Reality Check: The Sanjaya Sensation Sweeps 'American Idol'

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It's official: Sanjaya Malakar is his own biggest fan.

Of course, I realize this is saying a lot when you consider the weeping prepubescents, the Howard Stern endorsement, the "Sanjaya Is My Papaya" signs and the offers from KFC to cut his hair.

Simon, clearly frustrated by the fact that his harsh words about the boy have fallen upon deaf ears, wryly offered up the word "incredible" to summarize his performance. But this season's most talked-about "American Idol" wannabe didn't get — or ignored — the facetiousness and responded with an enthusiastic: "Thank you! Welcome to the universe of Sanjaya!"

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While this provides rather alarming information about the state of Sanjaya's mental health, it also clarifies the fact that the intense hysteria over the 17-year-old pretty boy has gone to his well-coiffed head, which happened to be greased back and tucked behind his ears last night.

Speaking of hair, Phil opted to show his lack of it tonight during his widely panned rendition of "Day and Night." But it wasn't his hatlessness that I found disturbing as much as his decision to reveal that he was focusing on his wife while performing — just after Randy told him he seemed emotionally disconnected from the somber love song.

Jordin, LaKisha and Melinda turned in their usual stellar performances and Chris Richardson — looking especially adorable in a vest with his suspenders hanging over his jeans — joined that crew, inspiring Paula to praise his "artistic integrity."

Melinda was even more on fire than usual, which means she got to make her I'm-shocked-that-you-like-me face repeatedly. And while I agree with Simon that it's essentially impossible to find anything to criticize about Melinda's performances, I would point out that the dress she had on looked a bit like an animal had been killed on it.

The rest of the "Idol" hopefuls were sartorially sharp, especially Blake, who brought a classic element to his contemporary shtick on "Mack the Knife."

Gina, who I think may be hanging on by a thread after her version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," as well as her less-than-stellar attitude after Simon's critique of it, looked great, too. And LaKisha was downright sexy.

Then again, does it matter what anyone besides Sanjaya wears or does? When even Tony Bennett is admitting that he's a Fanjaya, it may be time to accept the fact that it's Sanjaya's universe and we're all just orbiting in it.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.

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