Billboard Cover: Meghan Trainor on Frank Sinatra, Her Rap Skills and the Rise of 'All About That Bass'
"Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift
Songwriters: Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift
Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree Publishing/Taylor Swift Music/MXM administered by Kobalt Songs Music Publishing
Label: Big Machine Records
Taylor Swift worked with producers Max Martin and Shellback on three tracks from 2012's Red, including the radio-conquering hits "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble." Naturally, the singer enlisted the pair for what she has described as her "first official pop album," 1989. "Shake It Off," the lead single, dismissed naysayers with a boisterous horn riff and a "haters gonna hate" slogan -- and debuted atop the Hot 100, becoming just the 22nd song to do so. Two months later, 1989 yielded Swift's biggest opening sales week ever, moving 1.29 million units, according to Nielsen Music. Swift also scored a song of the year nomination in 2010, for "You Belong With Me."
Billboard Woman of the Year Taylor Swift on Writing Her Own Rules, Not Becoming a Cliche and the Hurdle of Going Pop
"Stay With Me" (Darkchild Version) - Sam Smith
Songwriters: James Napier, William Phillips, Sam Smith
Publishers: Sony-ATV Songs LLC obo Naughty Words Ltd./Universal-PolyGram International Tunes Inc. obo Method Paperwork
Label: Capitol Records
With "Stay With Me," a fragile ballad about finding comfort in the arms of a stranger, 22-year-old London native Sam Smith slowed down the tempo of U.S. radio, saturated over the summer with Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" and Ariana Grande's "Problem." Co-written with William Phillips and James Napier (aka Jimmy Napes), "Stay With Me" became Smith's first top 10 Hot 100 hit in the United States. Ed Sheeran, Kelly Clarkson and Florence & The Machine all covered the song; Smith himself recorded a live version with Mary J. Blige. The Darkchild Version -- a slightly different mix of the single helmed by R&B mainstay Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins -- is Smith's first song of the year nomination.
Billboard Cover: Sam Smith on 'Stay With Me,' 'SNL' Jitters and 'Striving to Be a Career Artist'
"Chandelier" - Sia
Songwriters: Sia Furler, Jesse Shatkin
Publishers: EMI Music Publishing Inc./EMI April Music Inc./Aidenjulius Music
Label: RCA Records/Monkey Puzzle Records
Before "Chandelier," Sia's first top 10 hit as a lead artist, the Australian singer-songwriter co-wrote smashes for artists like Rihanna ("Diamonds") and Ne-Yo ("Let Me Love You [Until You Learn to Love Yourself]") and guested on hits she co-wrote for David Guetta ("Titanium") and Flo Rida ("Wild Ones"). The song -- the lead single from her first No. 1 album, 1000 Forms of Fear -- wasn't hampered by the 39-year-old's notorious camera shyness: She performed it on TV with her back to the camera, and still refuses to pose for press. For the video, Sia called upon Maddie Ziegler, the 12-year-old star of Lifetime's Dance Moms, to perform a gripping choreographed routine while wearing a wig resembling the singer's blonde bob. The video went viral, accruing nearly 400 million YouTube views to date.
Sia: The Billboard Cover Story
"Take Me To Church" - Hozier
Songwriter: Andrew Hozier-Byrne
Publishers: The Evolving Music Company Ltd., PRS/Sony-ATV Music Publishing U.K. Ltd., PRS/EMI Music Publishing Ltd., PRS/Sony-ATV Allegro
Label: Columbia Records
This bluesy folk anthem, Andrew Hozier-Byrne's debut single, first found an audience in Ireland in the fall of 2013, when its music video, which depicts the repression of the gay community in Russia, quickly went viral. Months later, "Take Me to Church" gained a very different kind of exposure in the United States through a Beats by Dr. Dre ad featuring LeBron James, and Hozier's performances on Saturday Night Live and at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The song eventually hit the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hozier's self-titled first album, released in Sept. 2014, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 26 issue of Billboard.