Daily Archives: May 9, 2015

Branding David

It’s amazing how a speculation, a quote from David, an idea – “white Chris Brown” – has become another opportunity for debate here at Soul Davidian.

A few things for newbies and those of you who might not have been here at the beginning of Soul David six years ago: this blog became the site for “open discussion” ever since I made the decision back in the summer of 2009 to let fans express themselves over the Jeff Archuleta massage parlor scandal.  When every other fan site agreed to “not speak on it,” Soul David knew some fans needed an outlet to express confusion, outrage, disappointment, skepticism, cynicism, angst, what-have-you.

The rest, as they say, is history.

So, here we are again: with everyone feeling a certain freedom to say the things that concern them. I imagine anyone who posts here, even after all these years, do so because they genuinely care about David. There is a love for the Voice but also a concern for liking/loving the individual and having conflicts about that love or admiration.  It may be painful for those who follow the LDS faith (a faith very few of us not following the religion really know all that well) to hear negative things about it. Unfortunately, when one’s church gets politically involved in targeting certain communities (as had occurred when LDS backed Proposition 8 back in 2008), it’s not surprising when certain fans really get conflicted: an artist may be apart of a church and never endorse many of the things the faith supports politically (think of Baptists disagreeing with endorsing political candidates or Catholics who disagree with the Pope), but an artist might agree with every tenet. When David kept his faith private, we didn’t have to ponder it but now we’re in a post-mission David era.

Then again, I strongly disagree with many teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that has not stopped me from loving the music of Prince! 😛

Surely, David’s religious views can be separated from branding/marketing David the artist.

Let me explain.

So, in the previous post, the above video was shared, which shows David performing the song “He Lives in You” from Disney’s The Lion King at a religious conference. I’m absolutely fascinated by the way David inflected a specifically Christian message into an otherwise universally-based pro-nature/spiritual song. And despite the sacred space of David’s performance, the many qualities he showcases – his command of the stage, his humor, his passion, and his amazing soulful licks that he can still add to the most Disneyesque “safe” song can be transformed beyond a singular church or faith.

That’s the power of the Voice, y’all! If I were a music exec, I would see vast potential here (e.g. don’t forget many of our most cherished vocalists in history started out singing for their churches!).

So, this idea that David’s label Jive may have been misguided in thinking they could market him as a “white Chris Brown” is based in a limited worldview.

Think about it.

Chris Brown, back in 2008 when David became the runner-up on American Idol, had very family-friendly pop songs playing in rotation: from “Forever” (which will be forever linked to the phenomenal viral video of that infamous wedding entrance) to “With You” to the Summer 2008 Olympics anthem “Dreamer.”  If marketing David along those lines was what Jive had in mind, not only does that make perfect business sense, but I imagine the label saw the grand potential of turning David into a bigger and more mainstream version.

Of course, Chris Brown took a huge fall after he was arrested for beating up fellow pop star Rihanna in 2009, and both he and Rihanna have revitalized their careers vis-a-vis the “bad boy” and “rebel girl” image.  There was no other way for Chris Brown to recover, once he had been exposed as a batterer. Indeed, the fact that Chris Brown did not disappear into irrelevance means that anyone from all walks of life can be branded/marketed.

Indeed, with Brown’s downfall, there was even an opportunity for David to rise up from the ashes of this fallout on Jive’s label, rescuing the label with an alternative image: that of the “good boy,” the kind and tender-hearted crooner. Who wouldn’t have eaten that up when the public decried violence against women?

In short, any persona can be branded or marketed.  There is a market for all kinds.  Just like Taylor Swift can be a “good girl” to the “bad girls” that Rihanna and her ilk represent, David could be the sweet and true dream guy.

So, what happened? Perhaps David wasn’t invested in being marketed to the masses.  Perhaps he prefers comfort to discomfort. Fame is a heavy price to pay, and being such a shy guy, I could see his own discomfort.

But then you see videos like the one above, where it’s so obvious David loves the stage and loves to sing and loves performing. Labels are just there to figure out how to “package” it to sell to more people. That’s not always a bad thing, unless the artist has decided niche markets and niche audiences are all he needs to be happy.