HITS Daily Double

1989 MEETS 2014: UPDATE

Taylor Swift's New, All-Pop Album and the Road to the Year's Biggest Debut
A new Taylor Swift album is presumptively a massive event—2012’s Red debuted with1.2 million and has moved 4.1m RTD—but the 10/27 release of 1989 (Big Machine), the singer/songwriter’s first pure-pop set, has garnered particular attention. Would her first album with nary a twang have the same sort of impact?

Judging by current forecasts, the answer is a resounding yes. We project she'll bow at over 1 million, which will give her a record-setting three platinum bows, which just happen to have been on three successive releases.

Needless to say, 1989 will be the year’s biggest chart debut (it crushed previous first-week champ Coldplay in a single day). Single "Shake It Off" is #1 at iTunes while other songs from the set dominate the Top 10, and the album hit #1 within 30 minutes of going live there; the boisterous “Shake It Off” is #1 at Pop radio.

As is the protocol with her albums, Swift, her 13 Management and Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine team oversaw creative, marketing, retail, publicity and other elements of the campaign, while Republic’s Monte Lipman, Charlie Walk and team focused entirely on Pop radio.

"Today marks the release of an extraordinary piece of work that is not only two years in the making but two years in the lives of Taylor and her universe" Borchetta notes. "1989 is not so much a transition to pure pop as it is more so an evolution of Taylor and her music.”

“Scott Borchetta is the visionary,” says Lipman. “The reason it works is in all the planning we integrate the pop radio campaign. We sit in on those meetings and discuss strategy.”

Radio gatekeepers got to hear the entire album early on, upping their investment in the overall project. “It wasn’t, Let’s be in the ‘Shake It Off’ business at Pop,” Walk points out. “It was, Let’s be in the Taylor Swift business. It was a long-term play from the beginning and very strategic. We were able to gather all the people who help curate pop culture and music with her at the beginning phase to set the tone. And we’re really proud of the fact that the week her album comes out her song will be #1. It’s a textbook, sophisticated promotion on all fronts.”

The first public unveiling, after one of Swift’s expert online teaser campaigns (she now has 45.8m Twitter followers), came on ABC-TV on 8/18. It began with a helicopter shot around the Empire State Building and then saw Taylor introducing “Shake It Off” in both audio and video form for a room full of superfans and viewers at home, as well as revealing the title and album art. The song quickly vaulted to the top of the iTunes chart (as would the album in pre-order) and immediately impacted Pop radio.

“Shake It Off”—an effervescent, propulsive anthem produced by Max Martin and Shellback that was Swift’s riposte to haters—closed the entire Top 40 panel in less than 24 hours, another historic feat, and made short work of the Hot AC panel the following week. It reached #1 on the Pop chart in a mere eight weeks. The song also debuted Top 5 in the U.K. and was A-Listed at BBC Radio 1 in September (she performed “Shake It Off” on R1’s Live Lounge shortly thereafter).

By the first week of October “Shake It Off” had amassed more than 2 million track sales.

A Diet Coke TV ad starring Swift (during which we learned that drinking the beverage will cause a kitten population explosion) shone a fizzy, fuzzy spotlight on the album pre-order. Diet Coke is also a partner in Swift’s iHeartMedia takeover, with events clustered around street date. Swift kicked things off by guest-hosting American Top 40 over the weekend and is featured on Direct From Hollywood With Ryan Seacrest on day of release. She performed at CBS Radio’s star-studded We Can Survive benefit at the Hollywood Bowl the weekend before street date.

The special “Taylor Swift’s 1989 Secret Sessions With iHeartRadio” began broadcasting on iHeart Pop stations nationwide, as well as via online partner Yahoo Live, on release day.

Swift appeared as a special guest during On with Mario Lopez and co-hosted On Air with RyanSeacrest for the entire four-hour broadcast live from NYC (a first for any artist), sharing xclusive details about 1989.

Her Halloween will be busy, with visits to Elvis Duran and TheMorning Show,The Kane Show and The Johnjay& Rich Show. The following weekend will find her guest-hosting iHeartRadio Countdown with Romeo and guesting on iHeartRadio Countdown With Mario Lopez, Weekend Top 30 with Hollywood Hamilton, Saturday Night Online Live With Romeo and Club Kane.

10/30 sees the Ultimate 1989 Fan Party LIVE, during which listeners can enter to win exclusive merch and can submit photos and messages for a Times Square ClearChannel Outdoor billboard takeover. (She'll return to Times Square when she headlines Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.)

"We are huge supporters of Taylor Swift and we are thrilled to be a cornerstone in launching her new album," iHeartRadio/iHeartMedia Networks prexy Darren Davis enthused, while wondering why his own beverage didn’t increase his kitten holdings.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s also Swift’s gauntlet of TV appearances. That marathon began on 10/23 with the closing of Hollywood Boulevard for a Jimmy Kimmel performance and a sit-down with the late-night host. On 10/27, Tay Tay set a spell with Good Morning America; she joins The Voice as a guest advisor this week (and return on 11/3); 10/29 finds her gabbing with the gals of TheView. She’ll return to GMA on 10/30 with a massive NYC concert featuring several songs from the new album. She’ll also be seen on a Subway TV campaign.

While she's reigned at iTunes since the first unveiling, Swift also has a deluxe physical edition of 1989 via Target; the $13.99 set features three additional songs and three "voice memo" demos.

Her print domination includes profiles too numerous to recapitulate here, but we’d be remiss not to mention an outstanding Q&A in Esquire, in which Swift demonstrates a remarkable self-awareness, perspective, poise and humor about her celebrity. It’s a terrific read, and if you weren’t rooting for her before perusing it, you will be by the end.

Reviews of 1989 have been uniformly strong. New York Times critic Jon Caramanica, praises her “expertly constructed” songs, describing the record as “breezily effective.” Further, Caramanica notes, “By making pop with almost no contemporary references, Ms. Swift is aiming somewhere even higher, a mode of timelessness that few true pop stars — aside from, say, Adele […] —even bother aspiring to.”

Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield gave the set four out of five stars in his review. Sheffield notes that Swift “has already written enough great songs for two or three careers… rather than trying to duplicate the wide reach of Red, she focuses on one aspect of her sound for a whole album a very Prince thing to do… 1989 sounds exactly like Taylor Swift, even when it sounds like nothing she's ever tried before.”

“Taylor has a work ethic unlike anyone I’ve ever seen before,” says Lipman. “Her pursuit of excellence is intoxicating—it inspires the staff. It’s not just about hitting the mark; it’s about looking for opportunities to make history.”

“She has a trust with her fans arguably like no other,” notes Borchetta, who adds that a phenomenon such as Swift’s “doesn't happen by accident nor without an extraordinary amount of work. Taylor takes two years to make each album, and her management and label teams work in tandem with her creative vision.”