biggest first week for a Country album since 2015.  It might be best if the owners of her old recordings figure out that their value is going down, and just sell the rights to Taylor.

(T.S. with Folklore co-writer and co-producer Aaron Dessner)

In 2021, Folklore won the Grammy for Album Of The Year.  Taylor Swift now has the record for the most albums of the year at three.  Tied with her are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra (pretty good company).

Swift’s albums have been at #1 for a total of  62 weeks (7/16/23).  It’s not likely she’ll catch The Beatles.  Their albums have 132 weeks at #1, Elvis Presley is second with 67, and Taylor Swift is in third place (with a likely move to second in the near future). The Beatles also have the record of 19 albums to hit #1.

Taylor Swift became a Beatles’ fan during her childhood.  She says she bought all their CD’s and studied their songwriting.  One thing she learned from The Beatles was to give most of her songs endings, instead of just fading out.

There are other records Taylor Swift shares with The Beatles.  They are the only two artists in history to have five albums that remained in the #1 position for six-plus weeks.  In July, 2023 Taylor Swift tied The Beatles as the only artists to have three singles from three different albums in The Top-10 at the same time.

In late 2020, Taylor Swift & Paul McCartney interviewed each other for Rolling Stone.  They were put together, because Swift has always cited McCartney as having a major influence on her career.  It took Paul decades to acquire the rights to The Beatles’ recordings.  Hopefully, Taylor’s quest will be much quicker.

Taylor Swift holds the record for the most Albums Of The Year based on sales, with six (12/8/22).  It’s too hard to keep up with all the awards she’s won, including an Emmy, Grammys, Billboard awards, just about every Pop & Country category available to her, and over 30 Guinness World Records.

On May 11th, 2021, Taylor Swift became the first woman, and first non-Brit, to be chosen as the Brit Award’s “Global Icon”, their highest honor.  Previous recipients include Elton John and David Bowie.

About a decade ago, Billboard started a chart called the Artist 100.  It measures key metrics of music consumption, with a blend of Album & Track sales, Radio airplay, Streaming, and Social Media fan interaction.  Taylor swift has the record at 87 weeks atop the chart (11/28/23).  That’s double anyone else, and Swift is the only artist to top the chart during each year of its existence.

Most artists peak within their first five years or so, but Taylor Swift’s peak (as of 2023) is 17 years into her career.  It’s hard to believe an artist could maintain such an incredible level of popularity for so long.  She has a long way to go, but who knows, Swift might even have a shot at breaking The Beatles’ record of 19 #1 albums.

There’s already a Taylor Swift display in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, even though she won’t be officially eligible until 2031.  The display includes items actually used in several of Swift’s music videos.

Update: The re-recorded version of 2012’s Red was released November 12th, 2021.  Instead of the original 16 tracks, Taylor’s Version has 30 tracks that were originally written for the album.  Reviews are very positive, with Rolling Stone giving it a perfect 5 stars.  It was her 10th album in a row to debut at #1.  That’s her 4th #1 album in 16 months…averaging a #1 album every 4 months! 

In November, 2021 classic rocker Elvis Costello said about Taylor Swift…”I think we’ll all be working for her eventually.  She’s smart and knows what she’s doing.  She can write and sing, and people love it.”

At about that same time, Billy Joel had this to say about Taylor Swift.  “She’s productive and keeps coming up with great concepts and songs, and she’s huge.  You have to give her high marks.  She knows music, and she knows how to write. She’s like that generation’s Beatles.

Records Update:  On August 28th, 2022, Taylor Swift became the first 3-time winner of Video Of The Year, for “All Too Well”, at the VMA’s.  [Update: On September 12th, 2023, she won it for the 4th time, for “Anti-Hero”.]  She also announced an album of 13 new songs…  Midnights.

It was released October 21st, 2022, and is a synth-based pop album. Three hours after the official release, Swift released an additional seven songs.

(Photos from Midnight’s release)

It became her 11th album in a row to debut at #1 on the Billboard chart.  Spotify reported that Midnights broke the record for most streams by an album in a single day (on October 21st, 2022), and Swift became the most streamed artist in a single day.  Midnights also set the one day streaming records for a first day on Apple Music and Amazon Music.  The album has mostly received 5-star reviews, including from Rolling Stone.

But what about sales?  In just one day, Midnights sold more physical & digital copies than any other album had sold in all of 2022.  The one-week numbers are staggering.  Swift sold 575,000 vinyl copies, which is more than three-times the previous one-week sales record (vinyl records began being counted again in 1991).  Besides vinyl, Swift sold 395,000 CD’s, 160,000 digital downloads, and even 10,000 cassettes.  Add in streaming, and the total equivalent albums is 1,578,000 units…the largest number in seven years.

And…Taylor Swift is the first artist to have all of the Top 10 Billboard singles at the same time.

Fun fact, Taylor Swift & The Beatles were #1 & #2 on the November 4th, 2022 U.K. album chart with Midnights and the Revolver remix.  Midnights stayed at #1 for two weeks in the U.S., and then added non-consecutive third, fourth, fifth & sixth weeks at the top.   The album topped the sales chart for 12 consecutive weeks, which is the most since 1998.  “Anti-Hero” topped the singles chart for eight weeks.

There’s also a 2023 TS stadium tour, with 149 concerts through most of 2024.  Amazingly, Swift is selling out stadiums as many as 6 times in some cities.  After the 53 U.S. shows in 2023 the tour is reportedly the first in history to break 1-billion-dollars, and may break 2-Billion after the international dates.  Ticketmaster says there is “historically unprecedented demand” for Taylor Swift tickets.

Update (July, 2023):  The re-recorded Speak Now was released on July 7th, 2023 (Ringo’s birthday!).  The album has six previously unreleased songs, for a total of 22..  It’s her 12th #1 album.

Fearless, Red, Speak Now, & 1989 are the four “Taylor’s Version” albums released so far.  That leaves two re-recorded albums to be released, Reputation & Taylor Swift

Update (Sept. 13, 2023):  Taylor Swift has been cleaning up at awards shows, and was the big winner at MTV’s 2023 Video Music Awards.  She won nine categories, including Best Artist , Best Video (Anti-Hero), Best Show (Eras Tour), Best Album (Midnights), and Best Song (Anti-Hero).

1989 Taylor’s Version is her 13th album in a row to debut at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.  Amazingly, a “new” Beatles single, “Now And Then” replaced a Taylor Swift song at #1 on the U.K. singles chart!  Then when the new U.K. Album chart came out, it was 1989 (Taylor’s Version) #1, Beatles (Remixed) Blue Album #2, Beatles (Remixed) Red Album #3.

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