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.
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.
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|
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.
|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|