Taylor Swift was an unsurprising and logical choice to receive the artist of the decade award at the American Music Awards on Nov. 24, as Swift is the only artist to have been nominated for artist of the year five times during this decade at the show.
But who else was on the short list for the honor? Only the AMAs brain trust knows for sure, but we can do the math and conjure most of the names they must have considered. Katy Perry and Drake each received four artist of the year noms in this decade. Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Ariana Grande each received three. If they weren't all on the short list, I'd be surprised.
Bruno Mars was nominated for artist of the year just twice, surprisingly, but he won once (in 2017), so he too was likely considered. One Direction won twice (in 2014-15), so they were probably also on the short list.
Other artists who were nominated for artist of the year twice in this decade, and were likely considered, are Lady Gaga, Luke Bryan, Ed Sheeran and Post Malone.
The AMAs didn't announce an artist of the decade for the '00s, but at the January 2000 show, Garth Brooks was announced as the artist of the decade for the just-ended '90s. That same show included announcements of fan-voted awards for the artists of the decade for the '50s (Elvis Presley), '60s (The Beatles), '70s (Stevie Wonder) and '80s (Michael Jackson). The only surprise there is that Wonder took the award for the '70s over such commercial hot shots as Elton John and Bee Gees.
The Academy of Country Music Awards, which, like the American Music Awards, is produced by Dick Clark Productions, has presented artist of the decade awards for each of the past six decades. The winners were Marty Robbins ('60s), Loretta Lynn ('70s). Alabama ('80s), Brooks ('90s), George Strait ('00s) and Jason Aldean ('10s).
Most of these choices are in line with the ACM's yearly entertainer of the year results, though there are two exceptions. Roy Clark received more entertainer of the awards in the '70s than Lynn did (two to one). Strait didn't win an entertainer of the year award in the '00s; Kenny Chesney won four. So why did they pick Strait for the decade honor? Sometimes, an artist can be too obvious a pick. A show might think it would do better with a choice that's a bit less expected. Swift was in a similar front-runner position for the AMA artist of the decade honor, but being an obvious pick didn't work against her. The rules, as you can see, are not hard-and-fast.