Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Sanjaya Malakar's "Dancing to the Music In My Head"

The description of Sanjaya Malakar’s new book, “Dancing to the Music In My Head: Memoirs of the People’s Idol,” promised us the most in-depth look at “American Idol” ever.

And although that’s true, there’s still so much Sanjaya could have told us, but didn’t. In other words, it was a lot like his time on the show—potential that was never realized.

And quite frankly, it’s a little lame…

But that’s not entirely Sanjaya’s fault. In fact, I would blame the majority of the book’s problems on what seems to be the complete absence of an editor.

I understand wanting the book to have Sanjaya’s voice, but most of the time the writing comes off as juvenile. The biggest example of that would be his incessant use of the word “chill,” as in “the energy was really chill.” Sometimes it morphs into the variant “chillability.” An editor—or possibly his co-author Alan Goldsher—should’ve really cut a few of those out.

The book was also not helped by several glaring factual errors—some that any “Idol” fan would have easily caught. Sanjaya says that as he’s writing this, “Idol” is coming up on season eight, but he named the season seven mentors. I’m guessing that the season number was changed to reflect the publication date, but an editor should have caught the inconsistency.

But the most egregious errors come in the short chapter about Simon Cowell. Now since the book is about Sanjaya, I have no idea why a chapter on someone else is necessary—especially since he has his own book. But since they did feel it was necessary, the least they could’ve done was get all the facts straight. For example, Sanjaya credits Simon with creating “Grease: You’re the One That I Want!” which he had nothing to do with.

The book also has an inconsistency in time. Twice, Sanjaya refers to something that happened two months later when it was actually only a few weeks. An editor could have cleared that up with just a calendar.

We do get some interesting tidbits along the way about the “Idol” process, but too many times it felt like Sanjaya was pulling his punches. I’m not saying he should have trashed people, but a few more details would’ve helped.

However you can do some reading between the lines since Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle and Phil Stacey are the only fellow Idols who provide quotes for the book. But whatever Blake Lewis was referring to that made him say Sanjaya should write a book never surfaces—at least as far as I can tell.

Sadly, the book gives us no idea bout Sanjaya’s life now. We get some small hints about his post-Idol career, but unfortunately the book ends right after he filmed the Nationwide commercial.

Sanjaya fans will like reading about their Idol, but I think after a while, even they will be disappointed.

“Dancing to the Music In My Head: Memoirs of the People’s Idol” is available now…

Photo Credit: Simon & Schuster