SINGAPORE - He was among 20 international contestants handpicked by the people behind bi-annual Japanese singing contest Nodojiman The World, a singing contest for non-Japanese to sing Japanese songs.
And he made Singapore proud after he beat contestants from the US, Cuba, Canada, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey and Argentina at the finale in Tokyo in February.
Not only was Mr Jeremy Teng, 20, the first Singaporean to appear on the show, he also became the first Asian to win since the contest was opened to foreigners in 2011.
It was not exactly an outcome the panel of judges, or even Mr Teng himself, could have predicted.
He told The New Paper: "When I got on the stage, I guess my appearance didn't really match what the judges expected from me (in terms of my voice).
"I guess being big-sized threw them off a little, but the moment I started singing, they all looked pretty stunned."
The Ngee Ann Polytechnic mass communication student was approached to join Nodojiman after its producers came across his YouTube channel, where he posts covers of different Japanese songs.
They were impressed by his renditions of Ayaka's Mikazuki and Nakashima Mika's Yuki No Hana.
The contest, which used to be solely for Japanese contestants, was revamped in 2011 into one focusing on foreign Nipponophiles.
Mr Teng had the highest scores from the judges for his performances of Koko Ni Shika Sakanai Hana by Kobukuro and Ayaka's Mikazuki.
"I honestly never thought I would get anywhere near being the champion," said Mr Teng, who briefly had vocal training when he was 15 and took part in the third season of Channel U's reality TV singing contest Campus SuperStar in 2009.
This article was published on April 12 in The New Paper.
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