No singer-songwriter in history (male or female) has matched the accomplishments of Taylor Swift. Billy Joel said Taylor Swift is like her generation’s Beatles. It sounded like an exaggeration when he said it, but he may be right…or at least not crazy.
At age 33, Taylor Swift has a total of 11 #1 albums. Only The Beatles and Elvis Presley have spent more weeks at #1 on the Billboard album chart, and Swift should pass Elvis in the near future. The Beatles and Taylor Swift are the only artists to have five albums stay at #1 for six-plus weeks.
Once artists break through, they typically have the greatest success of their careers in the first five years. After that, their recordings start to sell less (and stream less), even if they’re still major concert draws. Yet Taylor Swift has sustained her career, and is at her peak 17 years after she started.
Like Elton John, Carole King, and Brian Wilson, Taylor Swift often uses co-writers. For example, on two of her best albums, Folklore and Evermore, many of the songs were co-written by Aaron Dessner. During the time of COVID in 2020, Dessner would send instrumental “song starters” to Swift. She would then write the melody and lyrics to go along with the chord progressions. It’s basically the same way guitarist Mike Campbell provided chords and riffs for Tom Petty for some songs, like “Runnin’ Down A Dream”. Taylor Swift has also written enough songs all by herself to fill five albums, and has written hits for other artists..
The women singer-songwriters of the classic era of the 1970’s…like Carole King, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell…wrote some historically great songs, but they never had to also be able to sing them while performing major dance choreography. Sure, other female Pop stars do choreography, but their careers have not kept up with the accomplishments of Taylor Swift. In just the last three years, she’s had five #1 albums. No other singer-songwriter has done that. She also has won the Grammy for Album Of The Year a record three times (Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, & Frank Sinatra are tied with her).
Of course Swift also grabs a guitar or sits at a piano and delivers performances in the classic singer-songwriter style.
In 2023 poll, 53-percent of Americans said they are fans of Taylor Swift. That’s a major accomplishment in these days of scattered media and niche music. On an international level, Taylor Swift was the Global Recording Artist of the Year for 2022. The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) gave the award to Swift for having the most global sales and streaming. She’s earned the award a record three times in the ten years of its existence. In other years, she’s placed second twice, and third twice.
Taylor Swift is the only artist to have 9 albums in the top 40 (while still living), and the only one to have that for three straight weeks. She is also the only female artist (while living) to have three albums in the Top 10 at the same time…Midnights, The Long Pond Studio Sessions, and Lover. Rankings by Billboard June, 2023.
When Taylor Swift released her 2022 album, Midnights, she became the first artist to have all of the Top 10 Billboard singles at the same time. Unlike the old days when artists would only release one or two singles at a time, album tracks are now considered singles as the albums are played on the streaming services. The most notable aspect is that no other singles were able to keep Taylor’s 10 songs from taking over. She also writes and directs her own award-winning music videos.
And Taylor Swift is setting new records for live performances. Despite some problems with Ticketmaster, she sold more tickets in one day than any other artist in history. This is projected to be the highest grossing U.S. tour in history. Her “Eras Tour” started with two sold out shows at a 70,000 seat stadium in Arizona. She’s also sold out even larger stadiums for three nights in a row, and has five sold out nights coming up in Los Angeles. Unbelievably, Swift performs 44 songs during a show that lasts over 3-hours. Bruce Springsteen comes to mind as someone who’s done shows that long, minus all the choreography and stage production.
Let’s hope Taylor Swift can keep up the pace for her 52 scheduled stadium concerts in the U.S. There are nine more shows scheduled in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil into November. Then, it’s expected the tour will continue in Australia, the U.K. and Europe.
Bonus: Getty Images provided some great photos that show the size of the production on the “Eras Tour” (tap or click to enlarge).
And these are just a sample of the many production designs. A great effort was made to give fans a unique experience.
Update: Taylor Swift’s re-recorded Speak Now album’s release date is July 7th, 2023.
It features six never-released songs, and has a total of 22 tracks. The original Speak Now was Swift’s third album, and to prove a point, she wrote it completely on her own. It had six hit singles, spent six weeks at #1, and went six-times platinum.