home Archive American Idol – The Importance of Humility

American Idol – The Importance of Humility


After having the following conversation with some friends after the American Idol results show tonight, I decided to turn it into a post. There are two necessary ingredients to being a winner, whether it’s the winner of a reality show, the winner of a poker game, or the winner of a game of tag. You have to have humility.

Arguably, the star of this season has been Adam Lambert. I say that knowing that everyone that reads this space and my recaps regularly knows that I’m not always Adam’s biggest fan, yet he’s undeniably the star of the season and for awhile it seemed like the finale might be a foregone conclusion, as people were already crowning him. My thing against him continues to be the same thing, that I see him being a character during his performances more than I see him … performing. He lacks a little depth in his emotions. Sure, there’s emotions there, but they aren’t necessarily his; they belong to his character he’s portraying that week.

Despite all that, Adam seems to be the most humble. When he’s not singing on the American Idol stage, he has his emotions pouring out of him. He seems genuinely nervous each week waiting for the results, and that was even before he appeared in the bottom two last week. Every time he receives a particularly good critique, he mouths out a “thank you” to the judges. When all the final ten were asked to say something nice about Matt Giraud when he was voted out, Adam said he was intimidated by Matt’s talent. Wow. Just let that sink in a little.

As a mom I have to give Adam’s mom big props here. If he wasn’t raised right, he wouldn’t be able to be that humble. Kudos. I know how tough it is, and I can only hope to have my children grow up with their heads in the right place like that.


Now to where I’m not seeing the humility this season. Like everyone else I was taken in with Danny Gokey’s story of recently losing his wife. No one should ever have to live through that pain, and it speaks of his strength that he can not only carry on, but continue on in this dream without his wife, when she was originally supposed to be on this ride with him.

However, it almost seems like he started listening to all the early hype about him. Early in the finals, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, and Simon Cowell went on The Tonight Show and declared they thought the winner would turn out to be Danny. Something happened after that, though. Adam began having brilliant performances, while Danny’s performances began to run into another. Again, I’ve been a fan, but the performances all started to sound like the one the week before.

When Ryan goes over his critiques to let him know if he’s in danger or not every week, Danny seems almost smug, like this is all just an exercise in futility for him, as he knows he’s safe. But tonight I saw it more than any other time. He was asked about that last note in his Dream On from the night before. He laughed about it and said watching the show back, he realized it was bad, so he just laughed about it all night. If you had a really bad note, shouldn’t you be worried you’re going to go home? Instead, he just laughed. A little humility would have been great there. It was like saying, “Yeah, I screwed up, but I know you poor saps are going to keep me here another week anyway.”

It makes me not want to see Danny in the final 2, because I can’t get behind that personality that thinks he deserves it. There’s a fine line in between that confidence that Simon wants from the Idols and the arrogance he gets mad at, such as Megan Joy saying she didn’t care about his critiques. It’s great to be confident, in fact I don’t think you can get as far as final 2 without it, but don’t act like you’re better than the others or that we should all be grateful for the chance to listen to you every week. We put you there, and without the fans, you wouldn’t have gotten from final 36 to final 3.

Photo courtesy of fox

14 thoughts on “American Idol – The Importance of Humility

  1. Adam is such a good actor that his true humility could be questioned. I dislike his howling and high screams so humility is not imnportant in his case.
    I liked Danny’s reaction to Simon’s negative remarks. Danny wanted to hear for himself and after he did, his laughing reaction was very real. He is not abasingly humble but seemingly have a good time taking things as they come and appreciating the good and thinking about the bad and in these last two weeks, getting out of the rut.
    Kris is the one who I like because he seems to realize that he is on the bubble every week and probably has geared himself to be on the bottom regularly so that he is surprised when he is rated ahead of the so called superstars. He has a quiet but huge musical talent plus the ability to make songs his own without destroying the good of the original.
    So, we have three in the finals who realize how good the competion is are grateful to be where they are. Danny and Adam will rightly be shocked if they aren’t number one. Both deserve it and have different voting bloks. Kris could easlily win more votes if either of the leaders slips and has an off performance or if Kris has a great performance. This will be a good finale with all three among the the best contestants over all seasons.

  2. It was nice to see your assessment of Adam “playing a character”. I have shared that opinion from the first weeks. One thing I have never heard mentioned….what is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me….the way Adam gasps while singing and his “whiney” sound that appears in every song. UGH!!!!! And, for me, his “humility” has seemed like an act. I believe he is an excellent actor with musical talent. His real talent is in becoming the character. Watching his facial expressions, I see a man who believes he has already won American Idol.

    As far as Danny’s attitude…to me it has always appeared that he was a humble person that was so appreciative of all the audience support. Do you notice how intently he listens to the judges’ comments? He says “I appreciate that” even when it is a criticism. He does not seem to be “afraid” of failure. He seems to genuinely enjoy people…whether it is the judges, the audience, his fellow contestants, etc. Laughing about his “horror movie final note” was not arrogant….it was more…”What was I thinking?” Watch and listen!!!!

  3. Danny’s a Sweetheart! Totally Lovable! I can’t wait for him to put out a christian themed cd!

    Adam is a Very good singer, but he acts out the part that goes with the song each week.
    Totally Theatrical. Broadway is his Home.

    I think both have about the same degree of humility.

    I would go see Adam in a Broadway play.
    I would go see Danny in concert.
    I will buy Danny’s cd.
    Probaby not Adam’s.

  4. If you believe that Adam plays a character during his performances,as do I,then what makes you think he is being sincere with his humble approach to flattery?Adam has also never faced the harsh criticisms of the judges-I would love to see his reaction to that.A part of being humble is the ability to laugh at yourself-which is exactly what Danny did.

  5. Thanks to all those that saw this post for what it was, an attempt to get people talking and thinking about a viewpoint they wouldn’t have thought of previously. I find it interesting that so many different people can feel differently about it.

  6. Dear MCL – Thank you for opening this forum. It is interesting to see the viewers’ interpretation of individuals’ body language.

    I have read blogs where Danny is thought to be smug, or insincere, or conceited… and those do not take that impression favorably, meaning just because of that, they decided to have one against Danny. That’s life in show biz, it comes with the territory. I do find the interpretation of Danny’s mannerism and facial expressions interesting because I for one do *not* share a negative view.

    I can say Danny is the only one contestant all season long for this viewer, when I watch him perform, hear him sing or when he interacts with fellow contestants on the show, that I find myself smiling or grinning, kind of really relaxed and feeling good. I think he is a goof ball and a bit of a dork in a good way trying to look cool in front of the camera. That is the complete opposite to smug. I naturally root for him to do well and to do better and better. I have never analyzed this before. I think he gives out excellent life energy. Perhaps I identify with Danny in this aspect. We tend to be progressive and forward thinking people. I guess that is it.

    By contrast, for Adam, I find him over the top in every aspect of performance. I believe he is a nice person when I saw sincerity the way he greets others or bids farewell to the castoffs. But that did not come across to me as someone humble. But I will agree he is a nice, sensitive soul.

  7. I agree with the original post. I’m not an Adam fan, but I can’t stand Danny’s smugness, because he isn’t humble. All three of the other top 4 contestants were humble, they really were, but you can notice the difference with Danny. He always tries to talk about him, sometimes even interrupted other people to say something “funny” about him. So what happened this week looked very un-humble, both on performance and results night. First, when he told the judges he had to watch for himself to see if they were right, and as much as I understand how people usually laugh of things they’ve done wrong (I do it all the time), this wasn’t like that. It was like saying, oh, yes, the judges were right, but it’s funny because it’s very unbelievable, because I always am the best. I mean, like he had to see it and noticed it himself, no matter what everyone said the night before. And when he noticed, it was ok, but not a big deal. When it actually was a big deal.

  8. Are we rally judging the performers on their smirks and winks? Maybe we should stick to the basics..the singing.

  9. I have never been a Danny fan, and have only slowly become an Adam fan. His talent has won me over. But about the humility thing – it really shows with Adam. He mouths the ‘thank you’, but it’s also the look on his face when he finishes a song. The audience is applauding and his look says, ‘wow, thanks, I’m really glad you liked my song’.

    It looks awfully genuine to me, and I have not seen that kind of sensitivity/humility whatever you want to call it with most of the other idols – this season or any other.

    It may be that Danny is completely unaware that he appears to look smug whenever he finishes a song; that smug, superior kind of smirk he gets may just be the way he looks and means nothing at all. But it’s all we have for an impression.

  10. Why yes, I have lost someone I loved very much. When I was 18 I lost someone who was all of my cousin, a sister, and my best friend all at once when she died in a horrific car accident. But thank you for the pleasant reminder. There’s also my grandparents, all four of them, and my husbands’, three of them, including one that I was unlucky to walk in and find dead. But again, I appreciate the reminders, as assumably because I find that Danny lacks humility, you assume I have never lost anyone I loved.

    Neither Adam or Danny are my favorites, but I am fans of both of them and have downloaded and paid for many of their songs. I’d like to point out though that if this is something others aside from just me are saying, that my opinion is not brought on because I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone I love.

  11. I finally have to comment after seeing all the blogs for many weeks about Danny being smug.
    When he said he laughed, he was not taking it lightly, he was laughing at HIMSELF for being so bad. Confident AND humble people are the ones who can laugh at themselves when they do something supid. Egotistical people are who ones who make excuses when they do something stupid or wrong. For instance, Lil.
    As far as seeming smug and uncaring on the show, have you ever lost someone you loved very much? People handle it in different ways. Some (and I believe Danny is one of them) handle the pain by trying to hold it inside and not let all the emotions show every minute. They usually feel this is the only way they can get on with their life. They save the crying and other emotions for private times.
    I like Adam also and belive he is the most talented, but as far him mouthing “thank you” all the time, does anyone know for sure this is not also part of his “act”? I think he is sincere, but only Adam knows for sure.
    No one ever mentions it, but I have seen Danny mouth or say thank you also. But all of the blogs only mention Adam for doing it.
    Did no one notice the look of total shock on Allison AND Danny’s face when Adam was in the bottom 3? This was not the look of a smug person!

  12. I totally agree that humility is important.

    However, somehow, many people tend to mistaken humility with a lack of confidence.

    This is not so. Rather, it reflects a quiet confidence as opposed to a flaunting in your face onfidence.

    Himility also shows a respect for other people’s feelings who may not have done or be as good as you may be. It is about not rubbing it into other people’s face.

    On the contrary, those who are not humble may very well be lacking in confidence instead.

  13. I totally disagree with you about Danny. I have a similar personality, where if I screw up, my first reaction is to laugh about it to make myself and others less uncomfortable. And I’d rather laugh than cry. Doesn’t mean I am taking it lightly, it’s just how I deal. I think he’s the same way. To me, he looks genuinely nervous during every results show, including last night. I think he was resigned to expect anything. After his September performance, he looked SHOCKED not to be in the bottom three. If anything, because of what he has been through, I think he keeps the Idol experience in perspective. He certainly appreciates everything about it, but it’s not the end of the world if he loses, and he feels blessed to have made it this far.

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