The best way to start a weekend is with a superstar.
“This is a Friday night, and you’re going to give me a portion of it – I’m so happy to see you,” said a delighted Taylor Swift. “I am so happy right now for these people in my life. They bring me joy.”
The occasion was “Heavy Metal at the Hard Rock,” a bash staged downtown on Friday evening (1/28). We gathered to celebrate world conquest by the 21-year-old music phenom. Specifically, her Triple Platinum success with her Speak Now CD, her No. 1 triumph with “Mine” and her cumulative U.S. sales of 13 million.
“I made a really personal record this time,” said Taylor of Speak Now, “and the time before that, and the time before that….Making this album without any co-writers was a little lonelier. But it was something I needed to do.”
“It looks like the gang’s all here,” said Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta in welcoming the crowd. “We’re here to celebrate and honor more incredible accomplishments by our friend Taylor Swift. We’re on a collision course with 20 million albums.”
A succession of presenters took the stage in the Hard Rock’s upstairs party room. First up was BMI’s Jody Williams. “Taylor re-sets the bar so consistently,” he said. “[Taylor’s producer] Nathan Chapman is like one of my kids, except he doesn’t cost me as much.”
Sony/ATV’s Troy Tomlinson recited a “poem” that spelled out “T-A-Y-L-O-R.” “O is for the owesome way you treat us,” he drawled, drawing laughs. “R is for renew my contract, which is what they do every time you renew with me.
“Nathan, what you and Taylor do when you get in those little rooms with no windows is magic.”
MusicRow’s David Ross took the serious route. “You look nice,” Taylor said to him. “Love the hat.”
“You look nice, too,” he replied. She did, with her tresses drawn back in a curly ponytail and wearing a fetching, black-and-white polka dotted shirtwaist dress cinched with a red belt. She stood in the crowd with the rest of us while the execs sang her praises, saving her thank-you speech for the finale.
“Your career is just so amazing,” David began. “All of us in this town feel so strongly about it. Your success is so truly deserved, and we feel so privileged to have a front-row seat to watch your career.”
MusicRow was well represented at the bash. Sherod Robertson, Jon Freeman and Sarah Skates were all applauding, as was yours truly.
Quoth the CRB’s Bill Mayne, “For the thousands of country radio stations all over America, we love you….We hope and want and need all of your success to continue.”
The CMA, the RIAA, Nielsen Soundscan, Country Aircheck, CMT, GAC and Universal Distribution all made presentations. But Scott and company kept things moving briskly along.
“Our relationship and our work together has been life changing,” said Scott of his stunning star. “She lives these songs. These songs are her DNA. She has this incredible emotional connection.”
“The fans are my friends,” Taylor responded. “I love that we understand each other. Scott Borchetta, thank you for letting me be me.”
Here are a few tidbits we picked up during the event. On the day that Speak Now came out, Nathan and his wife, recording artist Stephanie Chapman, found out they are pregnant. Speak Now has sold more than the 61 albums behind it on the pop chart, combined. Kay West nearly blew her People mag scoop when Taylor and former beau Jake Gyllenhaal turned up dining at Bound’ry a few weeks ago. A spy told Kay that Taylor was there, “with that guy from Jarheads,” and Kay assumed that was some rock band until she Googled the 2005 movie Jarhead. We decided that it must have been a farewell dinner with Jake begging Taylor not to write a song about him.
Anyhow, back to the party. The wait staff circulated with trays of cheeseburgers, spicy shrimp shots, sushi rolls, grilled veggies in pastry cups and crab cakes topped with dollops of remoulade.
The invitation-only, media-heavy crowd included Donna Hughes, Rob Simbeck, Ron Huntsman, Ron Cox (Avenue Bank is donating money to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Taylor’s name), Charlie Monk, Charlie Chase & Lorianne Crook, Suzanne Gordon, Susan Stewart, Sarah Trahern, Ed Hardy, Terry Wakefield, John Zarling, Chuck Aly, R.J. Curtis, Bob Doerschuk (who’d interviewed Taylor for CMA Close-Up that morning), Erin Burr, Mike Milom, Brian Mansfield, Hunter Kelly, Jay Frank, Sandi Borchetta, Phyllis Stark, Betsy Walker, Eric Weinberg, Wendell Moore and David Crow.
“I love this town,” Taylor told them. “I love this beautiful industry. I’m having so much fun, and thank-you for being the reason I get to.
“We’re about to do some crazy traveling,” Taylor reported. “It’s going to be a really busy year, and I am more than excited for that.” She said she’s brushing up on Japanese phrases to say on stage during her swing through Asia in February. Also Korean, Chinese and Filipino. Then Dutch, Norwegian, German, Italian, French and Spanish before she swings through the British Isles, all in March.
Like I said, world conquest.
Heavy Metal Achievements
Taylor Swift’s career sales now exceed 20 million albums and 35 million song downloads.
With over 35 million tracks sold to date, Taylor remains the top selling digital artist in music history.
For the second time in three years, Taylor Swift is Billboard & Nielsen SoundScan’s top-selling artist of the year, with over 4.4 million albums sold in 2010.
Released in October, Speak Now sold 1,046,740 copies the first week, for the biggest debut-week sales for an album since 2005, and the biggest debut ever for a country studio album.
Speak Now has achieved Triple Platinum+ status since its release.
The album’s lead single, “Mine,” has sold 1.6 million digital downloads to date.
For the second consecutive year, Taylor is Billboard’s most-played artist, topping their annual all-genre Artist Airplay chart with more than 1.128 million airplay detections in 2010.
Taylor has sold more than 4 million albums each year for three consecutive years, and is the only artist to sell 4+ million albums each of the last three years.