Taylor Swift, Sam Smith head Billboard Music Awards finalists

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Pop star Taylor Swift and British soul singer Sam Smith were the leaders among the 2015 Billboard Awards finalists with four nominations each after five top categories were announced on Tuesday.

Swift, 25, and Smith, 22, earned nods for top artist, as well as for best female and male artist. Swift's 1989 will compete with Smith's In the Lonely Hour for the top album prize.

The two will also go up against each other for best single, with Swift's Shake it Off pitted against Stay With Me by Smith.

Rapper Ludacris, who will host the awards with supermodel Chrissy Teigen, announced the nominations in the five categories on ABC's early news show, Good Morning America, with Pete Wentz of the rock band Fall Out Boy.

The award will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on ABC on May 17.

Pop star Katy Perry, British band One Direction and singer Ariana Grande also won nominations for top artist. Perry and Grande will compete with Swift, Meghan Trainor and Australian rapper Iggy Azalea for best female artist.

Trainor's All About That Bass and Azalea's Fancy were named finalists for best song along with Oscar winner John Legend's All of Me.

Justin Timberlake, British singer Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams and rapper Drake will battle with Smith for the top male artist prize.

Sheeran's x was also nominated for best album, along with Maroon 5's V and pop group Pentatonix for That's Christmas to Me.

Billboard, a magazine that covers the music industry, said the finalists were based on fan interactions with music, including album and digital sales, touring, radio airplay, streaming and interactions on social media websites and other online sites for music.

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