On Sunday evening, March 21, 15-year-old New Paltz singer/songwriter sensation Laila Mach performed in front of millions of television viewers on the American Idol stage inside the glittery halls of Hollywood. This week’s performance showcased Mach’s choice of genre and artist.
All three famed judges — Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie — gave Mach a standing ovation after she brought the house down with her version of Clinton Kane’s “Fix It to Break It,” ballad.
“Some people sound 15 and then some people don’t sound 15,” said Perry, visibly moved by Mach’s performance. Mach moved forward to the Hollywood Week Duet Challenge on Monday, March 22. Once again, she was given a “yes” by the judges and will move on to the “Showstopper” rounds on March 29.
Mach said that her confidence keeps building as she gets positive feedback from the judges.
“Sunday’s round was called Genre Week, and it’s geared towards allowing the contestants to express themselves in the genre that they identify with most,” said the high schooler from her New Paltz home during a break from online learning. Although she doesn’t feel like she quite fits in one specific genre, but more of a cross between pop and indie/folk, Mach chose to cover a song about an on-again, off-again romantic relationship titled “Fix It to Break It,” by one of her favorite artists, Clinton Kane:
Remember that time I made you laugh
I would give in to hear that sound again
Missing the lines on both sides of your face
And I hate that that’s all I have now
“I chose that song because it got me through a really hard breakup,” Mach explained. “I would listen to it every day because it expressed what it was I was feeling, which was painful. I know I’m only 15 years old, but this was my first love and we were together three years, so I was very emotionally attached, and I was not treated well by him.”
The young singer said that the experience has made her learn a valuable lesson – one that she tries to impart to her girlfriends and sisters. “When I was trying so hard to make our relationship work, I didn’t touch the piano, pick up my guitar or sing, from September 2019 to May 2020. I regret that. I was putting all of my effort into him; and the sad thing is, the day after we broke up, I saw him put all of his energy into his new girlfriend.”
She cautions those females in her life to keep nourishing the things that they love to do and that are important to them, because “Boys come and go,” and if and when someone breaks your heart, you’ll have your art and your family and your friends.
“When I sang the song [on the Idol stage, accompanying herself on piano], it came from such a place of pain; and knowing that, I think it was one of the best performances I’ve done.”
Asked what the Idol stage was like, Mach said, “It was huge! It’s the biggest stage I’ve ever seen.” But she did not feel intimidated: “I felt like I was in my element.” The young singer said that when she’s concentrating on her music, the rest of the world falls away.
In terms of her experience in Hollywood, in the studio and on the stage of the über-popular singing competition show – now in its 19th season – Mach said that she was struck by “how many kids there were my age there. I thought I’d be all alone, but I was able to meet so many wonderful people my age.”
Mach was excited for this round to take center stage, as she feels that she imbued the song with all of her heart and artistry
As a young artist, Mach already understands that it’s these types of experiences that make you grow, even if the stretch marks last for a while. Thankfully, for this young girl, she has her art, and she has one of the world’s largest stages to play on.