Manila Bulletin - - Entertainment - By NR RAMOS

Pi­noys are still buzzing over Cyrus Vil­lanueva emerg­ing cham­pion on “X Fac­tor Aus­tralia,” Tues­day. It was, af­ter all, the sec­ond time a Fil-Aussie won the show’s top plum af­ter Marlisa Punzalan lorded it over last year.

Now, many are hop­ing that home­grown act, 4th Im­pact, will echo both Vil­lanueva’s and Punzalan’s suc­cess, this time on “X Fac­tor UK.”

The group, orig­i­nally from San­ti­ago City, Is­abela, crashed into the show’s Top Five over the week­end, along with Ché Ch­ester­man, Louisa John­son, Lau­ren Mur­ray and Reg­gie ‘n Bol­lie.

Based on the show judges’ com­ments about the group af­ter past per­for­mances, it is al­most as if the sis­ters are al­ready sure win­ners.

Even the usu­ally un­flap­pable Si­mon Cow­ell was im­pressed, de­scrib­ing the group “one of the best” he has ever seen.

Their show men­tor Ch­eryl Fer­nan­dez-Versini, on the other hand, sim­ply deem them “phe­nom­e­nal.”

Rita Ora, mean­while, con­sid­ers them “in­spir­ing.”

The ac­co­lades proved a dou­bleedged sword for the group, with the UK me­dia go­ing on to pounce on the girls early on in the sea­son. Some claimed they were scouted by show pro­duc­ers to en­sure rat­ings suc­cess.

An ar­ti­cle by Si­mon Boyle on The Daily Mir­ror UK said, “All con­tes­tants are sup­posed be wannabe be­gin­ners but th­ese girls are sea­soned per­form­ers who have been on TV and even re­leased records avail­able to buy on Ama­zon.”

The girls have in­deed been per­form­ing for some­time to­gether prior to join­ing the show. They formed in 2006 as the Cer­cado Sis­ters and be­gan join­ing lo­cal ama­teur singing con­tests. Among their more no­table ap­pear­ances were at the World Cham­pi­onships of Per­form­ing Arts (WCOPA) 2013, where, as The Gol­layan Sis­ters, they won Best Vo­cal Group (Se­nior Cat­e­gory). As the group MICA, they were also fi­nal­ists on the Korean show “Su­per­star K6” in 2014.

Around th­ese parts, the sis­ters were known as grand champs of the Bida Ka­pam­ilya seg­ment of noon­time show “It’s Show­time.” Host Anne Cur­tis de­scribed the girls on “TV Pa­trol” as “really solid as fam­ily.”

Among other lo­cal gigs, the group also played back-up for Sarah Geronimo on her show “Sarah G. Live.” The sis­ters main­tained, how­ever, they au­di­tioned for “X Fac­tor UK” on their own vo­li­tion.

A spokesper­son for “The X Fac­tor UK” de­nied they con­tracted the girls for the show, say­ing in a state­ment pub­lished on tel­lymix.co.uk: “‘X Fac­tor’ pro­duc­ers did not ap­proach Fourth Power to au­di­tion – they flew to the UK to au­di­tion of their own ac­cord and went through ex­actly the same au­di­tion process as other acts. Their in­ter­view in the pro­gramme clearly said that they had been per­form­ing to­gether since 2001 and had com­peted in var­i­ous places. There are no rules pre­vent­ing any­one who has ap­peared on other shows from ap­ply­ing for ‘The X Fac­tor.’”

Cow­ell, who is also pro­ducer of the show, de­fended the girls. Speak­ing to the Mir­ror UK, he said, “Part of me wel­comes for­eign tal­ent in case we may not find enough at home. An­other part of me thinks it is a badge of hon­our if you do well on the UK show. We sell it (the show) all around the world. That’s the one they all want to au­di­tion for and I’m com­pet­i­tive against the other ver­sions of the show. So I like it if for­eign tal­ent comes to the UK and not to their home coun­try.”

The furor died down soon af­ter with 4th Im­pact prov­ing them­selves wor­thy of the praises, jump­ing through ev­ery hur­dle on the show. But it seems that con­tro­versy al­ways catches up with them.

Only a few days ago, the sis­ters made head­lines again af­ter Mur­ray was caught on cam­era push­ing one of them away as they cel­e­brated af­ter sur­viv­ing an­other elim­i­na­tion round.

Ne­ti­zens were quick to lash out at Mur­ray but the group calmed their fans down via Twit­ter, say­ing they love their co-com­peti­tor and that they con­sider her a friend.

With all that set­tled, we could only wait for the fi­nals on Dec. 12.


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