Filipino-American singer Malaya Watson filled the “American Idol” stage with energy Wednesday (Thursday morning in Manila) as she performed a Bruno Mars hit for the Top 13’s first performance night.
Singing for America’s votes, Watson was all over the stage with her contagious liveliness as she shared her own rendition of “Runaway Baby.”
The theme for this week is “This Is Me,” where each contestant got to pick a song which they think represents them.
Saying he considers Watson a contender in the show, judge Harry Connick Jr. said the 16-year-old tuba player reminds him of the singers he met in New Orleans who are extremely passionate about music.
“I think you’re so talented. I’ve been thinking about you, you remind me so much of those in art school that I went to in New Orleans. They would kill to have somebody like you who’s so passionate about music,” he said.
He, however, added that he noticed Watson’s nerves while performing.
“Again, intonation is huge… it’s a discipline to sing in tune. And somehow you’re a little bit nervous to me tonight. I can tell. That’s going to go away quickly. If she sings it again now, it will be better,” he said.
Agreeing with Connick that Watson is a contender, judge Jennifer Lopez said she loved how the young singer commanded the stage.
“I love you, I love your energy. When you came out, right away I felt like I was on the show. Your performance, you’re like an A+. You just command that stage in the way that a superstar is supposed to command that stage. That thing about you, I do love,” she said.
Lopez said though that another song could have showed more of Watson’s vocal prowess.
“This song had a lot of soul which is good because that’s who you are. I don’t know if that’s the best song. It wasn’t your best vocal performance. We know that you can blow and at the end there, it went a little off the rail for me. But still, for me, this is the beginning of the competition. You’re a contender,” she said.
As for judge Keith Urban, he reminded Watson to always put her energy “into a performance where you’re on top of the song, not sort of like floating around it.”
“You know what Malaya, this show is about what you can do from here forward. It’s about the learning and growing. Your energy is so contagious to watch on stage,” he added.
On Thursday night (Friday morning in Manila), one contestant among “American Idol’s” Top 13 will be booted off the competition.
Here’s Malaya’s American Idol Top 13 Performance: