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Kelly Yu / Gavel Media

Taylor Swift Tops Billboard With Newest Album 'Midnights'

Taylor Swift made Billboard history last week after her latest album Midnights dominated the Billboard Hot 100. She is the first artist in history to claim every spot in the top ten of the singles chart. The album’s standout hit, "Anti-Hero", claimed the top spot. "Lavender Haze", "Maroon", and "Snow on the Beach" followed the single. Less than a week after its release, Taylor’s album managed to dethrone major players like "As It Was" (Harry Styles), "Bad Habit" (Steve Lacy), and "I Ain’t Worried" (OneRepublic), all of which had taken up residence at the top of the chart for over fifteen weeks.  

While Swift isn’t a stranger to the Billboard charts (40 of her songs have made the top ten since her debut in 2006), such a wide sweep by a singular artist is unprecedented. The only other artists to have ever come close are The Beatles, who claimed eight top spots in 1964, and Drake, who took nine in 2021. 

It is clear that such a streak is no easy feat and speaks to the prowess of Swift’s songwriting and notoriety. But why is this the first time she’s done this? And how exactly does Billboard come up with these rankings?

Billboard Magazine launched its first Hot 100 ranking in August 1958 as a way to chronicle the most popular music in America. Back then, the chart featured artists like Elvis Presley and was based on a combination of record sales and radio time. Today, Billboard has maintained a relatively similar format but has evolved to include streaming data, more radio stations, and a wider range of sales. The magazine has used its ability to evolve to stay relevant, and over half a century later, it continues to act as a representative reflection of what people are listening to the most. 

Swift’s latest success is by no means an accident or a fluke, but rather the result of masterful songwriting and skilled marketing. After sixteen years in the industry, she has had many hits, a few misses, and a whole lot of experience to draw from. 

Midnights was a highly anticipated album, to say the least. Without a pop album release since 2019, fans were ready for Swift's return to the genre, and this latest album's success is a direct reflection of that. Swift made several tactful moves to capitalize on the excitement and build anticipation around the album; rather than announce the album a year in advance, as she did with her earlier albums, or drop a surprise album, as with folklore and evermore, Swift announced the album during her MTV Music Awards appearance just a couple of months before its release. Additionally, she opted not to release a lead single but rather teased other aspects of the album like song titles, concepts, and featured artists. This hybrid approach was the perfect way to build interest without risking a burnout. 

It is impossible to deny the power and hold that Taylor Swift has over pop and the music industry in general. Her career has seen a multitude of eras, genres, and rebrands yet, through it all, her talent and fanbase shine through. Whether you love her, hate her, or couldn’t care less, there is no escaping her reign and it seems she isn’t looking to slow down. It is clear that Taylor Swift is the master of writing songs, branding albums, selling out stadiums, and now, sweeping charts.

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