2014: The Year in... Billboard Chart Headlines
A look at the biggest chart newsmakers, from Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams & Iggy Azalea to Enrique Iglesias, Meghan Trainor & Taylor Swift.
From veterans who scored their biggest hits ever to newcomers who ruled with rookie releases, 2014 brought week after week of chart records and notable milestones.
(OK, maybe more than 14 …)
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). Sue O'Neil, program director of Pop Songs reporter WKSE and 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 after 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 of Me." ("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), surpassing 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 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."
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 extend 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 who 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, at the time, the biggest sales week of the year (June 7). The set sold 383,000 copies in the week ending May 25, according to Nielsen Music, 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."
Oops, that's 14 chart achievements … and we're only halfway through the year. We can't stop now. Here are 14 more from the second half of 2014:
Maybe this finally impressed the father in the song? MAGIC!'s "Rude," the Canadian pop/reggae group's tale of a groom-to-be who won't be denied, regardless of his potential father-in-law's disapproval, adds to the protagonist's case as it rises 2-1 on the Hot 100 (July 26), beginning a six-week stay at the summit. "We can't believe we got to No. 1," MAGIC! lead singer Nasri Atweh beamed to Billboard. "It's a great day!"
A landmark new chart, the Billboard Artist 100, debuts (July 26), providing the first-ever weekly ranking dedicated to measuring artist activity across a host of charts, including the Hot 100, Billboard 200 and Social 50, among others. The Artist 100 blends information from album and track sales, radio airplay, streaming and social media fan interaction to provide a weekly multi-dimensional ranking of artist popularity. The inaugural champion: Trey Songz, thanks to the arrival of his album Trigga.
After more than 30 years on the charts, comedian/singer "Weird Al" Yankovic earns his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as Mandatory Fun debuts atop the list (Aug. 2). The album is the first comedy set to top the chart since 1963, and logs the largest sales week for a comedy album since 1994 (104,000). Yankovic arrived on the Billboard 200 back on May 21, 1983, with his self-titled album, featuring "Ricky," his spoof of Toni Basil's No. 1 Hot 100 hit "Mickey." The new set was promoted by a well-received daily viral video campaign, with Yankovic releasing eight music videos for the album on sites including the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Nerdist, College Humor and YouTube.
After a nearly 37-year wait, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers earn their first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 (Aug. 16) with Hypnotic Eye. The band first appeared on the list in 1977 with its self-titled debut album that featured the classics "Breakdown" and "American Girl." "The only good thing about getting older is you get smart enough to avoid unnecessary problems," Petty, 64, told Billboard. "You know what's worth spending time on and what's not. If I had known that at 20, life would have been so much easier. But you have to experience all these things so you figure out how to find your way through the woods."
Ariana Grande's album My Everything debuts No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (Sept. 13), giving the 21-year-old pop singer two No. 1 albums in less than a year. She's the first woman to debut at No. 1 with her first two albums since 2010. She first crowned the chart in September 2013 with her debut Yours Truly. Grande mused about being a "very weird little girl" in an August Billboard cover story. "Dark and deranged. I always wanted to have skeleton face paint on or be wearing a Freddy Krueger mask, and I would carry a hockey stick around. There was a stage, when I was 3 or 4, where my mom thought I might grow up to be a serial killer."
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga arrive at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with their collaborative set Cheek to Cheek, the second No. 1 for the iconic Bennett and the third for Gaga (Oct. 11). The 88-year-old Bennett is the oldest living act to earn a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, beating a record he set himself back in 2011. That year, a then-85-year-old Bennett scored his first No. 1 album with Duets II … which featured a track with Gaga, "The Lady Is a Tramp."
Jimmy Fallon could hardly contain himself when told that his new novelty single "Ew!," featuring will.i.am, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 26 (Oct. 25). "You don't understand how exciting this is for me. I have to print this out and frame this." The premise of "Ew!"? Fallon and will.i.am dress up as BFFs "Sara" and "mir.i.am" and rap about pet peeves that cause them to recoil (among them: bread bowls, FaceTime and Trapper Keepers). Fallon's Hot 100 debut is the culmination of a goal he stated on his Tonight Show on Oct. 6, when he premiered "Ew!" and encouraged fans to help it hit the Hot 100.
It was a record-breaking year for women on the Hot 100, as female soloists blocked men from the top five for an unprecedented seven straight weeks from Sept. 20 through Nov. 1. The women who contributed to the historic run: Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Tove Lo, Nicki Minaj, Rita Ora, Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor, who ruled with her positive body-image hit, "All About That Bass." "You know how the bass guitar in a song is like its 'thickness,' or the 'bottom'? I related a body to that," Trainor told Billboard as the song began its Hot 100 ascent. "My producer [Kevin Kadish] had the title and said that none of his prior co-writers could figure out what to relate that to. So I said, "What about a booty? Let's talk about that! It's about loving your body … and your booty."
Glen Campbell's touching video helps spur his first Billboard Hot 100 appearance in 33 years. "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" debuts at No. 90, marking his first entry since 1981 (Nov. 1). While its arrival is cause for celebration, "Miss" marks a bittersweet bow. The ballad accompanies the documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, which covers 151 Campbell concerts beginning in 2011 as he began his battle against Alzheimer's disease. The Country Music Hall of Famer, 78, entered a long-term care facility earlier this year. In the new song, he evokes a bit of gallows humor over how, per the disease's trademark physical (and heartbreaking) trait, he ultimately won't remember those he loves. "All the hurt and all the pain / One thing selfishly remains: I'm not gonna miss you."
Lorde logs the quickest vault to the Alternative Songs top 10 by a woman since June 1996 (and, thus of her lifetime; she was born that November), as "Yellow Flicker Beat" bumps 12-10 in its third week on the chart (Nov. 1). No song by a solo female had made such a swift sprint to the top 10 since Alanis Morissette's "You Learn" also reached the region in three weeks.
Adding to a host of career achievements, Enrique Iglesias rewrites the record for the longest-leading No. 1 ever on Hot Latin Songs, as his megahit "Bailando," featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona, spends a 26th week at the top (Nov. 8). It bests previous record holder Shakira, whose "La Tortura," featuring Alejandro Sanz, reigned for 25 weeks beginning in June 2005. "The song to me was always a special song, but you never really know," Iglesias told Billboard exclusively about "Bailando." "You don't know how successful a song is going to be. I have a tendency to always go with my gut. Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong. This one just felt special."
Taylor Swift's 1989 debuts at No. 1 (Nov. 15) on the Billboard 200 with the largest sales week for an album since 2002: 1.287 million copies. Upon the bow, Swift becomes the only act to earn three million-selling weeks with an album. She also racked up such frames with the debuts of 2012's Red (1.208 million) and 2010's Speak Now (1.047 million).
One Direction makes history, again, as the act's new album Four debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The boy band is the only group in the chart's 58-year history to launch their first four studio albums at No. 1. (A year ago, 1D became the first group to enter at No. 1 with its first three studio sets, when its third, Midnight Memories, bowed atop the chart.) Overall, just six acts have reached No. 1 with their first four studio releases: Beyonce, DMX, the Kingston Trio, the Monkees, One Direction and Britney Spears.
A holiday present for Pentatonix: The vocal quintet's "Mary, Did You Know?" tops the Holiday 100 songs chart, while That's Christmas to Me commands Top Holiday Albums for a sixth week (Dec. 13). Pentatonix is the first act to crown both charts simultaneously since the Holiday 100 launched as a multi-metric tabulation in December 2011.