One year ago, Taylor Swift was on top of the world. It seemed like there was no bigger star in the sky. At a time when albums weren’t selling, she became the first person to generate three opening sales weeks north of 1 million in a row before launching into a parade of hit single after hit single. “Shake it Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Bad Blood” all soared to #1, and neither “Style” nor “Wildest Dreams” was far behind. In fact, had Taylor Swift promoted them as a first single, she very well might have taken just about any song on the album to #1. “Wildest Dreams,” after all, is in its second week at #1 on US radio.
Still, it has now become clear that there is a bigger star in the sky than Taylor Swift. Just as Taylor Swift nears the end of her extraordinary run at or near the top of the Billboard 200, Adele has popped back onto the scene, and like a lightning bolt, she has set the music world aflame. Taylor Swift’s extraordinary album sales still pale in comparison to those of Adele’s last opus, and her opening sales figure of 1.287 million is likely to be completely trounced by 25, which is currently projected to sell over 2 million first-week copies. 25 is, of course, just one album, while Taylor Swift has produced the same level of massive sales consistently and like clockwork. Many artists see a star burn bright and fade. But the booming entrance of “Hello” and the extraordinary levels of album pre-sales that Adele has managed speak volumes, and predict that Adele’s star is far from burned out yet.
So what is left for Taylor Swift? Obviously, she is going to keep doing what she is doing. She puts out hit after hit after hit. She is far and away the most consistent big-name star in the music industry right now. She puts out an album every other year like clockwork. She releases several singles consecutively, each of which gets a top-notch music video and proper release that propels it up the charts. Then, she goes on a giant global arena tour, where she sings her zillions of hit songs. And, she gets back to work in the studio so that she can release her next album on the next even-year October, just as she has done with all her previous albums except 2008’s Speak Now, which was released on lucky November 11th (Incidentally, Speak Now is her best-selling album to date, although 1989 may yet surpass it).