In the same way that rival movie studios steer clear of potential blockbusters like “Iron Man” and “Harry Potter,” record labels kept their powder dry to avoid going up against Taylor Swift’s new release, Speak Now . And that was a smart move, because the country superstar’s third album crushed the competition and smashed records on its way to a historic 1,047,000 in sales, according to figures provided by Nielsen SoundScan.
While she becomes the first female artist in six years to sell more than a million albums in her first week, Swift falls short of the all-time record for the best first week by a female artist, set by Britney Spears’ 2000 album, Oops … I Did It Again, which sold 1.31 million during its first week. It does, however, put her in rarified air, as only one of four women to ever sell more than a million albums in a week, and one of only 16 artists in the Nielsen SoundScan era (which began in 1991) to sell at least a million copies in a week, putting up the second-largest sales week of any country album since 1991 and the biggest sales week of any female country act since 1991.
Swift also takes the title of top-selling chart debut of 2010, beating Eminem’s Recovery, which moved 741,000 in its first week.
Swift’s label boss predicted the big sales last week, but even he must have been pleasantly surprised at how he nailed it. Swift’s last album, Fearless, debuted at #1 in November 2008 with sales of 582,000, going on to sell 6 million copies and taking the crown for top seller of 2009.
The only other top 10 debut of the week belongs to crooner Michael Buble, whose Hollywood: The Deluxe EP lands at #10 on sales of 26,000. The rest of the top 10: Sugarland, Incredible Machine (#2, 86,000, down 56 percent from its debut); Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown (#3, 67,000, down 63 percent from its debut); Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being (#4, 43,000); Eminem, Recovery (#5, 38,000); Elton John and Leon Russell, Union (#6, 37,000); Glee Cast, Rocky Horror Glee (#7, 31,000); Rod Stewart, Fly Me to the Moon: The Great American Songbook (#8, 30,000); and Darius Rucker, Charleston, SC 1966 (#9, 27,000).
Things were pretty quiet otherwise, with some of last week’s high debuts dropping down, including Shakira’s Spanish-language Sale El Sol, which falls nine spots to #16 in week two as sales dip 56 percent, and the soundtrack to Hannah Montana Forever, which drops six spots to #17 (19,000) as sales fell nearly 30 percent.
Swift isn’t just at the top of the charts, either. Her Christmas album, The Holiday Collection, comes in at #29 on sales of 14,000, while her mega-selling Fearless jumps 27 spots to #38, with sales picking up by 41 percent to just under 10,000. Her self-titled debut also bumps up 32 spots to #58 (7,000).
It’s no surprise that Swift is tops on the iTunes album chart as well, which she also dominated last week after just one day on the tally. Riding in behind her are Kings of Leon, the “Glee” Rocky Horror collection, the digital debut of Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, Sugarland, and Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More, while the pre-orders for Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy land that album (due November 22) at #7. Rounding out the top 10 are the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast album, Wayne’s Human Being and Eminem’s Recovery.
iTunes does not release sales data, but Ke$ha had a good week on the singles chart, topping it with her new single, “We R Who We R,” followed by the Far East Movement’s “Like a G6,” Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” Rihanna’s “Only Girl (in the World),” Nelly’s “Just a Dream,” Taylor Swift’s “Sparks Fly,” Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up,” Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are,” Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” and Kanye’s “Monster.”
Nobody looks likely to beat Taylor next week, though there will likely be some new faces in the top 10 thanks to albums from fellow country stars Jason Aldean and Brad Paisley, as well as Mariah Carey’s Christmas album and new efforts from N.E.R.D., Neil Diamond and Good Charlotte.