Sanjaya gets the boot off ‘Idol’

[19 April 2007]

By Mark Washburn

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

He gave us something to talk about, and - in the end - that was the problem.

Sanjaya Malakar, whose so-so vocals and yo-yo hairstyles made him the talk of this season’s “American Idol,” got the boot on country music week Wednesday.

Also in the bottom three after 38 million votes were LaKisha Jones and Blake Lewis.

Malakar, 17, of Federal Way, Wash., apparently giving up on the goatee thing, stuffed his hair into a bandanna Tuesday and walked through a tepid version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About.” “Utterly horrendous,” Simon Cowell said.

Jones sang “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” a hit for “Idol” winner Carrie Underwood. But the judges weren’t wowed, saying it didn’t suit her gospel style. Paula Abdul said Jones was shouting.

Lewis sang Tim McGraw’s “When the Stars Go Blue.” Randy Jackson complimented him on song choice.

This week’s “American Idol” controversy sprang from Chris Richardson’s performance. After falling short with the Rascal Flatts song “Mayberry,” Cowell called his rendition “nondescript, tinny, nasally.”

“Nasally is a form of singing,” Richardson replied. “I don’t know if you knew that.”

Then Richardson added a personal comment on the shootings at Virginia Tech addressed to his friends back home in Virginia. A shot of the judging panel appeared to show Cowell turning to Abdul and rolling his eyes.

Some Fox affiliates reported a smattering of complaints.

“Simon didn’t hear him - it’s as simple as that,” said Ken Warwick, the show’s executive producer Wednesday. “He was wound up because Chris was talking about singing through his nose, which Simon hates.”

On Wednesday’s show, Cowell himself addressed the issue.

“I may not be the nicest person in the world, but I would never ever, ever disrespect those families or those victims,” Cowell said, explaining he was talking to Abdul when Richardson mentioned Virginia Tech. A replay verified his version.

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