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The Sanjaya Controversy

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I’m a big fan of online encyclopedias: they offer the information of tangible reference books without the risk of paper cuts (those things will sting). In fact, I am such a fan of online encyclopedias that I visit them on an almost daily basis. If I don’t know the meaning of a term or I want to know when the new Milli Vanilli movie is coming out, I simply turn to my friends at wikipedia or Britannica.com. I don’t want to get too mushy but, truth be told, they complete me.

However, a visit to one of these online encyclopedias the other day left me shocked by something I saw: Sanjaya has his own entry. Now, I want my own one too.

Even for those people who don’t watch American Idol, it’s nearly impossible  to not know who Sanjaya is: he’s all over the news. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if President Bush – in lieu of devising a timetable to pull US troops out of Iraq – just devises a timetable to pull Sanjaya off of American Idol. We, as a culture, seem to be a little Sanjaya obsessed.

For anyone who doesn‘t surf the Internet, listen to the radio, or watch television – in other words, for the Amish – Sanjaya is an American Idol contestant who America, and particularly the judges, don’t really seem to be idolizing. The tune that many people are singing is that he just isn’t very good.

Still… He’s Not That Bad

People can say Sanjaya can’t sing; they can say he doesn’t deserve to be on the show; they can even say that he – gasp! – is having a bad hair day. But, I don’t get it. I really don’t. First of all, nobody seems more anti-Sanjaya than Simon, Randy, and Paula. But, aren’t they the ones who put him through to the top 24 to begin with? If he’s so very bad, then why did they – with no say on the voter’s part – even give him the chance to win. He can’t be that bad or he would have never even made it to Hollywood.

In another thought, I don’t really see what makes Sanjaya so much worse than past contestants. He is certainly not the first person on American Idol to overstay his welcome. If we travel back in time to last season, we remember that Chris Daughtry was a better singer than Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee and if we keep going back to season one, we’re reminded that many people believed Tamyra Gray should have finished ahead of both Nikki McKibbin and Justin Guarini. There, there, Mr. Guarini, you still have From Justin to Kelly under your belt. No one can ever take that away from you.

American Idol, way before Sanjaya took center stage, has always been about who can get the most votes; singing talent takes second chair.

The Howard (not K.) Stern Influence

The fact that Sanjaya was picked by the judges to compete and the fact his singing is not so horrible that it can be compared to a cat tied to the hood of a car leads me to wonder if Howard Stern is fueling the Sanjaya controversy. Howard Stern fuel a controversy? I know… C-R-A-Z-Y!

Stern is at the helm of an American Idol ship. He launched a campaign via his radio show imploring American Idol viewers to vote for Sanjaya. His reason behind this plea is simple: priding himself as a bit of a pot stirrer. Stern is urging people to vote for Sanjaya for seemingly no other reason than he’s the least talented contestant. Even if Howard Stern starts paying people to vote for Sanjaya, it doesn't really matter: a vote's a vote.

Love him, hate him, or go on a hunger strike until he gets kicked off, Sanjaya is a pure example of what celebrity in this day and age is all about: it doesn’t come down to who has talent (right, Paris Hilton), it merely comes down to who gets the most press and publicity. Celebrity is a game and Sanjaya – with his signature locks and bashful smile – is about to check mate everyone else.

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About JM Jordan

  • Grandpa Idol

    With the right studio technology Sanjaya could be made to look and sound as if he actually has singing abilities. He’s a perfect candidate to lip sync on SNL or some other show that lets performers do that. There are some terrific voices on this year’s Idol and he certainly is not one of them. What he does bring to the stage is (choke) charisma and (gag) sex appeal to a certain segment of the population. He’s been the smartest contestant of the lot because he cracked the code to get votes for something other than a melodious performance.

  • Brown Gal

    Hey, you know what, this season of AI has garnered the highest viewership. A lot of people like me have started watching it only after hearing about Sanjaya. In fact he’s the only thing I find worth watching on the show.
    However, he’s not the only person with an encyclopedia entry. Most of the top 10 contestants have wiki entries, including the recently departed Haley.

  • http://www.joanhallhovey.com Joan

    I agree with everything in your writeup. I really like Sanjaya. He’s a wonderful performer, always a little different. He doesn’t have a ‘big’ voice, but he does have a lovely voice, and he can sing. I wish him well, and have no doubt he’ll have a very successful career.

  • mel

    The biggest stars in the world are not the best singers, Madonna, Britney, Ashlee Simpson, Linsay Lohan, JLo, what they have is X factor. Well, so does Sanjaya, in bucket loads. He has great hair, a warm and open smile and a light that shines from within. That is his appeal. He may not have the strongest voice, but to say he cannot sing is a gross and unfair misjudgement. He is a cross between Prince and Michael Jackson and a “hearthrob” for tweens. He has endless marketing opportunities awaiting him. He is going to be innundated with offers like no other idol has ever been.

  • Grandpa Idol

    I can only pray he’s voted off soon because his particular “X” factor is really annoying. Admittedly, FOX has a ratings magnet with Sanjaya, love him or hate him, and I don’t think they are ready to see him leave just yet. It will be interesting to see how he does with the country genre.

  • http://www.noface4film.com/ Kaonashi

    Since when were Ashlee Simpson or Lindsay Lohan the biggest stars in the world? Only if you read celebrity gossip rags.

  • john of sparta

    Sanjaya? what’s that? i’m not Amish.
    i just don’t watch TV as much as you.
    i use satellite radio in my car, and
    i check out Craig’s List every once
    in a while between emails and IM’s.
    based upon your post: Sanjaya wins.
    wins what? well, obviously i don’t know.

  • http://www.noface4film.com Kaonashi

    john of sparta- believe me, you’re better off not knowing who Sanjaya is.

  • Sue

    Simple answer to this article is that Sanjaya is said to be worse than he is simply because of the vote for the worst site choosing him. The little sheep follow and bash. But don’t forget that if he was so horrible they should have picked him first instead of Antonella and Sundance which they couldn’t keep in because their site is powerless. They only try to choose someone they think will be popular and that might stay. That way they can later claim they kept them in… That’s BS.

    Also consider that he was high in search engines BEFORE the top 12 and before v4tw because he was popular. There is much more to this, but even the fact that v4tw targets past idols that have had recording contracts and big sales shows they are nothing but marketing hype designed to bring the web site hits and Stern publicity. All I can say is I hope Grandapa gets himself a new hearing aid and stops repeating every anti-Sanjaya news article like the rest of the sheep before attacking people.

    the myth of v4tw was interesting for those interested.

  • Suzy

    Too bad you had to add in a dig about Justin Guarini. He has a beautiful voice and was considered a frontrunner from the beginning of the show – until Simon and Randy turned on him and history rewrote itself. tsk tsk

  • Tandalaya

    “If we travel back in time to last season, we remember that Chris Daughtry was a better singer than Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee…”

    You’ve got to be kidding!!!! As a music critic, you make a great business traveler.