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Top 10 Merengue & Bachata Albums for 2006

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Merengue and bachata are originally music from the Dominican Republic, but they are so popular that they've become a worldwide phenomenom. Some of these picks are flaming fast and a jolt to the couch potato in all of us; others combine merengue and bachata rhythms and show us a more lyrical, romantic side.

Whatever your mood, the music on the list is bound to become the sound you crave on a Friday night when it's time to celebrate the end of the mundane and the beginning of the music!

1. Olga Tanon - 'Una Nueva Mujer'

Olga Tanon is from Puerto Rico, but her heart belongs to Merengue. Her current album, Una Nueva Mujer has sizzled its way to the top of the Latin music charts.

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2. Domenic M - 'Intamamente'

Singer, songwriter, producer Dominic M (Marte) is fairly new to the music scene and this is his debut album. His hit single bachata "Ven Tu" has had a meteoric rise. D'Marte (as he's known by his friends) is rocking the charts and there's no doubt he'll be rocking your chair (that is, if you can stay seated).

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3. Monchy y Alexandra - 'Hasta El Fin'

Dominican Monchy (Ramon Rijo) and Alexandra (Alexandra Cabrera de la Cruz) have been making music together for about 5 years now, but it's the release of Hasta El Fin that has brought them a Latin Grammy nomination and well-deserved public acclaim. The album is a mix of romantic bachata and tracks influenced by Dominican rhythms and rock.

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4. Andy Andy - 'Aqui Conmigo'

While I have a problem with someone picking two first names as their stage name (real name Angel Villalona), I have absolutely no problem with Aqui Conmigo. The CD is bachata at its best.

5. Grupo Fuego - 'Grupo Fuego'

Although no one would think of Cleveland, Ohio as a hotbed of Caribbean music, Grupo Fuego not only lives there, but in an interview claimed the reason they formed the band was to take Latin music in Ohio to a different level.

That seems like lowering the bar to me, because their album Grupo Fuego is so fiery (fuego means fire) that it is bound to burn up the entire midwest.

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6. Tono Rosario - 'Resistire'

Dominican Tono Rosario has been around for 25 years, but his music doesn't get old and he is one of the Dominican Republic's biggest singing stars. There's a good reason for that status; Resistire will show you why.

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7. Elvis Crespo - 'Saborealo'

Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, Elvis Crespo has been around merengue for a long time, and this is another one of his dependable, pleasing albums.

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8. Aventura - 'We Broke the Rules'

Fusing bachata with R&B, hip hop and rock -- and singing in English, Spanish and Spanglish -- Aventura bills themselves as the first "Bachata-boy band." I don't know if they're the first, but they're one of the best. Listen to it for yourself and see if you don't agree.

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9. Grupo Mania - 'Hombres of Honor'

The best of merengue with from the Serrano Matos brothers.

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10. Juan Luis Guerra y 440 - 'Bachata Rosa'

Bachata Rosa is an older album than others on this list (1990), but it is so good that it really needed to go on this list!

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