Taylor Swift Prevails Over Billie Eilish for a Fifth Week at No. 1


Taylor Swift holds the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s latest album chart for a fifth consecutive week, after an intense contest with Billie Eilish in which both stars released a blizzard of “versions” of their LPs to lure fans.

Eilish fought for “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” her third album, with release-week arena listening events in New York and Los Angeles. In an era of supersized track lists as a strategy to maximize streaming yield, the LP had just 10 songs. But fans were given a long menu of options to buy it, including nine colored vinyl editions. There were also four CDs, among them a “splatter” variant for which Eilish herself decorated the covers with splashed paint (“each one is unique,” her website said).

But Swift may have fought harder, or at least hurled more product at the marketplace. Since “The Tortured Poets Department” was released last month, it has come out in more than 20 iterations, according to Billboard, with enough track list variations, media pigments, bonus tracks and collectible goodies like autographs and magnets to keep fans coming back.

Over the last week, both artists’ camps launched new items like cannonballs. On the day Eilish released “Hit Me Hard and Soft,” Swift put out three limited digital editions of “Tortured Poets” featuring “first-draft phone memo” bonus tracks; then came a remix of her hit “Fortnight”; then, on Thursday, with just hours left in the tracking week, three additional digital versions of the album arrived with live tracks from her recent Eras Tour performances in Paris.

Eilish, for her part, released three “deluxe” digital albums, adding versions of her LP’s songs featuring isolated vocals or in sped-up or slowed-down form. The day after Swift’s “Fortnight” remix, Eilish put out a remix of “L’Amour de Ma Vie.”

Fans acted as foot soldiers in this war, clicking for streams or buying up as many album variations as they could. Many also complained on social media, accusing Swift of ruthlessly raining on another star’s parade, or taking Eilish to task for comments in a recent interview in which she criticized “some of the biggest artists in the world” for excessive vinyl production.

In the end, Swift won the week with the equivalent of 378,000 album sales in the United States, while Eilish opens at No. 2 with 339,000, her biggest one-week total to date, according to the tracking service Luminate.

A postmortem examination of those numbers shows that the contest was close, but Swift still triumphed by a safe margin. For traditional album sales — meaning copies bought as CDs, vinyl LPs or digital downloads — Swift had 210,000, and Eilish had 191,000. “Tortured Poets” garnered 217 million streams, and “Hit Me” had 194 million streams, though in this format Swift was helped by volume; the 31 tracks on “Tortured Poets” had an average of about seven million streams apiece, while the 10 tracks on “Hit Me” averaged 19 million.

Both albums were released by label divisions of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, so Universal succeeded no matter which woman won.

Also this week, Morgan Wallen’s “One Thing at a Time” holds at No. 3, Gunna’s “One of Wun” is No. 4, and Future and Metro Boomin’s “We Don’t Trust You” is No. 5.



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