From reggaeton/trap heavy hitters to 21st century regional Mexican pioneers, the 2021 Latin American Music Awards artist of the year category’s 10 nominees are Anuel AA, Bad Bunny, Christian Nodal, Daddy Yankee, Eslabon Armado, J Balvin, Karol G, Maluma, Ozuna and Sech.
The Latin AMAs announced the complete list of nominees for this year’s awards show. Leading the tally are Karol G and Balvin with nine nods each. Bad Bunny follows with eight and Ozuna with seven.
Nominees are based on key fan interactions with music, including streaming, sales, airplay and social activity tracked by Billboard through its data partners MRC Data and Next Big Sound for data covering the periods of Jan. 17, 2020, through Jan. 21, 2021.
The 2021 Latin AMAs are set to take place April 15 live from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. The Latin AMAs return after the show went on hiatus in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The sixth annual ceremony will be broadcast on Telemundo starting at 7 p.m. ET with the red-carpet pre-show followed at 8 p.m. ET by the awards show.
Below, a breakdown of the 2021 Latin AMAs artist of the year nominees.
Anuel displayed both his artistic and commercial prowess with not one but two albums reaching the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in less than 12 months. Anuel’s sophomore effort, Emmanuel, debuted at No. 8 and veered from soulful to hugely commercial with massive hits like “China.” Less than 12 months later, Los Dioses, with Ozuna, came in at No. 10, demonstrating Anuel can be a hit maker in multiple arenas.
It’s safe to say that 2020 was Bad Bunny’s year. A year ago on Leap Day (Feb. 29, 2020), the Puerto Rican hitmaker, whose up for eight awards, dropped his record-breaking album YHLQMDLG, which landed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 becoming the highest-charting all-Spanish-language album ever on the all-genre chart. Fast forward to May, he dropped Las Que No Iban a Salir (No. 7 peak on the Billboard 200) and in November, he unleashed El Último Tour del Mundo. The 16-track set became the first all-Spanish album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 shattering one of the last ceiling glasses for Latin artists, as Billboard‘s Leila Cobo wrote in her column.
In addition to artist of the year, Nodal is nominated for favorite male artist, favorite solo regional Mexican artist, favorite regional Mexican album for AyAyAy!, and favorite video for the Angela Aguilar-assisted “Dime Como Quieres.” With his nominated album, Nodal earned his third straight No. 1 on the Regional Mexican Albums chart as a deluxe reissue of Ayayay! pushed the set 15-1 on the Sept. 26 survey. “I want to take Regional Mexican to the next level,” he previously told Billboard about his experimental fusions including cumbia, salsa, ‘70s rock, and more.
Daddy Yankee had a promising year with many collaborations that included Sech, Play-N-Skillz, Zion & Lennox, Anuel AA, and Kendo Kaponi, to name a few. He closed off 2020 with his Marc Anthony-assisted salsa “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta,” which arrived at No. 6 on the Hot Latin Songs chart (dated Dec. 26). Yankee and Marc also scored their first No. 1 together as “De Vuelta Pa’ La Vuelta” landed atop the Latin Airplay chart dated Feb. 27, earning Yankee his 23rd leader, which places him as the artist with the third-most No. 1s.
Based in Patterson, Calif., Eslabon Armado — brothers Pedro (18, lead vocalist) and Brian Tovar (17, bass and bajoloche), along with friend Gabriel Hidalgo (19, harmony and background vocals) — started recording music in the Tovars’ garage in early 2019. By 2020, the sierreño trio, Billboard‘s January chartbreaker, had scored three consecutive chart-topping albums: Tu Veneno Mortal, Vibras de Noche and Corta Venas. Eslabon is up for five awards including favorite regional Mexican album for Tu Veneno Mortal and favorite duo or group.
J Balvin is up for nine awards including his Black Eyed Peas-assisted “Ritmo” nominated for song of the year, favorite urban song, and collaboration of the year. The song, which samples Corona’s mid-’90s smash, earned Black Eyed Peas their first No. 1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart (dated Jan. 4, 2020) and Balvin’s eight. Balvin’s Colores is also up for album of the year and favorite urban album. The set, released during quarantine, surged 32-2 on the Top Latin Albums chart (dated April 4) after registering its first full week.
The top Latin female artist on Billboard’s year-end charts was Karol G, whose hits seem to grow exponentially bigger with every release. The Colombian star started 2020 with “Tusa,” which hit No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs in late 2019, then delivered “Bichota” which peaked at No. 3. In fact, Karol G was the only female artist on the year-end Hot Latin Songs artist chart beside Nicki Minaj, who made the tally on the strength of her appearance on Karol G’s “Tusa.” More impressive, perhaps, was Karol G’s ability to deliver hits both as a soloist and a collaborator.
The Colombian star released his highly-anticipated Papi Juancho label late August securing his fourth straight top five set on Billboard‘s Top Latin Albums chart as set bowed at No. 2 on the Sept. 5, 2020 survey. Featuring guest appearances by Yandel, Lenny Tavarez, Justin Quiles, Ñengo Flow, and others, the track’s standout single “Hawái” ruled the inaugural Billboard Global 200 Excl. U.S chart back in September. A remix of the track dropped later in November featuring pop star The Weeknd. The remixed tracked surged from No. 60 to No. 12 on the Hot 100, Maluma’s highest rank on the chart. Maluma is up for four awards including favorite male artist and song of the year for the”Hawái” remix.
The prolific hitmaker delivered two No. 1s on Top Latin Albums –a solo album, ENOC (El Negrito Ojos Claros) and the joint Los Dioses with Anuel –within five months of each other. That, together with collaborative hits like “Caramelo” and “China” continue to make Ozuna a force to be reckoned with. He garners seven nominations, including Artist of the year.
In the midst of the pandemic, Sech dropped his sophomore studio album 1 of 1, home to 21 tracks including his banger “Relacion.” With this set, the Panamanian artist claimed his second top 10 on the Top Latin Albums chart, where it pushed 15-4 on the June 6, 2020-dated survey following its first full tracking week. “The title represents that I’m unique and that there’s no one like me in this genre. Everyone is unique. This album too,” he previously told Billboard. The star-studded remix to “Relación” with Daddy Yankee, Rosalia, J Balvin, and Farruko peaked at No. 2 on the Hot Latin Songs chart dated Sept. 19, 2020.