Billboard’s Greatest Pop Star By The Year Since 1981

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

By @emilyontheradio

Every year, the staff at Billboard picks out which pop star ruled the year. They have been doing this since 1981 and they don’t repeat a pick very often, but Madonna, Beyoncé, and Rihanna have all made the list twice already.

Most recently, BTS took the honor in 2020, but now they are looking at who was the best in 2021 and they’re giving you a chance to weigh in. Click this link to vote now!

We’re looking between Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Adele, Doja Cat, The Weeknd, BTS, Drake, Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa, Bad Bunny, Olivia Rodrigo, Willow, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Harry Styles, The Kid LAROI, Lil Baby & Lil Durk, Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler the Creator, aaaaaand Ye (aka Kanye West). Could this be the year we get another repeat winner?

If you’re a sucker for a list like I am, I got you this. It’s every pick since the very beginning of this yearly tradition:

1981: Blondie

1982: John Mellencamp

1983: Michael Jackson

1984: Prince

1985: Madonna

1986: Whitney Houston

1987: Bon Jovi

1988: George Michael

1989: Madonna

1990: Janet Jackson

1991: Mariah Carey

1992: Nirvana

1993: Janet Jackson

1994: Boyz II Men

1995: TLC

1996: Alanis Morrisette

1997: P.Diddy

1998: Backstreet Boys

1999: Britney Spears

2000: N’Sync

2001: Jennifer Lopez

2002: Eminem

2003: Beyoncé

2004: Usher

2005: Kanye West

2006: Justin Timberlake

2007: Rihanna

2008: Lil’ Wayne

2009: Lady Gaga

2010: Katy Perry

2011: Adele

2012: Rihanna

2013: Miley Cyrus

2014: Beyoncé

2015: Taylor Swift

2016: Justin Bieber

2017: Ed Sheeran

2018: Drake

2019: Ariana Grande

2020: BTS