The Latin Billboard Awards moved to Las Vegas for the very first time to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and they went all out with a ceremony that turned into a celebration of urbano music, mostly thanks to “Despacito.” The record-breaking 2017 single won six awards, including Hot Latin Song of the Year and Airplay Song of the Year, somewhat of a salve for the snub at the Grammys in January.
Thanks to “Despacito,” Daddy Yankee became the night’s biggest winner; he scored the Songwriter of the Year and Latin Rhythm Artist of the Year, Solo statues. Even though she was nowhere to be found, Shakira also won big, receiving five awards, while Romeo Santos got three. Christian Nodal dominated the regional Mexican categories, and was also honored as the year’s best new artist. But thanks to his chart performance, it was Ozuna who ended up snatching the coveted Artist of the Year statue.
The night’s programming centered urbano in its poppiest forms, proof that reggaeton’s mainstream transformation is here to stay. The ceremony included performances by Ozuna (with special guest Cardi B), Daddy Yankee and his army of star collaborators, like Bad Bunny, Natti Natasha, and Becky G, plus J Balvin, Maluma, CNCO, Nicky Jam, and more. Jennifer Lopez shocked us with her new funk carioca-fueled single, while Farruko went full-on salsa with the help of Victor Manuelle.
It was an eventful ceremony, so here are some highlights from the evening. Peep them below:
Bad Bunny looked like a ranchero
Bad Bunny attends the 2018 Billboard Latin Music Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on April 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images
Bad Bunny sported a regal brocade suit that brought out the luxe ranchero vibes.
Ozuna brought out Cardi B for "La Modelo"
Artist of the Year winner Ozuna was joined by Cardi B for a sweet performance of their single “La Modelo.” The rapper was all smiles with el negrito de los ojos claros, wearing pink in her second-to-last performance before taking time out from live performances due to her pregnancy.
Quavo went full Dominican with Cardi B
Quavo came out to the ceremony for his performance of the “Ahora Me Llama” remix with Karol G. As expected, he sat with Cardi B during the ceremony, so of course she took the time out to introduce him properly. “Estamos aquí en los Latin Billboards Awards, y estoy aquí con mi amigo Quavo,” she said in an Instagram post, with Quavo offering a response in Full Dominican. “Que lo que? Okurrrt!”
Nicky Jam dedicated his award to Puerto Rico's reggaeton OGs
During his acceptance speech, Nicky Jam took the time to recognize some of the Puerto Rican pioneers of reggaeton. He dedicated his prize to many of the genre’s early DJs and producers, like DJ Playero, Don Chezina, The Noise, Master Joe and more. As a new wave of reggaeton surges, the nod to the genre’s early pioneers was significant.
Jennifer Lopez debuted her new baile funk-inspired single "El Anillo"
J.Lo took the Latin Billboard Awards stage to debut her new single “El Anillo,” and our jaws dropped to the floor. She sang, rapped, and, of course, danced her butt off, while asking A-Rod: “¿Y el anillo pa’ cuándo?” Baile funk is here to stay.
Bad Bunny addressed criticism of his "Amorfoda" performance
For his performance of sadboy bop “Amorfoda,” Bad Bunny seemed to be lip synching. El Conejo Malo addressed some criticism from fans on Twitter, explaining that the production crew didn’t allow him to sing the track live, since it started in a dressing room backstage.
Daddy Yankee summoned Becky G, Bad Bunny, and Natti Natasha to perform “Dura”
Big winner Daddy Yankee brought a surprise crew for his on-stage celebration. He debuted his “Dura” remix featuring Becky G, Bad Bunny, and Natti Natasha.
J Balvin got behind the microphone – when he could find one
J Balvin got on stage three times: to perform his track “Ahora,” to do his version of the stanky leg with Nicky Jam on “X,” and to give us the blooper of the night. After receiving the Latin Rhythm Song of the Year award, presenter Catherine Siachoque left him without a microphone, so he just stood there making funny faces.