One of the highlights of this year’s Billboard Music Awards will be the crowning of artist of the year.
The award recognizes an act’s combined performance on Billboard’s Hot 100 and The Billboard 200 and is a true indicator of who reached the most fans during the year.
But fame can be fleeting. Here’s a look back at the acts that have received the coveted award since the BMAs began airing in 1990 and where they are now.
1990: NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
This Boston quintet was the first act honored with the Artist of the Year trophy. The group charted six Billboard Hot 100 singles that year, including the No. 1 “Step by Step,” as well as charting four albums on The Billboard 200. NKOTB released two more albums before disbanding in 1994.
Donnie Wahlberg and Joe McIntyre now focus on acting. Wahlberg most recently appeared in the NBC series “Boomtown.” McIntyre had a recurring role in “Boston Public,” and in 2004 he’ll appear in the film adaptation of the hit off-off-Broadway show “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.” He has also released three solo albums.
In 1999, Jordan Knight released his self-titled debut on Interscope, which spawned a top 10 Hot 100 single. Danny Wood has joined Empire Music Werks, which will release his third album, “Second Face,” in May. Knight also works as a real-estate consultant.
1991: MARIAH CAREY
In 1991, Mariah Carey spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with her self-titled debut album and racked up four Hot 100 No. 1 singles. Carey followed up with her second album, “Emotions,” which capped an already impressive year for the artist.
Since then, Carey has had her ups and downs — including an emotional breakdown — but she’s still a ranking diva. Since winning the artist of the year award, Carey has released 11 albums, including the No. 1s “Music Box,” “Daydream” and “Butterfly.” All told, Carey has racked up 15 No. 1 Hot 100 singles, more than any female artist in history.
1992 & 1993: GARTH BROOKS
The first back-to-back artist of the year winner, Garth Brooks, essentially rewrote music history books in the ’90s.
In the two-year span during which Brooks won the award, he scored three No. 1 Billboard 200 albums and three other top-20 sets: his self-titled debut, “No Fences” and “Beyond the Season.”
Since 1993’s “In Pieces,” Brooks has released eight more albums, all of which reached the top 10 on The Billboard 200, with five hitting No. 1. In all, he has sold more than 100 million albums, making him the top solo artist in U.S. history.
In 2001, Brooks announced that he would only tour again after his youngest daughter turned 18. He lives in Oklahoma and writes film scripts.
1994: ACE OF BASE
Swedish vocal quartet Ace of Base ruled the singles charts in 1994, notching three top-10 singles, including “The Sign.” That track spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and was taken from the album of the same name.
“The Sign” logged two weeks atop The Billboard 200 in April 1994 and a whopping seven months in the top-10.
Ace of Base has released four studio albums since “The Sign,” including its most recent, “Da Capo.” The group does not currently have a U.S. label.
In 1995, TLC (made up of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) spent much of the year lodged in the top-10 of The Billboard 200 with “CrazySexyCool.” Perhaps even more impressive, the group earned four top 10 Hot 100 singles in 1995, including two No. 1s: “Creep” and “Waterfalls.”
The trio released “Fanmail” in 1999, which became its first No. 1 album on The Billboard 200. The album spawned two No. 1 Hot 100 singles.
In 2002, Lopes died in a car accident in Honduras. TLC released “3D” in late 2002, which included some previously completed songs with Lopes. A greatest-hits package is in the works for 2004.
1996: ALANIS MORISSETTE
Alanis Morissette’s breakthrough album, “Jagged Little Pill,” spent all of the 1996 chart year (December 1995- November 1996) lodged in the top-10 of The Billboard 200. That amazing feat, coupled with two top-10 Hot 100 singles, ensured her 1996 win.
“Jagged Little Pill,” at 14 million units sold in the U.S., is the second-biggest-selling album in the SoundScan era.
Morissette released two more No. 1 albums and is completing work on her new set, “So-Called Chaos,” which is due in early 2004.
1997: LEANN RIMES
In 1997, LeAnn Rimes chalked up three top-10 Billboard 200 albums, including the No. 1s “Unchained Melody/The Early Years” and “You Light Up My Life – Inspirational Songs.”
Rimes also spent nearly half of 1997 in the top-10 of the Hot 100 with the single “How Do I Live.” That track spent 69 weeks on the Hot 100-more than any other single in history.
Since that breakthrough year, Rimes has gone on to release six more albums, including her latest, “Greatest Hits.” The Curb set debuted at No. 24 on the Dec. 6 Billboard 200 chart.
Usher blanketed the airwaves in 1998 with three singles, all of which hit the top-two on the Hot 100. “Nice & Slow,” the second single from the album “My Way,” spent two weeks at No. 1 in February 1998. More telling, in January 1998, Usher had two different singles chart concurrently in the top 10 of the Hot 100.
Usher built on his “My Way” success with the release of his third studio album in 2001, “8701.” The Arista set charted three top three Hot 100 singles, including two No. 1s: “U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad.”
Usher is slated to release his fourth studio effort March 16, 2004.
1999: BACKSTREET BOYS
Suggesting that 1999 was a banner year for the Backstreet Boys would be an understatement. The quintet’s “Millennium” album debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 that June, selling more than 1.13 million units in its first week. At the time, it was the biggest first-week seller in the SoundScan era. The Jive set spent 10 weeks at No. 1 and has sold more than 12 million units in the U.S. alone.
That year was also the Boys’ most successful on the Hot 100, where the group earned four top 40 singles, including the ubiquitous “I Want It That Way.”
Since 1999, the group has released two more albums: “Christmas Album” (1999) and “Black & Blue” (2001).
Now most of its members are working on solo projects. Nick Carter released his self-titled solo debut in late 2002, and he will appear in the upcoming film “The Hollow.” Brian Littrell founded the Brian Littrell Healthy Heart Club for Kids in 1999 and is working on a Christian album. Earlier this year, Kevin Richardson starred on Broadway as Billy Flynn in “Chicago,” and this fall he reprised the role in London’s West End.
Howie Dorough, who is working on a Spanish/English album for BMG Latin, continues to raise funds for the Dorough Lupus Foundation. He recently said that the group hopes to work on a new album in early 2004. A.J. McLean has pursued a recording career via his rock star alter-ego persona Johnny No Name, and he completed a short theater tour in 2000.
2000 & 2001: DESTINY’S CHILD
The second back-to-back winner of the artist of the year award, Destiny’s Child, has been a constant presence on the charts since the trio’s debut in 1997. But the Columbia group (with Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams) broke through in 1999 with “Say My Name.” It spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
That success, two other hit singles and the No. 5 album “The Writing’s on the Wall,” clinched the award for the group in 2000. Destiny’s Child took home the trophy in 2001 thanks, in part, to four top-10 Hot-100 singles.
Since then, all three members have released solo projects. Rowland collaborated with rapper Nelly on the single “Dilemma,” which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 2002. Rowland released her own top-20 charting album in late 2002. That same year, Williams bowed with “Heart to Yours,” which hit No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums. In 2003, Knowles took over the charts with her album “Dangerously in Love” — which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 — and two Hot 100 No. 1s: “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy.”
Nelly was inescapable on radio in 2002. He charted six Hot 100 singles, including two No. 1s on the Hot 100 that spent a combined 17 weeks atop the chart. His second album, “Nellyville,” debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and spent a month at the top.
In 2003, Nelly racked up more Hot 100 hits, with “Air Force Ones” reaching No. 3 and his collaboration with P. Diddy and Murphy Lee, “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” spending a month at No. 1.
Nelly released the remixes album “Da Derrty Versions” Nov. 25. The set opened at No. 12 on The Billboard 200.