Billboard reports, “It’s official: Taylor Swift’s ‘RED’ sold a whopping 1.208 million copies last week in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan,”  scoring music’s highest weekly sales number in more than a decade (since 2002’s The Eminem Show), and earning Taylor a new page in the history books as the only female artist (and the fourth artist ever) to hit the 1 million first-week figure twice since SoundScan began tracking actual sales in 1991.

RED notched the 8th largest first-week debut in SoundScan chart history and the 2nd biggest week ever for a female artist.

RED, released on Big Machine Records, debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (Taylor’s second consecutive million-plus album selling debut and third chart-topping album), and this week sold more than the rest of the albums in the Top 50 – combined.

RED is only the 18th album in history to sell a million units in a single week; Taylor’s Speak Now album is another one of the 18, with a 2010 debut of more than 1.04 million copies.

RED accounted for 19.3% of total albums sold this week — one out of nearly every 5 CDs or downloads sold this week was Taylor’s RED album.

With RED, Taylor set a new worldwide iTunes record for highest ever first-week album sales, with 565,545 copies sold digitally around the globe. RED reached #1 on the iTunes sales charts in 42 countries, and reached #1 on the national sales charts in the UK, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Ireland, Argentina, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia, among others.

RED also breaks iTunes’s first-week U.S. sales record, with more than 464,000 albums sold. At Target, RED set the retailer’s new one-week sales record with more than 396,000 CD sold — Taylor’s Speak Now album previously held their record.

RED also enters Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart at #1, and now owns the best one week sales total for any Country release in SoundScan history, surpassing the 1.08 million copies sold of Garth Brooks’ “Double Live” in 1998. Taylor now has two of the three biggest one week sales totals for any Country album in the SoundScan era. 

Critical acclaim for RED matches the disc’s sales and chart success, with continuing rave reviews from leading critics around the globe. “She’s a lethally smart songwriter and there’s this universality that speaks not just to young women, but everyone who wants to find love and has felt heartbreak,” Bill Werde, editorial director of Billboard, told Reuters yesterday.

“Ms. Swift has excelled….. now eight years removed from her debut single, [she] has become one of the most important pop artists of the last decade.”  — The New York Times

“Swift is clearly a superstar for all seasons…..sheer genius.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Engaging….she continues to write ever-more convincingly.” – USA Today

“RED is a terrific piece of work. A portrait of a young artist in full bloom.” – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Swift’s bare-all lyrics are sublime.” –The Sunday Times (UK)

At radio, RED’s lead single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (which recently spent three weeks at #1 atop Billboard’s  Hot 100 chart), spends its fourth week at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and is currently Top 5 on Billboard and Mediabase’s CHR chart, and Top 10 on the Hot AC and AC charts. Also, Taylor’s single “Begin Again” is Top 20 on the Billboard & Mediabase Country radio charts, and is this week’s Airpower title. The video for the song has already amassed over 8 million views online and is on the air in Power rotation. Taylor will perform “Begin Again” on the 46th Annual CMA Awards tomorrow night on ABC.

RED topped the all-genre Top Albums chart at iTunes within 36 minutes of its release last week, and first day sales at iTunes alone topped 262,000 albums. Taylor scored 13 of the Top 20 songs on iTunes, with the song “Everything Has Changed” taking the #1 position on the all-genre Top Songs chart.

Worldwide, RED reached #1 at iTunes on the first day of release in 32 countries, including the UK, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Denmark, Venezuela, Thailand, and Ireland.

With RED, Taylor set the new Billboard record for the most rapid accumulation of 50 Hot 100 hits in history, reaching the milestone just six years and one month after her 2006 chart debut.

Taylor just announced The RED Tour, and is currently slated to headline 58 shows in 45 cities in 29 states and 3 provinces in 2013.