Simon Cowell Still Believes In Danny Gokey–But Why?

noah | April 29, 2009 10:00 am

You know who’s coming back to perform on tonight’s American Idol? Taylor Hicks, the season-five winner who angered Simon Cowell for his lack of “bona fide recording artist” credentials. But you know who one of Cowell’s top picks to go all the way is this year? Danny Gokey, whose overall stage presence keeps reminding me of Hicks–only Gokey has a little less polish, a lot more smugness, and a super-extensive eyewear collection. Last night’s parade of Rat Pack songs was no exception, yet Cowell seemed in the tank for Gokey anyway, continuing his press tour rantings about the Wisconsin worship leader’s singing ability even though there were at least three other singers who completely owned him on the Idol stage. 5. Danny Gokey. So about The Gokester. The whole interaction between him and Jamie Foxx in the pre-performance clip–where Foxx used the old movie-director trick of throwing an artist off guard by getting in his face and forcing him to sing, which actually kind of freaked him out a bit–made me realize that part of the reason I have been so cold toward him is that there’s been this wall up for him, an almost Archuletan inability to surrender to artistry in a way that might make him vulnerable to his smiley-happy voting base. He’s so calculated, from the dead-wife thing to the glasses to the “finish big” audience manipulation, and tonight was just another example of that. But Simon loved it. Which is just weird, since you would think Taylor Hicks–the man who basically broke Idol, remember–being the Returning Idol on tonight’s results show would serve as sort of a cautionary tale for the Gokey apologists sitting behind the Coke cups. But it was not to be. Please tell me, smart readers of this column: Who the hell would, as Randy claimed, buy an album of Blueshammer-ish yarling that always opens up into Really Meaning It at the end? How many copies has Taylor Hicks’ second album sold? I know that I’m something of a niche market, but really, I’d rather have a thousand Kris Allens any day. 4. Adam Lambert. His version of Muse’s “Feelin’ Good” was OK, but there was something… missing. The difference between his camera-gaze at the end of his performance on the actual show and the one that ran during the “phone lines are open” package (which was taken from the dress rehearsal) was very startling, almost as if he lost his confidence in the hour and a half that elapsed between the two. It got the usual huzzahs from the judges, but I felt it was hollow (not to mention a bit pitchy at the end). 3. Matt Giraud. A very Elvis Costello-ish version of “My Funny Valentine” that was competent enough (it is a really tough song to sing), although the perils of HD revealed themselves when I found myself concentrating on his facial expressions more than his actual performance. 2. Kris Allen. If the pre-roll is to be believed, he’s Jamie Foxx’s favorite, and I have to say the way he worked the microphone was very old-school crooner. A few off notes here and there, but overall he played “The Way You Look Tonight” pretty well; Kara liked the “technical standard” he was setting So what was Simon’s problem? Calling him a “well-trained spaniel”? And “Wet”? (Not “Wet Wet Wet”?) This was the first time during the evening that I wondered if there was some reverse psychology going on. You can probably guess the second one! 1. Allison Iraheta. Her performance of “Someone To Watch Over Me” was absolutely outstanding, on point and brimming with confidence Sure, Randy’s calling her style “like Pink but with 9,000 more octaves” was a little, um, ignorant of Pink’s style. And I was glad Kara liked her! But what was the deal with Simon putting her on the spot and asking her if she could win right now, then attributing her perceived shortfalls to “personality,” yet another reverse-psychology way to rally her base? And the real question: Would she even be as appealing if she is if she had a Gokeyian ego? WHO I VOTED FOR: Kris and Allison. Clearly, the reverse psychology worked. WHO SHOULD GO HOME: Take a guess! WHO WILL GO HOME: Maybe Matt? REVEALING DIOGUARDISM OF THE NIGHT: “I love you, but you are crazy,” to Simon. Um, this will not really quash those rumors of dischord, hon. American Idol [Official site]