Crooner takes home the top prize for 4th straight year

BERLIN — For the fourth year in a row, Robbie Williams won the awards for best male rock and pop artist at Germany’s Echo awards, held Saturday in Berlin.

Anastacia, who has sold more than 1 million albums in Germany in the past year, took the international female pop and rock awards, while Eminem won the nod for international hip hop artist. Green Day was named international rock and pop band.

Williams, who did not attend the ceremony this year, bested Phil Collins, George Michael, Seal and Usher for the prize, handed out by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie and considered the world’s third-most important music awards after the Grammys and Brits.

Rivals for top female kudos included Nelly Furtado, Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne and Katie Melua.

Teutonic hard rock band Rammstein nabbed Echos for alternative act and live band. Other local winners included reggae singer Gentleman and pop artist Annett Lousian, who won in the national rock and pop artist category, Sohne Mannheims (national rock and pop band), pop group Silbermond (national newcomer of the year) and Die Fantastischen Vier, which won for best German hip hop band.

Melua, a Georgian native who grew up in Belfast, won the international newcomer of the year award. Romanian rock band O-Zone won single of the year for their hit “Dragostea Din Tei” (Love in the Linden Tree).

Nominations were based on sales in Germany, the world’s fourth-largest music market behind the United States, Japan and Britain with annual sales of E1.7 billion ($2.2 billion). A jury chose the winners from 26 categories.

While the German industry has seen sales slide more than 40% since 1997, German artists have been taking a bigger share of the home market, reaching 30% last year and contributing to a possible turnaround in business: German sales dipped just 3.6% in 2004, less than in previous years.

Anastacia and Mariah Carey were among the 14 international and German acts to perform during the Echo award ceremony, which was broadcast nationally in Germany.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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