American Idol: The Sanjaya Factor

In a strange, cosmic confluence of events Sanjaya Malakar just keeps hanging in there as a contestant on American Idol. It's amazing to me the amount of emotion that this kid is generating on both sides of the equation. I guess it's a sign that we're not doing too terribly in our personal lives if we can get this worked up about a contestant on a talent show. :-)

Is it strange? Sure. Should he still be in the competition? Probably not. But somehow he is outlasting contestants who seem to have better singing skills.

How has he been able to mange this...?

I think it's a combination of factors that have combined to form a "perfect storm" for ol' Sanjaya:

First, over the last couple of years sites like (I think there may be one other similar and very popular site out there) have gained a lot of attention and fans. That is probably what kept Kevin Covais on the show (the geeky little guy from Season 5) on as long as he did last year. I guess it's kind of the anti-establishment angle that attracts people to vote for people they think are awful. As I type this, that site is so overwhelmed with traffic that I can't even access it apart from a banner at the very top of the page that offers to deliver Sanjaya's contestant number to your phone every week.

Second, Sanjaya does stand out from the crowd. Some of the contestants who've been voted off (and will be voted off) are just too plain vanilla middle of the road. There's nothing unique about them or their presence. Disagree with Simon Cowell if you like, but the man is definitely right about the fact that in this competition you have to stand out from the crowd.

Third, let's face it: He's a cute kid. He's kind of good looking (albeit in a wierd, almost feminine way) plus he seems to be a geniunely nice guy. Although I think this whole thing is starting to get to him and it's starting to show around the edges with a bit of snippy attitude, overall he's not arrogant and people like contestants who aren't jerks.

Fourth, combine the factors above and you may start to see a "root for the underdog" mentality start to spread among many voters, where they vote for him due to the fact that he knows what's being said about him, he's good-looking, a nice guy and young enough to be considered "wide-eyed."

So there's my analysis, and I'm betting that on tonight's episode he does NOT get voted off. You wait and see.

I doubt the kid can possibly win this season's American Idol, but I certainly don't begrudge him riding the wave while he can. Although I find the way he acts and talks a little creepy, I like the kid and I hope he finds a way to milk some cash out of this whole thing so he can not worry about paying for college. :-)

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