<b><i>A brand new Fred Bronson Chart Beat Chat column will return the week of December 29, 2008 after a brief break for the holidays. Enjoy his most recent column below.<br /> </i></b>

DID THE CRITICS SPEAK?

Hello Mr. Bronson,

Are you going to publish your personal year-end top 10? I have seen the Billboard critics’ overall top 10 but I also like to see every critic's individual list. You have led me to some great discoveries in music over the years, like Melody Club, Ronnie Day, etc. I had never heard of these artists and would have missed them if not for your top 10 list.

Please let me know, if your top 10 list has been published.

Thanks very much,
Jim Welch

Dear Jim,

Thank you for letting me know that my year-end list of my top 10 favorite albums means something to you. I do think about the list all during the year and add potential candidates as they come into my field of vision (or hearing). But then the deadline for submitting our lists comes around and I’m in panic mode to assemble the top 10 in time.

There is a link to all of the individual lists on the home page where the overall summary begins. You’re not the only one who missed it, though; I’ve heard from several readers who had no idea the individual lists were posted, and I couldn’t find it the first time around.

I hope you enjoy some of this year’s choices as much as you have In previous years, and I hope there are some undiscovered gems there for you. Here’s the link: www.billboard.com/bbcom/yearend/2008/news/billboard-critic-choice-top-10.shtml.

MY GROWN-UP CHRISTMAS LIST

Dear Fred,

As always, I enjoy the year-end issue (which I have been buying every year since 1977). I also enjoy reading your favorites of the past year as well. Could you also share with us your all-time favorite Christmas recordings and artists?

Happy Holidays.

Richard K. Rogers
Astoria, N. Y.
haretonic@yahoo.com

Dear Richard,

I’m going to be honest – I read your e-mail just minutes before reaching my deadline to turn in this week’s Chart Beat Chat. So there isn’t time to do a definitive list, and while I have loved Christmas music for years, I have never assembled my own personal top 10 before, so I don’t have anything prepared.

Totally off the top of my head, my all-time favorite Christmas recording would be “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. I also love all of the tracks on “A Holiday Gift for You,” the legendary album produced by Phil Spector, so let’s put all of those songs in second place, especially the songs by Darlene Love, the Ronettes and the Crystals, followed by “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard.

I do love some of the biggest, most popular Christmas recordings, like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms, “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley and “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt, along with some more relatively recent tracks, like Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” Wham’s “Last Christmas,” the Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping,” Celine Dion’s “Christmas Eve” and Ally & AJ’s “Greatest Time of Year.”

Speaking of Wham! (and Wizzard), some of my favorite Christmas songs have been recorded in the U.K., like Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” and Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas.”

I love some Christmas singles from the ’60s, like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by the Four Seasons and “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys.

And I love entire Christmas albums recorded by Diana Ross and the Supremes, Neil Sedaka, Cliff Richard, Shakin’ Stevens, Tatsuro Yamashita from Japan, Kimberley Locke, Frank Sinatra (and family), Mindy Smith (listen to her “My Holiday” – one of my favorite albums of 2007), Rotary Connection, Bobby Vee, Peggy Lee and the multi-artist Stax/Volt holiday album released in the ’60s.

Some of my lesser-known favorites are:

“The Man With the Bag,” Kay Starr
“Christmas Time Forever,” Southern All Stars
“I Was Born on Christmas Day,” Saint Etienne
“I’m Sending a Letter to Santa Claus,” Phyllis Robins
“It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas,” Pet Shop Boys
“The Christmas Song/Dedicated to the One I Love,” Laura Nyro
“December Will Be Magic Again,” Kate Bush
“Home for Christmas,” Kate Bush
“Christmas Boogie,” Davis Sisters
“Hooray for Santa Claus,” Al Hirt
“It’s Gonna Be a Cold, Cold Christmas,” Dana

I know I’ll think of others as soon as I turn the column in, so as long as this list is, it’s not complete. Can you imagine how long it would be if I had more time?

FOUR DOUBLES

Fred,

Did you notice that eight of the top 10 songs on the Hot 100 chart for the week ending Dec. 27 are from four artists?

Beyonce has two (“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “If I Were a Boy”) , T.I. has two (“Live Your Life” and “Whatever You Like”), Britney Spears has two (“Circus” and “Womanizer”) and Kanye West has two (“Heartless” and “Love Lockdown”).
Not sure if this has occurred before, but it seems pretty cool.

Dan Miller
Manchester, Mo.

Dear Dan,

You were one of about a dozen readers who wrote in to point out the four doubles in the top 10, and most wanted to know if this has ever happened before.

Usually that is one of the questions that prompts me to say the only way to be sure would be to manually search through 50 years of Hot 100 charts. And while that’s true, the flurry of e-mails on the topic convinces me that if this had ever happened before, I would have heard from at least a dozen readers. Then there’s the fact that I don’t ever remember this happening before, at least not in my 16-year tenure writing this column.

ALL YOU NEED IS…

Hello Fred!

There's quite a bit of love at the top of at least three year-end charts for 2008. Leading both the Adult Contemporary and the Adult Top 40 recaps is "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles, possibly the first artist to have the same song top both these charts for the year since Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" did the trick in 2006.

Also, over on the Hot Country Songs chart, I tip my hat to James Otto, whose very first No. 1 hit, "Just Got Started Lovin' You," is country's top hit for 2008. Otto also ends Rodney Atkins' quest for a third consecutive year-end chart-topper, as Atkins' only No. 1 of 2008, "Cleaning This Gun (Come On in Boy)" comes in at No. 9 for the year. Atkins has a chance to redeem himself, as his latest, "It's America," moves up to No. 29 in only it fifth chart week.

Congratulations again to all the year-end chart winners! Also, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays wish to you, Fred, and everybody else at Chart Beat.

Respectfully,
John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Dear John,

Thanks for noticing all the “love,” and thanks for your good wishes. I wish the same good thoughts to Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat readers all over the world.

Just a reminder: the next two Chart Beat Chat columns will be posted on Mondays (Dec. 29 and Jan. 5) due to the holidays, and then we’ll be back on a regular schedule on Friday, Jan. 9.