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Usher Dominates the Billboard Awards

Usher (search) may not want to ring in the new year. This one's been too good to him.

The R&B impresario dominated the 2004 Billboard Music Awards (search) on Wednesday night, picking up 11 awards in the latest in a string of accolades he has earned this year.

His awards included artist of the year, R&B/hip-hop album of the year for "Confessions" and Hot 100 single of the year for "Yeah!" featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.

The 26-year-old singer opened the show with a blast, dropping from the ceiling on a cord and performing "Bad Girl" while a bevy of beautiful women clad in white parkas and snow boots gyrated around him.

Usher, whose album sold more than 1 million copies in its debut week, also had a big night at last month's American Music Awards and is nominated for eight Grammys.

R&B crooner Alicia Keys (search) picked up seven awards during Wednesday's show, which was held at the MGM Grand hotel-casino. Keys took home wins for female artist of the year, R&B/hip-hop single of the year for "If I Ain't Got You" and Hot 100 songwriter of the year.

Kanye West, who has a leading 10 Grammy nominations, picked up four Billboard awards, including rap artist of the year. 50 Cent won a new award, ringtone of the year, for "In Da Club."

The show was hosted by Ryan Seacrest of "American Idol" fame and broadcast by Fox live on the East Coast.

The high-energy affair mixed R&B and rock with performances by Nelly, Green Day and Gwen Stefani. The show also included the first public appearance by Britney Spears since she married Kevin Federline in September; she presented West his rap artist of the year award.

Ashlee Simpson was met with boos and cheers as she accepted the female new artist of the year award. Simpson, the younger sister of Jessica Simpson, ended her speech saying that if people ever feel nervous they can do a "Texas jig," referring to her impromptu dance during an October appearance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," when an audio mistake made it clear she had been lip-synching.

Stevie Wonder, who presented Sting with the Century Award last year, was himself the recipient. Destiny's Child received the artist achievement award.

The Billboard Awards honor the year's chart-topping artists. Winners are determined by the magazine's year-end chart listings, which are based on record sales and airplay.