Malaya Watson
Malaya Watson Pic
Malaya Watson
Birth Name
Malaya Tina Bandico Watson
September 24, 1997
Audition City

Malaya Tina Bandico Watson (born September 24, 1997) is an American singer from Southfield, Michigan who finished in 8th place on Season 13 of American Idol


In addition to singing, Malaya, who is a high school student and is of Filipino and African American descent, also plays tuba in her school's marching band. She also plays piano. She cites her father Ronald, a professional guitar player, as well as her maternal grandfather and paternal grandfather as her musical influences. She describes her singing style as a cross between Sly Stone and Beyonce.

American IdolEdit

Malaya auditioned for the show in Detriot, singing "Ain't No Way" by the legendary Aretha Franklin. Impressed by both her vocals and her funny, charming personality, the judges put her through to Hollywood. She made it through that and made the top 30 where her rendition of "Hard Times (No One Knows Me Better Than I)" by Ray Charles earned Malaya her spot in the top 13, making her the second youngest contestant in Idol history to ever reach that point behind season 10 alum Lauren Alaina.

For "This Is Me" week, Malaya chose "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars. Her performance, however, didn't get great feedback from the judges. She ended up in the bottom 3 as a result but managed to survive elimination.

For "Home" week, Malaya took on "Take Me to The King" by Tamela Mann, which she played piano on. The judges loved it as did the public. She made it through to the next week.

Malaya then took on the Jennifer Holliday song "I Am Changing" from the movie Dreamgirls for "Songs from the Movies" week. Despite some fans' uncertainty on Twitter, the judges enjoyed Malaya's take on the song. She made it through to the next week.

For "Billboard Top 10" week, Malaya sang her second Bruno Mars song of the competition, "When I Was Your Man", which had been previously covered by season 12 winner Candice Glover. Her performance earned her praise, and she even got flowers for the first time.

For "I'm with the Band" week, Malaya took on the Beatles classic "The Long and Winding Road". Prasied for both her vocals and her groweth as both a singer and performer, Malaya made it to the next week.

For "Back from the Start" week, Malaya sang her audition song, "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin. She received major prasie from the judges, who felt that her performance of it was better then her audition. She then teamed up with Sam Woolf on the Jason Mraz/Colbie Caillat duet "Lucky". However, both she and Sam wound up in the bottom 3 along with CJ Harris, but she was declared safe.

For 80s week, Malaya took on "Through The Fire" by Chaka Khan. She then teamed up with CJ Harris on the Aretha Franklin/George Michael classic "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)", which had previosuly been covered by season 11's Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet. However, both performances landed both CJ and Malaya in the bottom 2. With the judges' save no longer in play, Malaya was eliminated on April 10, 2014, finishing in 8th place.

Elimination controversyEdit

Malaya's elimination caused an outrage among fans on social media, many claiming that the use of the judges' save on Sam Woolf the week before had been wasted and should've been used on Malaya instead of him. Others even claimed that the votes were miscounted with some declaring that they would stop watching the show.


Episode Theme Song choice Original artist Result
Audition Auditioner's Choice "Ain't No Way" Aretha Franklin Advanced
Hollywood Round, Part 1 A Capella "Brand New Me" Alicia Keys Advanced
Hollywood Round, Part 2 Group Performance "I Want You Back" (with Christina Collins, Olivia Diamond, and Queen Bulls) The Jackson 5 Advanced
Hollywood Round, Part 3 Solo "I Believe" Fantasia Barrino Advanced
Top 31 (10 Women) Personal Choice "Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)" Ray Charles Safe
Top 13 This Is Me "Runaway Baby" Bruno Mars Bottom 3
Top 12 Home "Take Me to the KIng" Tamela Mann Safe
Top 11 Songs from the Movies "I Am Changing" Jennifer Holliday Safe
Top 10 Billboard Top 10 "When I Was Your Man" Bruno Mars Safe
Top 9 I'm with the Band! "The Long and Winding Road" The Beatles Safe
Top 8 Back to the Start "Ain't No Way" Aretha Franklin Bottom 3
Duet: "Lucky" with Sam Woolf Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat
Top 8 Redux Songs from the 1980s Solo: "Through the Fire" Chaka Khan Eliminated
Duet: "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" with CJ Harris Aretha Franklin and George Michael

Post IdolEdit

Malaya was a part of the American Idols Live tour, which kicked off in Binghamton, New York on June 24, 2014. She got to sing with John Legend on his hit song, "You and I", at the Idol fianle on May 21, 2014. She has mainly been focused on school since her time on the show. She also got to sing the National Anthem at a Detroit Lions game on October 19, 2014.

Season 13
Caleb Johnson ·Jena Irene ·Alex Preston ·Jessica Meuse ·Sam Woolf ·CJ Harris ·Dexter Roberts ·Malaya Watson ·Majesty Rose ·MK Nobilette ·Ben Briley ·Emily Piriz ·Kristen O'Connor
American Idol
1  · 2  · 3  · 4 · 5  · 6  · 7  · 8  · 9  · 10  · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15
Simon Cowell (Seasons 1-9)  · Paula Abdul (Seasons 1-8) · Randy Jackson (Seasons 1-12) · Kara DioGuardi (Seasons 8-9) · Ellen DeGeneres (Season 9) · Steven Tyler (Seasons 10-11)  · Nicki Minaj (Season 12)  · Mariah Carey (Season 12) · Jennifer Lopez (Seasons 10-11,13-15)  · Keith Urban (Seasons 12-15)  · Harry Connick, Jr. (Seasons 13-15)
Ryan Seacrest (Seasons 1-15) · Brian Dunkleman (Season 1)
Kelly Clarkson · Ruben Studdard · Fantasia Barrino · Carrie Underwood · Taylor Hicks · Jordin Sparks · David Cook · Kris Allen · Lee DeWyze · Scotty McCreery · Phillip Phillips · Candice Glover · Caleb Johnson · Nick Fradiani · Trent Harmon
Justin Guarini · Clay Aiken · Diana DeGarmo · Bo Bice · Katharine McPhee · Blake Lewis · David Archuleta · Adam Lambert · Crystal Bowersox · Lauren Alaina · Jessica Sanchez · Kree Harrison · Jena Irene · Clark Beckham · La'Porsha Renae
Coronation Songs
"A Moment Like This" · "Flying Without Wings" · "I Believe" · "Inside Your Heaven" · "Do I Make You Proud" · "This Is My Now" · "The Time of My Life" · "No Boundaries" · "Beautiful Day" · "I Love You This Big" · "Home" · "I Am Beautiful" · "As Long As You Love Me" · "Beautiful Life" · "Falling"
From Justin to Kelly · Juniors · Christmas