It was an emotional night on American Idol as Malaya Watson, the 16-year-old Michigan native firecracker, was the latest finalist voted out of the competition. Watson chose to sing a Chaka Kahn song for the ’80s night performances, but unlike her song choice “Through the Fire”, Malaya didn’t make it through the next round. Watson was joined in the bottom two by C.J. Harris, her duet partner the night before. EW sat down with an emotional Watson after her elimination.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling?
MALAYA WATSON: I’m doing okay.
Did you have a feeling today might be you?
A little bit. But we all do, as nobody knows who’s going home.
What was it like just having the bottom two tonight?
It was nerve-racking; there’s no three, so there’s a chance? So it was really like, “Oh God, it’s going to happen.” Unfortunately, I have to go home.
Is there a little bit of relief that you don’t have to go through the process anymore, and you still get to go on the tour?
Yeah, I’m kind of happy because I get to finish school. I’m not happy that I have to go back to do the ACTs. I’m relieved that I can take this weight off my shoulders for now, because I have so much stuff to focus on when I get back home.
How did you get through that final song?
I don’t even know. I didn’t want to act a fool and just have an instrumental going on behind me.
And we finally got to see you play the tuba!
Oh you saw that? My gosh, that was fun. I miss the tuba, so when I got back home I get to do the marching band again and all of that.
Do you think it’s going to be easy to get back into the swing of school?
No! Heck no, it’s never easy to wake up at 6 o’clock, go home at 6 o’clock, and then the band and all of that, it’s going to be stressful, but at the same time it’s going to be okay. I miss everyone back home, and I talk to them all the time. While everyone hangs out, I’m usually the person in my room talking to all my friends on FaceTime.
It seems like you had a nice moment with Harry at the end, and you wanted to tell him you were going to sing Nat King Cole, then he talked to your father. What did he say?
I didn’t know he talked to my dad, but he did say, “Don’t worry about it, and we will probably hear you sing it soon.” Hopefully, he does. I really wanted to do that song for him, really badly.
What are you going to take away from this experience?
Getting to work with so many people, that was awesome. I’m 16! What kid can say I sang in front of Harry Connick Jr., J. Lo., and worked with Ricky Minor, that’s nothing major! It was my first job, what can I say? It was just a big opportunity that not a lot of people can experience, and with me just being a child, it’s pretty cool.
Now you have the tour to look forward to?
Yes, I’m really excited about that.