And the winner is… Colombia!
Colombian singers Shakira and J. Balvin lead the Billboard Latin Music Awards list of finalists this year with a whopping 12 nominations each, while fellow native Maluma came close with 10. Other artists nabbing 10 nods include Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Ozuna.
Making history? Three non-Latin performers were nominated for their collaborations: Canadian singer Justin Bieber got eight nods for “Despacito” with Luis Fonsi; American superstar Beyoncé got seven her “Mi Gente” with J. Balvin; and French artist Willy William got six, also for “Mi Gente.”
The 2018 list shows the wide-ranging appeal of Latin music, which inspired mainstream megastars like Bieber and Beyoncé to record Spanish tracks.
Balvin responded to the news of a dozen nods with a caffeinated Instagram post on Feb. 7. In the video, he’s seen sipping on his coffee, wishing fans a good morning and rejoicing about being the most nominated artist along with “Queen Shakira,” as he calls his Colombian colleague. “The more grateful I am, the more blessings I get,” he says. “Keep dreaming, don’t ever stop.”
Dreaming big has worked wonders for Shakira, who’s winning streak continues. The singer’s Billboard Latin Music Awards surge comes less than two weeks after her record El Dorado won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album Jan. 28. She will compete against Balvin in the Hot Latin Song of the Year category, where her “Chantaje” duet with Maluma and his “Mi Gente” duet with Willy William featuring Beyoncé are both nominated.
As for the third Colombian in the mix: In addition to Maluma’s duet with Shakira, his hit “Felices Los 4” has five nods, including Hot Latin Song, Airplay Song, Digital Song and Streaming Song of the year. Ironically, in the last two categories, Maluma competes against himself with Shakira’s “Chantaje.” Also, the three Colombian artists and friends will be jockeying for the Social Artist of the Year award.