I’m Telling You: I’m Not Going!
Is there anything more adorable than David Archuleta expressing his pure unadulterated delight over music? Especially when it’s a response to his favorite divaesque anthem, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”?
Funny thing about this song – considered the ultimate diva song in the ultimate gay anthem musical that is Dreamgirls – is that some folks had actually pointed to David’s passion for it as “all the proof that was needed” concerning certain rumors. Whatever.
What I will say about David’s passion for “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is that it’s so antithetical to what he has been about vocally. Granted, I could see how Tamyra Gray’s version of it on American Idol would send shivers down his then 11-year-old spine:
Thank goodness he only had Gray’s subdued yet showy, theatrical version to inspire him so deeply, for whatever would he have sounded like if he had actually heard the original version by Jennifer Holliday?
Not gonna lie: Holliday’s pipes really make my head spin they’re so powerful on this “protest song.” However, I have always found this song – and its depiction of the rejected black woman as this stereotypically mythic Fury about to get all scary and frightening and downright otherworldly in her wrath – highly problematic. It’s so overwrought and Excessive with a capital E. It ‘s “too much,” and I’ve always suspected the praise heaped on Holliday and Jennifer Hudson, whose version led her to an Oscar right out the gate, has everything to do with expectations that, as black women, when we love, and when we get hurt, we become just too much. And naturally, everybody is entertained whenever we let loose.
So, what does it mean that David, who never EVER gives us “too much” in his vocal delivery, is so enraptured by this “just too much” song? Is there an inner diva alter ego entrenched deep in his soul that’s just screaming to get out? Is he implying that he has yet to unleash his vocal power over us? Have we not heard anything yet? Will there be a time when David will give us a “just too much” vocal performance in the future? What exactly will David sound like when he really, seriously, LETS LOOSE?
The fact that he’s still so moved by “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” suggests that he has yet to do this. He says there’s “so much emotion in it,” as if his own emotional delivery on songs like “Imagine,” “Angels,” “And So It Goes,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” and “Apologize” pales in comparison. Is he for real?
And what about the lyrics in the refrain?
No, no, there’s no way
No, no, no way
I’m living without you
I’m not living without you
I don’t wanna be free
And you and you and you
You’re gonna love me
Can you imagine David ever being so demanding for love? So insistent that he’s not going anywhere? Which is really paradoxical because that might as well be every Arch Angel’s anthem to David himself: “No, no, there’s no way / No no there’s no way / I’m living without you…” Two years in, and we are still here. Or how about how it represents David’s journey on AI: “I’m staying / I’m staying/ And you and you and you / You’re gonna love me” (and he stayed week after week, and at the finale, America did love him).
Should we be paying attention to the subliminal layers embedded in this song? Has David been casting a spell over us, his inner diva “demanding” in a big Jennifer Holliday-like voice (which he thinks is Tamyra Gray’s) that we love him since “he’s not going?” Except when it rises to the surface, we get the soft, velvety Voice seductively whispering what the inner voice has been screaming all along?
One thing I do know: David does threaten to reduce me to a Jennifer-Holliday-like hissy fit. No matter what, I’m not giving up on The Voice, and I’m so not going anywhere.