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Latin Pop's Golden Boys

October 22, 1998|ERNESTO LECHNER

Ricky Martin is one of many heartthrobs competing for a share of the booming Latin pop market. Although Martin has a shot of surpassing all of them in popularity, he faces some formidable rivals:

Luis Miguel: The 28-year-old Mexican singer has enjoyed extraordinary popularity all over the Americas. In the '90s, he spearheaded a bolero revival with a series of albums resurrecting the songs that made an older generation weep. Though the results sounded cold and calculated compared to the originals, he made the fans' hearts melt anyway. A superb live performer.

Enrique Iglesias: He's 23, handsome and the son of a famous crooner, but beneath the veneer of perfection lies a melancholy soul who writes the lyrics to his own heart-wrenching songs and a performer who, admittedly, lives only for the stage while despising the futility of fame. He has released three albums so far, none especially convincing artistically.

Alejandro Fernandez: The 27-year-old son of another famous performer (his father Vicente is a gloriously macho ranchera singer), Alejandro has managed to make it on his own by excelling in two formats: ultra-romantic pop with rock instrumentation and rancheras with a full mariachi orchestra.

Cristian: The son of soap opera actress Veronica Castro, Cristian has yet to forge an image to distinguish him from the pack. But then, he's only 23. He sings pop and mariachi and occasionally delves into more rockish territory. Recently recorded songs in English for what could be an attempt to conquer the coveted Anglo market.

Marc Anthony: A left-field success story, the 30-year-old Nuyorican doesn't have the matinee-idol looks of the others, but his natural charisma and vocal range have brought him a long way. Although he started as a salsa artist, he is a bona fide pop star. After contributing a song to the "Mask of Zorro" soundtrack, Anthony is preparing his first album of pop sung in English. Besides Martin, he's the most likely artist to succeed outside of the Latin market.

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