Man, his Voice is getting deeper!
So 24 hours later, after taking a few surveys on what Soul David Archies want for David’s immediate musical future, here is what voters had to say.
More than half of voters (54%) believe David’s biggest hurdle in his career is lack of promo, but there is still a significant number of voters (21%) who think he has no problems at all and that fans should just be patient.
Still, nearly 2/3 of voters (64%) favor David changing his label more than anything else he might decide to do in his immediate future, which just goes to show that many of you believe David’s main issues have to do with remaining on a label that doesn’t promote him (on the previous poll, 15% of you thought a major hurdle was his label’s lack of vision).
Of course, while the majority of you believe David needs to change labels, few could agree on which label he should switch to. In that particular poll, votes were all across the map, although 30% of voters favored David going the Columbia label route, which features a variety of artists – from Adele to Maxwell to Beyonce. Still, 20% of you didn’t specify which major label David should switch to, as long as it was to another major label rather than to an indie label (I guess due to small labels having smaller budgets and less moolah for promo). Perhaps this also has to do with most voters not quite having a preference but just wanting a change since the current label is unsatisfactory (at least to his fans if not to David).
So, there you have it. Thanks for participating, everyone! :)
After watching yesterday’s American Idol, I made a snide comment in the previous thread about the show’s need to promote the Bieber in order to address what they hope would be the appeal of younger contestants and their own choice to lower the contestant age to 15 this year. While I was reminded of the show’s incentive in doing so (e.g. Bieber’s label Island Def Jam is under the same umbrella as UMG; Idol needs the promo if they mention a popular contestant like the fetus), that certainly didn’t assuage my rage. (heh, is that a new catch term I just coined?)
Here’s the thing.
Idol producers are so obtuse, they don’t even recognize when they’re taking the lead in terms of popular trends (nitwits!). Let’s get real here. If there had been no David Archuleta, there would be no Justin Bieber. (That’s right, I said it.)
Just like we could also argue that if there had been no Jordin Sparks, there would be no Taylor Swift.
Please note: I’m making a distinction here between tween-marketed teen stars of our era vs. the teen-marketed teen stars of the previous era (you know, the Ushers, Brandys, Britneys, Xtinas, and Justins of the MTV-TRL crowd back in the day).
Look at it this way. While Disney obviously had their own models on how to market teeny boppers to a tween market (Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers), which they did by first launching their pop stars via TV shows or movie musicals and then branching out into music, American Idol dared to put out underage music artists solely on the strength of their musicality and reality TV personas, artists who put our records and even had a few hits (Jordin’s “Tattoo,” “No Air,” and “Battlefield”; David’s “Crush”). What American Idol did convincingly that Disney never could was showcase teens who could actually sing and have a real sense of music, as well as a real sense of everydayness. And, unlike Disney, who never launched a male star without including him in a boy band (don’t forget Justin Timberlake moved from Mickey Mouse Club to ‘N Sync), Idol provided a model for the launching of a white male pop star sans band with David.
In other words, Idol gave the current music world a model of how to successfully launch a boy teen pop idol in the present day. (Jive may have known how to “grow” Usher and Chris Brown into young adulthood stardom, but they certainly don’t have a cornerstone in creating the tween sensation, as they tried to do with David but with limited success.)
What Taylor Swift and Bieber’s labels did that Idol and their label cohorts did not do was work on the whole package of their artists (giving Taylor songwriting credentials to go with her All-American good looks, giving Bieber a “swagger coach”) rather than just putting their teens in the studio and quickly manufacturing soulless videos. In short, Idol’s labels did nothing to fully work on the concepts of the Idol teens who came off the show. They just worked on the short-term knowledge that their teens came with a tie-in fanbase from the show and sold a few albums and that’s that. On to the next one.
So, if Idol wants to promote the fetus, they ought to because he wouldn’t be where he is if they didn’t show his label how to do it and then take it to the next level of worldwide domination (as well as borrowing a page from music history with the whole Usher mentor angle, the way Motown pretended Diana Ross discovered the Jackson 5).
But, for God’s sake, OWN Bieber’s freaking success! Don’t just name drop. But to own that success, you first have to acknowledge your own teen Idol history because the real reason the show is lowering the age is because of the popularity of the David Archuletas and Jordin Sparks on the show! That popularity paved the way for the Taylor Swifts and Justin Biebers.
All Bieber’s success does is remind me of everything David’s label and management didn’t accomplish because they didn’t bother. And for all the 15 year olds the show’s pushing through auditions, not one has the talent or the appeal of a David (or even a Jordin), and they will get eaten alive by the whole competition. Not that Idol can successfully launch a teen star with any longevity anyway. Those 15 year olds might want to try another path to fame. Like maybe You Tube (heh).
My never-ending optimism for David Archuleta knows no bounds. It was perhaps the airing of two songs from The Other Side of Down on New Year’s Eve that made me hope.
It made me think there might still be some life left in his sophomore album. The positive reception from the crowds, the great TV spot, I was so sure that, with new management behind him and all, we’d see David getting another chance to get his latest music out there.
But, it’s oh so quiet…
And while over at MJ’s, folks are wringing their hands over the low sales of both Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, last year’s Idol winner and runner-up respectively (even with the debut of a new season of Idol) I’m thinking: if Jive can’t even bother to promote the most current runner-up, I guess David can forget it!
So, does that mean I should forget it too? Is the dream for a comeback of TOSOD officially over? Sigh…
I really thought, if promoted properly, it could be well received by the public. But I guess no one cares to get it out there anymore. Or should David just accept these hard knocks in the music biz and move “on to the next one,” as Jay-Z would say?
Here’s David’s latest!
As we get ready to cast our nominations for the 3rd Annual Archie Awards for David’s best moments in 2010 (you have until Jan. 30, 2011), I want to take this opportunity to reflect on what I consider the best things about David in general. To me they include both his sense of discipline and his sense of improvisation. In other words, David can be as equally full of surprises as he is by his precision. I think about this and how they relate to his musical upbringing.
See, I recently decided to check out Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, again at the movies. It’s such a deeply haunting film that I wanted to go back and see if there were any new insights when paying closer attention. Of course there were.
When going into Black Swan for the first time, I went along with the hype – that this movie is about a ballerina, Nina Sayers, who goes insane in her quest for the “perfect” performance when she’s elected to play the Swan Queen in a new production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Her brutish director insists that, while she dances the virginal pure White Swan perfectly, she’s too frigid and too stiff to dance the evil and sensuous twin, the Black Swan. Nina insists she can perfect this performance but in order to do so, her director tells her that perfection is not just about control, it’s about “losing yourself.” He of course thinks this is tied to the repressed Nina getting in touch with her sexuality, and needless to say, doing so leads her down the path to destruction. Freudian much?
However, a second viewing revealed the story to me in a much more impactful way: Nina’s discipline gets in the way of her being able to “surprise” herself, and the reason for her precision has to do with guarding against a terrible dark secret about herself. See, I believe that Nina is being sexually abused by her mother, but the story is so ambiguously told one can never be sure (the way abuse always manifests itself, doesn’t it?). When the movie is interpreted from that angle, the film seems less like a story about the artist who drives herself mad in a quest for perfection and more about the artist who’s haunted by a controlling and abusive presence in her home, which at every turn tries to clip her wings and stunt her growth. In short, Nina can’t be free, can’t be a true artist until she comes to terms with her repressed memories and taps into the feelings she pretends she doesn’t have (rage, aggression, sexual desires) to deliver her stellar performance. She comes close, but the discipline, the control, the precision that represses the urge for improvisation crushes her spirit. She can’t accept the source for her darker impulses, so she can only meet with destruction.
It’s interesting to me how movie critics, when viewing the film through the prism of an abusive mother (who fuels her daughter’s ambitions towards a ballet career that she herself didn’t excel in and who controls her daughter’s talent), often reduce the story to that of a stage mom and controlled daughter who must break free from her abuser. But it’s really about an artist who must learn the discipline, have it drilled into her, and then break lose by delivering surprises. If she is to survive the process, she must acknowledge why she must break lose (which Nina never does).
Curiously, during David’s run on American Idol, the naysayers were quick to try and paint him as such an artist: there was a heavy-handed attempt to convince us he was a performing robot, with his “stage dad” refusing him water while rehearsing and controlling his strings (I do believe Vote for the Worst even had a caricature of David as a marionette). The problem I’ve always had with this image is that David’s performance was never “robotic” or of a “child star” mimicking what he’s learned. Take his debut of “Imagine.” His inspiration for this version was Eva Cassidy, and you can listen to her version, place it alongside David’s, and recognize both the disciplined attempt to emulate the style but also the vocal improvisation of surprise: felt and heard in the melisma and the tones, and the phrasing.
We would hear and feel David’s sense of musical knowledge (the discipline) and vocal surprises (the improv aspects) again and again, as with “Angels,” “Think of Me,” “And So It Goes,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “Apologize,” and “Contigo en la Distancia.”
This is no “protege” raised by a “Tiger Mother” (if you’ve been paying attention to that debate about Chinese mothers raising “superior” children) who must sit at a piano for hours, deprived of little joys until he repeats back the notes of Bach and Beethoven exactly as they’re written (and perfectly of course). I have no issues with Amy Chua, author of that Tiger Mother memoir, wanting to instill a sense of discipline in her daughters. I do have a problem, though, with insisting on creating musical genius without allowing that genius to explore creativity and fluidity.
I’ve never been one to believe in making cultural or genetic arguments about who can raise the most successful child, but I am grateful that artists like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday didn’t have “Tiger Mothers” in their way. Where would jazz, rock, blues, and even hip-hop be if all those artists had such controlling mothers, whether we’re talking about the “Tiger Mother” type who pushes for perfection (because that hunger needs to come first from the artist himself) or the types like Nina’s mother who keeps you from growing?
Of course, in saying this, I in no way want to demonize motherhood (which is what is happening with that Tiger Mother debate and the Black Swan debate), especially since David’s case was more about his dad. Nor do I want to pit people of color against each other since “model minority” stereotypes of Asian Americans pose their own set of problems compared to the “underperforming” stereotypes of African Americans and Latinos.
But I am equally grateful David had the kind of parents who encouraged his musical interests by exposing him to their own, nurturing him, and genuinely wanting to find avenues to exhibit his talent. I’m also grateful that David sought out his own musical interests and emulated diverse styles of music because, being the vocal genius that he is, he instinctively understands the nuance between discipline and control and the transcendent quality of “losing yourself.”
If his parents really were as controlling as they were rumored to be, I honestly don’t believe David would demonstrate his confidence in taking his one good vocal chord through some amazingly risky journeys. That’s not a controlled artist. That’s an artist in control.