As Danny Gokey and Tatiana Del Toro stood together on the American Idol stage tonight, only one able to move on in the competition, I knew the winner was going to be Danny.
OK, I wouldn’t have written that if I had been wrong and Tatiana had been reduced to tears of joy — you knew the waterworks were coming either way.
But here’s why I knew Danny would be moving on: Yes, he has a really good, tres Idol voice, and that is important. But at this stage, as national voting begins, is that enough? Um, no. Danny seared himself into our collective consciousness during the Kansas City auditions when we heard the heartbreaking story of his wife’s death, including those hopeless moments when doctors told him there was nothing they could do for her. As he sang Hero Tuesday night, you couldn’t forget that, and obviously a lot of Americans want to see his story continue.
The thing that made me sure Danny was going to win was the other dude picked by voters in this round: Michael Sarver. His story isn’t as dramatic, and frankly, his performance of Gavin DeGraw’s I Don’t Wanna Be was simply good. But how many working stiffs can relate to his story of the dad trying to win one for his wife and two kids? Plus, he has been the consummate nice guy. Good will is a good thing to generate at this point in the contest, and it put him in the final 12.
The Louisville auditions put the first contestant in the final dozen with Alexis Grace, whose performance of Aretha’s Never Loved a Man made you momentarily forget she’s the young mom who’s been raising her little girl alone while her husband’s been in military school. It was a somewhat humble reminder that while stories are good, to still be in competition in May, you’ll have to bring a voice, which Alexis surely has. (We humbly remind you your first chance to see Alexis was in our Louisville audition video.) Now I’m off to my guitar, because that Memphis singer made me want to play some blues.