Yeah, yeah, we get it: Ramiele Malubay is a tiny woman with a honkin’-big voice.
But a surprise even bigger than the 4-foot-11 singer’s pipes came during Wednesday’s results show when she was sent packing despite a seemingly unstoppable fanbase and never making a previous appearance in the bottom three.
We caught up with the Miramar, Florida, 20-year-old to see why she chose to sing Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” who she’s about to shack up with and why Simon Cowell is a “really nice guy.”
Q: Was it hard to compete with everyone when you were all so close?
A: Honestly, we never really thought of it as a competition until someone has to go home. It’s really weird — we would, like, help each other. We’re a big family. We’re not out to get the other person kicked off or anything. When we’d help each other, we’d really help each other. It’s genuine. We don’t sugarcoat things just for the cameras.
Q: How did you choose “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” for Dolly Parton week?
A: I actually didn’t know the song, and I didn’t know any other songs, aside from “I Will Always Love You” — [that’s] the obvious song that everyone knows. But I picked it. It was either that or a ballad. And I listened to the song, and I wanted to challenge myself to see how I could take a song and kind of make it my own when it wasn’t in the same genre of music that I’m into. … Performance-wise, I felt that I grew that night.
Q: Did you feel like you had some catching up to do since so many of the contestants have had more professional experience?
A: I knew that they all had experience, or some of them had experience, but I had as much experience as I thought I was gonna need. When I went into this, we just learned so much more. We’re all on the same playing field. They’re learning what I’m learning. I feel like I knew what I need to know, and they knew what they needed to know too. It’s not like I was on a totally uneven playing field. I was OK with the way things were.
Q: Do you think that David Cook’s hospitalization after Tuesday’s show had anything to do with the immense pressure you all face in the competition?
A: Everybody goes about things totally different, and we all break down in totally different ways. I believe that my breakdown was crying every week for everyone leaving. That’s how I handled the pressure.
Q: While Randy and Paula were really into you from the start, it seemed like Simon was a little cold.
A: He said I was a hotel singer the very first audition.
Q: Do you think he warmed up to you by the end?
A: Oh, Simon likes me. [Laughs.] He’s a really nice guy. Backstage, when I left the show, he came and he’s like, “Oh, cry on my shoulder.” And I’m all, “OK.” [Laughs.] He just told me, “It was the song choice.” And I’m like, “Yes, Simon, I know it was the song choice.” … Sometimes he overdoes it, because it’s TV, but he just wants us to be better.
Q: Simon said you had the best performance during the first week of the semifinals, but you never seemed to reclaim that praise. What happened?
A: Honestly, the first week I didn’t know that it was such a big deal, up until people were telling me, “You did really well!” I’m like, “Did I?” I let that get to my head, and I was like, “Crap, now I have to do better than that.” And when you overthink things like that too much, you just overthink it so far that you don’t know how to handle yourself anymore.
Q: The judges often mentioned that you had to get your confidence back. Did you feel less confident week-to-week?
A: They kept saying my confidence dropped, and I’m like, “What are they talking about?” And when I got to the “What are they talking about?” kind of mode, that’s when that whole overthinking thing came into play. I was like, “What am I doing? What are they talking about? What do they want from me?”
Q: So you were kind of psyching yourself out?
A: Yeah. You really shouldn’t do that. You should never second-guess yourself. Just go with your first instinct.
Q: Why did you choose to tackle Heart’s “Alone” last week when Carrie Underwood had made it her signature “Idol” song? Did that worry you?
A: Oh, yeah. I watched her performance. I just thought that the first week that I had — I was trying really hard to bring that back. If it didn’t work, then it didn’t work. That was goal: to bring back the first week.
Q: Do you guys have access to computers so you can see what the fans are saying on message boards?
A: We’re always allowed on the Internet. It’s our choice whether or not to look at all those things. Either way, good or bad, it sways your opinion on things, and I just didn’t want to look at it. There’d be people who’d text me: “Oh, I read this and this and this,” and that’s when me and Syesha decided we were gonna tell people we don’t want any negative comments, so if you have nothing nice to say, we’re just not gonna talk to you guys.
Q: Who do you think will be this year’s champion?
A: We all went into this being totally different from each other and growing so much more, and I don’t really know who’s gonna take it this year. Other years, you could kind of tell or predict, but it’s really weird this year. Everyone’s, like, frickin’ good! … Whoever it is, it wouldn’t be a surprise if any of us could be winners.
Q: What did you learn from your “Idol” experience?
A: I learned to be more of a humble person. I learned to just take things in, be more appreciative of the little things, be more courteous to people and to acknowledge every person that works on the show, because it doesn’t work without every single person that helps you out. I learned so much from the band and the mentor, even if it was just a mentor that we got this week, and the vocal coaches that we get. It’s just amazing to get to work with those people.
Q: What advice do you have for future contestants?
A: Be yourself, and enjoy every single minute. If you think too far ahead, you’re gonna miss the fun stuff. I’m just glad that I took everything in, and I didn’t regret anything.
Q: Whenever we saw behind-the-scenes footage, it seemed like you were the little sister of the group. Was that the case?
A: Yeah. I’m older than [David] Archuleta, and he walks by me all the time and pats me on the head like I’m his little sister. [Laughs.]
Q: Did you have any issues with your wardrobe because of your height?
A: I just hate wearing heels. Like, if I don’t need to, I won’t. … I wore flats [Wednesday] night, and I was like, “The world’s gonna see how tall I really am!
Q: You have said in previous interviews that you plan to move in with recent castoff Danny Noriega. Are you going to do that right away?
A: I’m not sure yet when we’re gonna move in together because of the tour and whatnot. We’re really close — we talk every day — and we’re gonna move in. We’re a fun duet. [Laughs.]
Q: Do you and Danny plan on collaborating on some music?
A: Oh, me and Danny will definitely do a duet.
Q: What kind of album would you like to make?
A: I grew up listening to a lot of what my parents listen to: like ’60s, ’70s, ’80s — a lot of ’80s. And I would love to just make an R&B/soul album and kind of make it a little more upbeat and add my own flavor to some older songs.
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