Little Big Shots
Three young boys from the Philippines became viral sensations in just a year after they competed in a local singing competition. Mackie, Kiefer, and Francis, the TNT boys, racked up a massive international following of adoring fans and video reactors who have professed their love and support for these boys. Their joie de vivre upon setting on the grand international stage was infectious. Steve Harvey wanted to adopt them when they appeared on his show “Little Big Shots, USA” and he promised them a big house with a pool. The boys gamely countered with their requests for a basketball court and a recording studio. And then, they proceeded to deliver a feisty performance of Beyonce’s “Listen”. Dressed in white tuxedos and armed with incredible voices, the boys charmed the audience to their feet. Ellen DeGeneres even tweeted about them; what I am hoping for is for her to invite the trio to her show. The audience (and the world) listened.
The TNT boys also performed at the UK version of the “Little Big Shots” where they performed the same song, battling each other, hamming it up, sassing it up, and showing off their individual strengths, then harmonizing like no other young singers have done before. With the interview, the boys showed us a glimpse of their effervescent personalities.
Steve Harvey and the American audience could not get over the TNT boys. They could not even wait a year to invite the trio back. Their second appearance at the LBS show was met with fireworks as they sang their hearts out to Queens’ “Somebody to Love”. Francis belted, Mackie riffed, and Kiefer whistled out of nowhere. The performance elicited a shout-out from a former Queens band member Brian May.
GGV guesting (November 2017), “Listen” starts at 1:04
They did not even win the “Tawag ng Tanghalan” singing contest from which they once competed with each other. Kiefer Sanchez, 13 years old, came close when he placed second. Mackie Empuerto, 12 years old, came up third, and Francis Concepcion, 12 years old, claimed the 5th spot.
The group was “accidentally” formed at the Gandang-Gabi Vice show, a variety show in the Philippines where the top five kids from the recently-completed talent contest gathered. Vice Ganda saw something that we never saw. The host wanted the three boys to battle it out in a song and egged them on to be the fiercest they can be. And so, they took their fighting stance, challenged each other, and just bedazzled every one of us. That raw performance of “Listen” started the boys’ amazing journey to international recognition.The impromptu performance at GGV was serendipitous; it was meant to be.
Your Face Sounds Familiar
On August 19, the TNT boys emerged as the winners of the celebrity impersonation show called “Your Face Sounds Familiar, Kids edition Season 2” with an unprecedented 100% domination of the judges’ and public votes. The group performed an explosive rendition of “Bang Bang” and channeled Jessie J., Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj in full costume, make-up, stiletto heels, and sound-alike voices. The 16-week show featured other talented kids but the TNT kids by virtue of their other international appearances and devoted video reactors elicited a lot of attention. Their most famous transformations were as BeeGees, Mariah Carey and the Boyz 11 Men, Supremes, ABBA, and Destiny’s Child.
The impersonations are spot-on. With just one week to prepare between shows, the trio studied their characters and showed their fans that they are not just singers, they are also dancers, actors, and comedians.
They’re #1 on Trending!
When Tomorrow Comes…
The winners took home a grand package- trophy, house and lot, a whopping 1 million pesos, and a gadget showcase. The TNT boys came from humble beginnings. Both Mackie and Kiefer lived simple lives with their parents, somehow making the effort to sing at every concert they can find. But it was Francis who struggled the most; he collected garbage to recycle so that he and his family could eat. One of nine kids, his parents were so poor that his aunt had to adopt him to give him a better life. At another interview, he had to hold back his tears when the clueless host asked about the mother he had to leave behind.
But more than the monetary rewards,their future in the music world is secured. Now, all three boys are poised for more fame and success. And we are hungrily devouring the videos of the boys who stole our hearts. We are an obsessed nation of wanna-be mothers and fathers who cheered on every vibrato, every melisma, every “birit” and every whistle note.
Their recent success is a testimonial to the hard work, discipline, resilience, and dedication by these boys. Their performances are well-polished and it is evident that they practice their craft with the same intensity of their song delivery. The fire in their eyes showed of their passion to follow their dreams of making it to singing world in the Philippines. But they probably did not even consider international success, all beyond their wildest imagination.
Their stories are inspirational to all, young and old, who dared to reach out for the stars. For all the kids who dared to dream of a million dreams, all they have to do is just look at the group. There are many similar kids in the far-away provinces who try to sing their way out of poverty. For some, their singing gives them a respite from the hard times, as well as give them hope for a reasonable chance of survival.
The future looks bright for the TNT boys. I am confident that the boys will overcome the challenge of puberty and will emerge even bigger. This is just the beginning.