MANILA - After ranking first in her debut week on China's "Singer 2018," KZ Tandingan needs a fourth-place finish in her second episode to secure a regular spot in the competition.
Dubbed the local music scene's "Soul Supreme," Tandingan is up against seven other superstars, including UK pop star Jessie J, in the format where the audience gets to vote their favorite. Ranking last risks elimination for an artist.
In a press conference Tuesday following her triumphant debut on "Singer," Tandingan said she is aiming to survive the following seven episodes until the live finals in April. A primary motivation for the Kapamilya singer, aside from representing the Philippines, is the prize.
Asked what that is precisely, Tandingan said: "'Yung premyo is to be able to reach out to the Chinese market, because the Chinese market, hindi iyon mabilis ma-penetrate. I also think that's also one reason why Jessie J accepted the invitation."
Now on its fifth year, "Singer 2018" is billed as the number one show in China. This season, for instance, has so far peaked in ratings with over 200 million viewers for its second episode -- a considerable increase over its pilot's 150 million.
Tandingan also noted the self-contained Internet connection and social media of China, the world's most populated country.
"Kumbaga, kaming lahat ng artist, gusto namin ma-widen 'yung reach ng music namin, and for me to be able to represent OPM in a country na hindi palaging nape-penetrate ng international artists, it's already a prize na hindi mo kayang bilhin ng salapi," she said.
Tandingan also considers a bonus her newfound friendship with Jessie J, whom she has identified as her idol and one of her influences in music. "Sobrang overwhelming na nangyari nga talaga na na-meet ko siya, and I also got to meet a lot of other amazing artists," she shared.
The Star Music artist and her management, Cornerstone, have yet to receive word on any cash prize from winning "Singer 2018." But even with weeks away from the finale and her stay still uncertain, Tandingan feels she's already gained much from the international stint.
"Pera, alam ko wala, e. Pero ngayon, lahat ng na-e-experience ko ngayon during the competition, hindi kayang bilhin ng salapi," she said.