It’s official – the American Idol competition has come to an end for Filipino-American Malaya Watson, with CJ Harris narrowly escaping elimination as part of the bottom 2. This was Malaya’s third and final time in the bottom group.
Watson sang Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” during the April 9 (April 10 in Manila) episode as part of the Back to the 80’s theme where American Idol season 7 winner David Cook was their guest mentor.
Her performance was, according to the judges, missing its usual zing.
In the performance episode, Judge Keith Urban commented that she needed to “chill out and coast through it.”
Jennifer Lopez echoed Keith’s sentiments.
“You just need to relax up there. We all get tense when we all know those moments are coming and the trick that nobody needs to see or needs to know about is to totally relax in that moment and just go for it. Especially with someone who has a vocal ability that you have, you don’t even have to try. It’s going to be there for you every time. As long as you have the breath behind it, it’s gonna be there for you,” she said.
Harry Connick Jr., on the other hand said that while he liked her performance, he felt it was all about the high notes.
“There’s not a lot of people who can hit that Chaka note in full voice, especially at your age. I was really impressed with that. However, it sounded like the entire performance was geared up for that like you had that at the back of your mind. You’re going to hit it anyway. All you need is to focus right when that note comes,” he said.
Malaya reportedly felt a little glum after the performance, telling Hollywood Life that she “could have done better” during the show, particularly in the second half of the song.
The 16-year-old tuba player from Michigan stood out at her Detroit auditions but had a few rocky moments during the show. During her top 30 audition, she was asked to start over after judges noticed that she was singing off-key. But true to form, she bounced back and did well on the show.
Malaya is known for her big personality and even bigger voice, a reputation that solidified as she tackled song after tough song – sometimes, a hit or miss. Her March 27 performance of The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road” was one of her best-reviewed performances, along with “I am Changing” from Dreamgirls (which was her farewell song), among others.
Judges were sorry to see her go, but if her rallying performance throughout the whole season is any indication, this is unlikely to be the end of Malaya’s career – only the end of her Idol journey.
Here’s the video of Malaya Watson’s elimination: