Just last month, Marlisa Ann Punzalan, commonly known as Marlisa, was announced as the youngest winner of The X Factor Australia. This week, her debut self-titled album was released. The talented vocalist won Australia over with her effortless ability to sing classics and contemporaries and completely nail every song she took on. It came as a shock to The X Factor Australia audience, because back in July when she auditioned, she was admittedly a shy girl whose dream was “to be really confident.” She explained that she was used to only singing in the mirror, but the moment she began singing there was no evidence of fear or insecurity.
Marlisa’s album starts off with her debut cover single, which she performed live for the first time on the finale show of The X Factor‘s sixth season. “Stand By You” is a well-written pop hit. It really shows off the extent of Marlisa’s vocal ability. There’s no question why it debuted at number two on the ARIA Singles Chart.
Control is such an important factor of being a vocalist, and at the age of 15, most young voices are not developed enough to cover certain songs. In track two, Marlisa takes on “Yesterday” by the Beatles. This was her audition song, which made Australia immediately aware that she wasn’t as amateur as she initially indicated. During the cover, Marlisa eases through the octave changes and chord progressions like its nothing.
Impressing me even more than the previous song, Marlisa then covers Eric Carmen’s 1975 song “All By Myself.” This recording was even more impressive than seeing her perform it live back in August. She executes the songs pivotal vamp perfectly, and the background vocalists take this cover over the top. It’s one of the best Beatles covers I’ve heard from a young person. Next, Marlisa sings “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, a song she first sang during episode three, on the clever prom night-themed stage.
The album goes from prom to grade school, because, of course, no modern vocal competition would be complete without a cover from Disney’s Frozen. In track five, Marlisa sings a cover of “Let it Go” that could potentially put Demi Lovato to shame. This re-produced pop version could easily become a Radio Disney favorite.
The effortless transition from one genre to the next is a rare talent that Marlisa does beautifully. In the next song, Marlisa covers heavy metal band Metallica, and for three minutes and forty-five seconds, “Nothing Else Matters.” The song has an easy finish and leads into a more current song, Pink’s “Try.” In my opinion, this cover buries her vocals instead of displaying them. Perhaps its due to the method they used for recording because, on episode seven, Marlisa nailed this song.
In the remainder of the album, Marlisa covers more contemporary pop songs like “Titanium” and Alicia Keys’ 2012 hit “Girl on Fire.” Her Alicia cover is especially impressive. Marlisa also sings a lovely rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and finishes the album with Shontelle’s “Impossible.” The cover lacks the Barbadian accent and the mature vocal tone, but, somehow, Marlisa still manages to perform it well. I can only imagine how she will sound three years from now. Marlisa is in the beginning stages of ultra-pop stardom, and I’m anxious to hear her first original work.