Taylor Swift never doubted that her fifth album, 1989, would sell 1 million copies in its first week. But others were not so confident. “Everyone, in and out of the music business, kept telling me that my opinion and my viewpoint was naive and overly optimistic — even my own label,” says Swift, recalling the run-up to 1989’s October release in the vast living room of her penthouse loft in downtown Manhattan. “But when we got those first-day numbers in, all of a sudden, I didn’t look so naive anymore.”
In fact, 1989 moved 1.29 million copies in its first week, the biggest seven-day sales of any release since 2002, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Swift, who turns 25 on Dec. 13, became the first artist to hit that 1 million-week milestone three times — breaking a record not just for women or twentysomethings, but all musicians. It was an accomplishment that she engineered, maintaining worldwide ubiquity throughout 2014 with the European and Asian legs of her $150 million-earning Red Tour, a savvy and accessible social media presence, and tireless promotion, taking on everything from TV appearances to a role as New York’s “global welcome ambassador.” And as she made the leap from country to pop, her fans stuck by her, eager to follow an idol charting her own course.