Welcome to the first of two year end editions of Chart Stalker! Why two, you ask? Simple answer-Billboard’s year-end issue comes out before the end of the actual calendar year (to allow for publication time and ad purchasing). Generally speaking, it covers the year from December 1st of the previous year to November 30th of the current year, or thereabouts. Additionally, Billboard calculates it’s rankings by using a formula based on chart position, so where an artist ends up on a Billboard year-end chart probably won’t correspond on the year-end Soundscan rankings, which are based on hard sales data and nothing else. Got it? Good-let’s continue.

The cover of the year-end issue of Billboard is emblazoned with the tagline “Why Pop Rules”. I’ve always had an issue with the term “pop” because it’s so nebulous. However, one look at the year’s top artists and you can’t really describe them any other way but “pop”. Lady GaGa is the year’s top artist, thanks to the huge success of her hit singles “Bad Romance”, “Telephone” and “Alejandro”. She also charted three albums during the calendar year, The Fame, The Fame-Monster, and a remix album. She’s joined in the Top Five by country-pop stars Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift, newcomer/GaGa knockoff Ke$ha, and comeback king Eminem, who is also the top ranked male artist. Lady A are obviously the top-ranked group. Usher is the top ranked R&B artist, and you have to cycle down to Train at #16 to find the highest-ranked artist who could even remotely be considered “rock”.

Susan Boyle scored the year’s #1 album with her debut effort, “I Dreamed a Dream”, capping off an eventful 12 months for the British singer. On the albums list, Lady Antebellum, Eminem and GaGa appear again, and Justin Bieber checks in at #5 with My World 2.0. Justin and Taylor Swift both have a pair of albums in the year-end Top 10. Swift scores #7 with Fearless (2009’s #1 album) and pops in again at #9 with her latest album, Speak Now. Meanwhile, Bieber’s first effort, the My World EP, ends the year at #8.

On the year-end singles chart, Ke$ha takes the top spot with her debut single “Tik Tok”. She’s followed by Lady Antebellum’s “Need you Now”, Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister”, Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and Usher’s “OMG”. The only artist to appear in the year-end singles Top 10 twice is British newcomer Taio Cruz. His “Dynamite” ranks at #9 for the year, while his debut single, “Break Your Heart”, rounds out the Top Ten.

Taking a quick look at other genres, Eminem ranks as the year’s #1 R&B/Hip-Hop Artist. Alicia Keys is the #1 female, The Black Eyed Peas are the top group, and Drake is the top newcomer. Em’s “Recovery” is the year’s #1 R&B/hip-hop album, while Keys’ “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” is the year’s #1 R&B/Hip-Hop song. Drake is the year’s #1 rap artist, completing a Young Money hat trick. The YM crew ranks as the #1 rap group, and Nicki Minaj is the #1 female rap artist. B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You” is 2010’s #1 rap song.

Lady Antebellum is 2010’s #1 country artist and Need You Now is the year’s #1 country album. Taylor Swift is the year’s #1 female country artist and Jason Aldean scores the #1 country male title. Lee Brice’s “Love Like Crazy” finishes the year as 2010’s #1 country song. Lady A’s success translated onto the Adult Contemporary charts, where they are the #1 artists and “Need You Now” is the #1 song. Muse finishes the year as the #1 alternative rock artists, and “Uprising” is the top ranked alternative rock song of the year. Muse also takes the overall Top Rock Artist crown, although they settle for the #2 rock song of the year with the top spot taken by Rise Against’s “Savior”.

A couple of other things to note:

Taking a look at the top artists of the year, it’s clear that there appears to be a growing gap between artists who have success with singles and artists who people will buy full-length albums by. Jason Derulo and Taio Cruz had massive success on the singles charts, but when they put albums out, no one gave a shit. Somewhat conversely, artists ranging from the old (Susan Boyle) to the young-but-sounds-old (Michael Buble) to the young (Justin Bieber) managed to sell boatloads of albums while barely making a dent on the singles chart. For all Bieber’s success, it’s worth noting that he’s only really had one major big pop hit (“Baby”).

Also worth noting-the gap between R&B and pop success. From the mid-nineties onward, it was expected that the most successful singles would be R&B and hip-hop crossovers. However, of this year’s Top 20 singles, not a single one managed to hit the top spot of Billboard’s R&B singles chart, and only a handful of them (six, to be exact) even hit the Top 40 on that list. Meanwhile, looking at the top 10 R&B singles of the year, only ONE song hit the Top 10 on the pop chart-Trey Songz and Fabolous’ “Say Aah”.

Billboard’s got about 50 million different charts cutting across a multitude of genres, but here’s the Top 20 artists, albums and singles of 2010, according to their year-end charts.

TOP 20 ARTISTS

1) Lady GaGa
2) Taylor Swift
3) Eminem
4) Lady Antebellum
5) Ke$ha
6) Usher
7) The Black Eyed Peas
8) Justin Bieber
9) Rihanna
10) Drake
11) Katy Perry
12) Susan Boyle
13) Jason Derulo
14) B.o.B.
15) Taio Cruz
16) Train
17) Ludacris
18) Trey Songz
19) Michael Buble
20) Lil Wayne

TOP 20 ALBUMS

1) I Dreamed a Dream-Susan Boyle
2) Recovery-Eminem
3) Need You Now-Lady Antebellum
4) The Fame-Lady GaGa
5) My World 2.0-Justin Bieber
6) My Christmas-Andrea Bocelli
7) Fearless-Taylor Swift
8) My World (EP)-Justin Bieber
9) Speak Now-Taylor Swift
10) The E.N.D.-The Black Eyed Peas
11) The Element of Freedom-Alicia Keys
12) Play On-Carrie Underwood
13) The Fame: Monster-Lady GaGa
14) Soldier of Love-Sade
15) Crazy Love-Michael Buble
16) Thank Me Later-Drake
17) The Foundation-Zac Brown Band
18) Raymond v. Raymond-Usher
19) Battle Studies-John Mayer
20) Animal-Ke$ha

TOP 20 SINGLES

1) “Tik Tok” Ke$ha
2) “Need You Now” Lady Antebellum
3) “Hey, Soul Sister” Train
4) “California Gurls” Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
5) “OMG” Usher feat. will.i.am
6) “Airplanes” B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams
7) “Love the Way You Lie” Eminem feat. Rihanna
8) “Bad Romance” Lady GaGa
9) “Dynamite” Taio Cruz
10) “Break Your Heart” Taio Cruz
11) “Nothin’ on You” B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars
12) “I Like It” Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
13) “Bedrock” Young Money feat. Lloyd
14) “In My Head” Jason DeRulo
15) “Rude Boy” Rihanna
16) “Telephone” Lady GaGa feat. Beyonce
17) “Teenage Dream” Katy Perry
18) “Just the Way You Are” Bruno Mars
19) “Cooler Than Me” Mike Posner
20) “Imma Be” The Black Eyed Peas

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