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How Big Is Taylor Swift?

🌈 Abstract

The article compares the career achievements and cultural impact of pop superstar Taylor Swift to other legendary artists like the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Madonna, and more. It analyzes and contrasts their success across various metrics like hit singles, album sales, touring revenue, and Grammy awards.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Taylor vs. the Beatles

1. How do Taylor Swift's Billboard Top 10 hits compare to the Beatles over the course of their respective careers?

  • The Beatles had a meteoric rise, with 32 of their 35 total Top 10 hits arriving in just 8 years from 1963-1970.
  • In contrast, Taylor Swift's Top 10 hits have been a slower burn, with her first Top 10 song not arriving until around her second album "Fearless" in 2008.
  • The Beatles also dominated the number one hits, with 20 chart-toppers, the majority coming in their early years in 1964-1965.
  • Taylor Swift's first number one hit came later in her career in 2012, after she collaborated with pop producer Max Martin.

2. How do the rules for counting Billboard hits differ between the Beatles' era and today?

  • In the 1960s, only actual "singles" released for purchase outside of full albums were counted as Billboard hits.
  • After 1998, the rules changed to include any song on the radio, as well as digital downloads and streams.
  • This gives Taylor Swift an advantage, as she has been able to dominate the Hot 100 chart by having multiple songs from an album chart simultaneously.

3. What are the key differences in the length and trajectory of the Beatles' and Taylor Swift's careers?

  • The Beatles accomplished an incredible amount of success in a very short 8-year period before breaking up.
  • Taylor Swift's career has been a much slower burn, with her success and popularity growing gradually over nearly two decades.
  • This longevity has allowed Swift to evolve her sound, grow her audience, and take advantage of technological changes in the music industry.

[02] Taylor vs. Michael Jackson

1. How do Taylor Swift's album sales compare to Michael Jackson's?

  • Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album is one of the best-selling albums of all time, certified 34 times platinum.
  • Taylor Swift's biggest albums so far, "Fearless" and "1989," are certified 10 and 9 times platinum respectively.
  • However, Swift's album sales are likely higher than officially certified, as they do not yet include the sales of her re-recorded "Taylor's Version" albums.

2. What are the key differences in the commercial trajectories of Michael Jackson's and Taylor Swift's careers?

  • Michael Jackson followed a more typical pop star arc, with a big breakthrough album ("Off the Wall") followed by a massive peak ("Thriller"), before his commercial success started to decline.
  • In contrast, Taylor Swift has maintained a remarkably consistent level of commercial success over an extended period, with her popularity and album sales continuing to grow later in her career.

[03] Taylor vs. Britney Spears

1. How do the album sales trajectories of Britney Spears and Taylor Swift compare?

  • Britney Spears experienced a steep decline in album sales after her massively successful debut, "...Baby One More Time."
  • Taylor Swift, on the other hand, has maintained a much more consistent and growing level of album sales throughout her career.

2. What are some key differences in the public perception and branding of Spears and Swift as pop stars?

  • Britney Spears was more known as a performer and celebrity, while Taylor Swift has firmly positioned herself as a songwriter from the beginning.
  • This has helped Swift avoid some of the sexist criticism that Spears faced regarding the frivolity of her music.

[04] Taylor vs. Madonna

1. How do the number and timing of Madonna and Taylor Swift's Billboard Hot 100 number one hits compare?

  • Madonna scored 10 number one hits in her first 10 years of dominance, while Swift's number one hits have come more gradually over the course of her career.
  • However, both artists have 12 number one hits total.

2. What are some key differences in the ways Madonna and Swift have leveraged their fame and celebrity?

  • Madonna was known for using more controversial, "shock value" tactics to maintain her cultural relevance.
  • Taylor Swift has generally avoided that type of approach, though she has still had her share of high-profile headlines outside of her music.

[05] Taylor vs. Beyoncé and Drake

1. How do the album sales of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift compare?

  • BeyoncĂ©'s commercial peak so far came with her 2008 album "I Am... Sasha Fierce," which sold over 9 million copies.
  • Taylor Swift's highest selling album is around 14 million in sales.
  • However, BeyoncĂ© has shifted her focus more towards artistic experimentation and live spectacle in recent years.

2. What are some of the key similarities between Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Drake in terms of their modern pop star status?

  • All three artists have optimized their output and chart performance to take advantage of the streaming era.
  • They are all actively playing for legacy, trying to maximize their commercial success and accolades.
  • They represent a new generation of ambitious, autonomous pop superstars.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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