It took one person to write Happy by Pharrell Williams. It took 16 to write Timber by Pitbull.

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Happy by Pharrell Williams was the only track amongst the Top 10 biggest singles in both the US and Australia last year to be written by one person.

Williams wrote and recorded the song for the soundtrack of CGI kids’ movie Despicable Me 2 in 2013, but after sustained radio play, Happy snowballed into the biggest single in the US, UK and Australia in 2014.

As well as dominating sales and airplay charts last year, the song has now been played a mindblowing 553 million times on YouTube.

Yet MBW analysis shows that, elsewhere, last year was a good time to be a co-writer-for-hire: nine of the Top 10 hits in Australia and the UK – and eight of the UK Top 10 – were written by two or more people.

Interestingly, these included hits by singer/songwriters such as Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud – co-written with Amy Wadge – and George Ezra’s Budapest, co-written with Athlete frontman Joel Potts.

In terms of the Top 10 biggest hits across all territories, Dr Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) was the biggest hit writer. He cropped up on both Dark Horse by Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – a US Top 10 hit – as well as Timber by Pitbull ft Kesha (No.9 in the UK) and Ugly Heart by G.R.L (No.10 in Australia).

However, Max Martin was the only writer to contribute to two Top 10 hits in the US: Dark Horse by Katy Perry ft. Juicy J and Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.

Dark Horse took six writers to create, but that wasn’t the biggest number of collaborators behind a single hit track… by far.

Pitball’s Timber, feat Ke$ha took an impressive 16 songwriters to put together, including Ke$ha (aka Kesha Sebert) and her mother, Pebe Sebert.

They weren’t even the only pair of family members to be credited on the song, either: Timber interpolates Lee Oskar’s San Francisco Bay, originally written by Lee Oskar, Keri Oskar and Gregg Errico.

An interesting footnote: last year, Pharrell Williams’s publishing company Sony/ATV suggested that the singer had only earnt $2,700 for his songwriting royalties from US online radio giant Pandora in the first quarter of 2014. That’s despite being played via 43 million Pandora streams.

Divide $2,700 by 16 and you get to $168.75.

If Pitbull’s Q1 songwriting cheque from Pandora looked that tiddly, he probably wasn’t best-pleased.

The US: Top 10 bestselling singles in 2014

  1. Pharrell Williams, Happy (Williams)
  2. John Legend, All Of Me (Stephens/Gad)
  3. Katy Perry feat Juicy J, Dark Horse (Perry/Houston/Gottwald/Hudson/Martin/Walter)
  4. Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass (Kadish/Trainor)
  5. Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy (Kelly/Aitchison/Astasio/Pebworth/Shave/McKenzie)
  6. Jason Derulo feat. 2 Chainz, Talk Dirty (Derulo/2 Chainz/Frederic/Evigan/Douglas/Kaplan/Muskat/Yosef)
  7. DJ Snake & Lil Jon, Turn Down For What (Bresso/Grigahcine)
  8. Taylor Swift, Shake It Off (Martin/Shellback/Swift)
  9. Idina Menzel, Let It Go (Anderson-Lopez/Lopez)
  10. Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Smith/Napier/Phillips/Lynne/Petty)

Source; Nielsen Music

The UK: Top 10 bestselling singles in 2014

  1. Pharrell Williams, Happy (Williams)
  2. Rather Be, Clean Bandit Ft. Jess Glynne (Patterson/Napier/Marshall/Chatto)
  3. John Legend, All Of Me (Stephens/Gad)
  4. Mr Probz, Waves (Stehr)
  5. Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud (Sheeran/Wadge)
  6. Ella Henderson, Ghost (Henderson/Tedder/Zancanella)
  7. Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Smith/Napier/Phillips/Lynne/Petty)
  8. Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass (Kadish/Trainor)
  9. Pitbull Ft. Kesha, Timber (K.Sebert/Perez/Gottwald/Arnold/Hamilton/Sanderson/Isaac/Walter/P.Sebert/L.Oskar/K.Oskar/Errico/Arrington/Charter/Hankerson/Parker)
  10. George Ezra, Budapest (Ezra/Pott)

Source: Official Charts Company

Australia: Top 10 bestselling singles in 2014

  1. Pharrell Williams, Happy (Williams)
  2. Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass (Kadish/Trainor)
  3. Taylor Swift, Shake It Off (Martin/Shellback/Swift)
  4. Sheppard, Geronimo (Bovino/Sheppard/Sheppard)
  5. Justice Crew, Que Sera (Atweh, Messinger/Martin/Lambroza/Tohi/Bellesini/Pearce/Norman/Andah)
  6. Sia, Chandelier (Furler/Shatkin)
  7. Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud (Sheeran/Wadge)
  8. Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Smith/Napier/Phillips/Lynne/Petty)
  9. Timmy Trumpet featuring Savage, Freaks (Gough/Savelio/Smith)
  10. G.R.L, Ugly Heart (Baharloo/Dean/Gottwald/Monds/Walter)

Source: ARIAMusic Business Worldwide

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