Ahem: Frozen can’t “Let It Go.” Nielsen SoundScan’s mid-year 2014 charts are in, as Billboard reports, and the child’s-heart-melting Disney movie soundtrack is the best-selling album through the first six months of the year. Pharrell Williams‘ “Happy,” meanwhile, is the biggest-selling digital song over the same period.
SoundScan usually follows its mid-year chart with a comprehensive report on the music industry, so we’ll know more soon, but the headline numbers point to a disappointing six months. The chart-keeper counts 120.9 million album sales through the week ended June 29, down 15 percent from mid-year 2013. Digital song sales totaled 593.6 million, a 13 percent drop.
You can see signs of the downward trend in the list of individual albums. While Frozen‘s sales of 2.7 million beat those of the top-selling album at this time last year, Justin Timberlake‘s The 20/20 Experience, no other full-length sold a million copies. It’s the third straight year that only one LP has moved a million copies through June. Before 2012, it had never happened, at least not since SoundScan started keeping track in 1991.
Beyoncé‘s stunning self-titled album follows Frozen on the mid-year charts with 702,000 copies sold. Behind her in the top five year-to-date are Eric Church‘s knockout The Outsiders, Lorde‘s precocious Pure Heroine, and Coldplay‘s wispy Ghost Stories. Incidentally, no album on an independent distributor made the top 10 or 20 — though in years past that has tended to mean Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rather than, oh, say, White Lung, so, you know, take it for what it’s worth.
Pop stars can sometimes be cartoonish, but in 2014 animated films are ruling the pop charts. Where Frozen may have album sales on ice, Pharrell’s Academy Award-nominated “Happy,” originally from Despicable Me 2, is the No. 1 digital seller with 5.6 million downloads. (The song later appeared on the Neptunes member’s accomplished disco-soul set G I R L — for more, see our feature Get “Happy”: Pharrell’s Career Revival.)
“Happy” becomes just the fourth song to sell at least 5 million downloads in the first six months of a calendar year, following Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop,” Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” (featuring Kimbra) and fun.’s “We Are Young” (featuring Janelle Monáe). But the amount of songs selling 2 million downloads has edged down to 12, from 13 last year, and there are only 38 million-sellers, compared with 51 at mid-year 2013.
Katy Perry and Juicy J’s odd-couple trap visitation “Dark Horse” was No. 2 for the first six months, with 4 million downloads. The rest of the top five were John Legend’s “All of Me,” with 3.9 million downloads, and Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz’ “Talk Dirty,” with 3.7 million.