Congratulations are in order for Taylor Swift, who may not have won Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs last night but for all intents and purposes made it rain with her new album Red. The country-popper’s fourth release moved 1.21 million copies in its opening week, and set a boatload of records along the way. Most notably, she became the only woman in the SoundScan era to sell over a million copies in a week on more than one occasion, as her previous album Speak Now also went instant-platinum back in 2010.
But there’s one statistic that really stands out, and that’s the fact that Red represents the biggest single week for a release since 2002, when Eminem’s The Eminem Show moved 1,322,000 copies in its opening week. Red is still only the eighth biggest opening week of all time, but it’s way more impressive a showing than a lot of the albums in front of her, the bulk of which were released between 2000 and 2002, when music was the centerpiece of the pop culture conversation, record stores still existed, TRL remained a power player, and the evil Internet had yet to make its full impact on downloading culture (Napster was at its height, but in the pre-iTunes universe, most people were still wary of online music, and the shift to universal broadband hadn’t set in yet).
The fact that Swift has not only put up such a big number but actually improved upon her last album is nothing short of remarkable. The industry has only narrowed since she last released an album, and yet here she is cranking up her sales numbers. So while she basks in the glow of her latest industry-related victory, the question arises: What is Taylor Swift’s ceiling? READ FULL STORY