Taylor Swift is untouchable. And, no, we don't mean that in the way that Swift is always surrounded by bodyguards and you can't get anywhere near. (Though that too). She's untouchable because she's about to do something that no other pop or rap star has ever done, or might ever do again. Not Katy, not Rihanna, not Miley, not Ariana. Hell, maybe not even Beyonce, Jay Z or Eminem.
We won't know for sure until Wednesday morning, but according to early reports from Billboard, Swift looks like she's track to land her third album in a row to sell more than one million copies in its opening week when 1989's final numbers are tallied. To put that in perspective, no other act ever had three platinum debut weeks in a row. In fact, no other act has ever has ever had three platinum debut weeks EVER.
If she pulls a platinum debut three-peat, it's even more impressive because, for the most part, album sales are in the tank this year. Forget about first-week blow-outs, there hasn't been a single platinum-selling pop album released in all of 2014 so far. Not one. At a time when music lovers are gobbling up singles like Halloween candy, fans aren't buying albums at anywhere near the same rate or volume.
So how does she do it? Here are eight ways Taylor has locked down the music game:
1. The competition is pretty slim
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s million openers weren't unusual. Garth Brooks, Britney Spears, Norah Jones, Eminem, 50 Cent, Usher and, um, Limp Bizkit all did it. The Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC did it twice. Lady Gaga got in the record books in 2011 with Born This Way (though that one had as asterisk because of her discounted online sale), and Lil Wayne hit the mark with Tha Carter III. But it's become more and more rare. Though Jay hit that peak with Magna Carta Holy Grail, it wasn't official since Samsung bought the first million copies. Eminem, Wayne and Beyoncé could still potentially challenge Swift's throne in the future, but the list of artists even remotely capable of sharing her rare air is getting slimmer every day.
2. It's kind of just what she does now
Swift has released five albums (four of which have hit #1) and as her audience has grown, platinum is pretty much her default mode. 2010's Speak Now sold 1.05 million in its first week, and 2012's smash Red moved 1.21 million. If 1989 hits the million mark her first week out, she'll be the first artist to have that big an open since... herself with Red.
3. She can't stop, won't stop
Plenty of artists grind out the promotional game. Hell, when Lady Gaga's Artpop came out we wondered if maybe she wasn't hitting it TOO hard. But Taylor seems to never need sleep, becoming so ubiquitous in the run-up to Monday's release that it made you wonder if she'd cloned herself. "Ellen," "Good Morning America," "The Voice," an iHeartRadio show, a "GMA concert," "The View," "Letterman," not to mention an MTV takeover, and more. It's been nearly impossible to turn on network TV and not see Taylor.
4. It's all about the fans
Everyone loves their fan armies. But Swift always finds a way to make her legions feel just a bit more special. Whether it's blowing minds by inviting them to a series of secret listening parties at her house(s), or posting endless collages of her #taylurking activities or empathizing with their love problems, Tay's connection with Swifties is strong and relentless. She's constantly connected and connecting to them. (Again, see that lack of sleep thing.)
5. She's honest and totally safe for carpools
One of the ways Swift connects with fans is writing about her romantic life in a clear, honest way that's relatable to anyone who has ever been in love or fallen out. Plus, her lyrics and shows are so squeaky clean that moms and dads are happy to pony up for tickets and album downloads without worrying about NSFW content, an increasingly rare mainstream move these days. Plus, her music has the power to unite even the most divided political constituencies.
6. Her besties are famous, and they tweet
In addition to the millions of Swifties out there, Taylor has a growing collection of A-list friends who not only love her music, but aren't afraid to tweet, Instagram, and Tumbl their love for her albums.
7. She's a geek, just like you
Behold, the Pegacorn.
8. The songs, duh
All of this would be cool (and, not to mention, wildly impressive) by itself. But when it comes down to it, Taylor just writes super catchy songs that are nearly impossible not to love. From "Blank Space" to "Shake It Off", "Out of the Woods" and "Welcome to New York," we are all basically powerless. Plus, no "evil pop," so there's that.
So, will Taylor pull off her platinum three-peat? There's currently a blank space next to that world record, and it's pretty clear that's where Taylor Swift's about to write her name.