Danny Gokey – “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me”
Songwriters: Marv Green and Kent Blazy
Danny Gokey is at a crossroads, both literally and lyrically.
Like other reality show finalists, he must find his niche in an over-saturated market without alienating the fans he picked up through the television airwaves. And while he was originally billed as a contemporary Christian singer with a built-in inspirational message, he is attempting to channel that momentum into the country music world Carrie Underwood, Bucky Covington, Josh Gracin, Kellie Pickler and Kristy Lee Cook have each made their own, to varying degrees of success.
Fittingly, then, his first single also reflects a man caught somewhere between Wade Hayes’ “Old Enough To Know Better” and Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” There’s nary a honky-tonk reference or expletive, of course, but “My Best Days are Ahead of Me” shares those songs’ sense of self-awareness: “Blowing out the candles on another birthday cake/Old enough to look back and laugh at my mistakes/Young enough to look at the future and like what I see.”
The result is a believable, earnest effort that’s bland and entirely forgettable. In fact, the single finds Gokey stripped of everything but his clean-cut, positive image. Gone is the core of his soulful American Idol performances that gave songs like Lee Ann Womack’s pop-country standard “I Hope You Dance” the fiery T. Graham Brown treatment. What remains is less Lionel Ritchie and more Match.com: “I’ve got sunsets to witness/Dreams to dance with/Beaches to walk on/And lovers to kiss.”
However, the most glaring omission from the song is its lack of narrative, the backbone of country music that pulls listeners from beginning to end. Save its dreadful bridge, the only image Gokey paints is one of glowing candles on a birthday’s cake, leaving only a string of vaguely uplifting clichés like “age ain’t nothing but a number” in its wake.
Much has been made about Gokey’s insta-leap into the country genre; however, traces of Ronnie Millsap-grade charisma shine through on “My Best Days are Ahead of Me.” Perhaps the rest of his upcoming album Best Days will better showcases it, if only in hopes there are at least some good songs ahead of the singer.
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