Meet the Filipino-Australian Star of the X Factor

Have you caught the Cyrus Virus yet?


Yes it is still alive and kickin’. Who would forget about the humble and charismatic winner of Australia’s X Factor’s 7th season.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, we are talking about Cyrus Villanueva. He also goes by just his first name, Cyrus.


Cyrus is legit. He has the vocal chops, the style, the right emotion (he even gets teary) and he is just too charming to be true. But he is.


Most probably know already that he is half-Aussie and half-Filipino, he never once denied that fact. He was even very proud of being one as he says he owes a lot of his musical talent from his dad. His musician father was originally from Davao while his mum hailed from Melbourne.


But aside from what we usually read from the news since his popularity exploded, here are some more quirky facts about the Wollongong local.


Earned It


Most would know that Cyrus is a graphic design uni student. He was only 19, fresh out of high school, when he auditioned for the X Factor.


His former music teacher, Sharon Denidi, from Kanahooka High School said “He was good at everything – he wanted to explore all avenues, but in the last few years when he did his HSC, his ability to have an emotional impact on the audience really came to light.” She believes that Cyrus will really be a benchmark and an inspiration for their town.


When he sang “Earned It” in the auditions, he truly did earn a chance of a lifetime. Guy Sebastian even predicted “that kid can win this whole thing” after noticing the talent and the “million-dollar smile.”


Wicked Game


The X Factor is one wickedly competitive game where contestants are voted off each week by the viewers.


Amazingly, Cyrus was one contestant who was never at the bottom two. Although he never really thought at any point that he “had it in the bag,” he was praised by mentor Chris Isaak for being a hard worker. He even joked that Cyrus version of his song “Wicked Game’ was better.


James Blunt even said that “he was the man that everyone has to try to beat.” On top of that, he has the reputation of being nice to everyone including the crew.


Every week, the contestants were challenged to sing different genres and except for rock and roll which Cyrus was not very happy with, every other performance is just a proud moment for each Filipino to watch.


Hold Back the River


Another song Cyrus sang in the reality show that received rave reviews was “Hold Back the River.”


Yet for Cyrus, nothing held him back from letting the audience know that he is, in fact, a Filipino through and through. He thanked the Filipino community for all the support he received.


His music influence might be foreign like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder but his real inspiration is his dad who usually sand to him “Balita” by Filipino band, Asin. He dreams of singing and collaborating with Alicia Keys, John Legend and Filipino Artist like Gabe Bondoc.


He is a fan of Ed Sheran while Michael Jackson is his favourite singer of all time. Now, he has a chance to gain fans for himself.


Like every traditional Filipino family, on that fateful Christmas get together in Chicago (okay, may be not that traditional), he was asked to sing “Oh Holy Night” for everyone. It kinda sealed his fate, every person in their family knew he had the gift of music in his blood.


He said that watching his dad sing and perform taught him that music is not about him just singing but more of what he brings to the listeners. And indeed, he brings such emotions along with his great vocals.


Knockin on Heaven’s Door


Cyrus used to be his dad’s roadie until he stated singing in cafes, bars and weddings. But that was before the X Factor.


Insanely, Cyrus should really feel like he is on cloud nine. Aside from winning the whole thing, he beat a several known singers with his carrier single, “Stone.” “Stone” debuted at number 2 after winning the X Factor overtaking Justin Beiber’s “Love Yourself” and “Sorry.” The next day it ruled the charts at number 1 defeating Adele’s “Hello” in itunes.


The same single topped the ARIA charts while X Factor own Guy Sebastian’s “Black and Blue” was at number 3. The whole album ranked 9 in Australia and received ARIA gold.


Don’t mind keeping knockin’ if a windfall like that comes along.


Dancing on My Own


Post X Factor, Cyrus is working hard to really get his game on. He does not want to just be a one hit wonder. He plans on promoting albums and touring Australia and the Philippines as well.


He once said that thinking of the Philippines makes him think of “memories of playing basketball in the streets” with his cousins and that he looks forward to doing it again. Maybe he did just that since he just recently got back from the Philippines.


Fans may look forward to hearing more original songs from him. In an interview, he said he was meeting and collaborating with some people in the industry to produce more albums that would showcase “Cyrus” post X Factor.


Really, this young man seem to have all the talent, good looks and charisma. I guess the only thing he really cannot do was surf. But I guess that can be learned.


Caught the cyrus virus lately? I do not think Filipinos will ever get immune to him or with any other up and coming Filipino talent. As Cyrus said, the Filipino community is big in music and they tend to jump in to support each other.


  Special thanks to Illawarra Mercury for the main image.
Candice C

Candice is a school teacher and a mother, She loves writing about practical guides and of course, parenting advice.


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