Somewhere in the world, Simon Cowell is muttering “cruise ship” in his sleep without really understanding why. Like us, he probably hasn’t thought about Sanjaya Malakar in four years, when the Indian-American teen with the goofy long hair briefly became a cause célèbre on season six of American Idol, emerging as perhaps the ultimate Vote For the Worst champion of the reality competition’s ten-season run. He’s been around, hosting an Idol “Where are They Now” show on TV Guide and appearing on season five of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! But now, Sanjaya has returned as a singer, and he’s called back to a song recorded eight years before he was born for help in his comeback: UK new wavers Squeeze’s blue-eyed soul classic, “Tempted.”
As previously implied, it’s doubtful that the Idol judges—who truth told, were never the most unequivocal Sanjaya supporters during his brief reign of terror to begin with—would approve of his super-lightweight rendition of the song, which has basically been turned into a second-rate Maroon 5 single with its jazzed-up arrangement. Not like original singer Paul Carrack was exactly a Luther Vandross-like vocal powerhouse himself, but there’s just no presence at all to Sanjaya’s voice, and listening to his version, you just kind of wonder what the point is. Plus, he tries to do all three vocal parts in the second verse himself—a venture attempted and failed by singers much more talented than Malakar, and one certainly not done seamlessly here.
Love that single cover, though. Very “Yeah, babe, I know you want me to stay, but this rambler’s gotta get ramblin’.” Just what we think of when we think of Sanjaya, true.