At age 16, Malaya Watson is American Idol's second youngest finalist of all time (behind Lauren Alaina). And the Season 13 contestant — who made it to the Top 8 before being eliminated last Thursday — says she strongly considered waiting a couple of years to audition.
"My mom called me and she's like, 'Oh, American Idol's coming,'" Watson, who was 15 when she initially auditioned, tells TVGuide.com. "I was telling her, I want to wait until I'm 17 or 18 rather than jump out and do something like this. But I thought about it, and you never know when this opportunity's going to come again, so you might as well take it and run with it. I didn't imagine to make it this far."
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Watson, who says her one regret was not playing the piano more on the show, will be focusing on school and making music before embarking on the Idol tour this summer. Check out her answers to our American Idol exit interview lightning round below.
1. Name three albums you would bring with you to a desert island. Any Ray Charles album, the new Sevyn Streeter album, and a Tamela Mann album.
2. What was the first album you fell in love with? Probably the Jackson 5 Christmas album.
3. If someone wanted to torture you with a song on repeat, what would it be? "What Does the Fox Say." That would be complete torture.
4. Name a song you wish you'd written. Probably "Hard Times" by Ray Charles
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5. If you could duet with anyone living or dead, who would you pick? I keep saying his name, but Ray Charles.
6. What's your most embarrassing karaoke or singing experience? At my mom's old house ... we used to karaoke all the time and I was singing a Beatles song. I totally blanked out and forgot all the words to the song. It was in front of all of my family on my mom's side. That's a lot of family. I think I was like 7 or 8, maybe 9.
7. What's your favorite album or song that you're listening to currently? A song called "Step Aside" by Tamela Mann, and there's a song called "Sorry Mama" by YG. Oh, and "Can You Stand the Rain" by Boyz II Men. Oh, my God. That is amazing.
8. What song or artist made you want to be a singer? Probably the Jackson 5 and Ray Charles. All the music from Motown and Ray Charles.
9. What's your biggest musical guilty pleasure? I'm not a huge fan, but a couple songs by Skrillex. I don't know why I like that. Not all of them, but some of them.
10. What's one song you would have loved to perform on Idol that you didn't get to? Probably "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston and "Orange Colored Sky" by Nat King Cole.
Will you miss seeing Malaya on American Idol?