On Feb. 22, Sanjaya was in the bottom two, waiting with Rudy Cardenas to learn from host Ryan Seacrest which of them would be going home.
Should he stay or
should he go?
Despite his often clumsy performances, the kid has shown potential and charm
That Sanjaya Malakar remains on "American Idol" seems a mystery to many, but the reasons are pretty clear to me. No. 1 is potential. From the time he cracked the Top 24, naysayers have clamored to vote him off, but as I warned various anti-Sanjaya parties, he looked like a sure Top 10 pick to me.
In spite of his inability to project his soft vocals and his clumsy performances, he has potential where those who have been sent home do not.
They have given their all and have nowhere left to go. We have seen the extent of their capabilities, and week after week of virtually the same schtick from the singers gets tiresome.
This is not to say they won't have careers in show business. Chris Sligh, booted off last week, already has a band. While I initially liked his smooth, polished and powerful voice, unfortunately, like all singers, he began to show his limitations after he had delivered three songs. That's always been my measure, because any professional singer knows it's possible to fool people into thinking you're better than you are with song choice.
Sligh's singing over time revealed a sweeping Darius Rucker, Hootie and the Blowfish bigness that reached the main notes but missed all the little nuances in between.
Another reason Sanjaya is there is simply that other singers are worse. He is far better than Sabrina or Stephanie Edwards, both of whom I was glad to see leave. Listening to them actually hurt, and I always cringed waiting for their voices to veer out of control. Can't say I was ever disappointed.
They missed notes left and right. I think they fooled many with their attempts at diva-ish bravura, but in the long run, no one could miss the blown notes and lack of range revealed in their trying too hard to be younger Whitneys and Mariahs.
As much as I was rooting for Brandon, his vocals were too thin to keep him in the competition. And though Chris Richardson hasn't gone home yet, I think his nasally voice will do him in here, even though it's the kind of voice that doesn't hurt on radio -- as proved by Maroon 5 and Billy Corgan again and again.
Two of the singers who should never even have made it to the Top 10 are Phil and Haley, so here are two more who should precede Sanjaya in saying their goodbyes.
While I believe the Top 3 should come down to Melinda, Jordin and Blake, Sanjaya possesses innate charm and does keep us guessing as to what he'll try next. I wouldn't be surprised if he went home, given the vitriol surrounding his presence, but I wouldn't be surprised if he cracked the Final Four, either.
The week Diana Ross was on the program, she said Sanjaya has something about him, while quickly adding, "And it's not his hair."
To me he's a breath of fresh air. There's a wholesomeness about him that's absent from a contemporary music scene full of people trying to put on an act, whether to appear super-cool or super-tough. It all adds up to a lot of posing and rehab, without much great music-making.
Sanjaya might not come up with anything great, either, but he does fill the void for a Michael Jackson sort of make-the-girls-scream teen idol.
I'm surprised that Simon Cowell, so-called marketing wiz, can't see that, especially when I agree with most of his assessments (except when he praised Haley the week she forgot her lyrics and should have gone home).
Even if Sanjaya gets booted off this week, any label would be wise to sign him. He can be taught to be a better performer. Voice lessons would help him strengthen and project his voice. He already has that one thing that's necessary yet a mystery to the thousands who show up to audition for "Idol" every year. You can't buy it or teach it. That one thing is charisma.