Universal Appeal


David’s appeal is so wide-reaching and so diverse that he defies niche marketing.  Think about it.  Who else can appeal to both a conservative religious fanbase, with his clean-cut morals, AND melt the hearts of many a gay boy (not that these two groups have to be mutually exclusive)?  This is the same David who can get Mormons and Perez Hilton gushing about his sweet and shy ways.

Who else can appeal to a Disneyesque teen/tween crowd AND a Latino/a audience (not that these have to be mutually exclusive either)?  Who else can get an urban/R&B audience witnessing to his “soul” credentials as a “hazel” eyed (as opposed to blue-eyed) soul singer AND a suburban/mainstream pop audience appreciating his acoustic, stripped-down singer-songwriting potential?  Who else can get critically acclaimed musicians AND little kids testifying to his awesome skills?  And need I mention the ladies – ranging in age from 2 to 92 – who have all been slain by his Archusexiness?

David’s got what we haven’t seen for quite some time in the world of music: UNIVERSAL APPEAL.  This was so evident during the Hollywood rounds on American Idol, one of the few episodes that is taped well in advance of the show’s season.  Whenever I re-watch this episode – when he unleashed “Heaven” upon us and sealed my permanent spot on the Archuleta Express – I’m always struck by how honest the judges seemed in assessing David’s potential: both on AI and in the world at large.  This is the same David whom Paula couldn’t wait for the world to discover and whom Simon thought “had everything going” for him.  What we all saw then I still see now.  This is why a number of us were upset when his label – under the same umbrella as American Idol – mapped out his market and came up with “tween.”  Not just because this is an obvious lucrative market for one as young-looking as David but also because the industry has become so niche-oriented.  

All pop music is oriented towards youth marketing – it was that way in the past, and not much has changed.  But what has been intriguing is the way we have not seen much “universal-appeal” marketing, or multi-marketing.  I do believe David, in choosing his different tours and acknowledging the diversity of his fanbase, is making strides towards cultivating that universal aspect.   Tweens and teens may be where the money is at, but something tells me David is launching in different directions.  Now, what I’d love to see develop is the kind of music production that can bring in those different aspects of the music that appeals to this diverse fanbase.  Perhaps the Christmas album is one way to launch into that “universal appeal” sphere.  But afterwards, the “pop” album will be the real test in how artistically this can best be represented.  

For now, we’ve got the Voice, which already transcends all categories.

Posted on August 30, 2009, in artistry, public image. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Oh Boy, HG……you hit the nail on the head!

    This is what I find so unique and appealing about David (of course along with his exceptional talent). His fan base is from 18 months (I saw a youtube vid of an 18 mo old trying to sing with him!) to 100 year olds.

    It is just amazing to see people of all ages, sexes, etc mingling in a concert hall & going crazy over him. I was an Elvis fan and although he was very popular I don’t recall seeing people of all ages much in his fan base.

  2. It is actually very lovely to see 3 generations of a family all go together to a David concert and enjoy it with the same enthusiasm!

    How many other artists can captivate 3 generations?

  3. So true, Burkey. That’s what is so exciting about David. It’s so uncanny his ability to appeal to so many people (you can those who hate him are equally as impassioned in their responses to him as those who love him).

    Destined for greatness, I tell you.

  4. Hi HG and Burkey,

    David’s ace up his sleeve that sets him apart from other celebrities is his likeability factor. While in the past we have admired artists for their looks or talent or both, in the case of David Archuleta, we are just as impressed with his personality as with his talent.

    I personally believe our true liking of David for David’s sake began during the AI tour. We marvelled time and time again at how David would pretend ignorance of time constraints to get in that last autograph, picture or high five to leave no fan wanting if he could help it. He returns cards, letters and wears gifts from his fans regularly. He ensures that even photographs are taken with him wearing gift-shirts so that person can be gratified to know that he not only received but appreciated the gift as well.

    What other star out there does that much for the sake of their fans? We have said before that he cultivates and nurtures fans. People who meet him in person are awed at his “niceness”. Haters believe it is all an act because no one is really that nice of a person. I say they haven’t met their match just yet. His niceness and talent make for a lethal one-two knockout. Can you imagine the likes of Perez Hilton fan-boying over him?

  5. I missed your longer pieces, HG. Very good, as usual. I don’t hink many artists reach such a diverse audience. It’s the soul connection that draws them to David. I’m nothing like David but he puts me in touch with my better nature.

    David on stage, on performance mode, appeals to all ages, but especially to young adults and adults. I find him a bit too intense for kids. David off-stage presents a challenge to his management as his innocence endears some and causes others to feel uncomfortable. Commenters at MJ’s never fail to shock me with their negative perception of him. It seems there is no possible middle-ground there. But as he matures he’s likely to attract more and more fans if he learns to balance those qualities we, original fans, love so him and seasons those with some mystery and occasional distance.

    • Valbraz, once again we are on the same wavelength! I actually think his off-stage persona is probably closer to what we saw in the original snarky interviews; friendly, but also a bit guarded and “enigmatic.” Not super-smiley or overly giggly. I really loved how he came across in these interviews, with more “mystery and distance” as you suggest. I actually think presenting himself this way in interviews and appearances would gain him more respect and credibility.

      Here’s an example…

  6. Valbraz, the crowd at MJ’s Blog ain’t got nothing on the TWOP forums peeps. Over there, they are already spelling David’s doom, so convinced are they that Jive is rushing through their contract so they can drop him ASAP, once the Christmas album and the second pop album are over and done with.

    Their only rationale for this kind of thinking has to do with, once again, thinking that David is a flop in the pop music world simply because he hasn’t sold as many albums as other Idols like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, or even another runner-up like Clay Aiken (this after his debut album sold over 700,000 units and has had sold-out tours – whatever!). Why would they think this? Because of this narrow niche-marketing where David and other artists need to automatically fit into neat little markets.

    It never ceases to amaze me how few are able to look at the bigger picture, which IMO reveals that David Archuleta, out of all the current “teen” artists out there, has the most potential in surviving the current climate and, more importantly, shaping the future sound of music. I do remember reading this about him in some news magazine (Newsweek? Time?). At least a few forward-thinking media folk can see the obvious in this case.

    The funny thing about it is, I secretly kinda hope Jive is planning to drop him (I have faith another, better label will scoop David right up), for no other reason than that I think this label is not the right fit for the kind of awesome music David is capable of, not to mention its inextricable ties to American Idol. The more distance David can keep between himself and that whole empire, the better off he will be, I believe. Here, I’m in agreement with Peter.

    • HG……..what are the TWOP forums?

      • That’s “Television Without Pity” (there’s an American Idol forum over there). I’ve been banned from commenting ever since I came to David’s defense. heh.

      • Geese…….they actually ban people just for that?

      • Burkey, I think it’s Television Without Pity but I don’t know where to find them.

        HG, I understand their doubting David. He just doesn’t fit. He’s too different. Yet that may be the very reason why he succeeds and goes on to become a superstar. Socially we may search for sameness – an attempt to conform and avoid rejection – but our souls long for uniqueness. I believe there thousands of undercover archangels out there waiting for validation so they can come out and say ‘I said the kid was talented!’.

        I love one the articles today that says of David ‘American Idol superstar’. They already know it.

      • Yes, Burkey, the moderators over there are control freaks who take themselves far too seriously.

        Undercover Arch Angels, eh? Valbraz, I’ve always suspected that. I’m curious: which article referred to David as an “American Idol Superstar”?

  7. My mom, a fan since Idol but doesn’t have ODD, believes that David connects soul to soul with people, in an instant. These are her words. She says that very few people have this ability and that is why we are so taken with him, and all that meet him fall under his spell.

  8. oooh HG did you change the order of the comments back??? 🙂

  9. Uh, no, LM. Not sure what’s going on here.

  10. You do realize, LM, I have this reverse-order thing going on to keep the “Current News on David” comments, well, current with the more recent comments appearing first.

  11. During AI7, Justin Guarini’ blogged that he knew David had something special because his fiancee would cry after his performances. By the next album, I hope Jive can capture that “something special” and make it David’s brand.

    I read thru TWOP forums; they don’t seem to have many positive comments re. any of the AI7 idols. I’m another who wouldn’t mind if David and Jive parted ways. However, I believe they would drop Jordin, Ciara or Chris Brown before David. BTW, internet rumor has it that Jive tried to sell Chris Brown’s contract to Bad Boy records but they couldn’t work out a deal.

    • Not surprised to hear about Chris Brown, though I really think they should give Jordin a chance. Like David, she’s also very young and has a chance to grow. No nurturing are any of these young artists getting.

      For that I blame Disney for their creation of the mega-superstar of the under 18 crowd, who in previous generations had to work hard to establish themselves in the music scene.

  12. I personally don’t want Jive to drop David. No label is perfect. They are all pretty much the same. I don’t see his situation changing that much if he were to go to another label. The great thing about Jive is they have great relationships with radio stations. That was amazing that David was able to debut his single on the #1 radio station.

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