Malaya Watson. File Photo.
MANILA – Malaya Watson is definitely putting to practice what the “American Idol” judges are telling her.
This was the observation of "Idol" judges Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez as they lauded the 16-year-old’s performance on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Manila) as the show’s Top 8 took the stage.
Singing her audition piece, Watson, the only remaining contestant on the show with Filipino roots, gave a soulful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.”
Urban, who gave Watson a standing ovation, said it feels fantastic to see the young singer take control of the song.
“The great thing about this show, it’s not watching the growth from week to week. You had this voice right from day one. You just needed to just be with it. That was so with it tonight. You were in control. You’re fantastic, Malaya,” he said.
Lopez, for her part, said she could imagine Watson's transformation from the day she auditioned to the time she's performing onstage.
“You’re blossoming into this star right before our very eyes. The way you sing, you’re still the same girl. You’re still that same crazy girl who walked in but you have so much more control. You’re gaining this poise and you realize it in your position,” she said.
Lopez then said she’s certain that Watson is going to be a huge star. “It’s a beautiful thing to see. You’re going to run away with this competition.”
While saying that she had a strong performance, Connick again reminded Watson to take advantage of the access that she has with the musicians and the coaches from “American Idol.”
“You’re doing everything right. You’re singing lyrics. You’re presenting. You’re entertaining. You’re performing. You’re doing all of those things right. I’m just going to give you the same piece of advice I gave you last week.”
“You have such incredible access to such musicians and the vocal coaches. Get them to teach you when you sing runs. Make sure you learn the 12 notes in our tonal system. Learn them all. You can get there. I want to make sure that the runs you sing are perfectly in sync with the chords underneath you. You can do it. I wouldn’t waste my time if I didn’t think you don’t have the talent to do it. Work hard and keep doing what you’re doing. That was great,” he said.
Aside from singing their audition pieces, the Top 8 were also paired to sing duets.
Watson and Sam Woolf teamed up to sing Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat’s hit song “Lucky.”
On Thursday night (Friday morning in Manila), the contestant who gets the lowest votes will be booted off the competition.