Rakim and Ken-Y, the reggaeton newcomers who aptly blended romance with
dance beats on their debut album, "Masterpiece: Nuestra Obra Maestra" (Pina/Universal Latino), lead the list of finalists for the 2007 Billboard Latin Music Awards. The duo are up for seven awards, including Hot Latin song of the year, reggaeton song of the year and ringtone of the year for their hit "Down," while their album is up for reggaeton album of the year.

Romantic banda singer/songwriter Mariano Barba and salsa diva La India are
finalists in five categories each, while Shakira, Mana, RBD, Fonseca, Joan Sebastian, Wisin & Yandel and Aventura garnered four a piece.

Barba's song "Aliado del Tiempo," from the album of the same name (out on
indie Three Sound) is a candidate for several awards, including the Hot Latin song of the year. Barba is also the single regional Mexican finalist for the Hot Latin Song artist of the year award, a category dominated by urban/tropical fare, with Rakim and Ken-Y, Wisin & Yandel and Aventura also vying for the prize.

However, regional Mexican trumped all in the songwriter of the year category, with Barba joining genre veterans Marco Antonio Solis and Joan Sebastian in competing against Anthony "Romeo" Santos, lead singer of Aventura.

Overall, pop and reggaeton dominated many of the main awards this year. Top
Latin albums artist of the year award, given to the top-selling artist, is being fought over by two reggaeton acts -- Daddy Yankee and Don Omar -- rock band Mana and popsters RBD. In the producer of the year slot, reggaeton hitmakers Luny Tunes and Nely are competing against Armando Avila (of RBD fame) and Cachorro Lopez.

Although this has been a breakthrough year for new pop fare, the Latin pop album of the year, male category was dominated by veterans Solis, Luis Miguel, Ricky Martin and Andrea Bocelli. But the female and group categories were open to the new, with RBD, Yuridia and Voz a Voz among the finalists.

Her albums didn't fall under the eligibility period, but perennial favorite Shakira still garnered four nods thanks to her hit "Hips Don't Lie," up for Hot Latin song of the year. Shakira also vies in the tour of the year category against Luis Miguel, Vicente Fernández and RBD. Surprisingly, "Hips Don't Lie" was edged out of the Latin ringtone of the year category by Intocable's "Y Todo Para Que," Mana's "Labios Compartidos," Wisin & Yandel's "Rakata" and "Down."

The Billboard Latin Music Awards air live April 26 on the Telemundo network from the Bank United Center in Miami. They honor the most popular albums, songs and performers in Latin music, as determined by the actual sales and radio airplay data that informs Billboard's weekly charts during a one-year period from the issue dated Feb. 11, 2006 through this year's Feb. 3 issue. The show caps the Billboard Latin Music Conference, taking place April 23-26 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami.

For a full list of finalists, click here. For information on the conference, visit BillboardEvents.com.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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