Commentary

No. 1 Goes To The Swift As Fans Rally To '1989' Leak

It’s October 27. Which means one thing, of course. It’s officially time for “1989.” As in Taylor Swift’s birth year and the title of her new release.

After a leak last week whose impact was greatly staunched by the loyalty of her fans — a move that added to the enviable admixture of talent, hype and savvy that has made her the phenomenon that she is — Swift’s “long-awaited” fifth studio album is No. 1 on the charts just hours after its release, according to on-air promos for her appearance on “Good Morning America” this morning.

It was No. 1 on the Canadian iTunes charts within eight seconds of its release at midnight, according to Ross Miller on The Verge.

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“1989” is receiving “generally favorable” early reviews from critics (8 of them), according to metacritic.com, and “universal acclaim” from users (31).

“At its worst, ‘1989’ feels like an advertisement for Taylor-as-pop-star,” writes Julie Beck in an generally positive conversation about the album with three of her colleagues at The Atlantic. “(To be fair, its worst is still pretty enjoyable.)”

“Full of expertly constructed, slightly neutered songs about heartbreak, ‘1989…,’ doesn’t announce itself as oppositional,” writes Jon Caramanica in the New York Times. “But there is an implicit enemy on this breezily effective album: the rest of mainstream pop, which ‘1989’ has almost nothing in common with.”

The leak of all of the tracks from the album last week has reportedly been “traced back to Target and France,” according to Douglas Cobb on Guardian Liberty Voice, and “has caused many fans … to take to Twitter and rant about the terrible injustice that has been done to Swift. Some fans have said that they will not Follow anyone who downloads ‘1989’ for free.”

That’s tantamount to exile to a desert isle nowadays, no?

“Taylor Swift's fans are uncommonly loyal,” Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, toldUSA Today’s Andrea Mandell. “I doubt that anyone who wanted to buy the album would be dissuaded by the leak.”

Jean Bentley has compiled a list of all of the forthcoming television appearances for Swift at zap2it.com, starting with her interview with Robin Roberts on “GMA” this morning and a full hour on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” this afternoon. She will be back on “GMA” on Thursday morning, when she performs a free “ticketed” concert in Times Square in celebration of the release of her “first documented, official pop album.”

Swift released a single from the album, “Shake It Off,” on iTunes in August that was free for preorder of “1989.” Kelly Clarkson did a “gospel cover” of the jaunty tune in concert in Buffalo Saturday night.  “Some equate listening to a Taylor Swift song to a religious experience, but … Clarkson took it a step further,”Rachel McRady reports inUS.

“Watching Kelly Clarkson SLAY ‘Shake It Off’ is an excellent way to celebrate 26 HOURS TIL 1989!!!!!!…,” Clarkson tweeted (@taylorswift13). Clarkson replied: “@taylorswift13 Love this song! Hope you like our gospel beginning ha! We had fun with it! Congrats on the new album coming out girl!”

Clarkson is not the only celebrity female heaping on the praise and helping her out (as opposed to clever and widely reported reaction to “Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s quips at her expense during the 2013 Golden Globes.") Swift herself retweeted appreciations from Lena Dunham and Odeya Rush, as well as the following from Lorde@lordemusic early this morning: “i first heard style driving down the pacific coast highway and it was EVERYTHING i chair-danced so hard you have no idea #TS1989.”

All this is in the face of “sapping demand for digital downloads at the world’s biggest seller of music, Apple,” Dow Jones Newswire’sHannah Karp reports. “Music sales at Apple’s iTunes Store have fallen 13% to 14% worldwide since the start of the year, according to people familiar with the matter. The decline is stark compared with a much shallower dip last year.”

Consumers transitioning to online streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora is one of the primary reasons why Apple bought the Beats Music earlier this year, which it will relaunch as part of iTunes next year, Karp reports.

But her colleague, Miriam Gottlieb, reports in the Wall Street Journal that “Pandora only added a net 100,000 active users over the previous quarter. That compares with sequential step-ups of 1.6 million and 3.8 million in the third quarters of 2013 and 2012, respectively.” The company cited “an increasingly competitive environment” for slowing its growth.

On the bright side, though, the music industry this morning has Swift. And her fans.

 

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