Many music industry pundits say this is increasingly a business of songs. And in the Latin music sphere, no one exemplified this better in the past year than Don Omar, who thanks in large part to the seemingly endless appeal of his songs "Danza Kuduro" and "Taboo," is the lead finalist for the 2012 Billboard Latin Music Awards .
Don Omar secured 16 finalist nods in 14 categories and was followed closely by another hitmaker, Pitbull, who is a 14-time finalist in 12 categories for the awards, which will be presented live April 26 on the Telemundo Network from the BankUnited Center in Miami.
Newcomer Prince Royce, winner of the 2011 Billboard Latin Music Award for best new artist, was a 12-time finalist while rockers Maná -- who coincidentally recorded a single with Prince Royce -- are finalists in 11 categories. Romeo Santos, currently on his first solo arena tour, and Shakira, are tied as finalists in ten categories each.
All top finalists have in common not only their hit singles, but overwhelmingly, their capacity to transcend genres and languages.
Don Omar's nods come largely on the strength of two singles, "Taboo" and "Danza Kuduro," (a collaboration with Lucenzo) competing against each other for Song of the Year category. All told, "Danza" -- an online phenom with over 300 million YouTube views -- spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart and an impressive 32 weeks at No. 1 on the Latin Digital Songs chart, while "Taboo" spent five weeks at No. 1 on Hot Latin songs.
Don Omar, "Danza Kuduro"
Don Omar, "Taboo"
Don Omar is also a finalist for Songs Artist of the Year, Male; Latin Pop Songs Artist of the Year, Solo; Tropical Songs Artist of the Year, Solo; Latin Rhythm Songs Artist of the Year, Solo; Latin Rhythm Albums Artist of the Year, Solo and Social Artist of the Year. Indeed, Don Omar was able to transcend genre lines to be a finalist in every style save for regional Mexican, while the album "Don Omar Presents: Meet The Orphans: The King Is Back" is up for Latin Rhythm Album of the Year.
Pitbull, "Give Me Everything"
On his end, Pitbull is a finalist for Songs Artist of the Year, Male and Latin Pop Songs Artist of the Year, Solo, among others. "Give Me Everything", Pitbull's track featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer is finalist for Song of the Year; Song of the Year, Vocal Event; Airplay Song of the Year and Latin Pop Song of the Year while "Bon Bon" is up for Digital Song of the Year and Latin Rhythm Song of the Year.
Prince Royce, who like Pitbull and Don Omar appeals to audiences in two languages and cultures, continued his 2011 success as a finalist in 12 categories, including Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year.
In turn, Maná's album Drama y Luz" is vying for Album of the Year, Digital Album of the Year and Latin Pop Album of the Year while the group is also up for Artist of the Year and Touring Artist of the Year, among others.
Romeo Santos, whose first solo set, Formula: Vol. 1, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart, is up for Artist of the Year, among other awards, while the single "Promise," featuring Usher, is up for Song of the year, vocal event.
Competing against Santos in the Artist of the Year category is Shakira, whose songs "Loca" featuring El Cata and "Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)" are both vying for Digital Song of the Year.
Romeo Santos featuring Usher, "Promise"
The Billboard Latin Music Awards, presented by State Farm, will air live April 26 on the Telemundo Network from the BankUnited Center in Miami. Already confirmed to perform are three-time finalist Jenni Rivera, two-time finalist Daddy Yankee and Juanes.
The Billboard Latin Music Awards are given in 65 categories and honor the most popular albums, songs, and performers in Latin music, as determined by the actual sales and radio airplay data that informs Billboard's weekly charts from the issue dated February 5, 2011 through this year's January 28, 2012 issue.
Acknowledging the increasing importance of social media and digital sales, this year's Artist and Song categories incorporate both airplay data and digital download sales. For a full list of finalists, visit www.billboardlatinconference.com .
The Billboard Latin Music Awards cap off the 23rd annual Billboard Latin Music Conference presented by State Farm and taking place on April 23 - 26 at the JW Marriot Marquis in Miami, Florida. For information and registration, visit www.billboardlatinconference.com .