Reggaetón star Daddy Yankee and Mexican pop phenomenon RBD—both part of the youth movement that dominated Billboard’s Latin charts last year—are the leading finalists for the 2006 Billboard Lat

Reggaetón star Daddy Yankee and Mexican pop phenomenon RBD—both part of the youth movement that dominated Billboard’s Latin charts last year—are the leading finalists for the 2006 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The awards extravaganza will air live April 27 on the Telemundo network at the close of the annual Latin Music Conference, which will kick off April 24 in Miami.

Daddy Yankee is a finalist in 10 categories, including hot Latin songs artist, top Latin albums artist and songwriter of the year. Yankee’s album “Barrio Fino En Directo” (El Cartel/Interscope) is up for reggaetón album of the year. This week, it remains at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart; his 2004 release “Barrio Fino” is in the top 20 of the same chart.

Pop group RBD, which burst into mainstream consciousness last year along with the soap opera “Rebelde,” is a contender in nine categories, including top Latin albums artist. Most impressively, all three RBD albums released in 2005 on EMI/Televisa are finalists in the duo or group category of the Latin pop albums field.

Pop artist Shakira is in the running in eight categories with her single “La Tortura” and album “Fijación Oral, Vol. 1” (Epic/Sony BMG Norte), and Machete act Wisin & Yandel is a finalist in seven categories.

Colombian rocker Juanes and Puerto Rican merengue/pop star Olga Tañón are finalists in five categories. Pop acts La 5a Estación and Reyli, along with contemporary bachata group Aventura, are each up for awards in four categories.

Other multiple finalists include Frankie J., Arthur Hanlon and Luis Fonsi.

The list of finalists for the 2006 awards confirms audience interest in Latin pop at a time when many have bemoaned the decline of Latin pop stations.

The Billboard Latin Music Awards 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 ending with the Feb. 4 issue.

Artists are honored in 51 categories representing pop, tropical, regional Mexican, reggaetón and hip-hop. The top labels, tours and publishing companies also are honored. This year’s list of finalists incorporates new awards recognizing the reggaetón song and the Latin ringtone of the year.

For a full list of finalists, log on to billboard.com. For information on the Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards, go to billboardevents.com.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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