Streaming is everything in music today. But a pile of CDs, a marker and some elbow grease can still take you to No. 1 (at least if your name is Taylor Swift).
This week, Swift’s “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” the rerecorded edition of her breakthrough 2008 LP, returned to No. 1 on Billboard’s chart — up from No. 157 last week — with the equivalent of 152,000 sales in the United States, thanks largely to a limited release of autographed CDs on Swift’s website.
“Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” which opened at No. 1 in April, notched its second week at the top with just 8.7 million streams, the lowest streaming number for a No. 1 album since AC/DC’s “Power Up” last November. But Swift also moved 146,000 copies as a complete package, including 77,000 on CD, 67,000 on vinyl and about 1,000 each on cassette and digital download, according to MRC Data, Billboard’s tracking arm. Altogether, that pushed “Fearless” over the top in its 25th week out.
Last month, Swift tweeted that she had signed so many CDs, “I may never write the same again, as my hand is now frozen in the permanent shape of a claw.”
It is a tactic Swift has used before. Last year, she sent signed copies of “Folklore” — the first of her two quarantine LPs — to indie record stores, and later sold more autographed CDs on her website. “Folklore” held the No. 1 spot a total of eight weeks, more than any other album in 2020.
Also this week, Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” is No. 2; the rapper Meek Mill’s new “Expensive Pain” opens at No. 3; YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s “Sincerely, Kentrell,” last week’s chart-topper, falls three spots to No. 4 in its second week out; and Lil Nas X’s “Montero” is in fifth place.
“Love for Sale,” the album of Cole Porter songs by Lady Gaga and the 95-year-old Tony Bennett, opens at No. 8.