Here Are Six Records She Could Break ? How Long Can Taylor Swift Keep ‘Tortured Poets’ at No. 1

Taylor Swift‘s “The Tortured Poets Department” has spent its first eight weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart — a very good number that looks to get better

Published Time: 20.06.2024 - 00:31:22 Modified Time: 20.06.2024 - 00:31:22

Taylor Swift‘s “The Tortured Poets Department” has spent its first eight weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart — a very good number that looks to get better. It may not vacate the top spot any time soon, between the album’s still-blockbuster streaming numbers, the issuing of variants as an insurance policy on the sales side, and the apparent lack of any competing superstar releases before mid-August.

So how long can she keep this streak going? And are there any records for consecutive weeks at No. 1 Swift is looking to break before “Tortured Poets” finally makes its inevitable dip to No. 2?

Variety has taken a look at Billboard chart history and identified a half-dozen records that she still stands to break if the album does not budge from its position as the summer marches on. Several of them look very achievable, if there aren’t any major stars that pop up with surprise releases in the next eight weeks.

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Post Malone just announced he is putting out “F-1 Trillion” on Aug. 16, just a week ahead of Sabrina Carpenter issuing “Short n’ Sweet” on Aug. 23. These are the two albums on the schedule most likely to end Swift’s No. 1 streak. Chances are she is well aware of those dates and likely won’t be taking extraordinary measures to block their paths, since both artists are Swift’s friends and collaborators (Malone is a “Tortured Poets” featured artist, and a Republic labelmate; Carpenter is a frequent Eras Tour opener). But there is plenty for Swift’s album to accomplish before those arrive.

Of course, Swift hasn’t talked about whether she has designs on breaking any records by maintaining her streak on top. It could just be that any week at No. 1 is a good week, just as her beau of record would probably think that every game that ends in a victory is a triumph, regardless of streaks or the post-season. But the issuing of so many physical and digital variants in the one week where she did face a serious threat in the U.S. — the week Billie Eilish’s latest came out — did make some chart-watchers wonder if she’s not just going for a lot of off-again, on-again weeks at No. 1 but a very long run of consecutive weeks.

So here are six milestones Swift could reach if she keeps it going:

If the streak reaches 11 weeks, she will break Adele’s record for the most consecutive weeks at No. 1 by a female artist this century. Adele’s “21” spent 10 straight weeks at No. 1, from January to March of 2012. “The Tortured Poets Department” just needs to hang on at the top for three more weeks to best that.

If the album spends 12 weeks on top, Swift will break her own record for the album of hers that has spent the most time at No. 1. It always feels good to surpass your own highwater mark. And actually she doesn’t need to have these weeks be consecutive for this particular record. “Fearless” (the original version) and “1989” are currently tied as the Swift albums that spent the most time at No. 1, with 11 weeks atop the Billboard 200 each.

If the streak reaches 13 weeks, she will beat Morgan Wallen’s record for the most consecutive weeks at No. 1 right out of the box this century. Wallen’s most recent album, 2023’s “One Thing at a Time,” spent its first 12 weeks at No. 1. Swift will need to spend give more weeks on top to steal that honor from her Republic labelmate. (It’s worth noting that Wallen’s mammothly popular album did return to the No. 1 spot after dipping out, ultimately spending 19 non-consecutive weeks atop the chart.)

If the streak reaches 14 weeks, she will break the all-time record for the most consecutive weeks spent at No. 1 by an album from its first week forward — previously set by Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” Saying that no other album in history debuted at No. 1 and then went on to spend more uninterrupted weeks there: this would be something to crow about. The Wonder album is the only release to ever bow on top and stay there for 13 weeks, which happened over the end of 1976 and beginning of 1977. “Tortured Poets” will have to hang on for another six weeks at No. 1, till the end of July, basically, to get to 14 and pull this off. Is it do-able? Right now, it looks possible.

(Billboard verified to Variety that no album before or since “Songs in the Key of Life” has spent its first 13 weeks at No. 1. But veteran chart buffs will want to add some historical context to that. In the pre-SoundScan (i.e., pre-1991) era, albums rarely debuted right at No. 1. For example, the Beatles’ blockbuster “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” bowed -

at No. 8 before reaching the top spot a week later and staying there 15 weeks. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” didn’t reach No. 1 until two months after it was out… and so on. Just a footnote to keep in mind.)

If the streak reaches 16 weeks, she will break the record previously set by Carole King’s “Tapestry” for the album by a female artist that has spent the most consecutive weeks at No. 1. Back in 1971, King’s breakout album spent 15 weeks on top of the Billboard 200. (It didn’t start out there; the record actually took five months to move up to the top spot after a more modest debut.) This has to be a big kahuna, among records Swift could break that go back to the very beginning of the album chart.

Could Swift take “Tortured Poets” all the way to 16 weeks at No. 1? The 16-week point will be realized with a chart week that comes to an end Aug. 8 (and would be announced Aug. 11). There’s a week-long buffer that would exist between this record being broken and Post Malone’s album coming out. So if there aren’t any surprises, like a sudden Drake surprise drop, or Kanye suddenly pulling “Vultures 2” together, doubling her current eight-week run doesn’t seem impossible.

If the streak reaches 21 weeks, she would break Harry Belafonte’s record for the most consecutive weeks spent at No. 1 by any artist, female or male. So, look, this one is just not going to happen. Or could it? Never count Swift out, but it’s hard to imagine even as big a hit as “Tortured Poets” staying on top with no interruptions all the way into October. But we take note of this one anyway, as a (probably) impossible dream. Belafonte spent his 20 straight weeks on top with “Calypso” back in the late ’50s. (You probably don’t remember that one, but your great-great-grandmother should know.) The Belafonte album did not start out at No. 1, though, so it leaves Stevie Wonder with the much more surpassable record of the most initial weeks on top.

Is Swift aware of all these records that she stands to break, and thus is consciously gunning for them? It seems unlikely she’d have done the research to have all of them in the back of her mind; she probably has less time to look up all this data than we do. But it’s hardly inconceivable that, say, the Carole King benchmark might have popped up in her path at some point.

What’s worth noting as an addendum is the very significant record Swift already set, which is much more notable than any of the aforementioned ones. This is the record for the most weeks spent at No. 1 by a solo artist. As of right now, her albums have spent a collective 77 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 100. It seems like just yesterday that she surpassed Elvis Presley in topping that historic count. Actually, she broke the record just under six months ago, as 2023 was rolling over into 2024. Yet, with the eight weeks she’s spent on top since then, Swift has really left Presley in her dust, back there in second place with 67 weeks. (She long since passed any female competitors; the nearest one in the lifetime count for weeks with a No. 1 album is Whitney Houston, with 46.)

So, since she has already set a record that may never be surpassed in our lifetimes, for the most weeks at No. 1 by a solo artist, why should she bother keeping up a competitive streak for the album charts anymore, if some of the possible benchmarks we mention are small potatoes, by comparison?

It could be because she really has her eye on the ultimate big kahuna: the most weeks spent at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 by any artist, period, be it group or solo. That record is held by the Beatles, with 132 weeks — still 55 weeks ahead of Swift. But she’s gaining on them fast enough that breaking their record feels like a potentially realistic lifetime goal, if she can maintain her prolific output and her penchant for capturing the public imagination. If she were to spend eight weeks on top of the chart each year, she could break their record in less than a decade. But keeping up that level of output may be challenging as she approaches middle age. Which is one good reason for her to be racking up as many weeks at No, 1 right now, while she’s at her most popular and prolific. She probably isn’t focused on accruing bragging rights on Morgan Wallen or even Adele, Carole or Stevie. Think “beat the Beatles,” if you’re going to think “Endgame.”

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