Billboard Latin Music Awards: Don Omar, Prince Royce Win Big
by Leila Cobo
In a year when Billboard's Latin charts were dominated by uptempo dance music and a slew of younger names, veteran hitmaker Don Omar and newcomer Prince Royce tied as the biggest winners at the 2012 Billboard Latin Music Awards, earning eight honors each.
Presented by State Farm, the awards show aired live April 26 on Telemundo from the BankUnited Center in Miami, featuring performances by Don Omar and Prince Royce, as well as Pitbull, Juanes and Brazilian artist Michel Teló, the lattermost singing his No. 1 hit "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" on U.S. TV for the first time.
Thanks to sales and airplay of his self-titled debut album, urban bachata star Prince Royce was named artist of the year, which considers an artist's combined rankings on Billboard's sales, radio and digital songs charts. After winning the new Latin artist honor in 2011, Prince Royce was able to sustain that momentum in 2012, with his work on indie label Top Stop also winning accolades as album of the year, in addition to digital album, tropical album and tropical albums artist, solo.
Prince Royce (real name: Geoffrey Rojas) also took the songwriter award, with his hit "Corazón Sin Cara" winning tropical song and helping him claim tropical songs artist, solo.
If Prince Royce's awards haul pointed to an album's success, then Don Omar's wins were due to specific songs, with the Lucenzo collaboration "Danza Kuduro" (Machete/Universal Music Latin Entertainment [UMLE]) and lambada reboot "Taboo" scoring many of the song honors.
Last year's Latin rhythm airplay song winner, "Danza Kuduro" took home the 2012 song of the year, vocal event honor, as well as digital song and Latin rhythm song, while "Taboo" won song of the year (a category that considers airplay and digital sales), airplay song and Latin pop song. Don Omar also claimed the Latin rhythm songs artist and Latin rhythm albums artist accolades.
Rock icon Maná, the only act considered alternative that became a finalist this year, collected five awards in the duo or group category, including albums artist of the year, Latin pop songs artist, Latin pop album and Latin pop albums artist for Drama y Luz (Warner). The group, which is on tour and performed on the awards show through a remote feed, also won songs artist of the year, duo or group.
Pitbull's opening number, "Manos Pa'rriba," had the audience waving their hands in the air as flames roared up from the floor. It was followed by the first award of the evening, collected by Cristian Castro, who used the stage to thank his new record label -- Sony Music Latin -- and take a jab at his former label, Universal.
Later in the show, a tribute to Selena included a performance by Samo and Castro. who performed songs from a new album that features some of Latin music's biggest names performing duets with the late singer's voice on new versions of her hits. Castro performed "Como Me Duele" with several Selena look-a-likes as background singers, and Samo performed "Amor Prohibido."
Don Omar performed a medley of songs that included the "Lambada" remake "Taboo." He performed the song on stage with Brazilian singer Loailwa Braz, who sang the original hit version of "Lambada."
Don Omar (right), performing with Akon (left) and Loalwa Braz (center) at the awards show. (Photo: Telemundo)
Regional Mexican Gerardo Ortiz performed "Amor Confuso" and "Aquiles Afirmo." The crooner appeared on a throne, wearing a shiny black leather outfit. Paulina Rubio sang her single "Boys Will Be Boys"
Billboard's Leila Cobo's joined music mogul Emilio Estefan onstage to honor Marc Anthony with a Billboard Hall of Fame award to recognize the influence his music has had around the world.
Anthony -- who planted a big, televised kiss on his Venezuelan model girlfriend Shannon de Lima's lips before accepting -- joked with the audience ("They're having a party over there -- you are all coming to my house after"), referred to himself as a "little boy who dreamed on the streets of New York," and shared the award not only with his musical family, but with his nuclear family as well.
"Everybody in this room says they sacrifice themselves to pursue a career. But I want to recognize my kids and my family, who have sacrificed equally," Anthony said, naming his five kids -- Ariana, 18, from his first marriage; Cristian, 10, and Ryan, 8, from his marriage with former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres; and his 4-year-old twins Emme and Max with Jennifer Lopez. He also thanked his mother and siblings. "They have sacrificed, too."
Anthony thanked the crowed and promised he's not going to rest on his laurels.
"I am just starting," he said. "There's a lot more to come, my people. A lot more to come."
During a year in which few females ruled the charts, veteran Sony artist Shakira won four awards: songs artist of the year, female; albums artist, female; Latin pop songs artist, solo; and social artist.
Reggaetón duo Wisin & Yandel won three awards, as did French/Portuguese artist Lucenzo on the strength of his "Danza Kuduro" duet with Don Omar. The song also led to production team A&X winning its first producer of the year award.
Artist of the year, new went to regional Mexican band La Adictiva Banda San José de Mesillas, while party rock duo LMFAO won crossover artist and Enrique Iglesias took the touring artist honor. Chart fixture Pitbull took home songs artist of the year, male.
The awards show followed the previous evening's Billboard Bash, where Sony Music Latin and Universal Music Latino/UMLE tied with seven awards each in the label categories. UMLE-owned companies rounded out the rest of the Bash winners, with regional Mexican label Disa taking three awards, urban imprint Machete getting two prizes and regional Mexican imprint Fonovisa earning a single accolade. Regional Mexican specialist Marcha Musical won publisher of the year, while Sony/ATV Latin was named the top publishing corporation.
The Billboard Latin Music Awards honor the most popular albums, songs and performers in Latin music, as determined by the actual sales and radio airplay data that inform Billboard's weekly charts during the awards' eligibility period of Feb. 5, 2011, through Jan. 28, 2012.