Ahead of The X Factor Australia grand final on Monday (November 23) and Tuesday (November 24), we look back at Filipino-Australian contestant Cyrus Villanueva's top five performances on the programme. See our playlist featuring all five performances below.
The 19-year-old graphic design student’s first appearance on the reality singing show was his audition performance of The Weeknd’s Earned It. His acoustic rendition, where he accompanied himself on the guitar, received a standing ovation from the entire judging panel. Villanueva was chaperoned by his Filipino father and Australian mother, who were watching from backstage.
Showing off his musical prowess, Villanueva sung and played the piano on his cover of Wicked Game, a ballad originally sung by his mentor, American rocker Chris Isaak. “If you perform like that every week, nobody else stands a chance,” said judge Dannii Minogue. Less than 24 hours later, the recording hit No. 1 on iTunes.
3 Hold Back the River (Top 10 Show)
A week later, Villanueva delivered his best uptempo performance on the show, covering James Bay’s chart-topper Hold Back the River. As he sung and stomped around a puddle of water on stage, Villanueva proved he could take on a non-ballad and still impress. “No wonder they kept you until the end because you ruined the stage,” said judge James Blunt. “Cyrus, you are the man that everyone has to try to beat.”
2 Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Top 6 Show)
Villanueva sealed the deal as the competition’s frontrunner on the top 6 show, performing Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, a song chosen for him by judge Guy Sebastian. “It started of soft, subtle and beautiful,” said Sebastian. “And where you ended up just made me wanna get up off my chair and do a dance. It was amazing.”
1 Dancing on My Own (5-Seat Challenge)
His best performance came early in the season. During the nerve-racking 5-Seat Challenge, the remaining acts had to fight for only five spots on each of the four teams. Villanueva’s stripped-down rendition of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own — a risky but standout song choice — earned him a well-deserved ticket to the live shows. Watch the video and look out for the stunned reactions of his competitors, one of whom Villanueva eventually stole a seat from.