Yes, folks, it’s that time of the year again. Billboard recently released its’ year-end charts, and some of the results will surprise you. Chris Brown ranks as the year’s top artist, thanks to three huge hit singles and a double-platinum album. He’s also (obviously) the top male artist on the year-end survey, while to no one’s surprise, his girlfriend Rihanna ranks as the top female artist. In their breakout year, The Jonas Brothers rank as the top band/duo/group.

This week, we turn our attention to the year’s top albums. Now, when doing their year end survey, Billboard does not use hard sales figures, nor do they use the strict calendar year. Their year end charts are based on a calculation of chart positions from week-to-week, while the time period they tally is from the first week of December 2007 to the last week of November 2008. Which should explain why the biggest-selling album of 2008 isn’t actually the Number One album of 2008. Let’s move on to the chart, shall we? Oh, and as always, all chart positions are courtesy of the good folks at Billboard communications.

1) “As I Am” Alicia Keys

Keys snared the #1 spot by spending all 52 weeks of the chart year on the Top 200. During that period, “As I Am” has sold 3.7 million copies. It’s the first time Keys has had a #1 album of the year. And here’s a sign at how flat record sales have become: “As I Am” is the worst selling studio album of Keys’ career.

2) “Noel” Josh Groban

“Noel” was actually the biggest selling album of the time period captured in the year-end chart, but as it was a holiday release, it’s time on the chart was limited. By the way, in terms of actual album sales, “Noel” wound up being 2007’s #1 album.

3) “Tha Carter III” Lil Wayne

2008’s #1-selling album by a healthy margin, Weezy joins Alicia Keys as the only artists in the Top 5 Artists, Albums and Singles of 2008. It’s also (obviously) the highest-ranking hip-hop title on the year end chart and the only one in the Top 20. The rest of the top 5, in order, T.I. (#23 on the overall chart), Rick Ross (#50), Jay-Z (#57) and Young Jeezy (#62)

4. “Long Road Out of Eden” The Eagles

5. “Fearless” Taylor Swift

Swift had two hit albums this year (“Fearless” ranks at #66), and is the highest-ranking country artist on the chart, assuming we’re not counting The Eagles as a country band. Take that, Joe Jonas!

6. “Rock ‘n Roll Jesus” Kid Rock

Kid’s album, which came out in October ’07, is the oldest album in the year-end Top Ten. His hit single “All Summer Long” was a hit on both pop and country radio and gave him one of the biggest songs of his career. Who’d have thought that the hick rapper with the midget sidekick would still be on top of the charts ten years later?

7. “Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends” Coldplay

Coldplay’s album, conversely, is the newest album to appear in the year-end Top 10, as well as the highest ranking album by a U.K. artist. Leona Lewis is the only other Brit import in the Top 25. The rest of the Top 5 as far as Brits go: Led Zeppelin (#31), Robert Plant (with Alison Krauss, #39) and Amy Winehouse (#43).

8. “Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 26” Various Artists

This series has proven to be quite durable over the years, proving that some Americans are just too damn lazy to make their own mix tapes. “Now 28” is #37 and “Now 27” is #41.

9. “Carnival Ride” Carrie Underwood

Carrie’s one of four “American Idol” alumni in the year-end Top 100. The others? Daughtry (#33), Jordin Sparks (#35) and Jennifer Hudson (#93)

10. “The Ultimate Hits” Garth Brooks

11. “Hannah Montana Soundtrack 3/Meet Miley Cyrus” Miley Cyrus

12. “Growing Pains” Mary J. Blige

13. “Exclusive” Chris Brown

Chris and Rihanna handily beat out R&B/hip-hop’s other power couple. Jay-Z, as previously mentioned, landed at #37 for the year with “American Gangster” and Beyonce’s “B-Day” ended the year at #170. “I Am…Sasha Fierce” came out too late to qualify, but it should figure mightily on next year’s chart.

14. “Sleep Through the Static” Jack Johnson

15. “Black Ice” AC/DC

16. “Death Magnetic” Metallica

AC/DC, Metallica, The Eagles and Garth Brooks (who sneaks in by virtue of debuting in 1989) are the only artists on the year-end Top 25 whose careers predate 1990. Mariah Carey and Kid Rock narrowly missed, as both issued their freshman efforts in 1990. So, basically, if you want a long career? Record metal or country.

17. “Jonas Brothers” Jonas Brothers

The Jonases are the only artists with two albums in the Top 25. Touche, Taylor Swift.

18. “Coco” Colbie Caillat

19. “Spirit” Leona Lewis

Leona’s the only artist in the Top 25 to debut in 2008, although Colbie Caillat narrowly tops her with the highest-ranking debut album on the chart. As far as debut albums go, those two are followed by Daughtry, Jordin Sparks and Amy Winehouse (“Back to Black” counts because it was her U.S. debut).

20. “High School Musical 2 Soundtrack” Various Artists

21. “Good Girl Gone Bad” Rihanna

If “Rehab” ascends just a few more positions in the next couple weeks, Rihanna will follow Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Bruce Springsteen as the only artists to pull seven Top 20 songs from one album. Not too shabby.

22. “E=MC2” Mariah Carey

23. “Paper Trail” T.I.

T.I  not only found himself beat by Lil Wayne on the charts this year, I’m pretty sure Weezy got arrested more times in the past year as well. However, T.I.’s the one looking at a stretch upstate, so he wins something after all.

24. “Mamma Mia Soundtrack” Various Artists

25. “A Little Bit Longer” Jonas Brothers

I would love to make another Jonas/Taylor Swift joke here…but I can’t think of one. Shit.

Next week…the year’s Top 25 singles.