Sanjaya Malakar, the 17-year-old American Idol finalist, has had a rough couple of weeks. His singing has been eviscerated by the judges, and he’s being criticized for remaining on the show when other, more talented singers have gotten the boot (as if it’s his fault how people choose to vote). The guy whom bloggers have nicknamed “Sendjaya Home” is as aware as anyone that, as much as Idol purports to be a singing contest, it’s also a popularity contest. And Sanjaya is popular. He’s been embraced by Howard Stern fans and by the brains behind www.votefortheworst.com. And, courtesy of a crying girl in the audience of last week’s British Invasion-themed show, we know that the under-12 set loves him.
Not so popular? Sanjaya’s hair. Every week it’s different- crimped, curly, blown out. Sanjaya’s hair is analyzed on the Web more than most of the contestants’ singing. So, how did he respond to the criticism? By coming out this week with the most insane hairstyle I have ever seen on this show (and when you’re competing against Paula Abdul, that’s saying something): a “ponyhawk.”
What is a ponyhawk? It’s a mohawk made of seven small ponytails along the crest of the head. After Sanjaya’s performance, Ryan Seacrest immediately wanted to talk about “The Hair.” Sanjaya said that the seven ponytails represented luck.
I know seven represents luck in Vegas, but I’m not sure what tradition Sanjaya is referring to. Numerology, where 7 means Completion? A reference to the biblical creation story, where God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh? The number of heavens (and of earths) that Muslims believe in? The seven lucky gods in Japanese mythology? The number of Hindu sages (and the number of Hindu sages’ wives, or Seven Mothers)? The Duran Duran album that probably came out before he was born? That movie with Gwyneth Paltrow?
Regardless of what makes the number 7 lucky, something is keeping this guy on the show.