Simon's Soft Spot for Ramiele

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Apr. 3 2008, Published 10:27 a.m. ET

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When Ramiele Malubay auditioned for Idol, Simon Cowell didn't share the other judges' enthusiasm for her. He even dimissed her as "a hotel singer." But Ramiele says she won him over so much that when she was voted off, the hard-as-nails judge came backstage to offer her his shoulder to cry on!

Today the 20-year-old singer also told us how she struggled with her own mind games and about her future with her new best friend, Danny Noriega.

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Even though Simon was harder on her than most of the contestants, trashing nearly all her performances, Ramiele says she thinks he loves her really. In fact, Ramiele told OK!, "I know he does!"

"Backstage, when I left the show, he came over and he was like, 'Oh, cry on my shoulder.' "

Simon, who often doesn't join fellow judges Paul and Randy when they go to say goodbye to the latest reject, even comforted the sobbing Ramiele, she said.

"He was telling me, 'It's the song choice, it's the song choice!' and I was like, 'Yes, Simon.'

"He's a really nice guy. I really believe in my heart that he says the things he says — sometimes he overdoes it, probably, it's TV — because he wants us to be better."

Ramiele got the semi-finals off to a blazing start with her moving performance of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," but said she psyched herself out by setting the bar so high.

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"The first week I didn't know it was such a big deal. People were telling me you did really well and I was like, 'Did I? Crap!,' " she said, adding, "I let that get to my head and I was thinking, 'now I have to do better than that.' "

She admits that the added pressure meant that she never quite managed to recreate the magic of that first time on stage, and the judges' comments didn't help.

"They kept saying my confidence dropped or something. I was like, 'What are they talking about?'

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"That's when the whole over-thinking thing came up," she said.

When Simon Cowell slammed her cover on Tuesday's Dolly Parton-themed show, the criticism didn't come as too much of a surprise. Not only had Ramiele never heard her the tune until last week, but she only knew one of Parton's song before the star came on the show as a mentor.

Although Simon said her performance was like, "Something you'd hear on a cruise ship," Ramiele said. "I was proud of myself that, stage performance wise, I felt that I grew that night."

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Ramiele, who grew up in the Philippines, didn't just melt the judge's heart either.

She said that she became "like the little sister on the show" — even for David Archuleta who is two years younger. She says, "He used to walk by me all the time and pat me on the head, like I'm his little sister!"

Last night's elimination was something of a tear-jerker, because all three contestants in danger of going home had become very close after being roommates for nearly two months.

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Ramiele let us in on the conversation between her, Kristy Lee Cook and Brooke White while they were waiting to learn their fates. "We were just hugging each other and saying, 'I love you guys, no matter what happens,' " she said.

"I kind of knew it was me when Brooke went to go sit down," she added.

"When I went home to pack, they had a card for me, Kristy and Brooke and Syesha Mercado. It was the cutest card with all our little inside jokes and stuff," she said. "I'm going to miss living with them, but I'm not leaving California so I'll see them."

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But you only needed to see Ramiele bawling at the side of the stage when Danny Noreiga was voted out in the semi-finals to see who her closest friend was.

Ramiele said the pair are going to move in together soon, and can't wait to record a duet.

"He and I clicked and we want to take care of each other. I'll be fine and he'll be fine," she said.

Ramiele is not going home to Miramar, Fla., just yet, but says she's going to stick around in L.A. to try and make it in the music business.

She wants to release an R&B album and wants to follow in the footsteps of her fellow Filipino American, Jasmine Trias, who has become a major star in the Philippines after coming third in Idol's third season.

But if things don't work out, she says, she'll carry on studying to be a nurse.

But for now she says, she's trying to make sure she enjoys every moment of being an American Idol finalist. "It's actually the first real big thing that has happened in my life," she said. "It's experience, it's exposure, it's a future and I'm really grateful to the judges for picking me and letting America judge."


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