2014 Hasn't Been Half Bad
A look at the biggest chart headlines, from Pharrell Williams, Michael Jackson, Iggy Azalea and more, from the first half of 2014
Fourteen chart headlines from the first half of 2014:
Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" (featuring Juicy J) wins the race to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (Feb. 8). The song, infused with trap elements, marking a slight departure from her standard pure-pop fare, is her ninth career leader. "This No. 1 is the most unexpected one I've ever had," Perry told Billboard. "'Dark Horse' has been a dark horse of a song, since the KatyCats voted to release it early on iTunes, before [parent album] 'PRISM' even came out. I'm so thrilled and grateful to have these moments."
Pharrell Williams' 10-week Hot 100 leader "Happy" (which began its reign on March 8) becomes the first song to crown as many as six singular-format Billboard airplay charts, achieving the feat by rising 3-1 on Adult Contemporary. Its other rules: on Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs, Rhythmic Songs, Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and Adult R&B Songs. Four prior smashes each led five distinct-format airplay charts: Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring Williams and T.I. (2013); Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," featuring Kimbra (2012-13); Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (2004-05); and Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" (1994-95).
One Direction scores its first No. 1 on a Billboard radio airplay chart, as "Story of My Life" rises 2-1 on Adult Pop Songs (March 22). The group had reached No. 5 on the survey with "What Makes You Beautiful" in 2012, but hadn't returned to the top 10 of an airplay tally until "Story." Sue O'Neil, program director of Adult Pop Songs panelist WTSS Buffalo, N.Y., credited the organic lean of "Story" for its success. "It's a new, more contemporary sound for One Direction. You find yourself singing and liking the song whether or not you normally like the boy-band sound, or even One Direction. It's a great song."
John Legend collects his first Hot 100 No. 1, almost 10 years to the week of his first appearance on the chart (May 17). He ended the longest wait for an act's first No. 1 (from a first chart entry) since Snoop Dogg took 10 years and 10 months before finally leading with "Drop it Like It's Hot," featuring Williams, in 2004. And, while no Hot 100 No. 1s featured only vocals and piano for the chart's first 53 years, three have done so since: Adele's "Someone Like You" (2011), Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man" (2013) and "All." ("All was also powered by its uptempo Tiesto remix, which many pop radio stations have favored.)
Disney's soundtrack to "Frozen" logs its 13th (and last to date) week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, extending its reign as the longest-running No. 1 soundtrack by an animated film (May 17); it surpassed "The Lion King" (10 weeks, 1994-95). "Frozen," which produced the No. 5 – and Best Original Song Oscar-winning – Hot 100 hit "Let It Go" by Idina Menzel, is now one of only 39 albums in the 58-year history of the Billboard 200 to have spent at least 13 weeks at No. 1.
Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" drops off the Hot 100 after a record-setting 87 weeks on the survey (May 17). "It's unbelievable," Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds told Billboard when the track set the mark, previously held by Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" (76 weeks, 2008-09) for the most weeks on the chart. "There are few things more satisfying as an artist than seeing your music have longevity. But, we could never have expected to see one of our songs have legs like this. "People seem to be connecting to it in personal ways, which is exactly what we hoped for. We've been out on the road and focused on touring for a long time. Somewhere along the way, we started to realize the song was taking on a life of its own."
Hillsong United rewrites the record for the longest reign on Billboard's airplay/sales/streaming-based Hot Christian Songs chart, as "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" tallies a 24th week at No. 1 (May 17). The song passes the 23-week rule of MercyMe's "Word of God Speak," which began its command on Aug. 16, 2003 (when the chart, which had launched two months earlier, was solely airplay-based). "What people relate to is that it's a very honest song," Hillsong United leader/principal songwriter Joel Houston told Billboard. "It's about trust and taking a step into the unknown."
Next: Iggy Azalea, Coldplay, Paramore & more
Fourteen chart headlines, continued, from the first half of 2014:
Paramore posts its first Hot 100 top 10, "Ain't It Fun," nearly seven years after its first visit to the chart (May 24). "'Ain't It Fun' is very different from songs we've written in the past," the trio's Hayley Williams told Billboard, noting its gospel-choir bridge and happy xylophone melody. "I grew up on pop, funk and soul. We really got to show off our roots in this song. I hope that our fans, especially the ones from our early days, can see how much we connect [that] with the art we make today."
On Rap Airplay, Kid Ink scores the record for most weeks at No. 1 as his breakout hit "Show Me," featuring Chris Brown, spends its 18th consecutive week at the top (May 31); it would extends its reign to 19 weeks. The California rapper overtook the previous record holder, Juvenile, who led for 17 frames with "Back That Thang Up" in 1999 (the year that the Rap Airplay chart launched).
Michael Jackson adds to his Hot 100 legacy, as "Love Never Felt So Good," with Justin Timberlake, rockets 22-9 (May 31). With the track's advance, the late King of Pop becomes the first artist to notch a Hot 100 top 10 in each of five decades. Dating to his first top 10, the No. 4-peaking "Got to Be There," in 1971, he's now reached the top 10 with songs in the '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s and '10s. ("Good" is Jackson's first top 10 since he died on June 25, 2009.) Jackson passes five artists that have graced the Hot 100's top 10 in each of four decades: Barbra Streisand, Cher (both '60s-'90s), Aerosmith ('70s-'00s), Madonna and Whitney Houston (both '80s-'10s).
Iggy Azalea crowns the Billboard Hot 100 with her debut hit "Fancy," featuring Charli XCX (June 7). As Azalea also rises 3-2 as the featured artist on Ariana Grande's "Problem," Azalea joins the Beatles as the only acts to rank at Nos. 1 and 2 simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 hits. The week of Feb. 22, 1964, the Fab Four's debut pop culture-changing smash "I Want to Hold Your Hand" jumped 3-1 and "She Loves You" lifted 3-2. The songs had debuted the weeks of Jan. 18 and 25, 1964, respectively, and soared to the chart's top two spots after the band made its landmark appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964.
Coldplay crashes in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with "Ghost Stories," collecting its fourth No. 1 album and the biggest sales week of the year (June 7). The set sold 383,000 copies in the week ending May 25, according to Nielsen SoundScan, trumping the previous largest week of 2014, set when Eric Church's "The Outsiders" sold 288,000 in the week ending Feb. 16.
Calvin Harris kicks off the first official week of summer by capturing his first No. 1 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, as "Summer" sizzles with a 2-1 surge (July 5). The cut's coronation halts the 12-week reign of DJ Snake and Lil Jon's "Turn Down for What"; the latter song remains a week shy of the record for the nearly two-year-old-chart's longest command: Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," featuring Williams, led for 13 weeks last year.
Blake Shelton ties a vaunted Country Airplay chart record, as "My Eyes," featuring Gwen Sebastian, lifts 2-1 (July 12). With the advance, Shelton scores his fifth No. 1 from his latest album, "Based on a True Story …," tying Brad Paisley's record for the most No. 1s from a single set. Shelton first led with the album's first four singles: "Sure Be Cool If You Did," "Boys 'Round Here," featuring Pistol Annies & Friends, "Mine Would Be You" and "Doin' What She Likes." Paisley first established the mark with five Country Airplay leaders from his aptly titled "5th Gear" album in 2007-08: "Ticks," "Online," "Letter to Me," "I'm Still a Guy" and "Waitin' On a Woman."
What will the second half of 2014 bring to Billboard charts? Perhaps more achievements from Azalea, Grande and Shelton, as well as acts including Sam Smith, MAGIC! and Ed Sheeran? Maybe moves from artists who could release new music between now and the end of the year, like Adele, Rihanna or Taylor Swift? We'll find out, when the next six months surely bring as much chart action as we've seen when the charts were "Frozen" in the winter and heated up through early "Summer."