A major media outlet sought out my opinion for an article that compared Taylor Swift and Adele, two titans in the pop music world.
“Who’s the most powerful woman in pop music?” the outlet inquired. “Adele is making a case for herself. They both now have top celebrity squads and share a similar subject matter when writing (ex-boyfriends) and have each broken music history.”
I suppose when you throw it in that context, it’s easy to place the two side-by-side. But in reality, there is no comparison as the singers are completely different artists who have traveled much different paths to their respective success.
Swift has spent far more time in the spotlight, especially here in the U.S. The Pennsylvania-born artist scored her first song on pop radio when she was just 17 with “Teardrops On My Guitar.” Her sophomore album, “Fearless,” was released in 2008. The LP netted four Grammys, including Album Of The Year, making Swift the youngest artist ever to win that award.
And in 2015, Swift’s popularity has only grown. Her latest album, “1989,” put the singer in yet another category of her own: the first artist to have three albums sell a million copies or more in the first week of its release. The recently-wrapped “1989 World Tour,” was the highest grossing trek of the year, bringing in over $250 million.
Sure, Adele won’t be playing stadiums in 2016, but she’ll spend multiple nights at most venues – six at New York’s Madison Square Garden alone – and will be playing to a sold out house every time she takes the stage. Adele didn’t release her latest album until the end of November, and yet still “25” is the best selling LP of the year on iTunes.
It’s also the biggest selling album in the U.S. since Adele’s last album, “21,” in 2011. In just its first four weeks out, “25” has sold just shy of 6 million copies. According to Billboard, Swift’s “1989,” which was released in October 2014, has sold 5.57 million to date.
The last time an album was purchased more than Adele’s latest release in a calendar year? That would be Usher’s “Confessions” in 2004, which tallied almost 8 million units. As Billboard points out, with two weeks left in the tracking year, it is not unfathomable for “25” to have its eyes set on that mark.
So in 2015, Taylor owned the box office and Adele owned the Billboard 200 (it should go without saying that “25” has been atop the chart since its release). But Swift took a different route to pop stardom, one that traveled through Nashville and gained her a loyal country music fan base in the process. And Adele, nee Adkins, took time off to mend a vocal cord issue and start a family (she has a 3-year-old son, Angelo).
There is no clear comparison between the two artists; the only obvious deduction when you look at each of their careers is that this holiday season, both singers have much to be thankful for.
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