'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,' from Swift's forthcoming album, 'Red,' appears headed for the upper reaches of next week's Hot 100.
The title of Taylor Swift's new single clearly isn't about her relationship with radio or her adoring buying public.
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," the first single from Swift's fourth studio album "Red," due Oct. 22, appears headed for the upper reaches of next week's Billboard Hot 100 chart, thanks to its immediate acceptance across multiple radio formats and a projected record first-week digital sales total.
After being serviced to radio late yesterday (Aug. 13) jointly by Big Machine and Universal Republic Records, "Never" has accrued approximately 30 million in all-format radio audience in less than 24 hours, according to Nielsen BDS. With that audience total, "Never" is already among the last seven days' 40 most-played titles across all formats.
Also commercially released to iTunes and Google Play late yesterday, and to other digital retailers today (14), "Never" has the retail record books in its sights. Industry sources suggest that the song may sell between 450,000 to 500,000 downloads by the end of the Nielsen SoundScan tracking week on Sunday (19). That large a sum could earn "Never" the biggest sales debut for a digital song by a woman, as well as a career-high sales week for the country/pop superstar.
(While pop and country versions have been released to appropriate radio formats, only the pop edit of "Never" is currently available digitally for consumers.)
If it surpasses 448,000, "Never" will earn the largest debut for a digital song by a female artist. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" holds the mark among women, having launched at No. 1 on Billboard's Digital Songs chart dated Feb. 26, 2011. (Impressively, "Born" racked 448,000 after only three days on sale, having bowed Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (The SoundScan tracking week ends on Sunday each week). Swift's "Never" will start with a little more than six days' worth of sales.
As for Swift, her best sales week was tallied with "Love Story," which sold 360,000 over Christmas week of 2008 (on the Digital Songs chart dated Jan. 10, 2009). Her highest debut week came courtesy of "Today Was a Fairytale," which sold 325,000 on the Feb. 6, 2010, Digital Songs chart.
Since her arrival in 2006, Swift has sold 17.8 million albums in the U.S. and 47.6 million digital tracks, according to SoundScan. In its 2011 year-end report, Nielsen named Swift the No. 5-best-selling digital songs artist, and the top such country act, of the digital era.
'NEVER': HOT 100-BOUND
While the sales of "Never" will not factor into this week's Hot 100 - highlights of which will be revealed tomorrow morning on Billboard.com and Billboard.biz - as it was released following the chart's sales tracking period (which ended Sunday), the Hot 100's airplay tracking week runs on a Wednesday-through-Tuesday cycle. Thus, the song's approximate 30 million in audience so far should enable a debut in the chart's lower half this week before its first sales frame helps propel it to the upper ranks of next week's Hot 100.
Could "Never" soar to No. 1 on the Hot 100 next week? Possibly. As a comparison, Justin Bieber launched at No. 2 the week of April 14 with "Boyfriend," thanks to 521,000 in first-week sales and 49 million in opening-week audience. As "Never" could debut with a similar, if slightly less, sales sum and a likely higher audience total, a top five Hot 100 rank, at least, next week appears possible.
The official debut sales frame for "Never," according to SoundScan, will be released on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 22. Highlights of next week's Hot 100, including the rank of "Never," will post on Billboard's websites the same day.
RADIO-ACTIVE COUNTRY HIT
The response from multiple radio formats to "Never" has been "over-the-top exciting," Big Machine president Scott Borchetta beams. "Everyone is so happy to have her back with a great new single and a fourth-quarter album.
"Because she has been such a dynamic, solid and trusted performer, there was a huge expectation and hope for a great first track. Programmers coast-to-coast feel that Taylor has again over-delivered," he says.