Category Archives: artistry

The Collaboration Dream Wish

Like many of you, I confess to being intrigued (but not super-excited by the idea of an Enrique collab). Let’s face it (and I realize I’m totally biased as a David-centric fan): David is miles hotter and can sing a gazillion circles around Enrique.

Where Enrique triumphs is in his sexy swag. But that’s pretty much it.

So of course it got me to thinking: Just WHO do we deem “worthy” enough to do a collaboration with David (even though David, considering the state of his music career, needs all the reaching out he can get from whoever is in the pop music biz)?

Here’s my latest poll, Soul Davidians! :P

No Matter How Far (David Has to Please Us)


Not sure this counts as a “more coherent blog” than what I posted last time.  I’ve been trying to squeeze in time to learn more about Entertainment One (the independent label releasing David’s new album, No Matter How Far, come March) and what, if anything, makes this new album “new.”

It’s interesting to see that E One has its fingers in a wide variety of media, like TV (The Walking Dead!) and different types of music artists.  Still, the website doesn’t feature David Archuleta as one of its artists (will this album be a one-time deal?), and I’m wondering what new material we’ll be getting.

Is No Matter How Far simply a recycle album – featuring songs that didn’t make the cut from the previous two albums – or will there be genuinely new songs that David put out just before going on a mission? And since David had agreed to renounce the world – if only for two years while serving on his LDS mission – does releasing a new album while he’s away count or not count? Is this a conflict of interest?

Either way, I was totally floored because I was expecting a new song or two or maybe an EP, but an entire album? That was not even what I had anticipated!

And, when you get right down to it, David was really being generous with his time to try and keep his fan base satiated while he’s away. I do appreciate the gesture and the willingness to work so hard to have enough output to cover a two-year absence.

But, I must confess: I worry about the quality of this upcoming album: both in terms of whether or not this album represents a “rush job” or a “leftover” music deal. Will we get the best the Voice has to offer?

And do we represent the kind of fanbase that wouldn’t let our idol take time off (and I mean genuine time off – as in, not expecting any new music projects in the time he’s away) so he felt pressured (or did others pressure him?) to put out another album? I was fine with BEGIN. as his generous offer to us Archies while he’s away. Who knew he would have yet another album for 2013?

So, I’m a bit conflicted, peeps. On the one hand, this is why we love David. He cares about us, his fans, and not wanting to leave a big void while he’s doing what he feels he must (his mission).  On the other hand, I feel kinda guilty that we may have put this kind of pressure on him to give us not one but two whole albums before leaving for Chile (and I’m not even counting the Forever album, mind you).

Perhaps this makes good business sense, but does it short change his artistry?

Only time will tell.

But I’ll say it once more (with feeling): This is why we love us some David Archuleta! He tries so hard to please us. I just wish we, his fan community, would try harder to give him breathing space to make the best art he can possibly make.

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.

Between a Drip and a Flood

Davidarchie.641Every time I think I’m prepared for a “David Drought” (i.e. – OMG! The tour is over! What are we going to do when David disappears from the Internet?!) some new info. comes out letting his fans know his next appearance will be at so-and-so.  First, it was American Idol.  OMG! The season is over! What will I do without David on my TV Tuesday nights?!

And remember how the week after the season finale, David and Cookie were on all the important TV shows, riding the wave of their Post-Idol fame?

Not long after, it was the American Idol summer tour. Then, it was first-single-debut hoopla, followed by music video debuts, then the first album debut.  And, before we could catch our collective Archubreath, the Jingle Balls happened.  Then 2009 ushered in some guest appearances, like the Latino Inauguration Ball and the Pro-Bowl, a solo tour, a UK tour, a Southeast Asian tour, then a Disney teen tour.  

And just when Archies consigned themselves to the “David Drought” in which there would be no David news or events to look forward to once the Demi Lovato tour wrapped up earlier than anticipated, somewhere around the corner was the next unexpected appearance.  So now, we’ve got not only a music nomination to look forward to at the ALMA Awards, scheduled for September 18, 8 pm EST on ABC, we have a performance as well! :)  

We’re now going on two years of following David Archuleta. Isn’t it time to recognize that this drip, drip, drip of leaked David news and events will one day lead to a steady flow, maybe even a flood of news should he ever get catapulted to super stardom?  

I’m now learning to accept that David is finding meaningful ways of staying relevant and building up a steady flow of buzz via these tours and appearances.  I have to give David serious props for knowing to skip an appearance at the TCA awards while weighing the importance of participating in the ALMA Awards.  I don’t know the viewership numbers for either show, but something tells me that, for David, what’s more important is his public persona and what he most wants to be known for. In other words, Archies, he’s no longer  a teen star. He fully embraces his Hispanic heritage, and I’m sure the next step is to ask the rest of the world to watch out as he fully unleashes his Archugreatness on some awesome holiday tracks.

After that, let the flooding begin!

David’s Latin Roots: Redefining Latinidad


Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, and especially to David’s beloved Lupe, who has steered her son in the right path and bestowed her own talents on him.

So, it is with David’s mother in mind that I wish to explore the subject of David’s Latin roots.  Lupe Archuleta, native of Honduras and a singer and dancer, who encouraged her children’s musical talents and instilled in David a love for Latin music and the Spanish language, can certainly be credited for the musical genius that her son displays.

More than that, her decision to pass on her ethnic heritage to her children, rather than downplay it or encourage some kind of cultural assimilation, has certainly colored David’s multifaceted identity.  The same David who is so eclectic in his musical tastes and is very much “universal” in his flavor is also the same David who can lapse quite comfortably in Spanish or Spanglish, or deliver the Star Spangled Banner at the Latino Inauguration Ball, or sing  a Selena song during his solo tour when performing at predominantly Hispanic venues.  In short, what’s exciting about David’s chameleon-like identity is the way he moves so fluidly in these different spaces.  But, more importantly, I think he offers us a glimpse into a new Latinidad.

Latinidad is a Latin sensibility or a way of being in the world.  In our culture, this tends to get reduced to convenient stereotypes.  So, we expect Latinidad to look like Jennifer Lopez or Marc Anthony or Salma Hayek.  In the realm of music, we expect it to sound like salsa or meringue or reggaeton.  In terms of geopolitics, we expect to find it in New York or Los Angeles or Miami, and of course in the Caribbean and Latin America.

While David may have been born in Miami, he’s a Utah boy, and we certainly don’t expect to find Latinidad in the Rocky Mountains.  He doesn’t represent the Nuyorican Soul of the East Coast or the Chicano presence in the West Coast. And, as a Mormon, he’s far removed from the Catholicism or Santeria we often attribute to Hispanics.

But, to me, that’s what makes David so unique in redefining and redrawing the boundaries of Latinidad.  In one fell swoop, David has transcended certain stereotypes and exploded our expectations.  I remember, when news came out of David performing at the Latino Inauguration Ball, more than a few bloggers scoffed at this, claiming that David was “as wonderbread white as you or I.”  Fascinating how – in our multiracial America that voted for President Obama – so many still think “you or I” automatically means “white.”

As if Latinidad doesn’t encompass both racial identities of black and white.  Ranging from black to brown to white to a variety of racial mixes, Latinidad is a rather fluid identity, shaped by a Spanish tongue.  What does it mean to deny or to question, as some did, that David has Latin roots?  I always found it interesting that, last season, when three of the Top 4 finalists on American Idol were Latinos/as – David, Jason Castro, and Syesha Mercado – there were no headlines calling our attention to this.  How might the outcome have been different if one magazine carried the banner, “Can a Latino Win American Idol?”

I ask the question because, the season before, when the Top 4 finalists on American Idol included three black girls and a white boy, there were many headlines asking if we would have an all-black finale for the first time.  We of course did not, and as it turned out, of the four finalists, the mixed-race black contestant and the white contestant made the finale.  And, incidentally, last year, the All-American white guy (David Cook) beat out the Latinos.  Maybe race or ethnicity had a hand in these decisions, maybe not.  However, there does seem to be a distinction made in which blackness is a recognizable “difference” that media calls our attention to, while Latinidad is often times made invisible, or “heard but not seen” (if you have an “accent” or speak Spanish, then Latinidad becomes recognizable).

Think of the early contestant this season, Jorge Nunez from Puerto Rico, whose accent became an issue on the show.  Think of Allison Iraheta, whose Latinidad identity may or may not have been detected, but who advanced further.  Yes, talent is a big part of it, but how much do these issues bear on our sense of what constitutes being an “American”?

When my Latino students tell me of the different ways their communities have been heavily policed by ICE and terrorized with threats of deportation, or when anti-immigration and anti-Mexican sentiment – especially in the wake of swine flu – is on the increase, I imagine that Latinidad will force all of us to rethink the boundaries of whiteness and blackness, of what constitutes being a “minority” or a “majority.”

Beyond these racial and ethnic politics is the music. And whatever problems our country has had in the arena of race and racism, our music styles have often collided in these race and ethnic wars to create something new and magical.  Only in America could we have invented jazz or rock-and-roll or hip-hop, which are all genres that fused our multiracial expressions in creative and dynamic ways.  It is this knowledge that makes me especially excited by David’s untapped potential.  For his diverse musical influences are capable of blending into something completely different and completely profound.

Here’s hoping that, one day, David’s pop soul music, with hints of Latin, will emerge from the depths of his artistic soul.