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Taylor Swift’s Most Popular Albums

Taylor Swift’s Most Popular Albums

After a two-year hiatus, pop singer and hit-making machine Taylor Swift released her latest  album, “Midnights,” on Oct. 21. Almost immediately, it sold 1.578 million units, joining her nine other studio LPs that went platinum – and trailing only Adele’s “25” for the biggest debut by a female performer in Billboard history. (Swift can also claim one of the most dominant reigns in Billboard history.) 

“Midnights” brought Swift a bevy of other distinctions. She became the first artist to have five albums debut with over a million units sold in their first week, based on data from Nielsen. 

“Midnights” also sold 575,000 copies on vinyl for the week, the most since modern-day tracking of weekly vinyl sales began in 1991. By reaching No. 1, “Midnights” tied Swift with Barbra Streisand for most chart-topping albums recorded by a female performer – 11. (Swift re-released her versions of earlier albums “Fearless” and “Red,” both of which went to No. 1.)

To determine Taylor Swift’s top 10 charting studio albums, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard 200 album charts. Albums were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 200 points, a week at No. 2 worth 199 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 200 worth one point. Billboard data is current through the week of November 19, 2022. While the recently released “Midnights” currently ranks as No. 10, it will likely climb over the following year as the album spends more time on the Billboard 200. (The singer-songwriter has also been a commanding presence on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles charts. These are Taylor Swift’s biggest hits.)

Nine of Swift’s albums have been on the Billboard 200 album chart for more than 100 weeks. The current leader, “1989,” has spent 414 weeks on that chart. That LP and the album “Fearless” each occupied the No. 1 position for 11 weeks.

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10. Midnights
> Entered Billboard 200: Nov. 5, 2022
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 3

“Midnights” is Taylor Swift’s first album since the release of the LPs “folklore” and “evermore” in 2020. Considered to be a collection of contemplative songs, “Midnights” instantly went platinum when it was released in October – and 10 songs from the LP occupied the top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 the same week, the first time that ever happened.

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9. evermore
> Entered Billboard 200: Dec. 26, 2020
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 100

“Evermore” was the last album released by Swift before “Midnights.” It explores similar themes as its direct predecessor, “folklore,” released five months earlier (both came out during a particularly bleak period of the pandemic). “Evermore” builds on the previous LP’s themes of pain and love. Swift is more at ease with her moodiness on the album and her narratives are spiced with explicit language. Three singles were released from the album – “Willow,” “No Body, No Crime,” and “Coney Island” – with “Willow” debuting atop the Billboard Hot 100, giving Swift her seventh chart-topper.

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8. Red
> Entered Billboard 200: Nov. 10, 2012
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 7 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 185

“Red” was Taylor Swift’s first pop and electronic-influenced foray beyond country and it was well-received by music critics. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone said “Red [was] where [Swift] proved herself not just the supreme pop songwriter of her generation, but one of the all-timers …” She explores various musical styles in collaborations with partners that included Britney Spears and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol. The album generated seven singles, four of which reached the Top 10. The single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” topped the Billboard Hot 100.

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7. Speak Now
> Entered Billboard 200: Nov.r 13, 2010
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 157

“Speak Now” came out after Kanye West tried to pre-empt Taylor Swift’s moment of glory at the 2009 VMAs. On the album, she makes references to West and ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner and writes a “Dear John” letter to singer John Mayer. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic.com says that on “Speak Now,” Swift “writes from the perspective of the moment yet has the skill of a songwriter beyond her years, articulating contradictions and confessions with keen detail and strong melody.” Two of the album’s six singles – “Mine” and “Back to December” – reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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6. folklore
> Entered Billboard 200: Aug. 8, 2020
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 8 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 120

Taylor Swift wrote the songs for “folklore” during the pandemic, teaming with longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff and with Aaron Dessner, from The National, a new partner. The material is reflective of the mood during Covid-19, a bit gloomy and wistful, a departure for the pop princess. The songs reflect the maturity of Swift as a songwriter. There were 17 tracks on the album. Two of its three singles cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 – “Cardigan” and “Exile,” with the former song hitting No. 1.

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5. reputation
> Entered Billboard 200: Dec. 2, 2017
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 215

On “reputation,” Swift puts any suggestion that she is a naive young woman to rest. The song compilation, influenced by R&B, hip-hop, and trap, among other genres, deals with topics such as sex, betrayal, and the aftermath of failed relationships. On this album, Swift is coming from a moodier and darker place. Six singles came out of the album. Among them was “Look What You Made Me Do,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100. The single “End Game” features vocals from American rapper Future and English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.

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4. Lover
> Entered Billboard 200: Sept. 7, 2019
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 168

Taylor Swift’s “Lover” sometimes ventured into bubblegum pop silliness (including a spoken introduction from British actor Idris Elba on “London Boy”) while some songs explored more complex themes such as sexism, addressed in “The Man.” Also collaborating with Swift are the group then called the Dixie Chicks (now just The Chicks) on a song about healing, “Soon You’ll Get Better.” The 18-track album yielded four singles – “Me!,” featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, “You Need to Calm Down,” “Lover,” and “The Man.” All but the latter song charted in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10.

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3. Fearless
> Entered Billboard 200: Nov. 29, 2008
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 11 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 261

Some music critics considered “Fearless” one of the best pop albums of 2008. It was Taylor Swift’s second album, and though she was pulling away from her country roots, she didn’t abandon the genre that lifted her to stardom entirely. She wrote six of the 13 songs herself, some of which are cautionary tales for younger girls about matters of the heart. A Fearless tour followed the release of the album, which spawned five singles, including three that charted in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10: “Love Story,” “You Belong with Me,” and “Fearless.” Swift re-released the album in 2021 following a dispute involving the ownership of her back catalog.

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2. Taylor Swift
> Entered Billboard 200: Nov. 11, 2006
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #5 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 275

Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut album was released in October 2006 when she was 16 years old and it made an impact on the country-music audience. She wrote or co-wrote 11 of the LP’s tracks. The album explored teen angst regarding relationships and friendships. Reviewers were impressed by her maturity as reflected in the songs’ lyrics. The album generated five singles, and one of them, “Teardrops on My Guitar,” climbed to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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1. 1989
> Entered Billboard 200: Nov. 15, 2014
> Peak position on Billboard 200: #1 (for 11 weeks)
> Total weeks on Billboard 200: 412

“1989” is an unapologetic pop record, with Taylor Swift announcing that the LP was her first “documented, official” album of that kind. The LP moved away from her country roots and featured a synth-pop sound created by heavy synthesizers and programmed drums. She collaborated with Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic, fun.’s Jack Antonoff, and Imogen Heap, and took a more light-hearted approach to relationships in contrast to her previous albums. The album was named for her birth year and as such symbolized her artistic rebirth. It was certified nine-times platinum in 2017. The LP produced seven singles and three of them – “”Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Bad Blood” – went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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