For Those Who Still Don’t Get It


There’s nothing more to say to those who aren’t waiting with baited breath for shelves that look like the above photo (courtesy of Ember).  There’s nothing more to say to those who don’t get “what all the fuss is about” when it comes to David Archuleta.  I mean, after listening to this, do we need further proof that angels exist?  I realize much of the anti-David bias is mostly coming from American Idol die-hards who have learned to value mediocrity and anti-American-Idol die-hards who want to hold themselves above the “popular” tastes.  

That is the paradox of one such as David Archuleta.  He has all the looks of what is “popular” in terms of current pop music, but he then throws out what he calls “heartfelt songs” and makes everything else sound like the manufactured fluff we always knew current music to be.  For those who don’t “get” David’s sweetness, they – like many Americans on poor diets – can’t distinguish between the sweetness provided by real sugar and the sweetness of corn syrup.  For those who don’t “get” David’s musical superiority, they – like many Americans influenced by shows like AI – can’t detect subtleties; they need everything screamed at them.

And make no mistake: David’s brilliance lies in his subtleties, which is why someone who has not learned to value quietly aesthetic presentations will proudly boast that they don’t like that Monet painting over there or think that James Joyce or Toni Morrison are over-rated writers.  David neither belts a note to show off, nor does he layer a song with a vocal run to impress.  He digs into the music, feels the lyrics, and colors it up the way the melody leads him.  That, my friends, is genius, and for those who still don’t get it: No amount of digging through musical and video archives showcasing how other singers sing the same songs better  (in some misguided attempt to discredit David’s greatness) will ever deny that simple truth.

Posted on October 11, 2009, in music. Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. “they need everything screamed at them”
    “David’s genius lies in his subtleties”

    Thanks HG…….EXACTLY! I couldn’t agree more!

    I succumbed to listening to Ave Maria. Oh so so beautiful. I especially love two sections: one where he increases & decreases the volume of a single note ( I’m sure there is a real musical term for this that I don’t know) and the other is where he lowers the octave in stages of a single note. Just gorgeous.

    Two pictures from the hard copy CD:

    • Hi Burkey,
      The terms for increasing volume is – cresendo (from ppp – pianissimo to fff – fortissimo).
      The other term for decresing volume is decrescendo or dimiuendo ((i) fff – ppp (/i) or fortissimo to pianissimo).

      The sequence of pitch changes in a single context, from when he starts to when he ends as written in a score is called a melisma or runs. in the case of Ave Maria, David free forms many of his runs which are not technically written in the score. For instance if you were to listen to any of the soloists or the chorus pieces say in (i) Handel’s Messiah (/i), the melismas are sung note for note as the composer intended.
      Hope that helps a bit:)

      • Joymus

        Thanks so much. I knew there must be musical technical terms for
        these sounds/runs……so beautiful.

        I need to take a real music course.

  2. In response to those comments, I would like to quote HG: “Cry. Me. A. River.”

    Thanks for this post.

  3. Sorry my italic fonts did not come out.
    Peter what is the formula again?

  4. This is an example of quick runs – I am currently learning this score. Just follow the notes as the music plays and you will get an example of what singers of this piece of music have to master. The notes that are joined together have to be sung more quickly as the note values are shorter, plus they are done in one breath or context.

    • Joymus

      Really interesting! Thanks for my music lesson. Fun following the words along with the notes……. 🙂

    • Joymus, thx so much for the music lessons!!!

      Question for you: In SMM, in the very last line where David sings “Smoky mountain memories, keep me strong.” I love the way he switches up the notes while singing the word “mountain”. Is that an example of melisma?

      • Hi DR,
        I ran to listen again to SSM. YES to your question. He includes his own melismas or runs all over that song. Pop music writers usually do not include specific runs in their work. Artists have the creative licence to interpret a song as they see fit. In classical music, singers have to be more disciplined to sing the notes as intended by the composer.

        Even with David’s version of Ave Maria – the first time around is 98% text true, the repetition – not so much, as David adds subtle note changes and runs here and there. Because he is a pop artist, he can get away with it for artistic benefit. If he were a classical singer, while beautiful, it might be considered “poor form”. While David has proper vocal technique training, he is not classically trained. So even while his AM is sung as excellently for a properly trained singer, it required that opera-ish resonance and crisper articulation to push it over the edge for me. JMHO. I will add to that however, what he lacks in classical training he more than makes up for at the end of the day with his true genius – exquisite nuanced shading (controlled softness and loudness of sound) and outstanding vocal tone.

        ok, enough of me for today:)

      • Joymus

        Love your synopsis of David’s rendition of Ave Maria.

        This was what I was trying to describe in my post about AM…….exactly what you said, but I didn’t know the words to use:

        “exquisite nuanced shading (controlled softness and loudness of sound) and outstanding vocal tone.”

  5. I just saw something that made me smile. There’s website/blog called Blak Music First; the page is filled w/images of hip hop artists. In the midst of the column called “fresh new music– new jamz” is David’s HYAMLC. Below is the comment that goes with it. This site definitely gets David.

    “david archuleta is the shizzzz – dude can sing, and charice sounds great here as well. this is a hot track, and a great song for christmas.”

    I would give the link but this site provides free downloads of all the “new jamz”.

    I’m late w/this comment but HG, I hope your move went smoothly. I moved into a home 2 1/2 yrs ago and I still have unpacked boxes in my garage. 🙂

    • Link please! That website sounds fascinating. And thanks, Desertrat. I’m basically prioritizing 1)the kitchen and 2)my bedroom. And once my new living room furniture arrives, there’s looking through my books and dvds, you know, the ESSENTIALS.

  6. While David has proper vocal technique training, he is not classically trained. So even while his AM is sung as excellently for a properly trained singer, it required that opera-ish resonance and crisper articulation to push it over the edge for me. JMHO.

    Interesting critique, Joymus, and yet, I found the genius in David’s vocal rearrangement precisely because he diverged from the classical, opera-ish version.

    • HG, as you mentioned before – YMMV -lol! To each his own. I can only critique the AM from a truly classical viewpoint because it is the only song on the cd this is even remotely operatic in nature.
      The fact that he chose the Bach-Gounoud version over Shubert is ALL WIN because it is technically one of the more difficult versions to sing well. The singer must exhibit real vocal control because it ranges from low to high and vice versa in a single leap through many areas. My personal nit-picking is the result of what I hear from a non-operatic singer and is miniscule really in the overarching beauty of his rendition.

    • Interesting info! I thought that the song gave a glimpse at what David might sound like if he pursued a classical direction. I could tell from the song that he had solid vocal training, but not classical background, although I think from what I’ve read that he and Dean have done some classical pieces so he could experience that repertoire.

  7. Tips for buying CDs that will benefit David’s sales. It is from A Carrie site but the priniciple will be the same for David:

  8. Joymus, thx for responding to question re. SMM. I am learning so much from you. To illustrate my musical ignorance, I didn’t realize that there were 2 versions of Ave Maria. I look forward to searching utube to compare the 2.

    • There are many more versions but soloists tend to sing either the versions from Bach-Gounoud, Shubert or Caccini.
      Just as an aside, my chorale was invited to perform alongside Andrea Bocelli, Thanksgiving weekend when his show comes to an arena in my hometown. I can’t wait! We will be singing beckground for Nessum Dorma and one other I believe. So YTube that one as well. Enjoy!

    • desertrat, Here’s a youtube link of a woman singing both of the popular versions of Ave Maria so you can hear the difference.

  9. raelovingangels

    wow- great article and great informtion Joymus….ok confess since last night I have been enjoying the little gift from Valbraz. As I was in a david induced coma listening to WCIS, and I was worried about listening in my car on 10.13.09, and missing my turns, forgetting my way home etc, it occured to me that we will have in our hot little hands……the cure to road rage. Yes, perhaps a random thought, but true neverthless.

  10. speaking of “those who still don’t get it”

    here is one—–>Stephen Thomas Erlewine

    not a very good review over at Allmusic 😦

    • well that’s weird…… real name showed up on the post??

    • Let me guess: little Stephen wanted to become a singer but failed?

      Anyone who has bad things to say about this album is tone deaf.

      David is young. David is talented. David is popular. Just deal with it already.

      • You forgot to mention he’s good looking and he’s a hot enchilada, a Tricky Latino with huge hands!

    • raelovingangels

      well, he may be tone deaf from listening to all the synthasized stuff…and as for David not getting new fans? At some point the hard numbers will make the foolish look even more silly then they already do

      • David has 250,00 people that follow him on twitter

        I’d say that’s a pretty good number of interested people.

    • What a completely uninformed review! Foolish!

      I really wish certain “critics” would recognize how utterly stupid they sound sometimes.

  11. So, did you all see this notice: “Send nominations for 50 Greatest Voices in History”?

    I love Archies for their zealotry. I mean, NPR is doing this poll with the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald in mind. Do you think David stands a chance?

    • All Archies are fanatic, but some are more fanatic than others.

      Hg, I hope you don’t mind my asking, but how do you feel about Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. It’s a genuine question as I haven’t followed politics since my father passed and then David came. I felt it was – just like I felt about David’s Christmas album – premature. I do like your president a lot, though.

  12. Hi everyone!
    I was reading Joymus critique of David’s Ave Maria and I mostly agree.
    This was probably David’s most ambitious choice for this album as it’s extremely difficult to sing if one is not classically-trained and therefore requires a voice a bit more operatic in quality than David’s.

    Living in a majorly Catholic country I hear Gounoud’s Ave Maria more than I can wish for as they play it everyday at 6 pm on radios. So I hope you undertand when I say it’s not one of my favourites from the album, although I think he’s done a good job, considering he’s a pop singer.

    Those I’ve listened to non-stop are Riu Riu Chiu, Pat-A-Pan and What Child is This. For the others I need to be more in the Christmas mood.

    But make no mistake, come Christmas I’ll be listening to this album all day long and loving each and every song in it, and so will everybody else if they’re given a chance to listen on the radio or the web.

    • Valbraz: I cannot stay away fromWCIT- the orchestra, the flute ( sounds like one) the minor tones, the tone of David’s voice is otherworldly. I swear, closing my eyes I am transported to that place,,,,
      – the sense is so real. The beauty of it all is almost overwhelming,

      • I feel like I’m watching The Tudors and the king himself is going to walk in and sit down for Christmas mass at the cathedral. Haha

        It’s perfect. David’s tone, oh my!

  13. I’m loving David’s Ave Maria, probably because I’m not Catholic and so have no preconceived ideas on how it’s supposed to be sung. ha!

    Valbraz, I too had thought Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was premature, but last night I had the privilege of hearing former Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, speak on my campus, and his perspective gave me food for thought.

    He celebrated the fact that the Nobel Prize committee honored Obama for the inspiring campaign he ran last year, and that the moment that was created on November 4, 2008, when not just America but the world celebrated was the real reason he was honored with the Peace Price. He said we should not underestimate the power of that moment in inspiring hope and generating world peace, if only for that moment between Election Day last year and Inauguration Day this year.

    From that perspective, and not from the perspective of a President in office for less than a year, I can respect and honor the choice of Obama.

    Hope that answers your question. 🙂

    • Thanks, HG. Wow, Collin Powell? That’s awesome. And his perspective makes a lot of sense. We can’t compare the struggles different honorees went through but the good that they have achieved.

      By the way, I’m not a Catholic, either. That’s why I’m a bit tired of the Mary song, beautiful though it is. It’s omnipresent in Brazil, lol.

      • Omnipresent in Brazil it may be, but I bet none exist with that special Archu lick coloring the notes, huh. 😉

        Colin Powell was awesome! He too would have made a fine president, I believe.

  14. Yet another bonehead who doesn’t get it, this time the joke is on Bob Dylan and David coming out with similarly named Christmas albums (admittedly this was my biggest criticism BTW, that the title was too cliche):

    Honestly, guys who think it’s “cool” to crack jokes about David Archuleta “for being David Archuleta” need a swift kick in the rear. You know, loosen up their tight asses so they can finally admit to the “boy crush” they secretly have on him.

    Besides, haven’t straight guys figured out it’s actually cooler to admit boy crushes than it is to make fun of that which one cannot have?

    • Boy that was really terrible……

      It was written by K. Thor Jensen.

      I wish I was eloquent enough & knowledgeable enough about music to write an A+

      comment in David’s defense.

      • Burkey,
        No one has commented yet and I wish it stayed that way.
        No Archies should give him the light of day. JMHO.

  15. Have you seen the cover Malaysian fans are getting?

    Not fair! 😦

    Those shoulders 😉

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