It has been a long and interesting road with our man Sanjaya Malakar. Who would’ve thought that, after his fluke-ish inception into this season’s top 24, that Sanjaya would become, far and away, the biggest story of American Idol’s sixth season? Not I. I’ve written tens of thousands of words on Sanjaya Malakar, so I’m finding it difficult to sum up his time on American Idol with any sort of brevity. But, here goes:
The case of Sanjaya Malakar is both complicated and unique, where his appeal and lack thereof was wholly dependent on the two opposing views of his quality: the group who legitimately liked/loved him and the group that despised him and thought he was ruining the show. His continuing presence on the show was a complete fluke, and is the likes of which we will probably never see again.
Here are the four major components that allowed to Sanjaya to progress to the top 7 on American Idol:
1) His appeal
People like me can talk all they want about how poor a singer Sanjaya was, or how awkward he was on stage, or how his general overconfidence rankled us to our core. But, he had a very strong fan base that remained loyal throughout. It still baffles me that this is the case, but just take a look at his profile on our site and the comments fans have been making. “He’s a breath of fresh air.” “He’s unique.” “I love his voice.” The adolescent girl vote was surely a big part of his base, and that I can actually understand. He has a certain Tiger Beat appeal; he is safe, non-sexual.
2) Lack of great singers
This season may be the worst in terms of overall quality of the top singers. There isn’t much competition at the top, and after the top 2 singers this season (Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks), the talent pool drops off significantly. Therefore, the casual voters aren’t spreading their votes out as much, and I’m willing to bet a majority of the votes are being handed to the top two or three singers. This allows a gimmicky presence like Sanjaya to progress further in the season than in years past, simply because he needs less votes to do so.
3) The Sanjaya haters
All publicity is good publicity. The more people bashed Malakar, the more his supporters made it their mission to keep him on the show. The more they bashed him, the more casual viewers voted out of sheer sympathy. You can never underestimate the compassion of people who can’t stand to see a seemingly kind and genuine teenager get publicly berated over and over again.
VoteForTheWorst.com certainly had a significant part to play in keeping Sanjaya around for the last six weeks or so. The site has grown in infamy since the season began, to the point where it’s been receiving millions of viewers per day. It wasn’t just the site itself that played a part, it was the site’s general mindset. The oddity of Sanjaya’s performances (not to mention the media coverage) brought countless new voters out of the woodwork who voted for Sanjaya simply out of amusement. They wanted to undermine the show. It worked.
So, now that it’s over, we can all breath a sigh of relief. The undeserving teenager from Federal Way isn’t going to win American Idol and, in the process, destroy the show’s credibility. But, it was fun while it lasted.
What do you think? Why did he stay around so long?
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of AmericanIdol.com)