Home grown talent has been driving demand for music from UK fans over the past decade, and, led by Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, both of whom enjoyed stellar years with million selling albums, and other exciting new talent, including the likes of George Ezra, as well as by established stars including Paolo Nutini, Paloma Faith, Coldplay and One Direction, this trend was even more evident in 2014.
In fact all the top 10 artist albums were by British acts, the first time since Official Charts records began. This feat also means that it is now ten years in a row that the bestselling artist album has come from a British act.
The biggest selling album of the year was Ed Sheeran’s ‘x’, which has sold 1.7m (1,689,124) copies in the UK since its release in June 2014, the largest total for an artist album since Adele’s ‘21’ in 2011. Nearly half a million of these sales (425,619) came in the last two weeks of the chart year, driven mainly by Christmas gifting.
‘x’ reached number one in 12 countries around the world including the US, and was additionally the most popular digital album of 2014, with 471,194 copies downloaded. Sheeran was also the UK’s most streamed artist across all audio streaming services (see Chart 5), whilst globally Spotify have confirmed that Sheeran was their most streamed artist in the world in 2014, achieving the 1 billion streams milestone on the service.
Sam Smith also had an outstanding twelve months. Beginning the year collecting the BRITs Critics Choice Award, his debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’, released in May, went on to sell more than a million copies in the UK across all formats (1,247,703) and, in a rare feat for a new artist, in the US, where he also went on to receive 6 Grammy nominations, including for best new artist. Sam Smith was the second most streamed artist in the UK after Sheeran, with ‘In The Lonely Hour’ the second most streamed album.
In another 2014 landmark, One Direction achieved the milestone of 1 billion streams on Spotify upon the release of their album ‘Four’, joining Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris and Coldplay as one of four British acts to have been streamed over 1bn times on the service.
‘Now That’s What I Call Music 89’ was the third best-selling album of the year overall, with 954,417 copies purchased in just five weeks since its release in December, making it the fastest selling album of the year. Now 89 also just pipped the soundtrack to Disney’s ‘Frozen’ as the year’s biggest selling compilation title. ‘Frozen’ was released at the end of 2013 but has not been out of the top 10 Official Compilations Chart since, ending as one of 2014’s big success stories, with a total of 950,522 copies sold to date.
Pink Floyd’s ‘The Endless River’, the band’s first studio album in over 20 years, was the biggest and fastest selling vinyl release of the year, ahead of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘AM’ and Royal Blood’s self-titled debut release.
Newcomers Clean Bandit ft. Jesse Glynne had the most successful single of the year among British artists, and the second most successful overall, with ‘Rather Be’, which was also the most streamed. The year’s biggest selling track overall, however, was the Pharrell Williams smash ‘Happy’, which went 4x Platinum in the UK.
Although it missed out to Ben Haenow’s cover of ‘Something I Need’ for the Official Christmas No.1, Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’ ft. Bruno Mars broke the record for the most streamed track in a single week, being played 2.5 million times in the last week of the chart year, ending 27th December.
OFFICIAL ARTIST ALBUMS CHART 2014 - Official Charts Company
1. Ed Sheeran x Asylum/Atlantic Records UK (Warner Music UK)
2. Sam Smith In The Lonely Hour Capitol/Capitol (Universal Music UK)
3. George Ezra Wanted on Voyage Columbia/Columbia Label Group (Sony Music Entertainment UK)
4. Paolo Nutini Caustic Love Atlantic/Atlantic Records UK (Warner Music UK)
5. Coldplay Ghost Stories Parlophone/Parlophone (Warner Music UK)
6. Paloma Faith A Perfect Contradiction RCA/RCA Label Group (Sony Music Entertainment UK)
7. One Direction Four Syco Music/Syco Music (Sony Music Entertainment UK)
8. Olly Murs Never Been Better Epic/RCA Label Group (Sony Music Entertainment UK)
9. Pink Floyd The Endless River Rhino/Rhino (Warner Music UK)
10. Take That III Polydor/Polydor Records (Universal Music UK)