the undertalented but unflappable singer who horrified
and captivated millions in his improbable American
Idol run, was finally voted off the show Wednesday
When the result
was announced, Malakar wiped away tears and got a big hug
from LaKisha Jones, the next lowest vote-getter.
''I'm fine,'' he
told Ryan Seacrest. ''It was an amazing experience.''
''I can promise
you: We won't soon forget you,'' Seacrest replied.
performed one last song, ''Something to Talk About.''
Putting his own twist on the song, the 17-year-old known for
his pretty looks and ever-changing hairstyles,
ad-libbed: ''Let's give them something to talk
about...other than hair.''
night's show, Simon Cowell had slammed Malakar's performance
as ''utterly horrendous.'' And for once, the notoriously
mean judge was vindicated. ''I'm beginning to sense
something here,'' a grinning Cowell said when Malakar
wound up in the bottom three.
are now left: Jones, Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Chris
Richardson, Melinda Doolittle, and Phil Stacey.
routinely savaged by Cowell as he developed into one of the
weakest, most awkward Idol finalists ever.
Still, the gangly teen managed to outlast better singers by
cultivating an unlikely fan base that helped him
survive round after round of viewer elimination.
breathy, childlike singing voice paled in comparison with
other finalists, his ability to stand out kept him in the
competition. He consistently delivered the season's
most talked-about performances, even daring to sport a
ponytail mohawk that added pizzazz to an otherwise
tepid rendition of No Doubt's ''Bathwater.''
That, of course,
wound up as fodder for watercooler discussion on G-rated
morning programs and smart-alecky Web sites, stoking
suspicion that Malakar was self-consciously
manipulating the media to carve a place in American
predicted that he would make it all the way to May finale.
Among Malakar's supporters: radio shock jock Howard
Stern and the Web site VotefortheWorst.com, which has
long promoted the show's tone-deaf candidates.
(Previous targets include surly Scott Savol and
sweet-natured Kevin Covais. Cult superstar William
Hung never even made it to Hollywood.)
Malakar also had
the backing of friends and family in his home state of
Washington. ''He's very handsome. That's most of it,''
marveled his friend Pat Wright, a gospel choir
director in Seattle. ''He's a teenager, and young
girls and guys really like him.''
buoyed by his widespread fame.
''Welcome to the
universe of Sanjaya!'' he proudly proclaimed on a recent
telecast, following a backhanded compliment from an
panning another of Malakar's performances, Cowell threw up
his arms and said there was nothing he could say to prevent
people from voting for the oddball-turned-national
But, in the end,
Malakar could not win enough votes to join the ranks of
Taylor Hicks, Kelly Clarkson, and Carrie Underwood.