rihanna performing getty Rihanna, Lada Gaga and Justin Bieber lead Billboard Music Awards finalists listNo surprise here.

Billboard announced the finalists for the 2011 Billboard Music Awards on Thursday (Apr. 13) and leading the back is “S&M” singer, Rihanna, with 18 category nods.

]]>Lady Gaga with 12 categories, followed by both Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars at a respectable 11. The Billboard Music Awards take a different approach than many other music awards, looking holistically at the artist performance based on key fan interactions with music. Finalists and winners are chosen based on chart performance as well as social and streaming performance. There are 46 award categories, including top artist, album and song split up into just about every measure and genre you can think of.  Other notable finalists this year include Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Eminem, Bon Jovi and even Susan Boyle. To see the full list, click here. Winners will be announced at the MGM in Las Vegas on Sunday May 22nd. The event will be broadcast live for the very first time by ABC, starting at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST.