Wednesday, November 03, 2010

BEST TRACK: David Archuleta's "Complain"

I don't really follow "American Idol" anymore. I own albums by Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, and Justin Guarini, but my tolerance level for reality show-constructed debut albums lowered as the years went on. However, it's hard to miss the coverage of who's winning and what songs they've released. So although I've been ignoring recent winners and runner-ups, David Archuleta is a little hard to ignore.

He sounds...a lot younger than he looks, which is pretty young as it is. He has the right sweet, poppy voice for a "Relaxing Tunes" playlist. The thing is though, like a majority of "Idol" winners, his music has no actual authenticity. I just don't feel like he feels what he's singing. I think he knows what he's supposed to sound like, but it's just not that believable. When Kelly Clarkson sings about heartbreak, you actually believe her heart was broken. When Robin Thicke sings about taking your clothes off, you actually believe he wants to take your clothes off. When Eminem raps about burning down his love shack, you actually believe he has matches in his hands. They have conviction. There's nothing about the way Archuleta sings that's very aggressive in expressing what the lyrics are saying. You get the feeling that the 19-year-old has less life and love experience than Justin Bieber. He just doesn't sound very confident, which is odd since most shy/demure singers (Beyonce, Sara Bareilles, etc.) shed their fear once they grab the mike.

That said non-Idol-lovers, for his second album of original songs, The Other Side of Down, I'd recommend listening to "Complain":


  1. Interesting that everything you described is the complete opposite of what AI judges, mentors, guest judges said during David's run on AI and that was almost 3 years ago. The Other Side of Down is David being hopeful, optimistic, caring, humble, all those admirable attributes that seem to be forgotten by many. You mention Beiber? Someone who seems to be on the fast track on living life at 16, very sad IMO, I'll take 1 David to 1000 Beibers in a heartbeat.

  2. If you can bring yourself to do it, try seeing Archuleta live sometime. I promise that all that conviction that sounds lacking in the studio will be there--and more.

  3. Sorry Monica, but you're wrong, and I'd recommend that everyone listen to the WHOLE album, because it's fantastic. As was said during Idol, David can sing the phone book. His voice is beautiful and so is his soul.

  4. I truly think strongly you are on to David's singing problem. However he has sang what he needs to continue to do. It would be a little older but his fans will follow and they to will begain to hear what David can really do. Please think and hear again David Doing Imagine,Smoky Mountain,The most showing along with Imagine(my #2 pick) (the idol show one) the Spanish song from the ELMA AWARDS)song.(My #1 Pick for voice +) Sorry i do not know the name presently. That is going to be his ace. If not now,later. This is where his star is. Just really lisen to the voice very closely. He has the IT factor. Thank you.Dee

  5. I suggest you read David's book Chords of Strength, before you judge his "authenticity". You will find a young person with an old soul who has values and deep understanding on living life to its fullest.He is happiest when reaching out a hand to help others. He has co-written 10 of the 12 cuts on the CD. These songs are about his outlook on his life at this time.


  6. I don't usually mind mediocre reviews for some of David's albums because I'm not always fond of the way they're produced.

    But it's pretty clear that the critic here, Monica, is simply trying to elicit a response from David's infamously rabid fans.

    When she smugly says, "He sounds a lot younger than he looks," and "You get the feeling that the 19-year-old has less life and love experience than Justin Bieber. He just doesn't sound very confident, which is odd since most shy/demure singers (Beyonce, Sara Bareilles, etc.) shed their fear once they grab the mike," you realize what Monica is trying to do. The points she's making are deliberately the reverse of what David's singing is widely acknowledged to be.

    Take issue with his fumbly personality, or his choice of material, or the over-processed studio technique of too many of his albums. That's fine. But when you accuse Archuleta's voice of being "too young" and lacking feeling, you've knowingly abdicated your responsiblility as a reviewer not to play games with your critiques.

  7. um, Anonymous person, this is my opinion. I'm a critic--that's what I give. I'm not trying to elicit anything from anyone by writing something that'll piss someone off. If you don't agree, then you don't agree. Of course I assumed Archuleta fans wouldn't, but that doesn't mean my intention was to piss them off. This review was more for people who weren't already Archuleta fans, in case they were wondering if he was any good. Hence the "That said non-Idol-lovers..."

    Side note: I've never been called smug before, and that was pretty funny.

  8. Obviously, Monica, I hit a nerve--- otherwise, you wouldn't have condescended to respond to me. And if you find being called "smug" funny, you'll find this hysterical: you were NOT "just giving your opinion" as a critic.

    Yes, your intention was to "piss off" people and to elicit a reaction.

    If you bothered to read my entire post, I stated that I myself am quick to criticize some of Archie's albums --- but then that's not REALLY what you were doing, was it??

    Yes. Smug.

  9. Wow! I feel the complete opposite! I've never heard someone sing with so much passion and authenticity in all my life...and I am an adult fan of David Archuleta's. Oh well. In my opinion he can sing anyone under the table! He's the best singer out there today. Just my opinion :)

  10. Monica, you lost all "cred" when you admitted to owning a Justin Guarini CD. You most certainly are entitled to your opinion on this or any subject, but your misunderstanding of David and his music is nothing short of breathtaking. As Bianca said "try to see Archuleta live". If after doing that, you are not moved, entertained, and find him to be authentic, I would check my pulse, girlfriend.

    P.S. Comparing Justin Bieber to David Archuleta should disqualify you from any future music related reviews.