Chart Watch: Taylor's "Fairytale" Contiues

    Country star Taylor Swift scored her third top three hit this week with the record breaking "Today Was A Fairytale", giving her yet another reason to celebrate.

    Swift, who has been nominated eight times at this week's Grammy awards, debuted at No. 2 with "Fairytale", from the soundtrack to Valentine's Day.  With digital sales of 325,000, Swift broke the record for best first week sales by a female artist.  The previous record holder was Britney Spears who sold 286,000 downloads of "Womanizer" in October 2008.

     Even with a stellar week in sales, radio airplay for "Fairytale" is non-existent, giving Ke$ha her sixth week at No. 1.  It does beg the question though, will Taylor Swift ever get a No. 1 single?
   She's come pretty close.  In 2008, "Love Story" peaked at No. 3, and "You Belong With Me" did it one better, coming in at No. 2 .  That gave Swift some of the best performing country songs of the 21st century.  Only two country artists have gone No. 1 in the past ten years, Carrie Underwood in 2005 with "Inside Your Heaven" and Lonestar in 2000 with "Amazed".  Before that, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers went No. 1 all the way back in 1983 with "Islands In The Stream".

   In thirty years, all country has to show for itself is three chart toppers, and you can argue that these three songs can only be called country in the loosest sense of the word.  It doesn't make much sense though.  How can the genre that brought the world Garth Brooks, who has sold over 68 million albums, but it can only top the Hot 100 three times with songs that have more than enough pop sheen?

   Country is just a different beast.  Competing with top 40 radio, few country songs make a dent in the overall radio chart.  A quick look at this week's top 40 most played songs shows seven songs that made the tally.  Unsurprisingly, Swift leads with "You Belong With Me", the tenth most played song in the country.  Lady Antebellum is the nest closest at No. 19 with "Need You Now".  A look at the download chart shows that country is even further behind there.  Besides Swift's songs, Lady Antebellum was the only other country artist to rank within the top 40.

    To say that country has an uphill battle charting highly on the Hot 100 is an understatement.  To an extent, scoring a No. 1 requires "selling out".  Both Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers had crossed over to mainstream audiences by 1983, and "Islands In The Stream" was written by the Bee Gees, accomplished songwriters, but not exactly part of the Nashville scene.  "Amazed" was de-twanged and remixed for pop radio.  And as for Carrie Underwood, her chart topper had less to do with the song, and even her.  Going No. 1 after winning American Idol had become an annual tradition.

    Comparing Swift's self titled debut and Fearless, its evident she's aiming for pop radio while trying to hold on to her country roots.  You could call it selling out, but you could also call it her being herself.  Sure, her first single was called "Tim McGraw", but she tweets about Jay Sean

    Expect "Today Was A Fairytale" to drop next week, as its explosive sales will wane, but if Swift's label plays its cards right when her third album drops later this year, she could have a No. 1 hit on her hands.  The album will need a hot first single, and it will need to be sent to radio with enough time to get some spins.  With the right timing of the digital release, Swift's fans will eagerly download the track, giving the country star her first No. 1 hit.

1. "Tik Tok" - Ke$ha (six weeks at No. 1)
2. "Today Was A Fairytale" - Taylor Swift (new debut)
3. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
4. "BedRock" - Young Money feat. Lloyd
5. "Baby" - Justin Bieber feat. Ludachris (new debut)
6. "Replay" - Iyaz
7. "Sexy Chick" - David Guetta feat. Akon
8. "Empire State of Mind" - Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys
9. "Hard" - Rihanna feat. Young Jeezy
10. "Hey Soul Sister" - Train


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