Ramiele Malubay

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Ramiele Macrohon Malubay, a 20-year-old from Miramar (Florida), is the seventh Fil-American to reach the Top 24 of American Idol. She has become a Top 12 finalist of Season 7. She joins 2 other Filipino-Americans who have placed in the top 10 over the program's history: Jasmine Trias who placed third and Camile Velasco who finished eighth in Season 3. Ramiele's powerful voice coming from her petite 4'11" frame surprises much of the listening public.

Early life

Ramiele was born on 6 September 1987 in Saudi Arabia. At the age of 5 she moved with her family to the United States. She started singing at the age of 12 at her cousin's birthday. Her family encouraged her musical and artistic talents and she learned to play the guitar and piano, as well as Polynesian and Philippine dances. She grew up listening to Philippine singer Regine Velasquez, as well as Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, Mariah Carey, and Lani Misalucha. Unlike many first-generation Filipino-Americans, Ramiele maintains close contact with her mother country and can speak Filipino and Ilokano.

She worked part-time as a waitress at a local sushi restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Audition

In 2007 Ramiele was rejected after her initial audition for the singing competition. But her father encouraged her to try again. The second time was in August 2007, when she performed Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman" in Miami, Florida for American Idol Season 7. Because of her singing prowess, she was able to wow judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Randy Jackson. She got the following comments from the judges:


"I think you are a fine singer and a fine performer... I think you're phenomenal." - Paula Abdul
"I think you're a good singer. I don't think you're a contemporary singer. I think you're more like a hotel singer." - Simon Cowell
"I actually thought you were good. I was impressed. You definitely have a big voice for a very cute, smaller girl." -Randy Jackson


Even though Ramiele got the nods from Paula and Randy and a thumbs down courtesy of Simon, she was still able to join the initial batch of contestants.

American Idol performances

Semi-finals

On 19 February 2008, contestants were required to sing songs from the 1960s. Ramiele chose "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield, and entered the Top 20 roster. Randy Jackson called her performance "very classy, almost like a pro." Paula Abdul called her a "force to be reckoned with", while Simon Cowell remarked that Ramiele had outsung every contestant that night.

On 26 February 2008, Ramiele sang "Don't Leave Me This Way" (Thelma Houston) as part of the Songs of the 1970s theme. She entered the Top 16 roster, even though the judges were unimpressed. Randy Jackson disagreed with her song choice, while Paula Abdul commented that while her vocals are truly amazing, her performance didn't have magic. Simon Cowell echoed the sentiment, even while saying that she was one of the top 3 singers in the competition.

On 4 March 2008, Ramiele chose to sing "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (Phil Collins) as her song from the 1980s. She entered the roster of Top 12 finalists, with the help of millions of American viewers who voted for her.

Finals

Top 12 show

For the Top 12 show on 12 March 2008, Ramiele chose "In My Life" from the John Lennon/Paul McCartney roster of songs. She survived to the next elimination round on 17 March 2008, even though her performance was deemed "boring" by judges Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell. The latter said: "I was bored to tears throughout the entire song. Forgettable... I expect a lot better from you. You are better than that." However, 29 million voting Americans kept her alive in the competition and instead ousted David Hernandez.

American media blogger Rickey Aneza posted on 7 March 2008: "I’m beginning to doubt Ramiele Malubay’s ability to make it to the Top 2 like my original prediction because the guys have proven to be stronger this year. Also, Ramiele’s music sales have not been impressive. I think her choice of slow ballads is to blame for this. She’s great to watch, but the songs she has sung are not the type people want to listen to. However, Ramiele Malubay is still the most popular girl in the competition in terms of buzz and likability so that is still in her favor."

Houston Chronicle media critic Joey Guerra wrote in his 10 March 2008 column: "The Filipina singer has a gorgeous, husky tone but has been wasting it on boring songs. She seems to be struggling between girlish appeal and her inner diva. Malubay needs to focus on her youthful appeal or risk losing votes."

Top 10 show

The Top 10 show on 19 March 2008 once again featured titles from the Lennon-McCartney songbook. This time Ramiele sang a cool cat version of "I Should Have Known Better." Randy Jackson thought that she had shown more confidence from the previous week's dismal performance, while ever caustic Simon Cowell deadpanned that "The track sounded terrible. You are in the same boat as many others. You chose mediocre songs." The general consensus of the judges was that song choice, while clearly an improvement from Ramiele' reliance on romantic ballads, still did not showcase her big voice. When Ramiele was called back to the stage the following day to hear America's voting results, she was wringing her hands and half-expecting to be placed in the bottom three. Instead she was called safe. The evening ended with Amanda Overmeyr being eliminated and Ramiele getting the green light to join the Top 10 in the American Idol world tour, guaranteeing her big bucks and constant publicity starting July 5 to September 24, 2008.

Meanwhile the unpredictable Simon Cowell revealed to the Los Angeles Times on 21 March 2008 that his top 3 picks for American Idol are "David Archuleta, Jason Castro, Brooke White or Ramiele [Malubay]."

Top 9 show

Ramiele survived elimination in the 26 March 2008 episode. The show featured songs from the the year they were born. Ramiele chose "Alone" by Heart since she was born in 1987. The song had already been previously performed by Carly Smithson, her co-finalist, as well as by American Idol Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood. Despite suffering from a cold, Ramiele garnered favorable reviews from both Paula Abdul and the normally caustic Simon Cowell. Randy Jackson disagreed with her performance, calling her song "too big" for her capabilities and stating that her voice "was a little pitchy all over the place." Lisa Mauro, an entertainment writer for Associated Content, a media company that polls the American public, wrote: "Ramielle did not do this song justice. The song was just too big for her. It was noticeable that she was straining to hit and belt out the high notes. As a result, much of her performance was pitchy. This song needed a stronger voice. It probably would have been better suited for Carly Smithson, if anyone at all..."

Notwithstanding her mediocre performance Ramiele was not voted out by the public. Instead American viewers placed Chikezie, Syesha Mercado and Jason Castro at the bottom. Chikezie was eventually eliminated, leaving only 9 of the original contestants in the competition. To her credit Ramiele has never been voted by the American public to be at the bottom of the competition.

Elimination

2 April 2008 was Ramiele's last performance of “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” (Dolly Parton). She was part of the bottom 3 together with co-finalists Kristy and Brooke.

Controversy

Ramiele was involved earlier in a minor controversy over pictures on Facebook which showed her in goofing off with her friends in provocative poses.

In her MySpace blog she responded: "It's not a big deal. For me, those photos are not racy. But if you think they are, it's OK, that's your opinion. ... It has nothing to do with the show, which is looking for the next singing superstar and not looking for the perfect human."

American spoiler blogsite Vote for the Worst and an investigative report by Philippine Daily Inquirer entertainment writer Bayani San Diego, Jr. have reported on the unfair aspect of the competition, which pits obviously amateur singers such as Ramiele against other contestants who are established pros with recording contracts, bands and TV performances.

The PDI report wrote that "the world-famous reality show was 'stacking the show with professionals … to combat Sanjaya fever,'" referring to Sanjaya Malakar who was the most popular contestant from Season 6 and who was able to stay late into the competion because of "an organized block that was 'voting for the worst.'"

The multi-million strong Filipino-American community mobilized a grassroots campaign of organized texting brigades all across the United States, hoping to make Ramiele Malubay the first Filipino and Asian American Idol.

In the unofficial American Idol poll conducted by AOL Television, Ramiele stands at 5th position, with David Archuleta rated as number one and preceded by David Cook, Jason Castro and Brooke White.

In her own words

  • "My sister is the only person who can tell when I'm off key. Even though, you know, I can cover it up, she'll make the ugliest face, in the audience. And I'll be like, ‘You're not supposed to do that.' She's like, ‘Well, you sound horrible.' But it's good because she could teach me and I'll get better from them."
  • "If I don't become the next American Idol, I really don't think I'm gonna get discouraged or anything and be like, ‘I'll never gonna sing again.' I mean, of course, it's a big experience, you know. You'll learn all these, you know, up until the point, you know, where you get taken off. You just take what you've learned and grow from it."
  • "'First Filipino 'American Idol,' that's kind of still a surreal reach. I don't want to be ahead of myself. I don't want it to go fast. I want it to just come as it does. I'm really excited to just get onstage and show everybody what I can do."

External links

Reference

Citation

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