Friday, April 20, 2007

Is Sanjaya Destined to be a Karaoke King?

Sanjaya Malakar, probably the most controversial singer in American Idol's history, was finally asked to leave the premises during Wednesday night's elimination episode. He was escorted out by Paula Abdul’s body guards – a pair of dwarves who carry Abdul’s large cache of prescription painkillers wherever they go.

The 17-year-old from Washington state probably must have known his fate was sealed going into the show's final 20 minutes. By then, Ryan Seacrest had announced his name as one of a bottom three that would have been unthinkable only the night before. The other two singers were considered to be far superior -- LaKisha Jones and Blake Lewis. Jones sang a stirring rendition of “Row Row Row Your Boat” and Lewis wowed the crowd the night before with a heart wrenching version of “Kum by Yah.”

Simon Cowell, who never tried to conceal his annoyance at Sanjaya's longevity despite his “pitchiness” and a series of sub-par performances, all but licked his chops as he said, "I'm beginning to sense something here." In his white t-shirt, chimp-like haircut and bleached front teeth, Cowell looked satisfied and smug. In other words, he was just as annoying as usual. When his name was called, Sanjaya cried and wet himself, but his departure was dignified. His time on the show, as everyone knows, was not. Outside the audition room that earned him a ticket to Hollywood, his vocals proved unstable, unreliable and, to many, downright unlistenable. But he was telegenic in ways that the judges consistently underestimated; featuring a sense of style that was misguided and over-the-top but somehow also forgivably puppyish. He was good-natured about being treated by the judges like a punching bag. I think people voted for him because he was the anti-American Idol, less polished and more real.

What awaits Sanjaya now? Well, if you see him some late night five years from now, running a Karaoke contest at your local bowling alley, don’t be surprised. The poor kid will probably become a waiter at TGIF Fridays or the Cheesecake Factory, which means people will flock there from miles around to watch him sing “Happy Birthday” to starry-eyed teens.

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