Just for you…a round up of interviews with eliminated contestant Sanjaya Malakar. He was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Thursday night, where he did a skit with Donny Osmond and even got some couch time with Jay. You can watch his interview at Rickey’s. Saturday night, Sanjaya appears at the White House Correspondence Dinner as a guest of People magazine.
Here’s an interesting factoid from Rodney Ho at Access Atlanta from Thursday’s satellite interview–“Something to Talk About” was not Sanjaya’s first song choice. He wanted to do Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz, ” but according to Sanjaya, the producers said no–due to Ford Motor Company’s sponsorship of American Idol. Interesting.
Some other quick notables:
- He respects Simon a lot, and feels his criticism comes from disappointment that Sanjaya didn’t live up to his potential.
- Sanjaya’s mom had taken the week off–only a cousin was there in the audience for his elimination.
- He read both positive and negative reviews of his performances in order to stay grounded
- He had a very strong feeling that he was going home Wednesday night.
- He cried Wednesday night because he was sad to be leaving the other contestants, rather than sad over his elimination.
- Sanjaya would like to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He and John Stevens, who is a student there now, can commiserate. Heh.
Excerpts from Sanjaya’s interviews with American Idol Extra, Entertainment Weekly, MTV and People magazine can be found after the jump.
Transcript from the American Idol Extra exit interview:
Unfortunately for Sanjaya, the only family member in the audience Wednesday night was his cousin Beverly. His Mom took a week off, because according to Sanjya, “She really needed a break…she had been stressing out.”
Sanjaya’s mom Jillian, joined the interview with cousin Beverly and Sanjaya via telephone. Jillian said that she could not believe the one week she decided to take off, he was eliminated. She added, “Honey if I could be there, I would be, and I’m really proud of you, you’ve done a great job. It’s been a great ride, honey…I’m just proud of you.” Sanjaya said, “I couldn’t have done this without you, Mom. I don’t know what I would have done if I would have waited ’til I was 18 like you told me too (he laughs) So, thank you mommy.”
Recap of the one-on-one interview with host J.D. Roberto:
- What was he thinking when he was in the bottom 3? “I knew that I was going home. I kinda felt like I was going home when I first saw the show, ’cause…I don’t know…my name means ‘spiritual psychic’ so I guess I’m a little bit psychic…when I was next to Blake and Lakisha I knew that I was going home, ’cause they’re amazing.”
- Sanjaya says the hardest part of being eliminated was leaving everyone, “We had become a family…and it was like not being able to see them until the finale.”
- About the ‘Life is Beautiful’ shirt he wore Wednesday night, “I wanted to wear this [the shirt] next week, but I felt that I probably should wear it this week just in case…”
- What did Sanjaya think was his best week? “My strongest week was definitely Latin week, ’cause…(audience breaks out into applause)…”
- Was the facial hair he wore Latin night real? “It was real, but it was a little bit enhanced, because I’ve never…I’ve been kind of lazy, so I haven’t ever really shaved…so it hasn’t ever grown in fully…because I am 17…but they had to touch it up a little bit…just a little bit…but there was stuff to work with, so…”
- How did he stay positive in the face of all the negative press? “I read both the positive and the negative, because I know that if I do, it’ll keep me balanced and I won’t get too hot-headed by reading all the good stuff and I won’t get too, like broken down by reading all the negative stuff…I just read it all, I guess…and then it keeps me grounded and it keeps me able to focus on who I am, and staying who I am.”
- How did Sanjaya deal with Simon Cowell’s negative remarks? “I take Simon’s criticisms as more him knowing that I had more potential and me kind of letting him down, ’cause I felt like the very first audition, he saw potential in me, and then when I didn’t live up to that he was disappointed.”
- What was it like to receive Simon’s “praise”–he said it, “wasn’t horrible”– during Latin week? “It was very…relieving…and it kind of put a weight off my shoulders for that week. I felt like I was safe for that week. And I was.”
- Has he gotten really close to some of the other Idols? “We’re a family, Jordin’s like my sister [about hugging her] that was definitely a “siblingly” hug…we’re in it for so long, and we are basically the people that we see every day and…to all of a sudden be torn away from that is like, being torn away from your family.”
- How did his style evolve? “I think I kind of found myself, because when I first came in I was just a normal 17 year old and I don’t think any 17 year old really knows who they are…’cause that’s the time where they learn. And so this opportunity made it so that I was able to learn faster and faster ’cause now I get to start my career ’cause it’s over…the show, not my career (laughter) …I was just able to find myself and I think that showed in my style and…I am quirky like Jordin said, so that showed in my hair, I guess.”
- What was his favorite week style-wise? “When I sang ‘Bathwater’ of course, with the ponyhawk. That was me in a nutshell.”
- How does he stay so poised at 17? “Very good family. My family has been the most supportive people…I don’t know how they do it…” (his mom and sister were getting on a red-eye that night to be with him).
From Entertainment Weekly:
- About changing the lyrics to “Something to Talk About” to say ”other than hair” instead of ”how about love.” Did Sanjya plan that? “It was kind of on-the-spot. I was basically saying, ”Come on, America. There are so many more important things you can be talking about other than my hair.” Because there are a lot of intense, important things going on. I just wanted to put that out there.”
- Sanjaya hugged LaKisha for a long time after he was eliminated. What did she say to him? “She just said, ‘Stay strong and keep going because you’re gonna be big.’ I really love every one of them with all my heart. I’m glad I was able to be in this show because they’re all genuinely good people. It’s hard to find people like that and I found it on a whim. I didn’t even plan on auditioning. It was like, they’re coming to the Seattle Center and I was like, ‘Hey I can sing. Let’s go!’
- What he thinks about Howard Stern and Vote for the Worst, “If someone is gonna vote for me on Vote for the Worst they’re maybe gonna vote once or twice. Even if a million people vote once or twice, that’s not going to make a dent in how the real fans vote. I feel like I got where I was because of my fans.”
- About the “shaking, crying girl” What did he think about her? “It wasn’t that I couldn’t cope with it. It’s just that it seemed so unnatural. I’m just Sanjaya from Seattle. I haven’t changed. It was odd. It’s great though because I want to be in this business and fans are what keep you going. Any support I can get I embrace.”
- What was it like meeting fans in the street? Was it crazy? “Yeah, once I went to the Beverly Center and I had just walked in with my Mom and all of a sudden there was the Redlands cheerleading squad there. They were like, ‘Oh my God! You’re Sanjaya!’ Luckily one of the other contestants was shopping there so there was security. They swooped me up before I got mobbed. It was kind of scary. That was the first time I realized I had fans. It was odd.”
- All about the hair-dos, “I do have great hair, I have to admit. When I first came in I had long hair and I just wanted it to look good and look presentable on TV. I think people want to connect something to each contestant and that thing people connected with me was my hair. Once that became my thing I just played on it. It was fun. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
- Did Sanjaya talk to Simon after the show? “I didn’t talk to him afterwards but from the beginning I felt like he saw potential in me. I think he wanted me to do well when he first heard me. That’s what his comments were all based on, disappointment rather than loathing. He’s a really nice guy. He really has a good heart. He’s just very honest and blunt.”
- Will he go back to high school? “I got my GED so I’m not going back to high school. I want to go to college. I’d love to get into Berklee School of Music. That would be my dream. I want to continue my education and my career. I’d love to focus on music and maybe go into acting and modeling. I just want to experience everything.”
- Where does Sanjaya think he’ll be in 5 years? “I don’t know. I’m just going to work hard and really use this experience and momentum to move forward. I believe everything happens for a reason, so while it’s unpredictable I know whatever happens is meant to be.
- Why does Sanjaya think he was voted off this week? “Honestly, I’m not a country singer. I think that that really took a toll on me, and I didn’t have enough really strong performances to have people forgive me for that. For example, LaKisha, she’s not necessarily a country singer either, but she had enough really strong performances to get her through, and I don’t think I did. I think that might have been what got me this week. But I [leave the show with] an amazing amount of education that I never would have gotten anywhere else.”
- When did he realize people were talking about him? “I think it just kind of trickled in. I didn’t really realize it. It’s been kind of surreal for me ‘ I mean, we’re in a bubble. I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot, but we truly are. We don’t have the slightest idea of the capacity of this show and the impact it has. I mean, I got inklings every once in awhile of something different, something going on that I guess was a cultural phenomenon. But I don’t think it really has hit me yet exactly how big it is.”
- Did he ever feel like leaving the competition? “I think the only time I really felt like that would have been Hollywood week because that was, like, completely intense. It was really … it was kind of scary. [He laughs.] But I had my sister [fellow “Idol” hopeful Shyamali] there, and she really helped me and supported me. So I think that’s what helped me get through that. Then past that, I just wanted to get past each week.”
- Senator Hillary Clinton was asked about her thoughts on Sanjaya. What did he think about that? [He laughs.] “It’s really interesting, because I really had no idea how much impact this show had. And I think it’s really interesting that someone like me ‘ a 17-year-old Seattle boy ‘ could have so much impact that I enter the presidential debate!”
- What was the craziest think Sanjaya heard or saw about himself? “When Saturday Night Live did a skit on me, and they said, ‘I don’t know if he’s scared or happy!, ‘ that was hilarious. I had to laugh at that one, because I love to poke fun at myself. If you can’t do that, then I don’t know what’s going to happen in your life. I think it’s really important to be able to make fun of yourself and just have fun.
- Did Sanjaya think he could win the whole competition? “Every one of us wants to win. But I was more focused on the learning aspect, because I did get my GED after my sophomore year [of high school], so I basically saw this as my junior and senior year. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is my way of learning it, in a quick time, and I got a lot further than I ever expected to, and I’m happy with every moment of it.”
- About endorsement offers, and other opportunities–how does Sanjya plan to make the right decisions? “I have a lot of support. My mother is an amazingly smart woman, and I know that she will help me in that. I think that my main thing that I’m going to look for when I choose endorsements is something that I really feel strongly about. And I’m not going to do something just for money because I know that it’s not about money ‘ it’s about having an image and really putting your true self out there. I feel like if I do that, money will come. It’s paper. It’s not really important. The most important thing I can do is stay true to myself.”
- What would Sanjaya say to Simon? “Well, from the beginning I think that Simon saw potential in me, and when I didn’t fulfill that potential, he was kind of disappointed. So I just want to say to him that he’s an amazing person, and what he does is awesome. He’s very opinionated, but I learned more from him than anyone else while I was on the show.”
- Sanjaya is hiring a bodyguard, “Yeah, I’m definitely ready to hire a bodyguard. I’m actually looking to do that right now.