(Note: This piece was written and released ahead of the announcement that Swift’s 1989 had sold over 1.2 million copies in its first week out.)
As of press time, the sales forecasts for Taylor Swift’s album “1989” were set to place the artist in a league of her own. Billboard reported that the latest album from the “Shake It Off” singer could sell more than 1.3 million copies. If it does, that will break the record set in 2000 by Britney Spears for the biggest album sales week by a female artist. “Oops! … I Did It Again” sold 1.319 million units in its first week.
“I’ve always been very optimistic about music sales and album sales, and to have that optimism kind of rewarded with people going out and buying the album; I was so happy about it,” Swift told me last Friday. “Yunno, I would look a little ridiculous if I was just going out for the last two years going, ‘No, people still care about albums!’ And then my album comes out and everybody’s like, ‘Well we don’t care about yours.’”
But people certainly do care, and it has made the launch for “1989” not just memorable, but quite possibly historic as well.
“It’s been the best week I ever had,” Swift responded, without hesitation, when I asked her how things had gone since Monday. “I put out this album that was very different from anything I had done before. Taking kind of a bold move and saying, ‘I choose this genre over that genre for this album’ was taking a bit of a risk. For people to completely see what I was doing and understand it and get it and love it… was the most amazing feeling.”
In addition to the masses, known collectively as “Swifties” or “Taylor Nation,” artists like Kacey Musgraves and Demi Lovato texted Swift on the album’s release date with well wishes. For Musgraves, the switch of Swift’s focus to pop may provide the country singer’s mantle with some extra hardware. For the first time since 2007, Taylor is not nominated for “Favorite Female Artist – Country” at the American Music Awards. When the honor is presented later this month, it will be the first time that an artist not named Taylor Swift wins it since 2008.
“I definitely thought about what I was going to be giving up before I gave it up,” Swift said when I mentioned this, adding that the idea of her not being nominated in the category is far from a sticking point. “I didn’t make this decision thoughtlessly. It was amazing to start out in country, and who knows if I’ll go back at some point. The one thing I was worried about was losing my relationships with the people who work in that industry, and thankfully they’ve all been really accepting of me making a creative change.”
Swift will perform at the AMAs, which air live November 23 at 8 pm on ABC. Also performing is her friend Lorde, who received nods in four different categories, including “Artist Of The Year.”
“We talk about everything,” Swift insisted. “Lorde knows everything. Ella’s (her birth name) has got the inside scoop on everything. I don’t know what it is about her. People tell her everything. She sees everything. She’s also got an incredible amount of insight. She’s the person I go to for advice. She’s 17 years old.”
Granted, the “Royals” singer turns 18 on November 7 – but Swift turns 25 next month. What makes Lorde great at giving advice? Her friend credits Ella’s lack of a filter. But the fact that the world’s biggest pop star will actually listen to someone who gives it to her straight well, may put Swift in her own league for an entirely different reason.
Taylor Swift covered Vance Joy’s single “Riptide” during a recent appearance on BBC Radio in the UK. Joy, a 26 year-old singer/songwriter from Australia, posted a video of the performance on his Facebook page along with, “There is a lot of emotion and joy in this cover. Thank you Taylor Swift.”
And in perhaps another sign of his appreciation, Joy told me Monday on “Ralphie Tonight” that he preordered Swift’s new album, 1989. At the time we spoke, he did not yet have an opportunity to listen, but stated he was a fan of “Shake It Off” as well as “Out Of The Woods,” two songs released ahead of the album’s Monday reveal.
Joy also noted that, via his manager, he noticed an impact from the world’s biggest pop star co-signing on one of his songs.
“I saw my manager a couple of days later and he said, ‘There’s been a lot of feedback about the cover and… it’s kind of I guess brought the song in to a whole new field of people’s vision,’” Joy recalled. “I saw these big bags under (my manager’s) eyes and I knew he’d been working hard.”
But for the artist from Melbourne, the experience transcends the priceless exposure.
“As a songwriter, I just admire what a great cover she did,” Joy stated. “Totally flattered.”
The nod from Swift comes as the Aussie begins his attempt to break in to the US market. It’s been a good year for Australians, as 5 Seconds Of Summer, Sia, and Iggy Azalea have all enjoyed success in the States.
“We get all the American music, we get all of the music from the UK,” Joy began to explain. “The sound of Australia is a unique sound but it’s also very easily passed around the world. There’s no barriers to sharing music now.”
While Joy talks about the globalization of music with the same subtle confidence he exudes on his debut album, he is quick to mention that the aforementioned artists are big names, and is a bit hesitant to be grouped in with them because of that. But when jokingly asked if he or 5SOS would be approached in a mall back home first, the hesitation vanishes.
“Definitely (5 Seconds Of Summer)!” he said through laughter. “I definitely wouldn’t get mauled. I think people would be like, ‘Oh, is that? Oh, maybe not? Oh, he’s gone.’”
Joy is speaking from personal experience at this point, so the confidence is definitely back.
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