Coming into China's "Singer 2018," KZ Tandingan knew she would personally meet UK pop star, Jessie J, who is one of the superstar contenders in the top-rating show. But their first meeting did not go according to plan, as an unsuspecting Tandingan came face-to-face with her idol several hours before they were supposed to.
In a recent press conference about her "Singer 2018" stint, the Kapamilya star narrated in detail the story behind the widely circulated clip of her, in tears, getting a tight hug from the woman she credits for inspiring her to sing again.
"Nakakatawa po 'yung story no'n. Kasi alam ko talaga, makikita ko siya after performing," she said, noting that the taping of the performances would start at 9 p.m. that day and only then would she meet Jessie J.
But the "accident," as she called it, happened at 4 p.m. (See 12:14 mark of video below.)
As a challenger, or a new addition to the competing singers, Tandingan had yet to be welcomed to an area where the "regular" contenders are accommodated. The show's format requires a challenger averaging a rank in the top four after two consecutive episodes, before being considered a regular singer.
She described her holding area, where she had been taping spiels, as halfway between a wash room intended for contenders and the studio where they perform.
Referring to Jessie J, Tandingan narrated: "Noong dumaan daw siya, while nasa loob kami, nag-su-shoot kami ng spiels, narinig niya raw na may nag-i-English doon sa holding area. Sobrang natuwa raw siya kasi ang-tagal-tagal na niyang walang kausap na English, sabi niya. Na-curious siya kung sino 'yung challenger."
Until Tandingan's entry to this season of "Singer 2018," the Britain-born Jessie J had been the only contender who was not from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or China.
Before Jessie J could knock on Tandingan's dressing room door, one of the Filipina's companions went out just as the "Price Tag" hitmaker stood near it.
"Rolling pa 'yung camera para sa interview. Bigla siyang sumilip sa pinto, ta's ayon na 'yung hitsura ko!" Tandingan said, referring to the now-viral video of Jessie J entering her room.
She added: "Literal talaga na hindi ako makahinga. Hindi ko alam sasabihin ko. Gusto niya akong tumabi sa kanya, hindi ako makatabi. Iyon pa lang, sobrang panalo na 'yung pakiramdam ko, e!"
Her near-speechless reaction was opposite of what her management had advised her to do upon meeting Jessie J, Tandingan recounted, laughing. "Bago noong meeting, pinakiusapan ako na, 'Alam namin na fan girl ka ni Jessie J, pero baka puwede mo masyadong ano' -- e, hindi naman ako handa na ganoon agad 'yung pagkikita!" she said.
Tandingan now considers surreal that she has since formed a bond with Jessie J, who she said has been encouraging and affectionate towards her so far in the competition.
The two will once again take the stage, along with six others, in the sixth episode of "Singer 2018" Friday. In this round, Tandingan's ranking must average a top-four finish in order for her to stay on as a regular contender.