The Year in Pop 2014: One Direction, 'Frozen,' & Pharrell Dominate
One Direction takes home the trophy as Billboard's top artist of the year for 2014.
The English/Irish quintet (comprising Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson), is the first group to earn the top artist distinction since Destiny's Child ruled in 2001. In total, One Direction is just the ninth group to be the top artist of the year, since Billboard started a year-end overall artist category in 1981.
Billboard's year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during between the Dec. 7, 2013 and Nov. 29, 2014-dated charts. The year-end top artist category ranks the best-performing acts of the year derived from activity on the Billboard 200 albums tally and the Billboard Hot 100 singles list, as well as streaming, social and boxscore data.
Data registered before or after a title's chart run are not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are compiled independently by Nielsen Music.
One Direction is additionally just the fifth non-American-born act to be the top artist of the year. They follow British Adele (who was tops in both 2012 and 2011), Canadian-born Alanis Morissette (1996), Swedish quartet Ace of Base (1994) and Englishman George Michael (1988). Thus, One Direction is just the second non-American group to be artist of the year, after Ace of Base.
One Direction's achievement was supported in large part by the success of the vocal group's Midnight Memories album, their massive concert tour grosses as reported to Billboard Boxscore and their performance on social media (they're No. 9 on the year-end Social 50 recap
Their Where We Are tour is the year's highest-grossing trek, and finishes as the year-end top tour, with $290 million grossed from 69 performances.
Midnight Memories, the group's third studio set, was released on Nov. 25, 2013 through SYCO/Columbia Records and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The arrival made the act the only group to debut at No. 1 with their first three releases. Midnight Memories followed the chart-topping bows of One Direction's debut, Up All Night, and its follow-up, Take Me Home. (The group extended its own record with the recent No. 1 bow of its fourth release, Four, on the Dec. 6-dated chart, the first week of the 2015 chart year.)
Midnight Memories finishes 2014 as the No. 4 title on the year-end Billboard 200 recap, behind Taylor Swift's 1989 (No. 3, on Big Machine Records), Beyonce's self-titled album (No. 2, Parkwood/Columbia) and the soundtrack to Frozen (No. 1, Walt Disney).
'FROZEN' AT NO. 1
The red-hot Frozen soundtrack chills atop the year-end Billboard 200 chart, the first soundtrack to lead the list since 1998's monster Titanic album (Sony Classical/Sony Masterworks).
Frozen — fueled by the success of its parent musical film and its hit single "Let It Go" — spent a whopping 13 weeks at No. 1 on the weekly Billboard 200 chart. That was the longest run at No. 1 for any album since Adele's 21 clocked 24 weeks in the penthouse, and the lengthiest stay for a soundtrack since — you guessed it — Titanic's 16-week stay in 1998.
Frozen, released on Disney Music Group's Walt Disney Records label, is only the second year-end No. 1 for the Disney company. The Mouse house earned its first leader with 1965's soundtrack to Mary Poppins (released on Buena Vista Records).
In total, only six soundtracks have been the year-end No. 1 top Billboard 200 album: Frozen, Titanic, the Whitney Houston-led The Bodyguard (1993), the Bee Gees-fueled Saturday Night Fever (1978), Mary Poppins and West Side Story (1963).
Beyonce's self-titled album follows Frozen on the year-end list, with Taylor Swift's just-released 1989 swooping in at No. 3 with only three charting weeks powering its placement. 1989 debuted at No. 1 on the weekly Billboard 200, selling 1.287 million copies according to Nielsen SoundScan — the first album to sell a million in a week since Swift's last album, Red, did so in 2012.
LET'S GET 'HAPPY'
Pharrell Williams' feel-good anthem "Happy" finishes 2014 as the year's No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 song. The track was originally written for the film Despicable Me 2, garnered an Academy Award nomination for best original song, and spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the weekly Hot 100 chart.
The tune was written and produced by Williams, who is also the Hot 100's top producer and songwriter of the year. He follows Ryan Lewis (of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis), who led 2013's year-end Hot 100 tally with "Thrift Shop," and was also the year's top producer and songwriter (the latter tied with Macklemore).
Williams' first Hot 100 credit as a songwriter came in 1994 as the co-writer of Blackstreet's "Tonight's the Night." His first producer ink charted in 1996, with SWV's "Use Your Heart" (as part of The Neptunes production duo, with Chad Hugo). Williams was previously the top songwriter of the year in 2002, the same year The Neptunes were the Hot 100's top producer.
Following "Happy" on the Hot 100 recap is Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" (Capitol), featuring Juicy J, John Legend's "All Of Me" (G.O.O.D./Columbia) and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" (Turn First/Hustle Gang/Def Jam), featuring Charli XCX.
Azalea also leads the top new artists recap, where she is followed by a potent crop of new talent. Capitol Records' Sam Smith — who logged two top 10 singles on the weekly Hot 100 during the chart year, along with at No. 2-charting Billboard 200 album — is the runner-up new artist. Breakthrough Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer — who topped the Billboard 200 in 2014 with their self-titled debut full-length album — is No. 3.
Meghan Trainor, who took her debut chart hit "All About That Bass" (Epic) to No. 1 on the Hot 100, finishes as the No. 4 new artist. "Bass" is also No. 8 on the year-end Hot 100 list, one of three debut chart hits among the year's top 10 hits. Other first-time charters in the bunch: Azalea's "Fancy" and MAGIC!'s "Rude" (Latium/RCA) at No. 7.