Beyonce was flawless in a Haute Hippie dress, Idina Menzel stunned in Badgley Mischka and Taylor Swift dazzled in a black-and-white Oscar de la Renta creation for the New York soiree.
Women in Music honorees included Taylor (Woman of the Year), Idina (Breakthrough Artist), Hayley Williams (Trailblazer), Ariana Grande (Rising Star), Aretha Franklin (Icon), Iggy Azalea (Chart-Topper), Charli XCX (Hitmaker) and Jessie J (Powerhouse).
Aretha was honored through an introduction by Clive Davis and a congratulatory video by Stevie Wonder. She in turn honored Taylor with a surprise rendition of "Happy Birthday" ahead of her 25th birthday coming up on Saturday.
"Being named Billboard's Woman of the Year for a second time is this amazing early birthday present. I turn 25 at midnight tonight, and I fully intend to celebrate like it's 1989," Taylor said to sprinkled laughs and a few groans. "I knew it was a bad joke when I wrote it, and I just did it anyway!"
"I've taken this year to stand up for my value as a songwriter, as a business woman, and a content creator," she continued. "I'm very well aware the music industry is changing, and it will continue to change. I'm open to that change and progress. I'm not open to the financial model that is currently in place. I really believe that we in the music industry can work together to bond technology with integrity. And I think we can teach a younger generation about an investment in music, not just the ephemeral consumption of it. I think that there has to be a way for streaming or any future way we access music to fairly compensate the writers."
Taylor is fresh off the success of 1989, which sold 1.2 million copies in the first seven days of its release, the largest sales in one week for an album since 2002.