Chart Beat

Chart news about Mariah Carey, Kristine W, James Blunt and Nelly, as well as Fred's top singles and albums of the year.

GIFT-WRAPPED: For the first time in the short history of Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart, a track that is not a current hit ranks No. 1. The 11-year-old song "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (Columbia), recorded for Mariah Carey's 1994 CD "Merry Christmas," advances 4-1 this week.

The digital songs survey was first published the week of Feb. 12. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is the 15th song to top this tally, and the first by Carey. In order of how long each song remained in pole position, here is a summary of the digital No. 1 songs to date:

"Hollaback Girl," Gwen Stefani (nine weeks)
"Gold Digger," Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (nine weeks)
"Candy Shop," 50 Cent featuring Olivia (eight weeks)
"Pon de Replay," Rihanna (five weeks)
"Don't Phunk With My Heart," The Black Eyed Peas (three weeks)
"Just the Girl," The Click Five (two weeks)
"Hung Up," Madonna (two weeks)
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams," Green Day (one week)
"Switch," Will Smith (one week)
"Beverly Hills," Weezer (one week)
"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," Jessica Simpson (one week)
"Photograph," Nickelback (one week)
"My Humps," the Black Eyed Peas (one week)
"When I'm Gone," Eminem (one week)
"All I Want for Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey (one week to date)

While Carey's Christmas tune is the only holiday-themed song in the top 20 of the Hot Digital Songs list, there are 21 seasonal songs on the 75-position chart. After "All I Want for Christmas Is You,' the next highest ranked is Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," at No. 23.

Other perennial holiday favorites on the chart include Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" (No. 27), Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" (No. 28), Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" (No. 32), Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" (No. 36), Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" (No. 37), David Seville and the Chipmunks' "The Chipmunk Song" (No. 42), Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" (No. 47), Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (No. 61) and Burl Ives' "A Holly Jolly Christmas" (No. 70).

MORE MARIAH: Mariah Carey also makes news on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where "Don't Forget About Us" (Island) takes a 3-1 hike, giving Carey her 10th No. 1 hit on this survey.

"Don't Forget About Us" achieves pole position six months and three weeks after "We Belong Together" assumed the lead. This is only the second time in Carey's career that she has had two songs advance to No. 1 on the R&B chart in the same calendar year. It first happened in 1990 with Carey's first two singles, "Vision of Love" and "Love Takes Time."

EVEN MORE MARIAH: The Billboard Hot 100 is also a hot spot for Mariah Carey news. The fourth single from her album "The Emancipation of Mimi" (Island), "Don't Forget About Us," makes a 7-2 move and earns Greatest Gainer/Airplay honors in the process.

If "Don't Forget About Us" doesn't go any higher, it will be Carey's fifth song to peak at No. 2. However, even a one-position move upward will rewrite chart history, as "Forget" would become Carey's 17th No. 1 on the Hot 100. That would tie Elvis Presley's rock-era total. Presley and Carey would then be tied for second place among artists with the most No. 1 hits, behind the Beatles, with 20.

WILL HER 'LIGHT' SHINE?: Kristine W collects her 10th chart entry on Billboard's Hot Dance/Club Play list, thanks to the No. 45 debut of "I'll Be Your Light" (Tommy Boy Silver Label).

Kristine W's first nine chart titles, released between 1994 and 2005, have all reached the No. 1 position on this tally. That means there is a lot riding on "I'll Be Your Light," which will either be No. 1 and keep her batting a thousand, or it will chart in some lower position and ruin Kristine W's perfect record.

TO BE BLUNT: A 46-22 leap for the single "You're Beautiful" (Custard/Atlantic) makes James Blunt the highest-flying Brit on the Hot 100. He takes over the title from Gorillaz, who rebound 35-33 with "Feel Good Inc" (Parlophone/Virgin). "Feel Good Inc" peaked at No. 14 the week of Aug. 20, the same week that British-born Natasha Bedingfield peaked at No. 17 with "These Words."

If Blunt's song continues its upward journey into the top 10, it will be the first top 10 hit for a Brit since Coldplay debuted and peaked at No. 8 with "Speed of Sound" the week of May 7.

'GRILLZ' GONE WILD: Nelly scores his 14th top 10 hit on the Hot 100, as "Grillz" (Derrty/Fo' Reel) bounds 11-4. It's his first top 10 hit as a lead artist since "Over and Over," recorded with Tim McGraw, peaked at No. 3 in December 2004.

Nelly did reach No. 9 when he was the featured artist on Fat Joe's "Get It Poppin'," which reached its peak the week of July 30.

"Grillz" is the ninth Nelly song to chart in the top four spots on the Hot 100. It is the second top 10 hit for Ali, who was one of the featured artists on Nelly's "Air Force Ones," which peaked at No. 3 the week of Jan. 4, 2003. This is the first trip into the top 10 for the other artists featured on "Grillz," Paul Wall and Gipp.

A SINGLE MAN: Where did 2005 go? We're almost to the end, which means it's time to look back and consider which albums and songs were among my favorites of the calendar year.

My top 10 albums will appear in the "Critics' Choice" area annual Year In Music review that features the favorites of Billboard staffers from all over the world. The special year-end section will appear on this site in the coming days.

As I have done the last few years, I've also singled out my favorite songs. I used to keep two lists: one for singles and one for album tracks, but gave that idea up a while back as the distinction of what is a commercially released single became less important.

Since Swedish artists dominate my album list (and hold the No. 1 spot on my top 10 songs of 2005), I was surprised how many slots on the song list went to U.K. artists. While 2005 was a tough year for U.K. acts on the Billboard charts, I found a number of artists from across the pond released some of the best songs of the year, including Sugababes, Katie Melua, Kate Bush and McFly.

Three songs on my top 10 are from the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. Entries from Malta, Iceland and Switzerland (by Estonia's Vanilla Ninja) qualified. Hungary's NOX has my No. 11 song, "Forogj Vilag." I can't pronounce it, but I love it anyway.

If you haven't heard my No. 1 song of 2005, you've missed an outstanding piece of music. Sweden's Robyn had a couple of top 10 hits on the Hot 100 in 1997. She was a favorite of our late editor-in-chief Tim White, and I wonder what he would have thought of the incredible single "Be Mine!" The video is one of the best music videos I have ever seen, though the song earns its No. 1 standing based solely on the music.

And here are my top 10 songs of 2005:

1. "Be Mine!," Robyn (Konichiwa, Sweden)
2. "Push the Button," Sugababes (Island, United Kingdom)
3. "Nine Million Bicycles," Katie Melua (Dramatico, United Kingdom)
4. "How to Be Invisible," Kate Bush (Columbia)
5. "Sunshine After the Rain," Bodies Without Organs (Capitol, Sweden)
6. "Pleasant Valley Sunday," Carole King (Rockingale)
7. "Reachin' for Heaven," Diana DeGarmo (Walt Disney)
8. "Angel," Chiara (CMC, Malta)
9. "The Ballad of Paul K," McFly (Parlophone, United Kingdom)
10. (tie) "If You Had My Love," Selma (CMC, Iceland) & "Cool Vibes," Vanilla
Ninja (CMC, Estonia)

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. This special Countdown will be posted at on Tuesday, Jan. 3, and there's a special announcement at the end of the show, so please tune in.

TOP 10 ALBUMS, PART DEUX: In addition to listing my favorite songs of the year in this edition of "Chart Beat," I've compiled my NEXT 10 favorite albums of 2005. So, before you are able to check out my top 10 list, maybe you'll be able to figure out what's there by seeing what I ranked from No. 11 to No. 20:

11. April Diamond, "This Is Me Now" (Bonnier Music, Sweden).
12. Texas, "Red Book" (Mercury, United Kingdom).
13. Original Broadway Cast, "Jersey Boys" (Rhino).
14. (tie) Dee Dee Sharp, "The Best of Dee Dee Sharp 1962-1966" (ABKCO);
Bobby Rydell, "The Best of Bobby Rydell 1959-1964" (ABKCO); Chubby Checker,
"The Best of Chubby Checker 1959-1963 (ABKCO); The Orlons, "The Best of the
Orlons 1961-1966" (ABKCO); The Dovells, "The Best of the Dovells 1961-1965"
15. ABBA, "The Complete Studio Recordings" (Polar).
16. Bobby Vee, "Last of the Great Rhythm Guitar Players" (PEG).
17. Original Cast, "Billy Elliott" (Polydor, United Kingdom).
18. Madonna, "Confessions on a Dancefloor" (Warner Brothers).
19. Tab Hunter, "Young Love: The Best of Tab Hunter" (Eric).
20. The Ark, "State of the Ark" (Virgin, Sweden).

I hope 2005 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 see you next week with news of the final chart to be dated 2005.