Daily Archives: June 5, 2009
It was just last year on this day, June 5, that different news sources announced that David signed to Jive records. In that time, David has sold a platinum single with “Crush,” a near platinum album with his self-titled debut, has toured the UK and parts of Asia, and headlined his own tour. Not bad for an 18 year old, who can’t march with the class of 2009 today and earn his high school diploma (Ah, the trade-offs that come with this career).
And while I understand the price of fame and fortune sometimes includes delayed graduation dates, I’ve been pondering something even more costly: the trade-off of inspirational music for pop. One of the things that I think so many fans of David love about his Voice is not just its flawless musicianship but its sincerity, its openness to a wider universe, and its transcendent quality. It’s the kind of Voice that needs no embellishments or any cheap gimmicks to launch it.
Perhaps that’s why I greet the news, as offered in this Herald Extra interview, of David first offering us a Christmas album during the holiday season before launching his sophomore pop music effort in 2010, with great delight. Finally! An opportunity for “Inspirational David” to make a comeback (for I absolutely believe we need Inspirational David to get to the next level of Soul David) – and a comeback that won’t hurt his reputation since much of inspirational music these days gets reduced to “schmaltz” and cheese. Those of us who have already heard The Voice – in a cappella no less – during the Jingle Ball concerts last holiday season know that David’s brand of inspiration does not involve “schmaltz.” Did you ever hear his version of “O Holy Night” or “The Christmas Song” (which he sang at the Jingle Ball show I went to) or “Silent Night”? There is nothing sentimental about the tone in the Voice. It’s deep enough, smooth and improvisational enough, to pierce your heart and make you weep. That’s the kind of Christmas album I long to hear (let us only hope the production quality matches the ethereal yet grounded quality of the Voice).
That David is pressing on with a Christmas album before releasing his second pop album leads me to believe this is his compromise with his label. If they have no interest in the deeper function of music – which is to bring joy and inspiration to its listeners – since they are much more preoccupied with the baser goals of quick cash and cookie-cutter, mass-produced generic music fluff that out’s there in the industry, at least with a Christmas album, David gets to unleash that inspirational, soulful side that must unfortunately be submerged in the market world of pop (and bubble gum pop, no less, if they are still moving in the direction of the tween market).
Perhaps this is the best of both worlds so far, although some of the music directions that his label and management have taken make me wonder if David would not have been better served going in the direction of the Josh Grobans and Michael Bubles. I’m not a fan of either artist (although I admit to really liking Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” and David did a beautiful rendition of his “When You Say You Love Me” during the AI tour last summer), but those who produce inspirational pop or standards do what they do really well. If David Foster had given David some lovely ballads to work with, I would have gladly accepted this direction than to have David suffer through making a Build-a-Bear song or a Miley Cyrus Disney duet. I’m not kidding! (And no, I don’t care if David himself didn’t suffer, but I did seeing his unique talent so crassly and crudely devalued in this manner.) Say what you will about David Foster’s schmaltz appeal, but the man knows how to write for strong vocalists, he knows exactly where to place the money notes – I’m still waiting for David’s money note, which I’ve yet to hear in any studio-produced track (I always have to wait for a live performance of his to upload on You Tube if I want to hear his money note). He needs songs that show off his superb vocals, and at least there are enough Christmas carols that can do this, so yay! for the Christmas album!
Regardless of these music directions, David is young enough to rebound from some of the not-so-sharp decisions of his label/management, and if given enough support, he can propel quite far ahead. Alas, I have already given up on the music industry being able to offer us another Beatles or Michael Jackson. Many of us forget that, during the time of the music superstar, we didn’t have 1)the Internet and 2) Reality TV. What makes a superstar a “star” is the allure and the mystery surrounding the lives of these artists. All we had to go on is their charisma and their talent. Unfortunately, American Idol magnifed too many of David’s flaws to distract the non-fan from ever embracing his musical genius, and the current pop music industry is just not making good music to enable these artists to shine.
Fortunately, however, David’s friendliness and unassuming ways are charming enough to redefine his relationship with his fans, so it remains to be seen if he will ever ascend to superstardom status or if he will ever want to climb that high.
I think he just wants to keep making music and to share it with us in the most intimate manner. If any voice can overcome the schmaltz and the schlock and the cheap gimmicks that exist in music David’s sure can. Perhaps that is inspiration enough.
I had a dream this week about David. Actually, it’s the 13th dream about David I’ve had in the course of a year – what I like to call the David Dream. So, in David Dream #13, he was guest starring in an episode of “Touched by an Angel.” Somewhat appropriate, is it not? He was also playing the part of a high schooler raising funds to keep his school choir alive. Of course, he sang, but I don’t remember which song it was. Maybe it was “Angels.”
Since many in the Archie fanbase made immediate connections between David and “Angels” – even calling ourselves his “Arch Angels” – I thought to revisit a tribute video I created in honor of David’s divine qualities – mainly, his Voice. Inspired by an interview in which his dad, Jeff, said how doctors thought “someone up there wanted [David] to sing because, medically, he shouldn’t be able to do that” (what with his one normally functioning vocal chord), this video was a tribute to the “Voice that heals.” In this way, David’s music makes us all feel as if we’ve been “touched by an angel.”