Monday, January 2, 2012
4066. Sanjaya Joseph Malakar
Sanjaya Joseph Malakar born September 10, 1989) is an American singer of Indian origin, who was a finalist on the sixth season of American Idol. He gained national attention on the series, controversially advancing to 7th place with public votes, despite being poorly received by the show's judges, particularly Simon Cowell.
After Idol, Malakar made many television guest appearances and has been commonly parodied in popular culture. He got to 5th place in season two of the reality television show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
On September 19, 2006, Malakar, a shy teen, entered the open audition for American Idol at the Seattle Center in Seattle, with his sister Shyamali. Simon Cowell commented that Sanjaya had a better voice than his sister. Both were advanced to the Hollywood round by the judges. Malakar cited Stevie Wonder as his idol, and sang one of Wonder's signature songs, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" at his Seattle audition.
For his next performance, in Hollywood, Malakar sang "Some Kind of Wonderful". He was shown tearfully embracing his sister when she was cut, though he progressed to the Top 40. Next, Malakar sang "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". The judges were largely critical of his performance, though Simon Cowell admitted that Malakar is popular with the voters while Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul gave a more positive appraisal of his "You Really Got Me" performance in the Top 11. A 13-year-old girl named Ashley Ferl was highlighted repeatedly during Malakar's performance in the Top 11 episode, crying tears of joy, although Ferl also cried for Melinda Doolittle, Jordin Sparks, and many other contestants.
On March 27, 2007, Malakar sang No Doubt's "Bathwater" wearing a fauxhawk made from multiple ponytails. The style was called the "ponyhawk" by host Ryan Seacrest. While singing, Malakar hesitated with some of the words to the song. Simon Cowell remarked, "Sanjaya, I don't think it matters anymore what we say ... I think you are in your own universe and if people like you, good luck." The following night, host Seacrest walked out on stage wearing a wig with the same hairstyle, parodying Malakar.
On April 3, Tony Bennett was the featured celebrity on the show, and he met with each performer. Malakar sang "Cheek to Cheek", wearing a white suit, donning a slick hairstyle (with a recent cut), and dancing with judge Paula Abdul. Abdul commented, "I get it. I get why people love you. You are charming." On the following April 4 results show, it was revealed that Malakar had finished in the "middle three," among nine contestants.
Malakar's performance of "Bésame Mucho" in the Top 8 on April 10 was his first unanimously well-received performance by the judges in the finals of the competition. During rehearsals Jennifer Lopez remarked, "I like this kid. I love Sanjaya!" after hearing him sing in Spanish, the only one of the remaining eight contestants to do so on the Latin-theme night. Randy Jackson commented, "You’re one of the smartest contestants I've ever met. That was actually really good. It was," while Simon Cowell offered the halting, "I'm going to hate myself for this. It wasn't horrible." Malakar continued on, entering the Top 7, following that performance on the April 11 results show.
After performing "Something to Talk About" on the previous night, Malakar was placed in the bottom three and was subsequently eliminated in 7th place on April 18, 2007. Singing his farewell performance, after the line "let's give them something to talk about", he ad libbed "other than hair" in place of "how about love".
American Idol's ratings dropped 9% in the episode following Malakar's elimination, which was Idol Gives Back, a charity episode featuring many celebrity guests. The music news website Moldolva.org that reported this was due to Malakar's departure.
On the May 23 American Idol finale, he performed with the top six males, introduced Smokey Robinson in the medley. Malakar performed "You Really Got Me" with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry on guitar.