Monday, May 11, 2009

My Complete 180 On Danny Gokey

So a friend of mine sent me an e-mail last week that really got me thinking. She said she couldn’t believe my complete 180 on Danny Gokey.

Now, I know that I went from him being my favorite to giving him a pretty hard time lately, but a 180? So, I went back and looked at my posts over this season and I was shocked at what I saw. My change in opinion is almost staggering…

Now, there have been contestants that I have flip-flopped on over the years—Carly Smithson, for example, who I actually grew to like after despising her during the early rounds—but I have never made such a major opinion change on a contestant in my three plus years of doing this.

See for yourself…

On February 16th, during my analysis of Group 1, I wrote, “Ah, Danny. You guys know that he’s my guy and I look forward to voting for him tomorrow night—A LOT.”

Then on February 17th after giving him a perfect score on his performance of “Hero” (which I downloaded) I wrote, “You can tell me my love is blinding me, but that was awesome—especially since I can’t stand that song. Danny pulled the double whammy. He picked a song that showcased his voice AND his story. I’m sorry Simon wasn’t impressed…”

The next night during the results show, I wrote, “I can’t believe we have to wait three weeks to hear him again.”

Then on February 19th, after Danny’s conference call with reporters, I wrote my strongest defense of Danny yet:

“In fact, just this morning,’s Michael Slezak fueled that backlash by accusing Danny’s friends of using the photo of Danny and his wife as a vote-gaining strategy. I don’t know if Slezak was on today’s call, but if he was, surely after hearing Danny’s tired and pained voice he feels bad now.Seriously, it was all I could do to keep from taking my phone off mute, screaming, “Danny, I love you. I’m so sorry we’re doing this to you” and then bursting into tears.

And for those of you who think the producers are shoving his story down our throats, honestly, they can’t help themselves. This is the first time that I can think of that “Idol” has found a contestant with a great story that also has a great voice. How can they not spotlight him? And as he said, it’s not his fault.He’s just trying to make the most of it…”

WOW! See what I mean?

On March 10th, after I gave him a 19 (just one point short of perfect) for his performance of “PYT,” I wrote, “Yes, the dancing was off, but this was a real departure for him that worked beautifully—although I’m not sure about that weird beginning. And it was nice to see a sappy family package that didn’t mention his wife. It honestly felt like a new chapter for him.”

Then, the next week, after his performance of “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” I wrote, “Man, if he had only hit that chorus a little faster. The verse was shaky as he tried to hit all the words, but that chorus. WOW! I think it might be on par with the original. Okay, truth time. I think it was better than the original. Let the attacks begin…”

On March 24th, while picking what song I wanted Danny to do for Motown Week, I referred to him as “my favorite contestant.” But when he chose “Get Ready” and ignored mentor Smokey Robinson’s advice, I think that’s when my opinion started to turn when I wrote, “You guys know I love Danny, so I’m really torn here. The vocals were good, but I didn’t like the song choice. And why didn’t he go along with Smokey? Maybe Ryan will ask that tomorrow when he’s got more time, because the way that video was edited didn’t make Danny look very good.”

The next week when he did “What Hurts the Most,” I wrote, “So the judges loved it. Why didn’t I? Maybe it was because he was drowned out by the band a little, or maybe it was because the audio cracked right before his big moment. But something just didn’t work for me.”

The next night (April 1st) during the results show was when Ryan asked the contestants to do their impersonations of each other and Danny impersonated Matt doing his Coldplay performance. During my live blog, I wrote, “That was just wrong.” Later that night, I wrote, “Danny…safe. Is it just me or is he starting to look cocky?”

April 7th, after his performance of “Stand By Me,” I wrote, “This was good, I guess I was just a little disappointed with his choice. Or maybe I really am totally over him. I don’t know how that happened.” The following night I once again pointed out what I called a “cocky nod.”

I tried to get back on board when I chose “Maneater” for Danny to sing during Movie Week (Matt would later share with us that it had to be a song written for a movie, so Danny couldn’t have done “Maneater” anyway.) and wrote, “As I’m sure you guys have noticed, I have fallen out of love with Danny and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the cockiness he seems to be showing during the results shows. Maybe it’s his recent song choices. I don’t know. But I do know that the fastest way to get back into my good graces is to nail a Hall and Oates song.” So, of course I slammed him the next night when he chose “Endless Love”:

“Is he kidding me with all these schmaltzy ballads? Sheesh! And did Megan teach him his pronunciations this week? What is “jou” and “jour”? And isn’t this the second time he’s ignored good advice from a mentor? And where were the glasses? Nice of Simon to mention Danny’s emotion, though, wasn’t it? What is up with these song choices? I would’ve rather heard him do “Against All Odds” than that!”

And again during the following results night, I referred to a “confident smirk.”

I chilled out for the next two weeks, only to unleash my harshest critique last week after that “Dream On” fiasco:

“Alright, Gokey fans, go ahead and tell me I’m being harsh, but I almost took more points off just for that attitude. “It’s…whatever…I’ll just have to go back and listen to it. I don’t think it was as bad as they’re saying.” No, Danny, it wasn’t. It was worse. I appreciate Danny trying to take risks, but wow! Those last several notes were terrible, and some in the beginning were pretty rough too. But Simon is right that he’s safe because the judges jumped in to make excuses for the chosen one.”

And after last week’s results:

“I’m sorry, Danny Gokey fans, but not even you can say his performance Tuesday was good. In fact, that will probably go down in ‘Idol’ history as the worst performance ever by a person in the finale—possibly even the winner.But I can tell you that’s not going to happen if I have anything to say about it. I don’t care if Adam and Kris get out there and sing their ABCs, I am going to vote for them A LOT. I have now made it my mission to do everything I can to keep Danny Gokey out of the finale.Hate all you want, Danny fans. I can take it…”

So what in the world happened? How did I go from him being my guy to making it my mission to keep him out of the finale? I know it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but that’s absolutely mind blowing, isn’t it?

Last week, when I was able to talk with Michael Slezak from “Entertainment Weekly,” I told him that I thought I had let him get into my head concerning Danny (which he had a good laugh about), but surely that can’t be all of it. There have been contestants over the years that I was such a fan of that I was willing to forgive ho-hum performances just to keep them in the competition—Constantine Maroulis, Ace Young, Blake Lewis—so why did I turn so drastically on Danny?

Honestly, I think I fell for the hype…

Now, I’m not saying that Danny is not a good singer, because he is. But I think I made him into a better singer than he was because I fell for his story. Anyone who knows what it’s like to lose a loved one and have to carry on without them can relate to what Danny is going through. So it was easy to get all caught up in the emotion of Danny’s story and not notice that he was practically mumbling through the verses to get to those power choruses. And I think that’s what I did. The further we got away from those emotional moments, the more I noticed Danny’s disappointing song choices and note missteps. And the more disappointed I was in his performances, the more I noticed other things like his impersonation of Matt that came off almost rude and the cocky-looking expressions on his face during results shows that made it seem like he was sure of his safety.

Now that’s not to say I think Danny is a terrible guy, because I don’t. I still stand by what I wrote after that conference call with reporters. Danny seemed to me that day like a genuinely nice guy and based on his interactions with his fellow Idols, I still believe that to be true. I’ve just—as I said before—fallen out of love with him. And if I can continue the metaphor, Kris was there to catch me.

No doubt, the manipulations of the show have also played into my split from Danny with the judges throwing other contestants under the bus to prop Danny up. But I think more than that Danny just disappointed me. I was expecting great and when he only delivered good, I lost interest.

Go ahead, Danny fans, let me have it. Even though Slezak offered to take some of the heat for me, I am still willing to take it. It’s what I’m here for…

But in all honesty, I think if Kris has any chance to knock someone out of the finale, it’s Adam, not Danny. I think Danny’s fan base is just too strong now—even if I’m not a part of it any more…

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FOX