There’s one thing you need to know about X Factor contestant Carlito Olivero: He’s a charmer, dropping endearments like “love” and “my dear” like it ain’t no thang. Such sweet-talking wasn’t necessary to win over the show’s judges, however. The 24-year-old let his singing and stage presence do all the work during his audition, an audition that surprisingly almost didn’t happen.
Carlito never planned to try out for a reality show. Despite his obvious talent and camera-ready looks, the Chicago native was reluctant to take time away from his work promoting his music in Los Angeles, where he moved on his own three years ago. Auditioning for TV didn’t seem to jive with his long-term plans. So what finally changed Carlito’s tune? Read ahead for the answer.
Fans of the young performer (including us!) couldn't be happier Carlito decided to give X Factor a go. His all-star version of “Stay” by Rihanna earned him four yeses and a major compliment from Simon Cowell. “This kid looks like a real star,” the infamous Brit said and, after chatting with Carlito, we at Wetpaint Entertainment have to say he sounds like one, too.
Wetpaint Entertainment: How did you choose your audition song, “Stay” by Rihanna?
Carlito Olivero: It took a little while. Originally I wanted to go with a Marc Anthony song. The song was called “Aguanile” and was recorded by a guy named Hector Lavoe. I was practicing and practicing and practicing until I figured out that that song wasn’t cleared to actually be in the performance.
So I was kind of going back and forth within my mind. I had a couple of options. One of them was by Ginuwine; another one was a Ray Charles song, “Drown In My Own Tears;” and Boyz II Men. [“Stay”] was probably my third choice … I wanted a song people could actually sing along with me.
During your introduction on The X Factor you said you wanted to be the “Latino Chris Brown.” Do you have other inspirations in the music industry?
I’m a big Marc Anthony, a huge Marc Anthony fan ... I look up to him a lot. I look up to Chris Brown in the sense that I think he’s an amazing performer, an amazing vocalist, and he can dance his butt off and I’m a dancer as well … I play guitar as well.
As you go further in the competition, do you see yourself bringing in the guitar for your performances?
Oh yes, yes. That’s what I’m hoping for. I feel like “Stay” was just my opening song. I feel as the competition goes on I would love to showcase more of my talent. I would love to dance. I would love to show people that “Wow, this kid can really go all out” … “He’s not just a vocalist, he’s just not a kid who woke up one morning and decided, 'Hey, I want to sing.' No, this kid’s been working at it for a long time.”
How long have you been singing?
I’ve been singing all my life, ever since I was two, three years old. I’ve been in talent shows ever since I was in preschool up until forever.
You said in your first interview on the show that you would sing while you worked as a barista. Tell us about that.
I sing at work all the time. The customers are so used to it by now. It’s weird because now that the show has aired there are a lot of people who are like, ‘I knew something was going to happen!’ I’m still working my day job. My shift is Monday through Friday, most of the time. I’m the opener guy so I wake up at three o'clock in the morning; I’m at work by four.
Wow! Early! So to go briefly back to the show, which judge are you most hoping to work with?
I know everyone wants to go for Simon but I have a hunch that Simon’s always going to stick with the groups. I would really like to work with Paulina [Rubio] or Kelly [Rowland]. Paulina, simply because of the fact that she’s Latina, I’m Latino. I feel like she can help showcase my talent not just to the US but also to the Latin market as far as song choices.
I would like to work with Kelly as well because I like to think of myself as an urban artist, R&B, pop and who better than Kelly? … As far as choreography, I think she would come up with a great set-up, great background, and all that good stuff.
Would you like to sing some songs either partial in Spanish or fully in Spanish?
Oh yes, yes. I still really want to stick to the one song I wanted to do for my first audition [Marc Anthony’s “Aguanile”] … I’m hoping to do kind of a crossover, maybe open up with that song and then go into an up-to-date song, like half-and-half. I would love to do all Spanish but I want to cater to both markets.
Why did you audition for The X Factor opposed to say another reality music talent show?
I guess it was a sign, a sign from God. It’s been something that has been thrown up in the air for a couple of years now and something I kind of pushed off and something I didn’t think was possible in a way. When X Factor actually [came to the US] I had family members who were like “You should go do it” but I was … trying to push out my own music, work on my craft. That’s the reason I’m out here in LA: to continue to make my dream come true. I always thought to myself, “Why go and audition for the show when I can honestly create my own music and create my own sound and eventually it will happen?”
Last year and the year before people were actually signing me up and I was like, “No, guys. I’m not going to do this. I have my own thing going. Don’t worry about it.” Finally, this year I had a friend sign me up again … and I kind of pushed it away … Finally, three or four more people actually called me up and were like “Dude, you need to do it.” … So I was like “You know what, I’m going to do it. What the heck! What’s the worst that can happen?”
[When I went to LA for the live audition] I left it in God’s hands. I wasn’t thinking in my mind, “Okay, I’m passing” or “I’m not passing.” And I made it past the first round with the judges and I got all four yeses and I’m like it’s meant to be! It’s a sign.
What are your long-term goals in the music industry? Big picture.
Big picture is to be able to walk away with a deal. I would love to write and co-produce my own albums. I would, eventually one day, be able to start my own label to help other artists as well. Because where I’m from, dreams like this don’t really ever happen.
Just have to ask, but what are your favorite TV shows — beside The X Factor, of course!
Breaking Bad! I’m one episode behind so I’m kind of going crazy! … I’m telling you, it’s an emotional thing! After you watch that show, you need therapy! … And then, Sons of Anarchy, as well, though I’m pretty behind on that.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I know it’s pretty clichéd but to anybody that has a dream, anybody who wants to make something happen, I go by this quote every single day that I made up when I was little: Dreams don’t become reality while sleeping. So if you really want something, go for it!
Learn more about Carlito Olivero at his website, carlitoofficial.com.