As siblings only a year apart, the Liahona and Ammon Olayan are very close and do just about everything together. But they also know what to say to hurt themselves – which is why the teens have already gone three weeks without speaking.
It was not really an easy feat as their rooms are right next to each other. After days of passing each other on the stairs or in the hallway or in the kitchen in silence, the siblings finally decided to put their harsh words behind them and move on.
And they decided to write a song about it.
It took them two or three days to write “Listen to My Heart” – the song they performed for their “American Idol” audition (the song, now called “Boom”, can be found on multiple streaming platforms) .
“I think you are on the right track,” Katy Perry told the Olayans after performing “Listen to My Heart”. “You are talented beyond belief. Amazing songwriters – like, should be signed right now. “
“Listen to My Heart” kicked off their hit on the show. But after their hearing, the Olayans had to make individual paths on ‘Idol’ – “He doesn’t say ‘American Twins’, he says ‘American Idol’,” Perry said at one point in the competition.
As far as the siblings are fighting, it was a struggle for Liahona Olayan, 17, to keep moving forward in the series when her brother was knocked out early – it was he who encouraged her to continue the show. music in the first place. .
Olayan’s sadness led to one of the most dramatic moments on ‘Idol’ this season, when Perry scolded her and said she was acting ‘defeated’ and ‘sabotaging’ her chances of success. .
Olayan, who lives in Vineyard, Utah, spoke to Deseret News about how she managed to cope with this criticism and made it to the top 24 on “American Idol.”
Say goodbye to your brother
Olayan took center stage when the judges called her. It was Hollywood Week, the second round of “American Idol,” and the show was quickly reducing its competition.
And then Perry said words that made Olayan’s heart sink: “In the back, we’ll see you next time.”
Her brother wouldn’t go ahead with her.
“He started the journey with me, and I was hoping he kept going, going as far as he could,” Olayan said. “In a way… it made me feel like I was letting him go.” This is what we felt as we walked in opposite directions on the stage.
But Hollywood Week was not over yet. Olayan was yet to perform a duet with his compatriot “Idol” Laila Mach. The two had to choose a song and get it ready for the performance in one day. Olayan said this part of the competition was particularly stressful and there were instances where the duo’s partners didn’t get along or the contestants rehearsed to the point of losing their voices.
Although Olayan and her partner had great chemistry, she still suffered from the pain of her brother’s elimination. As she and Mach rehearsed Rihanna’s song “Stay,” Perry walked in and listened for a moment. Olayan said the pop star then told him to look into the sadness of his brother being eliminated and put that desire into his performance.
“I tried, but I guess it didn’t turn out the right way,” Olayan said.
It’s not that Olayan got knocked out after playing the duo – she didn’t. But before moving forward, she got a bite of Perry, who told her she was acting like she didn’t want to be on “American Idol.”
“You’re wasting everyone’s time,” Perry said. “We told you at the start of this competition that you could be in the top 10, and you know who is sabotaging that? You. You were defeated all the time, and you put (Mach’s) dreams on the line, and that’s really selfish. You destroyed this whole ship.
Coming from a competitive family of eight children, Olayan is used to harsh discussions from his parents. But Perry’s lecture discouraged her a bit – especially since she thought she was taking Judge “Idol” advice.
“When she started bashing or criticizing me for about a minute and 30 seconds in front of everyone, I was so confused at first,” Olayan said. “But part of me kind of understood where she was coming from. She said to me later, “You can’t think that you’re nothing without your brother,” and that really helped me keep moving forward.
Stand up on ‘American Idol’
After going through the Hollywood Week drama, Olayan felt overwhelmed. Even though she had her father with her in California, she had never been away from all her family for so long. On top of that, Perry had just berated her on national television.
“It was so stressful around me,” said Olayan. “It’s like a lot of stress for a teenager. I was a little hesitant – “Do I really want to be here? I could just go away. ”
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Olayan said her faith had helped her through the ups and downs of competition. She prayed a lot on the “Idol” set and knew she wasn’t supposed to give up. Having her father nearby was also a source of comfort.
“I would think about my family and how much they sacrificed for me and how much I sacrificed to be there,” she said. “And I thought, ‘I’m not just going to throw it all away. If I’m going to go out, I go out with a big bang. ”
So Olayan gave him everything in the next round.
Supported by a full band, she brought an energetic performance of Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too” to the “Idol” stage. She danced across the stage with a smile on her face, and put the song to a dynamic end by doing a split – a move according to Olayan was literally a split-second decision.
“Here it is!” Perry screamed after the performance.
The judges praised her and pushed her into the top 24, where Olayan was able to perform with Grammy-winning R&B singer PJ Morton. Working with Morton was one of his favorite moments on “Idol,” and singing with him taught him more about vulnerability and connecting with an audience.
But it would also end up marking Olayan’s final performance on “Idol”. On April 11, the show revealed that the singer did not get enough viewer votes to climb into the top 16. Although she was initially disappointed with her elimination, Olayan – who was one of the youngest female singers in the competition – said she was proud. of the progress it has made.
“I realized I wasn’t there to really win,” she said. “I was there to learn.”
What’s the next step for the Liahona Olayan?
On “American Idol,” Olayan loved the thrill of playing.
“When it’s show time, and the crowd starts screaming your name and the cameras are everywhere and the lights go out and it’s just you, the adrenaline starts to rise and you you say, ‘Yes! This is where my place is. This is my dance floor. That’s my reason, ”said Olayan. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
But despite all the excitement, Olayan had some frustrations while making the show. For example, each round of “Idol” has specific requirements, so Olayan was not always able to choose songs for his performances.
“In a way, you were sort of put in a box,” she says. “I kind of wanted to be on ‘Idol’ and just express more of who I am.”
Now that his time on “Idol” is over, that’s what Olayan focuses on next.
She and her brother both have solo projects in the works and a joint album that they plan to release soon. This is the music that Olayan is excited to share, because she thinks it reflects her better as a person and as an artist. The music also delves more into her faith – something she wished she could share more during her time on “Idol”.
“These are the songs that really define who I am,” said Olayan. “I hope people see the real me and want to know more.”