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What’s up with American Idol’s new judge Kara DioGuardi and why is the show milking contestants’ tragedies?

posted by Joanne Brokaw

AmericanIdolDannyGokey.jpgSo the first two auditions from American Idol are over, and I have two questions:
1) Why is American Idol taking such advantage of the contestants’ tragedies?
2) Why do we need another judge?
First, the contestants.


On Tuesday night’s show, they focused repeatedly on blind pianist Scott MacIntyre. Teaser after teaser talked about his inspiring story and how we’re going to be so moved as we follow him through the competition. OK, so the guy is blind, and he plays piano. Yes, he’s talented, and yes, he’s a great guy. But unique? Hello?? Stevie Wonder, anyone? It’s a lovely, inspiring story, but if that’s the best the show can hang it’s hat on, we’re in trouble this season.
Then last night, it was Danny Gokey (pictured), a church music teacher from Wisconsin, whose wife died just four weeks before the audition. Good grief, do they need to take advantage of the situation, running teasers of the guy crying? Sure, we want to hear his story, but there’s a point where it becomes opportunistic, and then just creepy.
Interestingly enough, the guy looks like he’s a Christian and says he hoped to get through so he can tell the world her story. He’s a church music teacher, and after doing a little research online, it looks like he might be part of Faith Builders International in Milwaukee.
I think that because I inadvertently found his late wife Sophia’s Bebo page, and then her obituary, both of which listed the ministry. It’s more than a little creepy, to be honest, looking at her personal pictures, reading about her watching Taylor Hicks on American Idol, and about how her husband is her other half. When her profile asks her to list what’s she afraid of, she writes, “I’m not sure what I’m really scared of…. ” (You can read more about Danny Gokey in this post about Sophia’s Heart Foundation, which he set up in honor of his wife.)
But I digress. The guy has chops (every blogger’s new favorite word) and a touching story, and if my guess is right, a whole ministry ready to dial up his number on voting night. I like him a lot. As long as they stop with the saccharine-coated, tear-jerker promos.
Now for Kara DioGuardi. OK, she’s talented, accomplished, and beautiful. But on this show, she’s redundant. We have brains and experience from Randy and Simon, and pretty from Paula. Unless they need someone to translate for Paula on her less coherent evenings, Kara DioGuardi is just another guest judge. Pretty to look at, but without any bearing on the actual results of the competition at all. At times, it looked like Randy, Simon and Paula made up their minds and thought to ask Kara for her vote as an afterthought.
Although, when she faced off against Bikini Girl (aka Katrina Darrell), I was certain that if it came to a fistfight, Kara could take her without any trouble. And when she told one contestant he was a “ballsy dude” and told another one “You’ve got a really big instrument” she did offer a couple of snicker moments.
All in all, American Idol has been a bit of disappointment so far. Too many commercials and teasers that don’t pay off. Too much editing and story planning, not enough Ryan Seacrest goofing with the contestants. It’s all just a little predictable, and feels like the show is trying too hard to do what has always come naturally.
Then again, we’ve only just begun. We’ve got six more cities and thousands more characters to entertain us through spring.
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And if you want more American Idol show recap, visit my Idol blog at NewChristianVoices.com.
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Chris C.

posted January 15, 2009 at 10:55 am


I think you know how I feel about American Idol to begin with, it’s basically a camp talent show with higher stakes, and anyone who has won a karaoke contest thinks they should be an “Idol”. What happened to the old school grind of booking your own gigs and putting yourself out there trying to get noticed and no one paying any attention to you? Until…..one day you fill a club with people and they love you!
American Idol has basically destroyed the process of becoming a musician and allowed people to skip the school of hard knocks and rise to stardom in a 3 minute audition (or however long it is)–even if you DON’T get voted on the show you’re still in your 15 minutes of fame(or, more if you’re William Hung).
That wasn’t to hijack your blog post, it was a lead up to agreeing with you. You said this season is possibly “opportunistic”, isn’t that what the show was about the begin with??? The “stars” from this show seem to rise up overnight, and die out overnight. Is Ruben Studdard even doing gigs anymore? Or just “American Idol” tours? This show has always been about the show making money, and exploiting the people who try out. SO, I agree exponentially, it’s opportunistic, but has been since day one.
As for bikini girl, I’m gonna try and find a youtube clip, hope it’s worth sitting through part of the show!
As always, love to read your stuff Joanne!



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 15, 2009 at 11:33 am


LOL, you’re hilarious, Chris. I agree, some American Idol stars fade. Ruben is a bad example, because he was eclipsed by Clay Aiken right away. But how about Taylor Hicks? Where is he now?
I agree that for a lot of those contestants they’re trying to bypass the system. But a lot of them also have paid their dues. Jordan Sparks was around the Christian industry for a while, toured with Michael W. Smith – which probably won’t mean much to you but it’s big. She also did some Alice Cooper Christmas thing, won a few big talent competitions. Same with Melinda Doolittle. She was a back up singer for years. Chris Daughtry had a band and did the whole club scene. Those are just a few examples.
But isn’t that kinda what celebrity is all about? An actress is discovered at the lunch counter at Hollywood and Vine. Harrison Ford is doing the roof on Francis Ford Coppola’s house and viola, star. (I think it was Harrison Ford anyway …)
I think for the viewer, American Idol is about watching the good and bad, and rooting for singers that resonate with us. Yup, it’s a big karaoke contest. But it can be fun! :)
Go check out bikini girl. You’ll love it. :)
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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frank harris

posted January 16, 2009 at 1:29 am


“Interestingly enough, the guy looks like he’s a Christian.”
Whaaaaaa?



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 16, 2009 at 9:26 am


Frank, I probably should have said, “appears to be a Christian.” Is that better?
Remember, this is a blog about Christian music. I need to try and tie the stories to the Christian music industry. This guy’s a worship leader.
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Mark Weber

posted January 16, 2009 at 11:04 am


The Buffalo News has a live blog during Idol this season. So if anyone wants to make catty comments about contestants they just go to BuffaloNews.com and look for the live link and then join the chat while the show is on– it’s so much fun!
Idol this season is not as lively as it used to be based on one thing: tired old Seacrest! The host, Ryan Seacrest, is simply not as excited to be there during these audition shows. He’s sleepwalking thru these shows- perhaps because he does a million other things now, including his popular radio show.
Idol has been going for so many years now, that there aren’t that many surprises left– in general, you see the same types of people auditioning and making it to the top 10– rocker chick or rocker guy, effeminate guy, Christian guy, cute/bubbly blonde, etc.
Still we all watch, because winter is a depressing time of the year and we need escapist entertainment, and Idol is entertaining.
I am looking forward to this season.



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 16, 2009 at 11:20 am


Mark, I’m bummed because I watch The Mentalist, and the second hour of the auditions was on at the same time. Not sure what I’ll do about that.
Nice, promoting another blog here, LOL. ;) I’m blogging about American Idol for NewChristianVoices.com, as well as here:
http://www.newchristianvoices.com/blogs/american-idol-blog
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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J. Negron

posted January 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Hey all, I just want to clarify that yes HE IS a Christian and yes he does go to FAITH BUILDERS INTERNATIONAL Ministries in Milwaukee. He is actually the Praise & Worship leader there and is also the music teacher. Sophia is my cousin. She was married to Dan for almost 4 wonderful years. Our family was always close but the sudden death of my cousin Sophia brought us even closer. Now I consider Danny my cousin. If you would like to know more about him. Do not hestate to look here:
http://www.myspace.com/danielgokey
http://www.myspace.com/sophiasheartfoundation
http://www.sophiasheart.org
Take care and GOD BLESS!!!



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 16, 2009 at 1:18 pm


Thanks! I actually did another post on Danny and the foundation:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/gospelsoundcheck/2009/01/more-on-american-idol-contesta.html
It’s such a sad story, and the show exploited it, but I’m so glad he has the chance to talk about his wife on national TV now. Hopefully her story will inspire others!
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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just thinking

posted January 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm


Mr Negron,
It is a VERY dangerous thing to point and say he is a Christian. You do not know…….this is doctrine 101……only he and GOD knows. Be very very very careful when making absolutes like that. Please take this post with great thinking and pndering. if you get defensive i pity you even more. He may be, but it is not up to you to make that decleration….never was and never will be. Let his fruits speak on his behalf….no help is needed from you.



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm


Just Thinking – not sure if you read the whole comment from J. Negron, but the contestant we’re talking about, Danny Gokey, is actually related to him. So he probably has some better insight than you or I as to whether Mr. Gokey is a Christian.
If your point is that we can never know if someone else is a Christian, and you’re right that only God knows for sure, then the word “Christian” needs to be totally eliminated from our vocabulary. Agreed, someone’s service doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian.
But if your family believes you’re a Christian because you’ve publicly accepted Christ the Savior and that fruit is born out in your actions, then I don’t have a problem that J Negron confirmed that “he’s a Christian”.
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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just thinking

posted January 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm


does saying a magical bunch of words save you? does your family believing you are a christian save you? no one can say for sure…that is my point.
Fruit….actions….hating what you once loved (sin) and loving what you once hated (GOD)….that is an indication that you are saved. i challange ANYONE to prove scriptually that accepting or recieving JESUS into your heart makes you saved…..it is imposible to prove that “doctrine” scriptually. You know who will make it into heaven?? Those who endure to the end. Narrow is the Gate….but NARROW IS THE PATH!! What does that allow us a “Christians”
Just thinking….



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just thinking

posted January 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm


This should put the “Christian Walk” into perspective:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuabITeO4l8



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm


Well, considering it’s an almost hour long video, I’m not sure when I’ll find time to watch the whole thing.
But again, this is a post about American Idol. If you watch the show and want to comment on the judges, contestants, songs, Christian music, etc, that would be great!
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Your Name

posted January 16, 2009 at 5:04 pm


Ok So this is just set things straight, I have been a friend of Danny Gokey for about 7 years now. He is a great man and a great friend, I was also friends with his wonderful wife Sophia. We were best friends, when I heard about about her death is shocked me. We were not at all expecting this outcome. Danny absolutly loved his wife, what American Idol did was show his hurt and pain but they showed how he has triumph through it all. I don’t feel that they expoited or took advantaged of him to raise rating or too keep the viewers interested. Danny did an phenomenal job at his audition, yes I am bias but that’s the truth. My question is people what does him being a Christian or not a Christian has to do with anything? The real point is his testimony, his story of where he’s coming from. He is promoting his wife’s honor. The fact that you say he looks like a Christian…well that’s compliment…who would not would to look Christ like? I mean that’s what a being a Christian is all about right, being Christ like?! Danny has many many friends and yes we are just waiting to dail those numbers. Danny is the next American Idol! I am very proud of Danny and all that he is doing in honor and remembrance of his wife Sophia. And anyone who loses a sponse with in the last 6 months you are going to see sorrow, tears, and pain. And it’s not to get attention or votings, it’s what he’s going through, it’s the real deal. And love him for it, for loving my best friend so much to honor her and show the world who she really was. That’s the real Danny Gokey!



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Joanne Brokaw

posted January 16, 2009 at 6:15 pm


His being a Christian only has to do with the fact that this is a blog about Christian music, so I’m looking for a way to tie that into my posts. That he was a worship leader at Faith Builders is the connection. That I was also able to tell readers more about the foundation he set up for his wife is even better.
I do feel like the show is doing some exploiting this year, more than normal. They’re taking the sappy stories to a nauseating level this season. It’s not enjoyable, and the teasers being held over through two hours of commercial so the story could be told near the end is just …. snore …. I’m not thrilled with American Idol this year so far!
Joanne
host of the GS blog



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Shelia

posted January 22, 2009 at 10:16 am


This is for just thinking,
Yes, the Bible does say that if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth the lord jesus christ thou shalt be saved.



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lisa gremore

posted January 22, 2009 at 10:31 am


I think American Idol is just plain mean and that our society not only accepts it but embraces says a lot about our culture. And its not good.



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Shar

posted March 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm


I wish American Idol would reject their new judge Kara.. She is so dramatic and if I hear her talk more about the contestants personality then their singing abilities I will scream. She can’t hold a candle to Paula so I say REJECT her from the show…Everytime she speaks I mute the tv!!!



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