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.