In the Latin music world, international hits come from unexpected places, with slickly produced pop often vying for the top spot in the charts with the most regional of sounds. As the new year kicks off, we queried executives and industry observers in the United States and Latin America to come up with a list of acts with a good chance of succeeding beyond their borders in the first quarter.


Valeria Gastaldi (Argentina -- Universal Music Latino)
Gastaldi comes from Bandana, a reality-show-spawned girl group which became an Argentine phenomenon between 2002 and 2003, selling almost 500,000 copies. In her debut, slated for May, Gastaldi pens her own songs and works with Latin Grammy-winning producer Cachorro L?pez. Radio promotion begins in January, with Universal Music Latino's senior VP of marketing and promotion Walter Kolm predicting radio success by early spring.


Papas da Lingua (Brazil -- EMI Brazil)
This witty 13-year-old pop-rock band had a loyal following limited mostly to the south of Brazil. But then its CD/DVD "Papas da L?ngua ao Vivo Ac?stico" was picked up by EMI, and the track "Eu Sei" was featured in the soap opera "Paginas da Vida." In December, the track was No. 1 on Brazil's radio charts, paving the way for a surge in 2007.


Kudai (Chile -- EMI Chile)
Chile, long without a major international success, now has co-ed quartet Kudai, who have sold more than 120,000 copies in Latin America. A sophomore album, "Vuelve," was released last fall in Chile and Argentina and will hit Colombia, Mexico and the United States this spring. An MTV Latin America award for best pop artist as well as a theme song on MTV show "Quiero Mis Quinces" should propel sales.


Andres Cepeda (Colombia -- La Calle/Univision Records)
Andres Cepeda Big in Colombia with his mix of boleros, ballads and world beats, the endearing Cepeda has never broken ground here. La Calle president Geroge Zamora says ihe's committed to doing that in the first quarter, reworking his single "Para Amarte Mejor," from his 2006 self-titled album.

Miguel & Bernie (Dominican Republic -- J&N)
Miguel & Bernie J&N is home to a slew of successful tropical acts. Now, president Juan Hidalgo is psyched about bachata duo Miguel & Bernie, who he singles out for their distinctive vocal timbre and songwriting skills; the siblings have penned tracks for the likes of Frank Reyes and Monchy & Alexandra. Their debut album is due first quarter.


Yuridia (Mexico -- Sony BMG
An unassuming girl with a glorious voice, Yuridia is the top-selling alumni of TV reality show "La Academia," having moved nearly 1 million albums in Mexico alone. The diva has yet to do promotion in the United States, but early sales point to huge possibilities. A newly released album of international pop covers, "Habla el Coraz?n," paves the way for a disc of previously unreleased material later in 2007.


La Sista (Puerto Rico -- Machete/Universal)
La Sista Forget sexy reggaet?n chicks in micro-shorts. Reggaeton act La Sista is short, chubby and proud to exult in her African roots, which she plays up on her debut, "Majestad Negroide." Released in December 2006, "Majestad" is a priority for early 2007, according to label president Gustavo Lopez.


Rafa Vergara (Spain -- EMI Televisa)
After writing songs for countless acts, including David Bisbal, Rafa Vergara gets his turn. The native of Spain was signed in Miami by EMI Televisa, which will release his debut album, "Ojo por Ojo," in March. Expect lush ballads, performed and arranged in a contemporary manner that EMI Televisa creative VP Adrian Posse calls the "new sound" in Latin pop balladry.


Los Creadorez (United States -- Disa)
Formed by former members of multimillion selling Grupo Montez de Durango, their full name is Los Creadorez del Pasito Duranguense de Alfredo Ramirez. A debut album, "Recio Recio," is due Jan. 30 and Disa director of marketing and sales Francisco Rosales cites it as a focus for the first quarter, with two singles being worked at radio.


Hector Montaner (Venezuela -- Vene Music)
The debut album by the son of balladeer Ricardo Montaner did well in Venezuela but had little impact in the United States. Vene Music plans to give a heavy stateside push to his new March release, produced by Carlos Vives collaborator Andr?s Castro. Exposure on television, thanks to parent company Venevision, should help.


Additional reporting by Tom Gomes (Brazil), Marcelo Fernandez Bitar (Argentina), Teresa Aguilar (Mexico), Ayala Ben-Yehuda (United States).

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