The good news spread like wildfire last night as Nielsen SoundScan released official word that Taylor Swift’s latest single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” sold 623,000 units. Swift’s debut week sales are the biggest digital sales week ever for a female and only slightly behind Flo Rida’s “Right Round” which scanned 636k in 2009.
Swift’s pop culture influence continues to reign supreme as her musical and media savvy propel her star to new heights. This self-created momentum has become the thread weaving her impressive tapestry of success. Commenting on the new single, writer Ann Powers has an insightful NPR.com article in which she asks the question, “Taylor Swift, Princess Of Punk?”
“Swift’s song spins sugar from spit,” says Powers. “Its sneeringly derisive tone is rooted in its stomping four-on-the-floor beat and builds through Swift’s clipped guitar strums and a vocal marked by Valley Girl-style vocal asides and a whistle-while-you-trash-him melodic hook. In other words, it’s pop-punk, like a Blink-182 song. Or an Avril Lavigne song — which it could have been, had its co-writer Max Martin been working with another of the ingenues he’s aided (say, Lavigne herself).”
Powers cites Swift co-writer Martin as being a perfect fit. “Sassy women are Martin’s metier. He’s helped shape the sound of most of today’s top non-R&B ingenues, one that blends punk’s gob-flinging sarcasm with the melodicism of ABBA and that danceable yet rockish beat. Besides Clarkson and Swift, Martin, often working with another producer, has applied his formula to collaborations with Spears, Lavigne, Katy Perry and Pink.” (Note: Shellback was the third co-writer on Swift’s song.)
It’s a great read, especially in light of the fact that although Swift remains country music’s chief ambassador, her fame has spread to, and been embraced by, all musical formats—a fact easily proven by her amazing sales results.
However, with fame comes pressure. Sales observers and the world will no doubt be watching intently during Swift’s Oct. 22 debut week to see how its sales compare to the incredible one million plus benchmark set by her last set. Sure to play a role will be digital retailers such as Amazon who have been known to severely discount mega-hit albums during debut week—sometimes as low as 99¢. To stem some of the extreme discounts, the charts no longer count debut week sales when prices fall below $3.49. Smoothing out these kinds of issues will be just one of many bullet points on the Big Machine sales team’s To Do list.
Charting The Sales
Country album sales this week were anything but energetic as the Top 75 current country total barely edged above the low-water 300k mark. Zac Brown continued in the top spot with week 6 sales of almost 25k and RTD of 456k. Colt Ford remains in the Top 5 for a third week sliding back to No. 4 with sales of 16k and RTD of 48k. Ford’s showing is no doubt pleasing the Average Joe’s team.
In the tracks department Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” was downloaded almost 87k times placing her in the No. 2 spot on the country tracks chart behind Ms. Swift. Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” got 84k clicks placing it in the No. 3 position. And Hunter Hayes at No. 4 added 65k more sales to his impressive RTD of 1.02 million for “Wanted.”
As the calendar ticks closer to Q4 we’ll get more aggressive with predictions for country’s year end sales totals. Up or down? Currently we have Jason Aldean (Oct. 16), Swift (Oct. 22) and Toby Keith (Nov. 13) warming up in the album sales release bullpen, but no doubt a few more superstar titles will join the fray… Stay tuned.
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