Taylor Swift Closes In on Beatles' Chart Record

Taylor Swift this week becomes the first artist since the Beatles with four consecutive studio albums that each logged six or more weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200. She achieves the feat with 1989, which follows Fearless (11 weeks at #1), Speak Now (six weeks), and Red (seven weeks). The Beatles logged six or more weeks at #1 with seven consecutive studio albums from Beatles ’65 (which spent its sixth week at #1 in February 1965) to Abbey Road in December 1969.

Only one other act has logged six or more weeks at #1 with four consecutive studio albums. The Kingston Trio achieved the feat with four studio albums in a row, from The Kingston Trio at Large in August 1959 to String Along in October 1960.

That makes Swift the first female artist to achieve this feat.

This is the fourth time that Swift has had the #1 album in the last week before Christmas, which is traditionally the most competitive week of the year. She also did this with Fearless in 2008, Speak Now in 2010, and Red in 2012. No other artist has done this four times since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales. Garth Brooks is runner-up: He had the #1 album in the last week before Christmas (and/or the week that includes Christmas) three times (in 1994, 1997, and 1998).

Here’s another sign of Swift’s dominance: She has had four of the last eight albums to log six or more weeks at #1. No other artist has had more than one #1 album log six weeks at #1 in this time frame. (The four other albums to spend six or more weeks at #1 in since 2008 are Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream, Eminem’s Recovery, Adele’s 21, and the Frozen soundtrack.)

Swift has spent a career total of 30 weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200. Among female artists, this puts her in a tie for second place with Mariah Carey. Whitney Houston leads female artists, with 46 weeks on top.

1989 is the first album to spend six of its first eight weeks at #1 since Eminem's Recovery in 2010. (Recovery spent seven of its first nine weeks at #1, which Swift will probably match next week.)

Swift’s album moved 375K units this week (which includes 331K in actual album sales. The rest reflects on-demand streaming and digital track sales.)

Nicki Minaj's third studio album, The Pinkprint, debuts at #2. Her first two albums, Pink Friday and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, both reached #1. You’ll notice that all three of these albums have had the word “Pink” in their titles. It’s her signature! The title of the new album is a nod to Jay Z's The Blueprint, which was released in 2001.

By debuting at #2, Minaj’s album pulls ahead of Iggy Azalea's The New Classic as the year’s highest-charting album by a female rapper. (Azalea’s album debuted and peaked at #3 in April.) Minaj’s album moved 244K units this week (which includes 194K in actual album sales).

Pentatonix's That’s Christmas to Me holds at #3 for the second week its ninth week on the chart. The album previously spent two weeks week at #2. The album moved 214K units this week (which includes 203K in actual album sales).

J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive drops from #1 to #4 in its second week. The album moved 135K units this week (which includes 119K in actual album sales).

Black Messiah by D’Angelo & The Vanguard debuts at #5. It’s D’Angelo’s third studio album; his first in nearly 15 years. D’Angelo’s last studio album, Voodoo, opened at #1 in January 2000, with first-week sales of 321K. (Here’s an indication of how long D’Angelo has been MIA: Voodoo interrupted Santana's long run at #1 with its comeback smash, Supernatural.) Black Messiah moved 117K units this week (which includes 111K in actual album sales).

Black Messiah is the latest in a long line of album titles that have expressed black pride, including James Brown's Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud (1969), Isaac Hayes's Black Moses (1971), and Aretha Franklin's Young, Gifted & Black (1972).

Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour, which has climbed as high as #2, rebounds from #8 to #6 in its 27th week. The album moved 102K units this week (which includes 79K in actual album sales). In the Lonely Hour is the only album to have sold 1 million copies in both the U.S. and the U.K. in 2014. I wrote about that in a blog that we posted on Friday. If you missed it, here’s a link.

One Direction's FOUR, which debuted at #1 last month, holds at #7 for the second week in its fifth week. The album moved 101K units this week (which includes 88K in actual album sales).

Ed Sheeran's x inches up from #9 to #8 in its 26th week. The album, which debuted at #1 in June, logs its 11th week at #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart. That’s the longest run at #1 for an album by a male artist since Meat Loaf's1993 opus Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell. Sheeran’s album moved 100K units this week (which includes 61K in actual album sales).

Garth Brooks's Man Against Machine, which debuted and peaked at #4 last month, inches up from #10 to #9 in its sixth week. The album moves back to #1 on Top Country Albums, after being displaced last week by Carrie Underwood's Greatest Hits: Decade #1. This is its fifth week on top. Brooks’s album moved 81K units this week (all sales).

AC/DC's Rock or Bust, which debuted and peaked at #3, drops from #5 to #10 in its third week. The album moved 76K units this week (nearly all of which reflects actual album sales).

Frozen just misses the top 10 in its 56th week. The album returns to #1 on Top Soundtracks. This is its 45th week on top of that chart. Either Frozen or Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 has been #1 on that chart for 56 consecutive weeks.

Michael Bublé's Christmas also just misses the top 10 in the wake of his fourth annual NBC holiday special on Dec. 17. The album is #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 21st week. Since 1991, only one holiday album has had a longer run at #1 on this chart. That’s Kenny G's Miracles: The Holiday Album, which topped the catalog chart for 27 weeks from 1995 to 1998.