It was strictly A-list names at the top of the list when the lead finalists for the 2011 Billboard Music Awards were announced Wednesday (April 13).
In the lead among all nominees was Rihanna, a finalist in 18 categories, who was followed by fellow multiple-award finalists Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber.
Among the categories Rihanna is up for awards in are: Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Female Artist, Top R&B Artist and Top Dance/Electronic Artist, while her smash collaboration with Eminem, "Love the Way You Lie," racked up notices in six song categories. Right behind her was Slim Shady, a finalist in 16 categories, including Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Artist, Top Male Artist and Top Rap Artist.
Lady Gaga was next with nods in 12 categories, including Top Dance/Electronic Album, which included three of her releases, The Fame, The Fame Monster and The Remix
Mars and Bieber had 11 nominations each and will face each other in the Top New Artist and Top Male Artist categories. The other contenders in Top New Artist include Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj and Taio Cruz.
The Top Artist category will pit Bieber against, Eminem, Gaga, Rihanna and Taylor Swift, while the Top Rap Album category will be a showdown between Drake, Eminem, Minaj, Lil Wayne and Kanye West. The Top Alternative Artist race will feature Muse facing the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Linkin Park and Mumford & Sons.
The event honors artists who have appeared on the Billboard charts during the period of February 28, 2010, through March 1, 2011. Winners are also determined by album, single and digital sales, touring, streaming and social interactions on MySpace, Facebook and other popular online destinations for music.
Winners will be announced at the Billboard Music Awards on May 22 at 5 p.m. PT. Among the announced performers are Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Cruz, Lady Antebellum, the Black Eyed Peas and Keith Urban.