No wonder he’s so darn “Happy.” Pharrell Williams, who was featured on the best-selling song of 2013, Robin Thicke's “Blurred Lines,” will have the best-selling song of 2014 all to himself. With just two weeks to go in Nielsen SoundScan's tracking year,”Happy” has an insurmountable lead. The feel-good tune has sold 6.4 million copies so far this year, putting it far ahead of its two closest challengers, John Legend's “All of Me” (4.6 million) and “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J (4.4 million).
This is the third year in a row that the year’s top-seller has surpassed 6 million in sales during the year. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra, the top-selling song of 2012, sold 6.8 million copies during that year. “Blurred Lines” sold 6.5 million copies in 2013.
This will be the fifth time in the past seven years that Perry has had a song in the year-end top 10. She’s the only artist who can make that claim. (Rihanna is in second place. Shehas finished in the year-end top 10 in three of the last seven years.)
In addition, Perry has the highest-ranking song by a female lead artist for the year-to-date—though Meghan Trainor's “All about That Bass” isn't far behind in sales and may overtake Perry's smash. “All About That Bass” ranks #4 overall (4 million). If Perry retains her lead, this will be the second time that she has had the year's top hit by a female lead artist. She earned that distinction in 2010 with “California Gurls” (featuring Snoop Dogg), which was also the year’s #1 hit overall.
The top R&B song for the year-to-date is “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo featuring 2 Chainz, which is #5 overall (3.9 million). (“Happy” and “All Of Me” are really more pop than R&B.) This will be the second time that Derulo has put a song in the year-end top 10. His breakthrough smash, “Whatcha Say,” was the #10 hit of 2009.
Iggy Azalea is the only artist with two songs in the top 10 for the year-to-date. “Fancy” (featuring Charli XCX) is #6 (3.9 million). Ariana Grande's “Problem,” on which Azalea is featured, is #9 (3.3 million). If “Problem” is still in the top 10 when the chart becomes final in two weeks, Azalea will become the third female solo artist in the past seven years to have two songs in the top 10. The first two were Lady Gaga (2009) and Adele (2011).
"Happy," which Williams wrote for the animated movie Despicable Me 2, isn’t the only song from an animated blockbuster to appear in the top 10 for the year-to-date. Idina Menzel's “Let It Go” from Frozen is #8 (3.3 million).
Two other songs are listed in the top 10 for the year-to-date. “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake & Lil Jon is #7 (3.4 million). Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” is #10 (3.2 million).
Five collaborations are listed in the top 10 for the year-to-date. There were six in the top 10 for 2013.
Taylor Swift's “Shake It Off” is #11 for the year-to-date (3.2 million). It is still selling well, so it will doubtless move into the top 10.
The top hit by a group or duo is MAGIC!'s “Rude,” which is #12 for the year-to-date (2.9 million). Unless something changes in the next two weeks, this will be the first time since before 2008 that no songs by groups or duos appear in Nielsen SoundScan's year-end top 10.
The top rock hit for the year-to-date is Bastille's “Pompeii,” which is #13 for the year-to-date (2.6 million).
The top country hit for the year-to-date is “This Is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan, which is #20 for the year-to-date (2 million).
"Happy" is also #1 on Billboard's already-published recap of the top songs of 2014. There are two key differences between Billboard's recap and Nielsen SoundScan's above-referenced list. First, Billboard's recap is based on the weekly Hot 100 chart, which incorporates airplay and streaming data, in addition to sales. Second, Billboard's list closes about six weeks earlier than Nielsen SoundScan's. It recaps the charts in the issues dated Dec. 7, 2013 through Nov. 29, 2014. The Nov. 29 issue corresponds with Nielsen SoundScan's chart for the week ending Nov. 16.
Even so, the Billboard recaps have a rich history and a wide readership, and are important for those reasons. So let’s dig into them.
At 41, Williams is the oldest lead artist to rank #1 on Billboard's recap since 1999, when Cher, then 53, finished first with “Believe.”
"Happy" is the first song from a movie to rank #1 for the year on Billboard's recap since “Gangsta's Paradise” by Coolio featuring L.V. in 1995. That song, from Dangerous Minds, was based on a 1976 Stevie Wonder song. “Happy” is the first newly-written song from a movie to rank #1 for the year since Boyz II Men's “End of the Road” (from Boomerang) in 1992.
Iggy Azalea is the only artist with two songs in the top 10 on Billboard's recap. Her own “Fancy” is #4. Ariana Grande's “Problem,” on which she is featured, is #9. This is only the third time that an artist has made the top 10 on Billboard's recap both as the lead artist and as a featured artist in the same year. In 2007, Akon was featured on Gwen Stefani's “The Great Escape” (#3) and was in the lead on “I Wanna Love You” (#8). In 2000, Rob Thomas was featured on Santana's “Smooth” (#2) and was in the lead on matchbox twenty's “Bent” (#9).
The Fine Print: On the 2009 recap, Chris Brown had three songs in the top 10, including “No Air,” which was billed “Jordin Sparks Duet with Chris Brown.” But that billing is considered co-equal, so it wasn’t a featured credit.