The Taiwanese Susan Boyle: Lin Yu-Chun
Lin Yu-Chun, the 24-year-old contestant on a Taiwanese reality-TV show—whose title translates to One Million Star, Super Star Avenue, or Avenue to Stardom, depending who you ask—couldn’t look less like Whitney Houston. But the chubby, bow-tied, bowl-cutted singer sounds more like Houston than Houston herself these days, and his goosebump-raising performance of “I Will Always Love You” earned him comparisons to Britain’s Got Talent’s legendary Susan Boyle. “I am inspired and encouraged by her, because she proved that even a person who’s seen as an underdog and who has average looks can shine on the stage,” he told Agence France-Press.
The Filipino Chris Daughtry: Jovit Baldivino
Looking for another singer who could match Chris Daughtry’s baritone rumble? Probably the last place you’d look is among street-dumpling vendors in the Philippines. But 16-year-old Jovit Baldivino, who sells dim sum with his family after high school, shone on Pilipinas Got Talent with a Daughtry-esque rendition of “Faithfully” by Journey—who, perhaps not coincidentally, currently employs a Filipino lead singer, Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from a cover band to be their new frontman.
The Italian Adam Lambert: Matteo Becucci
You’d think that a country like Italy, no stranger to flamboyant performers, might be able to out-Lambert American Idol’s Adam Lambert. But the closest that the Italian version of X Factor has come is in the leather pants-wearing, Queen-singing Matteo Becucci.
The Indian Leona Lewis: Sourabhee Debbarma
Sourabhee Debbarma, a 25-year-old singer from Northeast India, had no formal training before competing on Indian Idol. But her winning manner and strong, appealing voice propelled her to become the show’s first female winner.
The Aussie Paul Potts: Mark Vincent
British cellphone salesman-turned-virtuoso Paul Potts stunned the world back in 2007 on the first season of Britain's Got Talent. As video of his otherworldly renditions of opera classics went viral, the balding pop tenor became an unlikely international star. With last season's Australia's Got Talent, however, Potts may have met his match. Like Potts, Mark Vincent was bullied as a kid, and turned to singing for solace. Also like Potts, Vincent struggled with his weight. Of course, Vincent was only 15 years old when he claimed his competition's crown, while Potts was in his late thirties when he won. As seen in this footage from the Australia's Got Talent 2009 finale, Vincent's talent is ageless. With dreams of attending Milan's Conservatorio di Musica, where composer Giacomo Puccini studied, we'll likely be hearing his joyous warbles for years to come.
The Irish Adam Lambert (Squared): John and Edward
Your eyes do not deceive you—there are indeed two, count ‘em, two glamtastic singers in this video. Eighteen-year-old identical twins John and Edward Grimes took Britain’s X Factor by storm in 2009. The boys, who hail from Dublin, Ireland, won acclaim less for their vocal pyrotechnics—let’s be honest, if there was only one of them singing at a time you’d more easily be able to tell that, well, they kind of stink—and more for their outlandish performances. We guarantee their rendition of “Oops, I Did It Again” will be forever seared into your memory after one viewing.
The Polish Constantine Maroulis: Krzysztof Zalewski
Krzysztof Zalewski, who won the second season of Poland’s Idol in 2002, brought some true rocker cred to his performances. Before he started singing, he was the guitarist for the band Loch Ness. His baby face and angelic locks mixed with his rough-and-tumble music choices helped to propel him to the top, snagging him a contract with Sony BMG.
The Filipino Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard: Reggie Ramirez
There are a lot of reality-TV show contestants who can be feasibly compared to other reality-show contestants. But as far as we know, there is only one reality-show contestant who can be compared to two other reality-show contestants: Reggie Ramirez, the “doble cara” (literally, “two-face”) performer on Pilipinas Got Talent. Ramirez’s unique talent has to be seen to be believed: He may not be quite as good a singer as Jordin Sparks or Ruben Studdard individually, but combined, he’s more entertaining than both.