Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Case for Sanjaya

Up till now, American Idol 2007 has been rather lacklusture, both in terms of the quality of the contestants as well as the level of hype and buzz generated. There seems to be a lack of , to quote Randy Jackson, the 'wow' factor in most of the singers and their performances. Even viewership has suffered, dropping about 10% from last year's peak.

One has to wonder whatever happened to the Carries, the Bos and even the Taylors this time round. Has the proverbial well dried up after six consecutive years of relentless mining of talents? Surely in a country of 300 million, there must be more than just a handful of undiscovered budding Fantasias and Kelly Clarksons, just waiting to be honed and shined up in the spotlight of national TV?

Well, actually there is. Meet the recently ousted Sanjaya Malakar. He of the exotic Indian-Italian American heritage. The one who brought to the world the 'Ponyhawk' and that 100 megawatt smile brandishing his perfect white teeth that would make his orthodontist proud. Ok, sure, he can't sing as good as Melinda or thrill us like Jordin nor has he an unique talent like beatboxing Blake . What he has, in truckloads, is quite frankly, the 'wow' factor. Why do I say this?

Consider these evidence:

1) His name is the #1 search item in Google and Yahoo - garnering more hits than all of the other Top 12 contestants combined.

2) More people know of him than say, La Kisha, who as you may remember, wowed everybody with her rendition of the Jennifer Holliday classic "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" way back in the semifinal round. She has bucketloads of talent, but is as dull as a dishrag.

3) Every report, every editorial, every critique of the show, be it on paper or in the electronic media so far has been centered on how and why he is still around, and why he shouldn't be.

4) He has received the backing and support of just about every celebrity in town including the notorious radio DJ Howard Stern and even Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has jumped onto the Sanjaya bandwagon, using him as a shining beacon of the glory of democracy.

5) has crowned him the most 'successful' and most popular Idol contestant ever, based on the number of hits the site has received since the site made him their anointed one (close to ten million hits a day)!

Even Carrie Underwood, arguably the most successful of all the Idol winners, could not generate such media hype and activity with her best farmbot performance. Ok, so the poor boy can't really hold a tune consistently and his sense of style is at best awkward, but hey, it is exactly just that blend of teenage confusion, arrogance and self assurance that is appealing to many a voter's heart and fingers, enough to send his fans to the phone dialing in their votes by the droves each week.

One may say that his fans are tone deaf and consist of just pre-pubescent teens who have too much money and time on their hands. Well, just in case you didn't realise yet, these pre-pubescent teens are the ones who will go out and buy their idol's Cds and collect the merchandise and attend the concerts. Not the more discerning adult who actually understands what 'pitchy' really means and is able to remember when they first heard "I Who Have Nothing" on the radio way back when; no, they would much rather just sit back and be astounded by the atrociousness of Sanjaya and then do nothing about it except maybe send hatemail to FOX whenever their 'favourite' contestant (whom they never bothered to vote for in the first place) gets booted out instead of poor Sanjaya.

So I say, in the spirit of democracy, flower power and all that is quirky and fun, let Sanjaya have his day. Let him sing. Let him show to the world all that he can do. It's not like he can't sing. He can, just not as good as some of the other more experienced and accomplished contestants. I'm sure we haven't seen (or heard) the last of him, not by a mile. And American Idol is the poorer for having lost this cheerful, effervescent young man. I mean, after all, would you rather tune in to find out what old forgotten standard Melinda will belt out next, or do you find Sanjaya's hair-raising antics more worthy of your TV viewing?

Let's face it, we are all living in Sanjaya's universe, yes, even dear old Simon Cowell.

No comments: