Chasing Taylor Swift on the Charts: These Birds

Album featuring songs of endangered birds debuts at No. 5 on Australian sales chart
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2021 12:09 PM CST

An album sung by birds has surpassed offerings from ABBA and The Weeknd in becoming the first album of its kind to debut in the top five on Australia's music charts. Songs of Disappearance from BirdLife Australia, the nation's largest bird conservation organization, includes the birdsongs of 53 of Australia's most threatened bird species, collected over 30 years by wildlife sound recordist David Stewart, per the BBC. Its Dec. 3 release prompted a social media campaign to get the album on ARIA's top-selling albums chart. It debuted this week at the No. 5 spot, just behind Taylor Swift's Red (Taylor's Version), and one spot above ABBA's Voyage, with 3,000 copies sold, per ABC Australia.

“While this campaign is fun, there's a serious side to what we're doing,” BirdLife Australia CEO Paul Sullivan tells the Music Network. "This album is a very special record with some rare recordings of birds that may not survive if we don't come together to protect them.” A study by researchers at Charles Darwin University, published this month, found one in six Australian bird species are threatened. That's 216 out of 1,299, up from 195 in 2011, per the Guardian. Sean Dooley of BirdLife Australia told the outlet that there were an estimated 6 million fewer individual birds across 17 species than a decade earlier. "That is almost unequivocally due to climate change," he said.

The silver lining is the response to the album, whose sales will benefit BirdLife Australia's conservation projects. "It's absolutely incredible to have knocked Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, and a whole bunch of other really famous artists out of the [top five]," CDU PhD student Anthony Albrecht tells ABC. "It's been heartening to see bird enthusiasts showing governments and businesses that Australians care about these important birds," Sullivan adds, per the BBC. The album's title track (listen here) brings together the sounds of all 53 endangered species featured. Outlets report it sometimes took hours just to record a short tweet or squawk. (Researchers found sparrows altered their songs during the pandemic.)

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