5 Things to Watch at the Billboard Music Awards
5 Things to Watch at the Billboard Music Awards

The 2011 Billboard Music Awards will air live from Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC. The show is co-executive-produced by Richard Beckman, CEO of Prometheus Global Media (parent company of Billboard), and Don Mischer of Don Mischer Productions. Here are five things to watch for during the show:

TOP FINALISTS

Rihanna, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber lead the finalists for the 2011 Billboard Music Awards. Rihanna takes the lead as a finalist in 18 award categories, including top Hot 100 artist, top female artist, top R&B artist and top dance/electronic artist. Eminem is a finalist in 16 award categories, including top Billboard 200 artist, top artist, top male artist and top rap artist. Lady Gaga follows as a finalist in 12 categories, with three releases all competing for top dance/electronic album. And pop heartthrobs Mars and Bieber will each vie for 11 categories and face off for top new artist and top male artist.

PERFORMERS

The Billboard Music Awards will be a hot ticket of live performances at the MGM Grand. The latest additions to an already stellar lineup of performers include a series of special collaborations: Lil Wayne will team up with Mary J. Blige, Pitbull will rock the stage with Ne-Yo and Nayer, and Far*East Movement will be joined by Snoop Dogg and Ryan Tedder. They join previously announced performers Ke$ha, Neil Diamond, OneRepublic, Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, Keith Urban and Taio Cruz. Having appeared on the charts and in the pages of Billboard through the years, several of these acts (besides Rihanna) are also finalists at the show. Newcomers Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj and Taio Cruz will contend for top new artist. Tickets for the Billboard Music Awards start at $57.75 and were still available at press time through Ticketmaster.com.

SPECIAL AWARDS FOR BEYONCÉ, NEIL DIAMOND

The Billboard Music Awards will honor Beyoncé and Neil Diamond with special awards. Beyoncé will receive the Billboard Millennium Award in recognition of the singer's career achievements and influence in the music industry, from her role as frontwoman of Destiny's Child to her three chart-topping solo albums, which have collectively earned her 16 Grammy Awards and ASCAP's pop songwriter of the year honor. Previously, Billboard named Beyoncé its Woman of the Year in October 2009 and Top Female Artist of the Decade in December 2009.Diamond will receive the Billboard Icon Award in recognition of his cultural impact and his extraordinary talent as a creator, writer and entertainer. Diamond has sold more than 128 million records worldwide, achieving 39 top 10 singles and 18 platinum albums. He has been a force on the Billboard charts for more than 40 years, scoring a combined 12 No. 1s on the Billboard 200, Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, including hit singles like "Cracklin' Rosie," "Song Sung Blue" and "America" and 2008 album "Home Before Dark."

HOST/PRESENTERS

Comedian Ken Jeong will host this year's Billboard Music Awards. In addition to his comedic roles in "Community" and "Knocked Up," Jeong will star in the film "The Hangover Part II," which arrives in theaters May 26. "I'm so honored and thrilled," says Jeong, whose appearance at the event will mark his first time hosting a music awards show. And the evening will surely see some surprises both on and off camera, with presenters ranging from teen pop star Bieber to rock'n'roll veteran Bret Michaels. Other presenters confirmed for the show include Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Kylie Minogue, Selena Gomez, Sarah Hyland, Randy Jackson, Lucy Hale, Eric Stonestreet, Scott Weiland, Kylie Minogue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Joe Jonas, Keri Hilson, Marc Anthony, "Glee" star Matthew Morrison, Nas, Selena Gomez, Tim Allen, Travis Barker, Trey Songz and "Modern Family" star Rico Rodriguez.

THE BBMAs' COMEBACK

The Billboard Music Awards return this year after a nearly five-year absence. The show was last held in December 2006 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena. That year R&B veteran Mary J. Blige earned nine awards, including album ("The Breakthrough") and song ("Be Without You") of the year, as well as Hot 100 airplay song of the year. The BBMAs stand apart from other music award shows in that finalists and winners are determined by chart performance and social and streaming activity as chronicled in Billboard magazine and on Billboard.com during the 12 months ended March 1. The 46 award categories are based on measures provided by our data partners, including sales data shared by Nielsen SoundScan, radio airplay monitored by Nielsen BDS, streaming data measured by TubeMogul and Nielsen BDS, social media consumption gauged by Next Big Sound and tour grosses tracked by Billboard Boxscore.Since the early 1990s, the Billboard Music Awards have celebrated a diverse cross section of the music landscape. From the rock of Metallica's "Unforgiven II" to the seductive pop of Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U" to the soulful R&B of Alicia Keys' "A Woman's Worth," the ceremony has collected music's biggest stars and let their hits shine in front of millions.