Hollywood contest's Filipino finalists perform with Joe Jonas’ DNCE

Hollywood contest's Filipino finalists perform with Joe Jonasâ DNCE

Filipino artist Lesha (left) performs with Joe Jonas and DNCE for YouTube's international contest, "Best Cover Ever." Lesha and another Filipino artist, ELM, are the only Asian finalists of the global competition. Photo courtesy of Lesha x ELM via Seph Asong

MANILA, Philippines — “Best Cover Ever” is a YouTube original series featuring talented musicians from around the world, competing to win the chance to perform alongside their idols. The show premiered worldwide and exclusively on YouTube last November 20.

The show was hosted by Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist and actor Ludacris and produced by Ryan Seacrest and Endemol Shine North America. In its first run, the show boastsof an impressive lineup of Hollywood music stars such as Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Keith Urban, Nicky Jam, Back Street Boys, Joe Jonas’ DNCE, Charlie Puth, Flo Rida, Jason Derulo, and Bebe Rexha, who will judge these aspiring YouTube artists who were challenged to do a cover of one of their original songs while incorporating their own unique style to showcase their originality and diverse talent not just in singing and arranging melodies but as well as performing various musical instruments.

In an episode where Joe Jonas and his group DNCE were set to search for the next big artist to breakout internationally, an unexpected duo hailing from the Philippines were short-listed by the producers of the show. The Pinoy music duo consist of Lesha Litonjua, 20, and Leo Malli, 19, otherwise known as Lesha x ELM, are best of friends in college. Lesha is a singer, songwriter, and a producer, while ELM ventures into rapping and production as well. The two artists began performing and uploading cover songs on YouTube in 2016 and shortly after, both Lesha and Leo found themselves performing at some of the biggest parties in Manila, Philippines and even opened up the stage for visiting international artists.

In the local music scene, Lesha x ELM is known for its electro pop music but with a fresh take on each cover song with a very distinct and creative mix of synth, drums, bass and various other instruments. Despite gaining massive following on social media and releasing their first ever EP early this year, both artists felt they needed to take their music to the next level—and this is how their fate took a 360-degree spin when they gave it a shot to join “Best Cover Ever.” They submitted their audition video by uploading their cover song of DNCE’s “Toothbrush” and later received a call from the producers of the show that they were shortlisted as top finalists among tens of thousands submissions across the globe. In fact, Lesha and Leo were the only Asians chosen to move forward to the live shows in Los Angeles, California—a true testament to how combining hard work, talent, and strong will really pays off.

In an interview with Philstar.com, the talented duo expressed their joy when their live performance videos with Joe Jonas and DNCE were already posted by the show on the same platform that could very well be the beginning of their international career. “It still feels unbelievable for the both of us to have gotten the chance to represent Asia and most especially the Philippines in Hollywood for ‘Best Cover Ever’ and getting the chance to perform with our idols, DNCE, is more than just a dream come true! We’re still processing everything that just happened,” Lesha said.


Filipinos Lesha x ELM (right) on the set as the only Asian finalists of YouTube's 'Best Cover Ever.' Photo courtesy of Lesha x ELM via Seph Asong

For musician Leo Malli, everything happened so fast and unexpected, but he is grateful for the massive opportunity that YouTube has provided them both. “The feeling after winning the competition was very surreal. The moment they revealed to us that we won, we were overwhelmed with joy and excitement. It just makes us so proud to have gotten this far. Now, looking back from all the hardships we had to endure when we were starting out in the music business have finally made sense,” Malli enthused.

Getting through the competition was not easy for these Filipino young artists as they literally had to fight other talented artists who dreamt of the same thing—to perform with DNCE and be given the platform to showcase their talent in a global scale. “When we landed in L.A., we didn’t know what to expect. We were on set a few days after we arrived for the Executive Producers Round at YouTube Space LA. We were standing in line for our IDs, and out of nowhere we hear a car honking really loud. ELM and I along with one other contestant, Will Makar, looked behind and DNCE jumped out of the vehicle and surprised us. We were all in shock! At that moment, Joe Jonas of DNCE told us that we were the top 2 finalists chosen to audition in front of DNCE themselves and Ludacris,” Lesha explained.

“For the auditions, we were asked to perform DNCE’s song, ‘Kissing Strangers.’ After a few hours of deliberation, ELM and I were called in back to the studio, and that’s when they’ve announced us as the winner to perform ‘Cake By The Ocean’ with DNCE in front of hundreds of DNCE fans. During the duet, DNCE tweaked the arrangement a bit so it felt like it was the first time hearing the song; it felt fresh. Performing with international artists like Joe Jonas and DNCE is what we’ve always dreamed of, but more than that, is to be able to share our talent and prove that there’s nothing impossible if you work hard for it,” she added.

With today’s technology and social media, getting your talent out there is as simple as uploading a video on YouTube. Social networking sites like YT has been an instrument for many breakout artists in the past and continues to encourage young people to put out original and creative content, but for Lesha and Leo, it is more than just getting on social media. “YouTube is an amazing platform to get noticed. It may or it may not work, so you just have to really work hard for it every single day until you get it. The best advice we can give to young aspiring artists is not to give up on their dreams. Keep fighting the good fight and keep the passion burning. If you love what you do, everything will just fall in its rightful place. Also, never stop learning new things that will help you grow and become more versatile in your craft. As for both of us, I guess we are very lucky to have each other. It just makes the whole journey extra fun,” Lesha and Leo said.

Filipino artist Lesha (right) rehearses with Joe Jonas for a performance for YouTube's international contest, "Best Cover Ever." Photo courtesy of Lesha x ELM via Seph Asong

WATCH: 'Best Cover Ever' featuring Filipino artists Lesha x ELM 

YouTube/Best Cover Ever

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