Danny Gokey has been a pretty big punching bag on this season of “American Idol.” But despite his detractors, the 28-year-old from Milwaukee made it to the top three and was expected to coast to the finale.
Q: Do you think your much-discussed scream at the end of “Dream On” last week might have been the beginning of the end of your time on the show?
A: Who knows? I was actually thinking about that this morning. I was like, “Man, maybe that was the downfall.” Because the week before, I had a really good performance. I guess I just really wanted to have a big song that week, so I took a risk. I never really did rock. I think it could have been one of the variables. Being so late in the competition, you don’t want to have a performance like that. The thing is, everything in that performance was good up to that point. I rehearsed that scream so much that I really hurt my vocal cords. It takes a lot to hurt ‘em, and that one did it, because I was sore. … It was funny, though.
Q: How do you think next week’s finale will play out?
A: Kris, obviously he’s really artistic. And Adam has a way of capturing the audience. … I’m gonna say it like this: People need to vote. Don’t automatically assume someone’s going to win. Don’t have your assumptions. If you want a certain person to win, you gotta vote. This competition is not over yet. This is gonna be a very tight race.
Q: Do you think, at this point, it’s required to rearrange your songs every week?
A: I really do. I think you have to change up every song. … At this point, it’s more than singing. People want to see a creative element. They want to see an old song made fresh again. … You can’t go on singing the same arrangement of an old song. You’ll get bashed. [Laughs.]
Q: Did you feel extra pressure as an early front-runner on the show?
A: Absolutely. I felt like I had so much on me in the beginning of the show, that I had to outdo myself every week. It was a battle for me on the show, just internally. I was still growing as a musician. I thought at times that I just wasn’t there yet. I don’t think the show ever works out for front-runners, since there’s so much expectancy on one person. But then you see another person where there’s no expectancy on them, they’ll show up and they can just wow the crowds because people just weren’t expecting it. When you come and you have expectation for something and it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it, you get disappointed.
Q: When Kris was the first person to be told he was safe, did you have a feeling you would be going home?
A: I knew it was it for me. I was very confident in the fact that it was it for me. Actually, all day I thought it was it for me. Did I want it to be it for me? No. I wanted to go for the gold, just like they did, and it didn’t work out that way. The thing is, I’m a competitor by nature. I like to compete. I gave it what I gave it. Looking back, would I have done things different? Absolutely. But the one thing I can say is, I’m proud of my accomplishments, coming from losing my wife 10 months ago to where I am today. It wasn’t just a show I was in. I was battling different things. Not only in this competition did I keep my head up, but I also had to deal with that whole end of the spectrum, losing my wife. I saw strength in me that I didn’t know I had.
Q: Did it bother you at all that Simon so openly lobbied for Adam on Tuesday?
A: It is what it is. It doesn’t make me mad. It doesn’t disappoint me. That’s what [Simon] believes is going to make the most money. Take what I say with a grain of salt … but I didn’t get into this thing for the money. I didn’t get into this so I can live this glamorous lifestyle. Does that come with this career? It will. But my goal is so different and maybe didn’t line up with the goals of what they see as a pop star. I’m OK with that. I want to have a movement with my music. My vision is a little different, so it’s OK with me. The thing is, I love Simon. I can’t hate on him. The guy is bad to the bone. [Laughs.]
Q: You showcased quite a few pairs of glasses on the show. Did you keep accumulating them throughout the season?
A: I started in the beginning of the season with 15, and now, I [have] about 50 or more. Being on “American Idol,” the blessings of glasses have rained from the sky. I really would like to start a Danny line or a Gokey line of eyeglasses.
Q: Were you surprised that Allison Iraheta went home during rock week and you didn’t?
A: The whole amount of the show, I was surprised I kept going. She is a rocker. As everyone in the world can see, I am not a rocker. I think it also goes to show that I have pretty strong support out there. It affirms me as an artist. I’m pretty confident when I put out a CD that hopefully that will still shine through.
Q: What kind of music do you see yourself making?
A: I really want to do a soulful album, but I want to mix it with nice beats, like nice R&B beats, beats that get people’s heads moving, and mix it with a hint of a Latin vibe. I was with my wife for 12 years, she was Puerto Rican, and I’m so into salsa and merengue, and I want to mix it in one arena.
Q: Did you hear any rumblings backstage about how close the vote was this week?
A: I didn’t really hear any rumors, but I just know that it was neck to neck. I believe it was, and that’s all I can say. I really believe it was a neck-to-neck race — or I hope so. [Laughs.]
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page , where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.