After Tuesday's performance of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me," Malakar was popular enough to not be one of the two finalists this week with the lowest amount of votes.
Stephanie Edwards, a Beyoncé sound-alike with a much better voice than Malakar, was sent home.
Why hasn't Malakar — an amiable teen with shiny, bouncy hair — been voted off the show?
One of the reasons just may be the renegade Web site VoteForTheWorst.com.
"Our Web site actually encouraged people to vote for Sanjaya," VoteForTheWorst.com's Dave Della Terza tells The Showbuzz. "We tell everyone to vote for the worst person, because we want to keep that person around to try to mess up 'American Idol,' because we say it's more of a reality TV show than a talent competition. Obviously our votes made a difference."
How did Malakar, a 17-year-old from Federal Way, Wash., become the Vote For The Worst "favorite"?
"We picked Sanjaya because at first we were voting for Antonella (Barba) and then she ended up leaving," said Della Terza. "So we said, 'everyone hates Sanjaya, he's gonna need some help. He was doing OK in the votes, but all of a sudden he's fallen down and no one seems to be voting for him anymore because everyone's getting sick of him being there. He's always in the bottom two, he's almost always going home, let's get him some more support to make sure he doesn't go home.' Obviously our support made a little bit of a difference."
Like teen idols from David Cassidy to Menudo, Malakar and his wavy locks appeal to the Barbie doll crowd.
On Tuesday night's show, a 13-year-old audience member named Ashley Ferl was moved to tears by Malakar's performance — in a good way. Later, encouraged by host Ryan Seacrest, Malakar walked into the audience to give her a hug.
"A lot of people say Vote For The Worst is the only reason Sanjaya is still around. That's obviously not true," Della Terza said. "We just help the fan base. The two groups working together is what's helping him stay on the show. It's obviously not one or the other, but when you add them together it helps him stick around."
There are, however, other forces on the Internet working against the wishes of Della Terza's Web site and Malakar's teeny groupies.
A young woman known simply as "J" has gone on a hunger strike which she vows to keep up until Malakar is either "voted off, producers rescind his spot in the Top 12, or he graciously steps down from his position."
She's set up a MySpace page where she has been blogging her daily progress – four days and counting – and has invited others to join her in her cause.
It looks like she'll be skipping meals for at least one more week.
By Judy Faber