Posted by: dcmjlive | May 30, 2009

Idols Revisited: Danny Gokey

I know I said that my last blog would be my final blog but the thing is, after watching Danny’s idolatry, I feel that now’s the right time to revisit the idols. In previous blogs, you saw me critiquing them with the competition in mind. Now that I don’t have to care about them competing, I can judge them more objectively with the new insight I got. I hope to do this with the top three so sooner or later, I’ll do pieces for Adam and Kris.

When Danny Gokey comes to mind, he was the one I loved to hate. For more info with my hatred for Danny, you can read previous posts. Do read “The Problem With Danny Gokey.” But sometimes, after the shows over, you realize, did you really hate the guy?

Thing is with Danny, he’s your traditional tragic hero archetype. Now I’m not a literature major and I don’t hope to be but I can’t think of a better analogy to take into account what Danny has gone through. He’s a man of noble character, noble intentions but has a tragic fall that put him down.

Noble Character: The guy is your devout Christian. You could actually tell that he’s a meditative person. His approach to life is a very spiritual one where you try to look for purpose and with that purpose you steer your life into the direction it leads to. But you may be asking why then would he use his dead wife to get votes, I’ll talk about that later.

Noble Intentions: With a purpose comes the intention. Danny, with the loss of his wife, wanted to start a movement with the Sophia Heart Foundation and his music. His goal was to speak truth in his music to be able to reach out to kids that have strayed the path and with the propagation of the foundation, he wishes to bring kids back to the path where they impact more to society instead of laying astray with drugs, sex and vices.

Tragic Downfall: What hurt Danny the most was how the producers of the show pictured him out to be. He was made into a frontrunner of sorts early on to the competition and added the backstory to completely steer his noble intentions to the hearts of many. But the thing is that it becomes a downfall with two overlooked things. First, he was not able to deliver the end of the bargain as a frontrunner and people started going against being manipulated by producers into thinking this person is good and this person is not.

I’ll talk about the latter first because I just want it out of the way. The noble intention of Danny had that backlash effect when it became obvious that they want the guy to be pitied. They removed Jamar out of the picture to make it seem he is a hero of sorts. Conveniently for the producers, Danny’s platform too was to make this movement seen in his songs and he had to choose Hero as his first song. The implications of the way things were edited was that it wanted people to believe that he is a hero in wounds and that he should be supported. It did give him a loyal legion of fans but also people who sweared that they’d never listen to Gokey again. The blatant manipulation this year was too much for viewers to handle so people started screaming the mantra of EW’s Michael Slezak and Kristen Baldwin’s “Put the GO in Gokey!” That first manipulation backfired and came out the wrong way. But Danny is a bit culpable with his decision to tell the producers about this movement he wants to do. Sometimes, the best movements are those that are silent and don’t need to be preached in such a loud way. Here’s one fall of Danny as he consistently decides to make song choice after song choice close to his movement. In short, actions should speak louder than words.

But really, I pity Danny because he’s getting so much backlash because he just wants to do the right thing.

But from there, I’ll completely jump to the other side of the producer manipulation and making him seem like a frontrunner. Danny himself told the press that he didn’t want to be called the frontrunner but the press did not release that statement from Danny. And from the start, how can you not think that Gokey was a frontrunner. He peaked good with his soulful rendition of Hero that was full of emotion. It had the potential energy to move into that frontrunner status later in the game. It was like a good starting point. But his potential energy was failing to move into kinetic energy.

Gokey tells us that he had to learn all the songs that he sang. With four days to pick a song, rehearse, make arrangements and what not like practice group numbers, it seems like the added burden on Gokey was that he was a new player to the current industry. In my opinion, Gokey is actually more of an underdog than Kris Allen is. He had those high expectations and he couldn’t meet it because clearly, he couldn’t master a song fast enough to be able to make his own arrangements with it. Clearly, while others knew their songs and just had to arrange, poor Danny didn’t know his songs. So with the little time he has left after learning it, he has no more time to arrange the song. It did hurt him alot because not only did he sound karaoke but he did sound pitchy at spots. And being in the second idol epoch, karaoke would have only faired good until season five because Bo Bice and Chris Daughtry had started the trend of making songs their own. By the time David Cook took the stage, the audience expected that the idols had to show their personality in the songs and know how to rearrange the song. Gokey was in short stuck in the first idol epoch.

Let’s go back to the journey of Gokey. After Hero, he decided to take on PYT. He proved yet again his potential to be a frontrunner in the competition because of his command of the stage and his power vocals. But things did start to go downhill for him. Week after week, he kept struggling with the songs. We learn from Idolatry that Danny decided to pick Jesus, Take the Wheel because of how it’s current and speaks the message he wants to give. But also, it was the first time to show Danny’s kryptonite, which is his bad low register. Singing songs that are more high up and churchy, he struggled with keeping in pitch and fell flat a lot during the verses of the song. His potential was even more botchered when he took on Get Ready where he didn’t bring anything new to the table. Yes, his vocal was good but it speaks too much of PYT. He couldn’t seem to transition into both being freshly current and innovative like those who are currently in the second epoch. This is something also that brought on the downfall of Lil as she sounded more karaoke earlier on.

What Hurts the Most reminded people of his potential but it was a little bit too late as more fans were considering other artists. Stand by Me was his first attempt at the second epoch but his arrangement didn’t get the praise from the judges that he needed. Then he did Endless Love, and despite the fact that he showed raw emotion in the performance that moved me watching it back, he did not only lack innovation but also he rewinded back into the Greek times with a harp. I mean, a harp!?!?! How uncurrent can you get? But his luck started to change with September, taking a leaf from David Cook’s page. He had watched on YouTube a Gospel arrangement of the song and instead of learning the original decided to learn this arrangement. This was definitely a one-up for him. He repeaked finally with Come Rain or Come Shine, which is his best performance to date. The soulful rendition that just suited his husky vocals plus the new fresh arrangement did enough to reinstate that he is a frontrunner in the competition. It didn’t do anything though to gain new devout fans because for people like me, it was just ONE good song after it all. It had a bit of momentum but it was slowly broken with his performance of Scream Dream On.

The fact that he stayed after that horrendous performance is attributed to the fact that his last performance was still good and it riled up his fans to think that it was just an off week for him and that he still deserves to push through. (That and people were voting crazy for Kris realizing that Kris was thrown under the bus while Danny was being petted for his effort.)

But Danny had to make a full recovery after that. He went back and was able to make You Are So Beautiful sound current. I actually liked it looking back. But the song was too cheesy and overdone that paired with his other song Dance Little Sister, it did not have any power to beat Adam who has long proven that he is the peak of the second epoch and Kris who not only killed with Heartless but also transitioned to the third epoch where you not only have to make a song your own but also make it so unsuspecting that it grabs you by the knee and draws you to it with such force that not only does the potential energy translate to kinetic energy but also magnetic energy. Heartless was that powerful that even Danny’s last ditch effort to prove he was in the league of Adam and Kris was not enough because of what Kris had done.

Danny had learned too late on how to be able to make moments during the second epoch that his third repeak was not enough to bring him the trophy. If Danny had auditioned way earlier, he may have taken the competition by storm. But he came too late at a time where his contenders were light years ahead of him.

In recall, Danny is the underdog disguised as a frontrunner juxtaposed to Kris who is the frontrunner diguised as an underdog. Had I seen Danny in a different light than what the producers had shown, I may have been swayed to like him more. I can’t help but admit that Danny did move me but he didn’t have enough kinetic energy to move me the way Kris, Adam and Allison did.

I just hope that he does well with his movement after all that backlash in the web community. It’s such a great thing to do that we sometimes need someone like that who can promote change.



  1. I have to agree.

    In these reality shows, producers are always looking for ways to extend the show and grab ratings. Such as in the case of ANTM, they choose girls with sob stories over those who are really meant for the field because it affects everyone.

    I never paid attention to Danny but hearing that he is a strong dog in the competition had me like– what is going on? I mean, he’s good, but not the good good type if you get what I mean.

    I guess he was called a frontrunner because producers feel that what he had gone through outweighs his musical weaknesses and it would be a good ratings magnet b/c people would sympathize with him. Just like the Oscars this year– Rourke clearly has the win but everyone went for Penn because it would do good publicity for the Academy, who is known for being a little homophobic.

    Honestly, I have no right to make a say because I never really pay attention to other contestants OTHER THAN KRIS but I guess maybe, AI is starting to become like ANTM. They’re starting to shift to memorable and sympathy-soliciting characters than those who actually have the potential because sympathy grabs viewers, makes them vote more and boosts ratings.

    Good to say we got it right this year.

    • Yeah, producers need a way to boost ratings. But because they’re trying too much, it’s bringing on negative backlash. Look at what happened to Gokey during the show and Kris Allen after it. They sometimes push the edge a bit too much. They veer to much away from the fact that people want to hear good music and not judges shoving bullcrap into our faces and sob stories that take too much time. We’re just here for the music.

      I think we got it right because Kris didn’t have those expectations that Danny and Adam did that gave him enough flexibility to prove himself. But I’ll reserve that story for Idols Revisited: Kris Allen.

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