The English/Irish vocal quintet wrapped the year as Billboard's top artist, the first group to do so since 2001 (when Destiny's Child took home the honor). One Direction's achievement was spurred by a No. 1 Billboard 200 album (Midnight Memories), massive concert tour grosses and their performance on social media.
One year after Lady Gaga was named Billboard's top new artist, she became our overall top artist. Gaga earned the latter honor thanks in part to the chart performance of her first two albums, The Fame and The Fame Monster, which ranked at No. 4 and 13, respectively, on the 2010 year-end Billboard 200 albums tally.
In 2009, Taylor Swift was the first solo female or country act to earn the top artist of the year title since 1997, when LeAnn Rimes took home the honor. Swift's second album, Fearless, spent most of the 2009 chart year lodged in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart.
In 2008, the R&B/hip-hop artist claimed the top artist of the year prize for a second time, following his first win in 2006. Brown charted multiple top 10 hit songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008, including "No Air" (with Jordin Sparks), "With You" and "Forever."
The singer sizzled in 2007 with an array of successful singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "I Wanna Love You," "Smack That" and "Don't Matter." He also was a guest on hits from Gwen Stefani ("The Sweet Escape") and T-Pain's "Bartender."
The rapper had a big year in 2005, as his The Massacre album spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while he scored a huge No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single with "Candy Shop" (nine weeks atop the list).
Usher notched his second win for top artist of the year in 2004, six years after he first earned the title (in 1998). Usher's Confessions album spent nine weeks at No. 1 in 2004 on the Billboard 200, while it spawned four chart-topping singles on the Billboard Hot 100 that year.
50 Cent's debut album Get Rich Or Die Tryin' ruled the weekly Billboard 200 chart for six weeks in 2003. It launched the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits "In Da Club" (No. 1 for nine weeks) and "21 Questions" (No. 1 for four weeks).
Nelly's second album, Nellyville, topped the Billboard 200 chart for four weeks in 2002. The rapper also spent a whopping 17 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with two different smash hits: "Hot In Herre" (No. 1 for seven weeks) and "Dilemma" (No. 1 for 10 weeks).
The R&B/pop act scored big in 2000 with the No. 1 singles "Say My Name" and "Independent Women Part 1." The latter was such a smash success (11 weeks at No. 1), its No. 1 reign lasted into the 2001 chart year, helping the trio earn the top artist of the year trophy in both 2000 and 2001.
The boy band capped an incredibly successful chart year in 1999 with the top artist of the year achievement. The honor was driven largely by the performance of the group's Millennium album, which spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1999.
LeAnn Rimes was the first female country artist to be named top artist of the year. The singer had a big year in 1997, thanks to her inescapable single "How Do I Live" and two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (Unchained Melody/The Early Years and You Light Up My Life -- Inspirational Songs).
The R&B/hip-hop trio had a very successful 1995, thanks to its second album CrazySexyCool spending the entire chart year lodged in the top 40 of the weekly Billboard 200 chart. The group tallied four top five Billboard Hot 100 singles that year as well, two of which ("Creep" and "Waterfalls") hit No. 1.
The Swedish quartet wasn't just the top artist of the year in 1994, but they also earned the top Billboard 200 album (The Sign) and the top Billboard Hot 100 single of the year ("The Sign"). They were the first group to take home all three of Billboard's top year-end honors.
The country superstar was the top artist of the year in both 1992 and 1993, owed mostly to the success of his many albums on the Billboard 200 chart. In 1993 alone, he charted six albums, including his then-most recent No. 1, In Pieces.
The five-piece boy band were kings of the charts in both 1989 and 1990 -- the two years they earned the top artist of the year title. In 1990, the act notched its second No. 1 album on the weekly Billboard 200 chart with Step By Step.
In 1989, New Kids On the Block tallied three top 40 albums, including the No. 1 set Hangin' Tough. The quintet also scored five top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 that year, including the No. 1s "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" and "Hangin' Tough."
Whitney Houston achieved two No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles in 1986 ("How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love Of All") and saw her self-titled debut album spend 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
The Queen of Pop had a tremendous year on the charts during the 1985 chart year, with two No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles ("Like a Virgin" and "Crazy For You") plus another three top five hits ("Material Girl," "Angel" and "Dress You Up").
The R&B/pop singer/songwriter was inescapable in 1984. He logged smash singles on the Billboard Hot 100 like "Hello" (No. 1) and "Stuck On You" (No. 3) while his Can't Slow Down album spent the entire 1984 chart year in the top 10 of the weekly Billboard 200 chart.
For two years in a row (1983 and 1984), Michael Jackson's Thriller album -- which spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 -- was the top album of the year. It's thus fitting that Jackson was also the top artist of 1983, thanks not only to the performance of Thriller, but also its many successful singles like the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" (both in 1983).
The Go-Go's -- the first all-female rock band to hit No. 1 on the weekly Billboard 200 albums chart -- also claimed the year-end top artist trophy in 1982. The group's debut album Beauty and the Beat spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1982, and was the first No. 1 album by an all female rock group.
Bolstered by the tremendous success of the band's Hi-Infidelity album (which spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1981), the group was honored with the first year-end top artist distinction.