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'Idol' exit Q&A: Ramiele Malubay

The ”little sister” of season 7 talks about struggling with the Dolly Parton songbook, not getting a goodbye dinner, and more

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Ramiele Malubay, American Idol
A Rapoport/American Idol 2008/Getty Images

You may not have thought that little (and we mean little — the girl is only 4 feet 11 inches) Ramiele Malubay belonged in the talent pool of American Idol season 7, but you had to feel bad for the girl last night. Now that she’s stopped crying about being voted off during Dolly Parton week, she’s able to step back and wonder about important issues…like why David Archuleta insists on patting her on the head.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Ramiele, I felt for you last night when you broke down weeping.
RAMIELE MALUBAY: Yeah, I’m hearing that a lot today. A lot of people are like, ”I just wanted to grab your face!”

Did it come as that much of a shock that you were going home?
No. I felt like it was my time, not to think negative or anything. It was just a feeling I had the whole day. I felt awkward. I don’t usually feel like that. It’s not pleasant, let me tell you.

Oddly, the judges were more complimentary toward you this week than in previous weeks, and yet you went home. Did you watch your performance?
I try not to watch myself. I get really scared to see myself perform. When I do watch myself, I’m like, ”Off! Off!” I’m so hard on myself.

Even this week?
Well, I thought at least I was moving and I was smiling.

That’s true. Do you think the audience just didn’t connect with you as much as they connected with other contestants?
I feel like the audience probably didn’t like my song. Not everyone was going to like it. I knew that going into it.

Was it hard choosing a Dolly Parton song to sing?
I knew one Dolly Parton song.

”9 to 5”?
I didn’t even know that! I was like, Crap! Everybody knows that song. I’m all bugging out. But the only song I knew was ”I Will Always Love You.” How I went about picking my song was taking this list of songs I didn’t even know. I listened to them to see which one I could tweak. But if it’s not your genre, it’s not your genre.

NEXT PAGE: Ramiele on Michael Johns’ ”goofball” moments, her ”sibling rivalry” with Syesha, and whether she’s heading back to the sushi restaurant

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: All of the contestants seemed genuinely sad you were going home. Were you everybody’s best friend or something?
RAMIELE MALUBAY: I was everyone’s little sister. Even David Archuleta. Even though I’m older than him, he was always coming up to me and patting me on the head. I’m like, ”What are you doing, kid?” We all just act like fools around each other. The world sees David Cook’s serious side and Michael Johns’ serious side, but you guys really need to see us when we’re not performing.

Which contestant is the most different from his or her performing persona?
Probably Michael Johns. He’s all serious when he sings and gives the sexy look. But when he comes offstage, he’s just the biggest goofball of life. He’s so obnoxious. You want to kick him for his sarcasm, but it works for him.

Who’d you live with these past few weeks?
Syesha has been my roommate.

Did you get close?
Well, you know when you vibe with people, like ”that’s my sister,” and then you have sibling rivalry? That’s me and Syesha. We had our moody days: ”Don’t touch me! I’m PMSing.” And then we had other days where we were like, ”I love you so much.”

Sounds confusing. Let’s talk about a simpler relationship. Your dad was so adorably supportive.
Yeah, my dad is a Buddha belly. All the other contestants’ parents were like, ”I just made friends with your dad!” He knows everyone and their mother now. He flew up every week. I don’t think he should have. It was too much money.

Did you have a nice goodbye dinner last night?
I didn’t have one. Everyone was spending time with their families. So everyone gave me a card they signed.

That’s too bad. So are you heading back to the sushi restaurant?
Oh, no. I’m good. Love sushi, but no thanks.