You probably remember Sanjaya Malakar, the divisive "American Idol" contestant who infuriated and fascinated audiences in Season 6 with his "ponyhawk" hairstyle and screaming fanbase -- but you might be surprised to learn where the artist ended up: Singing in New York subway stations.
Now 23, the flamboyant singer has toned down his appearance considerably. He reportedly moved to New York almost five years ago, having participated in busking music festivals in his native Seattle, but said that "the idea of busking in New York has always been a fun idea for me."
As for what he's been up to since being eliminated from the talent competition in 2007, Malakar said, "Since 'Idol,' I've stayed the same. I'm still learning every day about the industry. I was 17 years old when I was on the show, so it was really my introduction to the industry and to what I wanted to do ... I will always want to do this."
According to an eyewitness quoted in InTouch, "a handful of people did double takes” when they spotted Malakar performing at the First Avenue L station.
During his "Idol" season, Malakar was a constant source of drama, causing one woman to memorably threaten a hunger strike until he was voted off the show. Judge Simon Cowell even promised to quit the series if Malakar won (he placed seventh). He also came in fifth during the second season of "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" and according to the Daily Beast, was working on a self-produced album last year.
"American Idol" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
Are you surprised to see Sanjaya singing in the subway?