x

In a year chock full of highlights, Beyoncé, who won four Billboard Music Awards, was quick to recall her top moment: "It was the first week my album ["Dangerously in Love"] came out. I was so nervous, and it debuted at No. 1. It was my first solo album, it just was a memorable week. Everything seemed like it was going right, the single ["Crazy in Love"] was so huge and all the buzz, I just felt like all my work paid off."

• • •


R. Kelly was this year's go-to guy for hits, as evidenced by his four BMAs honoring his production and songwriting talents. "I love writing for other people," said Kelly, whose extensive credits include collaborations with Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. "It's not about the money. I just ask that the artist be passionate about the music. If there's no passion, then for me, it's like Superman and kryptonite. I have to stay away."

Having completed five albums of his own, Kelly is turning his attention to other projects, including a new twist on Ronald Isley's "Mr. Biggs" persona. Kelly, who choreographed the dance routine for his "Step in the Name of Love" BMA performance, has also written four movies that he's shopping.

• • •


No Doubt listened to "thousands of songs" before deciding to cover Talk Talk's "It's My Life," according to lead singer Gwen Stefani. The tune, which the band performed at the BMAs, "is the first cover we've ever [recorded], so we wanted it to be right," she said. "It's the one that kept hitting us in the heart."

Stefani is starting work on a solo album, which will likely include participation from all of her No Doubt bandmates. Bassist Tony Kanal has already co-written a song with Stefani and is co-producing part of the project. "It's different than [writing for the band]," he said. "You're not thinking about how you are going to play these songs live. For Gwen, we're referencing a lot more dance stuff; she really wants to make a dance record."

• • •


For Clay Aiken, the loss of privacy has been the hardest part of dealing with his sudden burst of fame. "I realized if I'm going to do this, then I'm going to have to take the good with the bad and, hopefully, it won't kill me or anything," he said.

The instant notoriety and constant traveling has made Christmas shopping difficult, admitted Aiken, whose song "This Is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water" was named the best-selling single of the year. "I've had to get a little creative this year," he said. "I haven't done as much shopping in the stores. It's been all about the Skymall catalog."

• • •


Amy Lee of Evanescence has a few words for fans clamoring for the follow-up to the band's multi-platinum debut, "Fallen." "We're going to spend as much time as it takes. Don't bother me!" she said with a laugh. "Don't think I'm going to churn something out in two weeks, because it's going to take longer than that."

She has been writing while on tour but admitted, "The writing can only happen when the tour is totally done and you can just sit there and write with a piano and no distractions, and that's not really going to happen until March."

Evanescence -- which performed the soundtrack single of the year, "Bring Me to Life," on the show -- also won the award for new group artist.

• • •


Pink, who performed new single "God Is a DJ" on the awards show, admitted she was "really kind of heartbroken" when "Trouble," the first single from her new album, "Try This," didn't succeed at radio. "I'm kind of spoiled: I've never had to deal with that before, you know," she said. "But at the same time, I truly believe in my heart, and I talk about this with my friends all the time, that if something doesn't happen, then there's another opportunity knocking at your door."

Singing "Trouble" accompanied only by acoustic guitar at the American Music Awards "was one of the coolest things I ever got to do at an awards show, so fuck it. 'Record sells, record schmells.' I get letters that mean more to me than any chart position ever could."

• • •


Shania Twain, who was named country artist of the year, took a brief break from music this year to film a small role in the upcoming Jude Law film "I Heart Huckabee's." However, don't expect to see much more of her on the silver screen.

"It was my first time on a movie set. I enjoyed it, but would I want to put everything else aside and dedicate myself to doing something like that? I don't know," she said. "I've got so many more songs to write. I think I'd get a bigger thrill writing something for a movie, a screenplay. I'm certainly not an actress, that's for sure."

Compiled by Melinda Newman and Gail Mitchell in Las Vegas.