'El Bambino,' Wisin & Yandel Lead Billboard Latin Awards Finalists
Tito El Bambino Siente Music-Venevision International

Urban-leaning acts led the finalists' charge for the 2010 Billboard Latin Music Awards, with Tito "El Bambino" competing for 18 awards for his album "El Patrón" (Siente/Universal) and the single "El Amor." Following in sheer number of finalist slots are reggaetón duo Wisin & Yandel, up for 14 awards and urban/bachata stars Aventura, up for 12 awards. Regional Mexican singer/songwriter Espinoza Paz is a finalist in eight awards while Luis Fonis, Banda el Recodo and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón are up for six award each.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards, presented by State Farm, will be broadcast live April 29 from the Puerto Rico Coliseum on the Telemundo network, marking the first time the awards show‹the top-rated special on the Telemundo network--travels to Puerto Rico. The awards are the culmination of the Billboard Latin Music Conference, taking place April 26-29 at the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan (www.billboardlatinconference.com). This year's top finalists reflect a radio landscape where formats and genres increasingly overlap and where pop and tropical stations are increasingly playing urban beats. In effect, urban music, a novelty in the Latin arena just five years ago, is increasingly blending with pop and tropical music for a hybrid that crosses musical boundaries.

Also reflecting a changing marketplace is the addition of a Latin Digital Album of the Year category, which joins the already existing Latin Digital Download of the Year and Latin Master Ringtone of the Year categories. Most notably, Billboard has created a signature Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year categories, reflecting an artist's performance on both the Latin Songs and Latin Albums chart. As a result, the Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year categories for both Latin Singles and Latin Albums has been removed.

The contenders for the Artist of the year category reflect the leading finalists for the awards, with Aventura, Wisin & Yandel and Tito "El Bambino" all competing, along with Luis Fonsi.

Finalists for the Latin Artist of the Year, New Artist (meaning artists who are new to the Billboard charts) are El Compa Chuy, Jencarlos, Larry Hernandez and Makano.

Overall, a total of 57 awards‹including label, touring, writer and producer of the year awards--will be given out, with finalists and winners determined by the actual sales and radio airplay data than informs Billboard's weekly charts during a one-year period from the issue dated February 7, 2009 through this year's January 30, 2010 issue.

Album categories are confined to titles that did not appear before the Nov. 8, 2008 issue and exclude finalists from the prior-year's Billboard Latin Music Awards.

This year's top finalist, Tito "El Bambino," benefited not only from strong sales of his album "El Patrón," but from a radio-friendly single, "El Amor," that traversed every single Latin radio format in the country. Wisin & Yandel also had strong sales from their album "La Revolución" (Machete/Universal) making them finalists in the Latin Artist of the year and Latin Album of the year. A plethora of singles made them finalists in multiple categories, including two nods in the Hot Latin Song of the year, vocal event, for their collaboration with Enrique Iglesias ("Gracias a Tí" ) and Akon and Aventura (in "All Up 2 You).

Aventura is also up for the Latin artist of the year award and Hot Latin Songs artist fo the year, duo or group award, while their album "The Last" (Premium/Sony) is up in the Latin Album of the year, among others. In turn, Espinoza Paz, who's had his break-out year, is up for the Songwriter of the year award (which he also won last year) as well as Top Latin Albums artist of the year for releases that include "Yo No Canto, Pero lo Intentamos" (Fonovisa).

Other multiple finalists included Shakira, up for five awards, and Paulina Rubio and Nelly Furtado, up for four awards each.

Finalists to the Billboard Latin Music Awards were announced during Telemundo's morning show, "Levántate," with different artists reading finalists live from four different cities. The full list of finalists can be viewed here.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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