Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart feats of Snoop Dogg, Usher, Alicia Keys, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Josh Groban, Five For Fighting, Vanessa Williams, James Taylor and John Mayer, and charts h

STILL HOT: The final chart of the calendar year finds "Drop It Like It's Hot" (Doggystyle/Geffen) by Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell still the king of the hill on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. That means "Drop It" is the second longest-running No. 1 of 2004, tied with "Lean Back" by Terror Squad.

The leader is "Yeah!" by Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris, with an eight-week reign. In third place there is a tie between "Goodies" by Ciara featuring Petey Pablo and "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys, both with six-week runs.

Usher spent more weeks in R&B pole position than any other artist, with 15 weeks spread among his four chart-toppers. In addition to "Yeah!" he went to No. 1 with "Burn," "Confessions Part II" and "My Boo," the latter a duet with Keys.

Keys is in second place among artists with the most weeks at No. 1, having spent nine weeks on top, with "If I Ain't Got You" and "My Boo." She ended 2003 with a nine-week reign for "You Don't Know My Name," which tied with 50 Cent's "In Da Club" as the longest-running No. 1 hits of last year.

THE 'BEACH' IS BACK: Blake Shelton's "Some Beach" (Warner Bros.) moves 2-1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. That means "Beach" is the 20th and final country No. 1 for 2004. Last year, 18 songs advanced to the top spot during the calendar year.

"Some Beach" is Shelton's third song to reach the summit. His chart career began in 2001 with "Austin," which remains his biggest hit, with a five-week run at No. 1. In 2003, "The Baby" spent two weeks on top.

The longest-running country No. 1 of 2004 is Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," which remained at the zenith for seven weeks. Tied for second place are "When the Sun Goes Down" by Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker and "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson, both with five-week runs.

Last year's longest-running chart-topper was "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere." The Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett collaboration ruled for eight weeks.

1200 YEARS ON TOP: Josh Groban's "Believe" (Warner Sunset/Reprise) from the soundtrack to "The Polar Express" remains No. 1 for the third week on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. It's the eighth song to reach the top in 2004. Last year, six songs advanced to No. 1.

The longest-running AC chart-topper of the year is Five For Fighting's "100 Years," which had a 12-week reign. In 2003, the longest-running No. 1 was the tenacious "Drift Away" by Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray. That remake of Gray's original enjoyed a record-setting 28 weeks at No. 1.

Five For Fighting had the most weeks at No. 1 as an artist, followed by Los Lonely Boys. That trio's first chart entry, "Heaven," was ascendant for 10 weeks.

PRECIOUS METALS: "Silver and Gold" (Lava) by Vanessa Williams moves 6-4 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, giving the artist her highest-ranking entry since "Colors of the Wind" from the soundtrack to "Pocahontas" went to No. 2 in 1995.

Williams' biggest AC hit is her duet with Brian McKnight on a song from the "Beverly Hills 90230" soundtrack, "Love Is." That song spent three weeks at No. 1 in April 1993, and a total of 37 weeks on the chart.

'HALLS' MARK: Another artist having a big holiday AC hit is James Taylor. His version of "Deck the Halls" (Hallmark) marches 9-6 on that Billboard tally. It's his highest AC ranking since he went to No. 4 in January 2002 with another seasonal interpretation, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

GOLDEN MAYER: John Mayer has been a core artist for adult top 40 radio since he made his debut in February 2002 with "No Such Thing," but the artist is just now scoring his first No. 1 Billboard hit at the format.

"Daughters" (Aware/Columbia), Mayer's sixth chart entry, glides 2-1, besting his previous high mark, the No. 3 peak of "Your Body Is a Wonderland" in December 2002.

"Daughters" marks Mayer's return to the top 10 of the Adult Top 40 chart. His first four entries all reached the top 10, but in April he only went to No. 13 with "Clarity."

ACCOUNTING THEM DOWN: Long before I wrote books for Billboard or became the "Chart Beat" columnist, I kept my own personal charts, so coming up with my top 10 lists for the year is a tradition that stretches back -- wait a minute, why should I tell you how long this has been going on?

The important thing is that I've upheld the tradition, but now I have a bigger forum than when I was a teenager. If you'd like to see my top 10 albums of 2004, along with the personal top 10s of the rest of the Billboard staff, you'll need to visit the Billboard.com Year In Music special section, which will be posted on the site in the coming days.

For many years, I kept separate top 10 lists for my favorite singles and favorite album tracks of the year. With the near-demise of the commercial single in the United States, it made more sense to compile one list (commercial availability in the single format no longer required). Here is that year-end top 10:

1. "Min Kärlek," Shirley Clamp (Lionheart, Sweden)
2. "Soy Tu Venus," Baccara (Lionheart, Sweden)
3. "Stronger Every Minute," Lisa Andreas (CMC/EMI, Cyprus)
4. "Ingen Vill Veta Var Du Köpt Din Tröja," Raymond and Maria (Metronome, Sweden)
5. "Photograph" / "Crazy in Love," Carmen Rasmusen (R3 Media)
6. "White Houses," Vanessa Carlton (A&M)
7. "1985," Bowling For Soup (Silvertone/Jive)
8. "On Again...Off Again," Julie and Ludwig (CMC/EMI, Malta)
9. "The Image of You," Anjeza Shahini (CMC/EMI, Albania)
10. "Undone," Patrick Nuo (WEA, Germany)

If you're curious what some of these songs sound like, please tune in to the annual "Staff Favorites" edition of "The Billboard Radio Countdown," when host Chuck Taylor, producer Patrick Eves and I play our own personal favorites of 2004. This special Countdown will be posted at www.billboardradio.com on Monday, Jan. 3. Meanwhile, you can hear the recap of the Billboard Hot 100 counted down right now. A review of the top 100 albums of the year will be posted on Monday, Dec. 27.

I hope 2004 was a great year for you, and that the coming 12 months will be even better. Please have safe and happy holidays. The "Chart Beat" continues during the holiday season, so check in next week as I report on the first charts to be dated 2005.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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